Two sets of drama CDs were produced, one by Wayuta and the other by Frontier Works. Novelizations of the game series were released by Kodansha Box between August 2007 and March 2009. A manga series adapted from the games began with eight different manga artists working separately on one to three of the multiple story arcs and were published by Square Enix and Kadokawa Shoten. The manga was licensed for release in English in North America by Yen Press under the title Higurashi When They Cry and the first volume was released in November 2008. Following the manga's release in Japan, two anime television series were produced by Studio Deen in 2006 and 2007; a third anime adaptation was released as an original video animation (OVA) series in 2009. The first anime series was licensed by Geneon Entertainment in English, but the license expired in 2011. Sentai Filmworks has since licensed both anime seasons and the Rei OVAs. A live-action film adaptation of the series, directed by Ataru Oikawa, premiered in Japanese theaters in May 2008, with a sequel released in May 2009. A six-episode live-action television series adaptation premiered in Japan in May 2016, and a four-episode sequel premiered in November 2016.
Higurashi is a murder mystery game described as a "sound novel" by 07th Expansion. A sound novel is similar to a visual novel in that the gameplay requires relatively little player interaction as most of the game is composed of text dialogues. The original release contained no voice acting for the characters. While a visual novel's basis would be the visual aspect as the name suggests, a sound novel's basis takes more care in producing an atmosphere via the music, sound effects, and the story itself.
The game utilizes intermissions where the player can obtain several Tips. These Tips allow the player to read various supplementary information that may or may not be useful in solving the mystery. For example, one of the Tips can be as simple as "this is a small village; children who go to this school are combined into one classroom regardless of what grade or year they are in." On the other hand, they can provide valuable hints, such as being able to read the excerpts of the newspaper articles regarding the murders that occurred in Hinamizawa. At the beginning of each of the story arcs, a cryptic poem by someone known as Frederica Bernkastel is read; these reveal some of what is going to happen in the following arc.
The PlayStation 2 port Matsuri differs from the original game series in that it includes full voice acting, redrawn CGs, and integration of the question arcs starring Keiichi into a single branching storyline. Matsuri includes the first seven PC arcs (Matsuribayashi-hen is excluded) and three original final arcs—Taraimawashi-hen, Tsukiotoshi-hen and Miotsukushi-hen. After the original seven arcs are cleared, the first two final arcs become available. Furthermore, when these two final arcs are cleared, the epilogue, Miotsukushi-hen, is unlocked. The DS ports that compose Kizuna include most of the CGs from Matsuri, as well as some new ones, a similar arc integration system to Matsuri, and partial voice acting for certain emphasized scenes.
In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, there are seven main characters who appear in almost every scenario. The main protagonist is Keiichi Maebara, a young boy who has recently moved to Hinamizawa with his family and begun to adapt to life in the countryside. Keiichi has a natural charisma which allows him to make friends easily. Since the village is a small town of about two thousand people with only a single school, there are not many children around his own age; he easily meets the others his age and becomes friends with them.
One of these good friends is a seemingly ditsy and sweet girl named Rena Ryugu. She, like Keiichi, is new in Hinamizawa, having only returned from Ibaraki a year before the story begins. She has an obsession with things she considers to be cute—generally, others do not agree—and will often scavenge for such things at the local dump and bring them back home. Before she met Keiichi, Rena became friends with a tomboy Mion Sonozaki, the leader of the group and president of their club, who keeps secrets hidden from the others. Her twin sister, Shion, lives in Okinomiya. Although their personalities are different, she and Mion have switched places in the past, and the change is nearly indistinguishable.
There are other girls in the club younger than Keiichi, Rena and Mion. One is Satoko Hojo, a clever girl who is quite skilled at setting traps when playing games with her friends. She usually has an energetic and mischievous personality, but this hides a past full of trauma. Her older brother, Satoshi becomes similar to Keiichi. Her friend, Rika Furude, is revered by the villagers as the heir of the local shrine and plays the role of a miko in the annual Watanagashi Festival. Despite her young age, she sometimes expresses a type of wisdom which would normally be beyond her years and is quite fond of sake. Rika is also the girl who becomes the central figure so that the village can avoid a tragic end. Hanyū, a goddess who appears late in the story but in fact, has been with Rika for a very long time, though only Rika can see her.
