When They Cry - Higurashi 3 (Rei)
Rei comprises 3 stories. The first, "Public Embarrassment", features the girls having to get a magic swimsuit off Keichi. The next 3 episodes are the "Die Killing" arc, that was actually released as a manga volume, in which Rika, after being struck by a truck, awakens in a strangely different Hinamizawa. The last episode is called "Daybreak", in which Rena, after accidentally swallowing a bead love charm, is successively drawn to several people possessing another bead that "pairs" with it.
The first here is definitely the least. "Public Embarrassment" certainly IS, in ALL senses. This one is of the same breed that appalled Tim, in his review of the Kira OVA series, where Keichi has lecherous fantasies about the girls; here he goes again, entertaining the crudest thoughts about them in their swimsuits, even the underage ones like Satoko and, at least in appearance, Rika. He's headed out for a day at the pool with them, but has forgotten his swimsuit; however, Mion's uncle, that runs the toy store, conveniently (if inexplicably) has a "magic" suit that he says will make every girl fall in love with the wearer if the wearer writes their own name in it. But he later finds that the suit's "instructions" (magic swimsuits come with instructions?) say that the wearer of the suit will fall in love with whoever's name is written there, so it means that Keichi will fall in love with himself. Keichi has always been a bit infatuated with himself, of course, but the girls (interestingly, Mion in particular) are afraid this will make Keichi permanently lose interest in females, and she can't get Keichi to believe her about the suit, so she recruits various people at the pool to help get the suit off him. (WHY is Takano running around loose, by the way?) Keichi recruits his male buddies to help him keep the suit on, but let's face it, he's never been much of a match for the girls. Everything here is INCREDIBLY stupid of course; this one's pretty much void of any socially redeeming qualities at all. If you watch Rei, PLEASE just skip this one.
The 3-episode "Die Killing" is much better. (That's "die" as in the singular of "dice".) Rika finds communication with Hanyu difficult in this new Hinamizawa, which is completely different from any she's ever experienced before. It's a much more peaceful version of the town than any she's previously known- in fact, Rika herself seems the most overtly violent person in it- but it's not her Hinamizawa, not the one she struggled to save through the previous two seasons of the show (and for a hundred years in her subjective time), and even though it has its compensations (for example, her parents are still alive here), it nevertheless has an air of melancholy fatalism hanging over it, like the proverbial person dying of a "long, lingering illness". (I won't say why; find out for yourself.) But the price of a ticket out may be more than she can bear. There's a bit of survivor's guilt in there too, somewhere. I liked this one quite a bit, even though it's more or less just a coda to the main saga.
The last OVA, "Daybreak", is kind of a mixed bag. The general premise involves another silly "magical" item, and more farcical antics as Keichi and the other girls try to keep the possessed Rena from "going all the way" with the possessor of the matching bead. There are three positives this time around, though. First, even while Rena is cloyingly clinging to whoever has the other bead, for some reason her Hinamizawa Syndrome personality keeps popping out as well (!), which turns the thing from cliché to brilliantly schizoid. I also loved the gratuitous Maria Watches Over Us reference. (Though, again, WHY is Takano running around loose???)
The third thing is what a nice surprise Rena has been in Rei, both in Daybreak AND at the end of the Die Killing arc, where she's using candy to explain a point. (The candy analogy is one of my two favorite philosophical musings in the series; the other is back in First Season when the girls explain to Keichi that being friends does NOT require revealing every painful memory.) To be honest, I've never been that much of a Rena fan; I frankly hate her white-outfit-with-beret (designed by her dad, according to the manga), nor do I care that much for her obsession with "taking home cute things". And Daybreak shows that Rena is also perhaps the least feminist of the girls.
On the other hand, there's this remarkable little scene- considering the silliness of the scenario itself- when Keichi and Rena are sitting in the temple waiting to be "purified". (No, they don't get particularly impure, if that's what you were hoping for.) Keichi and Rena have a quiet conversation that is actually kind of sweet, which is a word that seldom appears in the same sentence with the name Higurashi. I get the impression that Keichi is scared of the idea of actually choosing one of the girls, which would explain a lot; he surely knows how Mion feels. OK, I'll cave and go full-on "shipper" here: I've always thought that Mion was the logical choice for him- besides her own feelings, his leadership skills would most naturally fit in with the most powerful family in the town, and even "demon hag" Oryo admires him; if Hanyu is right that a "strong will" can make things happen, well, the Sonozakis seem to want Keichi in the family, and few people have stronger wills than them. But Higurashi has experimented, here and elsewhere, with pairing Keichi with Rena, and they do work together effectively- because, as Rena says, she's just very good at adapting herself to whoever she loves. After Daybreak, I liked her a bit better (just as I liked Haruhi's Mikuru a bit better after Disappearance; sometimes a character just needs a good showcase to change my mind.) Perhaps if there's another Higurashi we could have KEICHI as the unfortunate visitor to alternate realities, in each of which he falls in love with one of the girls, and...things don't turn out like he expects.
Overall rating, just ONE star for the first one. Just skip over the first one, and I think you'll find the three-part Die Killing to be an interesting change from the normal sort of Higurashi story, and if you're like me you'll even find some virtue in Daybreak too. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Keichi's lascivious speculations in the first one- and Rena's rubbing herself over the people she falls in "love" with in the last- are about all the fanservice you'll get. Rika goes berserk with rage at one point in Die Killing, and contemplates murdering someone else.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (5/5)
When They Cry - Higurashi 3 (Rei) © 2009 Ryukishi07 / Hinamizawa Big Three
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