Higurashi no naku koro ni rei

Producer: Studio Deen
Runtime: 2009
Episodes: 5
Rating: PG

No. Higurashi no naku koro ni rei is not needed, not helpful, and more than anything it taints the prestige of the original two seasons. After the exceptional first two seasons of Higurashi, I found myself wanting to see the cast once more and was intrigued at the prospect of a short third season, but in retrospect I regret even wasting the time.

Rei picks up where Kai left off. After enjoying some time of peace with her friends, Rika finds herself thrust into a new scenario: in this Hinamizawa, the sins of each character do not exist and the terrible killings surrounding the Watanagashi Festival never take place. Rika must try to find out what has happened, why she is here, and how to - and whether she should - return to her old world.

Rei is quite bad. First, I'm not sure why it was created. Perhaps the reason is to provide an explanation of the metaphysics of the Higurashi universe. The explanation given in Rei is not only brief but substandard. It would be better if this question had simply been left to the viewer's imagination. Second, the story of Rei lacks the terror that made season 1 great, and while it does contain some suspense, it does not provide a rewarding solution/story as in season 2. Third, one might at least say that the show provides another glimpse into the lives of the Higurashi characters, but the show focuses nearly entirely on Rika, and the episodes that do heavily focus on the whole cast are pretty awful. In particular, the first episode was nearly enough to turn me off of the season entirely: sexual attitudes/suggestions pervade the entire episode and include a strange, slightly uncomfortable focus on the (young) girls and a homophobic remark. Episode 1 was not only offensive, perhaps reflecting the oddness that is Japanese sex culture, but was quite boring and cliche. The act by which Rika is thrust into the other world is pretty stupid. The next three episodes focus on the unsatisfying other-world story, and as if that's not enough, the final episode is a very tacky side-story involving (who'd have guessed) more weird sexual focus. Really the only redeeming factor of Rei is that it is, in the end, Higurashi. Fans wanting more Higurashi will at least be happy to have a bit more, but this is a bad package that comes across more as a quick way to make some money than a serious animation project.

The audio is no different from Ni and Kai, with the exception that the opening and ending song are markedly inferior. Indeed, the only respect in which Rei perhaps exceeds the first two seasons of Higurashi is animation. Everything is a bit crisper and more beautiful. On the other hand, the terror facial expressions, so common in the first season and worthy of praise, is appropriately absent.

I'm certainly glad that Rei is only 5 episodes. It's completely understandable that fans of Higurashi will find it necessary to watch Rei. Just don't expect much.

Story: 5.8
Animation: 8.1
Sound: 8

Overall Score: 6.5 (Good)

1 - Embarrassment Chapter
2 - Dice Killing Chapter 1
3 - Dice Killing Chapter 2
4 - Dice Killing Chapter 3
5 - Daybreak Chapter

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