Of the remaining cast, there are those such as Oishi Kuraudo, the soon to be retired police officer, who solves the mystery of the disappearances, including freelance photographer Jirō Tomitake, and clinic nurse and mercenary leader Miyo Takano. Takano has a keen interest in the village's past and culture. She works with the head doctor and baseball coach, Kyosuke Irie, who takes care of Satoko.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni takes place during June 1983 in a fictional rural village called Hinamizawa (雛見沢) (based on the village of Shirakawa, Gifu, a World Heritage Site), which has a population of approximately 2,000. The main character, Keiichi Maebara, moves to Hinamizawa and befriends his new classmates Rena Ryugu, Mion Sonozaki, Rika Furude, and Satoko Hojo. Keiichi joins their after-school club activities, which consist mostly of card and board games (and punishment games for the loser – usually him). Hinamizawa appears to be a normal, peaceful, rural village to Keiichi. However, the tranquility abruptly ends after the annual Watanagashi Festival, a celebration to commemorate and give thanks to the local god, Oyashiro. Keiichi learns that every year for the past four years, one person has been murdered, and another has gone missing on the evening of the Watanagashi Festival. Keiichi himself soon becomes drawn into the strange events surrounding the Watanagashi Festival and Oyashiro. In each story arc, he or one of his friends becomes paranoid and a crime is committed. Usually, the crime involves the murder of one of their own friends. While it seems impossible to tell their delusions apart from the mystery of Hinamizawa, slowly the truth is revealed.
While the story arcs follow various plots, the general basis is thus: During ancient times, the village where Hinamizawa sits was founded, unknowingly near a swamp that contained a parasite that caused paranoia and eventual madness. This parasite was interpreted by the villagers at the time to be demonic possession, and laws were placed that stated it was taboo to leave the village. This law was eventually enshrined as holy laws of a local deity, Oyashiro, and the punishment eventually became death by torture, as the village became paranoid of being wiped out if too many "demons" left the village. Living in the village, and the presence of the shrine maidens, who produced a sort of pheromone, held the disease in check.
Eventually, the village customs faded, and in 1983, a bioweapons researcher, Takano decided to deliberately release the disease to vindicate the work of her adoptive grandfather, who was mocked and shamed by the scientific community for his thesis about the disease, by killing the current shrine maiden, Rika. However, a spirit, Hanyū, rewound time to save Rika's life. But rather than simply reset, the universe of the rewound time became slightly different, influenced by changed past events of the characters lives and personalities, with Hanyu and Rika being the only characters aware of this. This leads to the multiple plot lines that are independent, with the only common thread being Rika's murder by Takano's henchmen, which releases the disease on the village and wipes it out.
After several hundred loops, Keiichi becomes aware of them in a handful of flashbacks, and subconsciously remembers several of his past loops, which allows him to avoid several critical points where various characters would be murdered or driven insane, and the group of friends nearly manages to outwit Takano. In the final loop, the group asks Hanyu to join them, and the spirit manages to manifest a physical body. With her assistance, they manage to stay alive long enough to prevent Takano's plan. Hanyū travels back in time to alter Takano's past, saving her father's life and preventing her psychotic drive from forming.
In the Higurashi games, there are several story arcs, the original eight of which are referred to as either question arcs or answer arcs. The answer arcs generally recapitulate the events of the corresponding question arc, but from a different perspective, using the change of protagonist to solve various mysteries and come to a different conclusion. Each of the eight original games for the PC represented separate arcs of the overall storyline. Apart from the main question and answer relationship, the story of the arcs are not directly connected, although a multitude of parallels exist which allow the observant reader to gain extra insight into the mystery.
The Higurashi When They Cry (ひぐらしのなく頃に, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni) games form what are referred to as the question arcs. These first four games of the series were meant to give the player a sense of the world where the story takes place and introduce the mysterious circumstances surrounding the village of Hinamizawa. Since there are no concrete answers given to the questions that the story presents in these arcs, the question arcs allow the player to form his or her own opinions about the events taking place in the village. Each question arc game contains all of the previous question arcs.Onikakushi-hen (鬼隠し編, "Demoned Away Chapter")
The chapter introduces the player to the world of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
. The player is shown the simple rural life of the village, the after-school club activities, and the friendships of the main characters. However, things take a sinister turn after the Watanagashi Festival, when Keiichi discovers what his new friends have been concealing from him. The chapter implies that Rena and Mion are the villains.
Watanagashi-hen (綿流し編, "Cotton Drifting Chapter")
The player should have an overall idea of how life in the village resembles. Once again, the chapter begins for the Watanagashi Festival again marking the start of the bad events. An ancient curse strikes and a pair of sisters are not what they seem. Shion Sonozaki makes her first appearance in the chapter, while Mion is portrayed as the villain.
Tatarigoroshi-hen (祟殺し編, "Curse Killing Chapter")
Keiichi and Satoko develop a brother-sister relationship. When Satoko's abusive uncle returns to the village, Keiichi attempts to help Satoko with drastic measures. However, as more people die, it is clear he is not the only one involved. The spotlight shines on Satoko Hojo as the "victim". The chapter implies that Keiichi is a villain.
Himatsubushi-hen (暇潰し編, "Time Killing Chapter")
Five years before the first three chapters, Tokyo police investigator, Mamoru Akasaka, investigates a kidnapping of a politician's grandchild around the village. Soon, he too becomes implicated in the mysteries of the village. The chapter focuses on Rika Furude as being the key part of the mystery.
The Higurashi When They Cry Kai (ひぐらしのなく頃に解, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, "When Cicadas Cry Solutions") games form what are known as the answer arcs. The last four games released in the series, were, in contrast to the question arcs, meant to answer all of the questions presented in the first half of the series. These arcs can be considered the "solutions" of the previous arcs. Each answer arc game contains all of the previous answer arcs.Meakashi-hen (目明し編, "Eye Opening Chapter")
is the answer arc corresponding to Watanagashi-hen
. The chapter consists of events very similar to those of Watanagashi-hen
told from the perspective of Shion. After Satoshi kills his aunt, the chapter implies that Shion is a villain.
Tsumihoroboshi-hen (罪滅し編, "Atonement Chapter")
is the answer arc corresponding to Onikakushi-hen
. Unlike Meakashi-hen
s story is drastically different from the plot of its question arc. In Tsumihoroboshi-hen
, Rena experiences a situation similar to Keiichi's in Onikakushi-hen
, as she makes a terrible mistake and becomes distrustful of her former friends. It is the first chapter with a (seemingly) happy ending, although the tips reveal an evil twist.
Minagoroshi-hen (皆殺し編, "Massacre Chapter")
On the surface, Minagoroshi-hen
is the solution to Tatarigoroshi-hen
; however, it answers most of the major common mysteries of the previous arcs. It is told from the perspective of Rika Furude. Most notably, the true identity of the murderer is finally revealed in Minagoroshi-hen
. After Minagoroshi-hen
, one more effort is needed to seal the story into a happy ending.
Matsuribayashi-hen (祭囃し編, "Festival Accompanying Chapter")
With all pieces of the puzzle in place, it's up to the characters to join forces in order to defeat the culprit, obtain the miracle, and break through the barrier of June 1983. Matsuribayashi-hen
is a "Good End" in which no major deaths occur in that June, although the deaths in previous years still occurred.
Three extra chapters were included in a fan disc named Higurashi When They Cry Rei (ひぐらしのなく頃に礼, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, When Cicadas Cry Gratitudes), two of which were newly created. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei was released on December 31, 2006.Saikoroshi-hen (賽殺し編, "Dice Killing Chapter")
is an epilogue of Matsuribayashi-hen
, which takes place two months later in August 1983. Rika is apparently killed by a truck and wakes up in a different world, where none of the tragic events occurred in the main series: Keiichi is absent from the village, Rena's parents did not divorce, the dam project was resolved smoothly, Satoshi stays with Satoko and Rika's parents appeared. However, the club never formed, meaning Rika has no friends, she gets bullied by Satoko, Hanyū is absent, Rika is not revered as the reincarnation of Oyashiro, and the village will soon be submerged underwater. Rika has to choose between staying in that world or killing her own mother, which will enable her to leave that sinless world.
Batsukoishi-hen (罰恋し編, "Penalty Loving Chapter")
A slapstick dream story in which Keiichi and the Soul Brothers fight against the girls through the club punishment games. The chapter was originally an epilogue titled Otsukaresama
which came with Meakashi-hen
, but it was deemed too irrelevant and silly and was removed from subsequent chapters.
Hirukowashi-hen (昼壊し編, "Daybreak Chapter")
is based on Higurashi Daybreak
. Keiichi and Rena spent time together, until Rena accidentally swallows something during her usual treasure hunting. According to Rika, the seal of the sacred "Fuwarazu Magatama" pairs was broken, and Rena had one of them. The magatama holds a mysterious magical powers in which a person that has the red magatama will blindly fall in love with anyone with the white one.
Three original chapters were created for the PlayStation 2 version Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri (ひぐらしのなく頃に祭, When Cicadas Cry Festival), by Alchemist.Taraimawashi-hen (盥回し編, "Rotation Chapter")
An alternate beginning chapter, at first glance, this additional "question arc" is a retelling of Onikakushi-hen
. However, this chapter, in fact, contains the events of Watanagashi-hen
. After learning the secrets of Hinamizawa, Keiichi decides to ignore everything and enjoy his peaceful school life; this action leads to a tragic series of events. Shion Sonozaki is the villain of the chapter, while Mion becomes the victim. Mion survives and is shown Rena's blood stained hat. Mion talks to Ooishi about the incident, but dies shortly after. The scenario is actually a "punishment", given when you deliberately try and avoid getting into any of the scenarios in the story (except one, as it is actually difficult to get into on purpose), and makes it clear to the player that they cannot simply avoid the tragedies around them and expect a happy ending.
Tsukiotoshi-hen (憑落し編, "Exorcism Chapter")
does not provide many answers since it relates what went wrong in Watanagashi-hen/Meakashi-hen
, it is still considered an answer arc. In order to save Satoko, Shion, Keiichi and Rena decide to kill Teppei. But after the murder is done, Rena starts to act strangely, and Keiichi thinks he hears Oyashiro talking to him. Mion notices the change in her friends' behavior and takes Shion's place to find out why they are acting this way. Later on, Satoko develops Hinamizawa Syndrome and kills Shion, before killing herself.
Miotsukushi-hen (澪尽し編, "Canal Drying Chapter")
An alternate ending to the main series, the chapter name Miotsukushi
is a pun of Miotsukushi (澪標, canal sign)
and Mi o tsukushi (身を尽くし)
, a conjugation of Mi o tsukusu (身を尽くす, serve one's body)
. The pun is known in Japanese poetry such as haiku. After finding out who the real murderer is, Rika and Keiichi decide to put an end to the whole mystery, but they are in a different situation than Matsuribayashi-hen
. Before they can do anything, they have to solve other people's problems first. The problems of Watanagashi/Meakashi-hen
, and Tsumihoroboshi-hen
are met here, and all of them must be solved. The arc solves all the mysteries of the series, adds a few new ones, and gives the origins of both Hanyu and Hinamizawa syndrome. The story development of Miotsukushi-hen
in the fourth Nintendo DS game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna
has slight differences from the original PlayStation 2 version. The conclusion of Tomoe's story, continued from the third DS game Rasen
, was added to Miotsukushi-hen
, but had no connection with the PlayStation 2 version ending.
Four original chapters were created for the Nintendo DS version Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna (ひぐらしのなく頃に絆, When Cicadas Cry Bonds), by Alchemist.Someutsushi-hen (染伝し編, "Dye Following Chapter")
The new question arc reveals in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna
. It seems to be a retelling of Onisarashi
with new characters and a few minor differences. In this chapter, the events of Onisarashi
play out with the exception of Tomoe added to the equation, and Akasaka and Oishi being absent, although Oishi is mentioned, resulting in a different ending. The major difference is that this chapter's ending is a "bad ending" instead of a "good ending" like in the original storyline, with Natsumi dying at the end instead of being saved by Akira.
Kagebōshi-hen (影紡し編, "Silhouette Spinning Chapter")
A new chapter in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna Dai Ni Kan Sō
. The version of Onisarashi-hen
is told through the eyes of Tomoe Minami, a policewoman that is investigating the strange occurrences happening all over Japan. Akasaka and Oishi are present in this chapter, as well as Tomoe's younger sister, who is also a police officer, and another male officer. The chapter has a "good ending" like the original manga chapter, but with different events causing it. Natsumi attacks Chisato, one of her friends, putting her in the hospital, where she later talks with Akasaka. After the seemingly unpreventable murder of Natsumi's family, Chisato meets Natsumi on the hospital roof, and after a little struggling, manages to calm Natsumi down, and comforts her.
Tokihogushi-hen (解々し編, "Untangling Chapter")
A new chapter in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Kizuna Rasen
. Tomoe Minai and her sister make another appearance, along with a new blue haired girl named Nagisa Ozaki. Oishi Kurado and Rena Ryugu return in this chapter. The chapter explores Rena's past in Showa 57 (1982).
Kotohogushi-hen (言祝し編, "Congratulating Chapter")
A DS-exclusive chapter in the final installment of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna Dai Yon Kan Kizuna
. The chapter explores Hanyu's past as Hainiryuun Ieasomuuru Jieda and the origin of Hinamizawa. Characters appeared in this arc such as Riku Furude, one of Rika's ancestor and the Shinto Priest of Furude House, who fell in love with Hainiryuun; and Ōka Furude, the child of Hainiryuun and Riku Furude.
These side stories are original chapters serialized in manga form which supplement the games and partially continue the story.Onisarashi-hen (鬼曝し編, "Demon Exposing Chapter")
, a young girl named Natsumi is haunted by the aftermath of the Hinamizawa Disaster. Soon after her grandmother — a former Hinamizawa resident — tells her of Oyashiro's curse, Natsumi finds that her own hands have become covered in blood. Akasaka and Oishi also feature in the story. Onisarashi-hen
was later included as part of the Nintendo DS remake Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna
, with some changes.
Yoigoshi-hen (宵越し編, "Beyond Midnight Chapter")
This chapter is an epilogue of one of the "possible outcomes" of Tsumihoroboshi-hen
, in which Rena burned the school and killed Mion and her friends. Many years later, in 2006, the lock has been lifted and a group of five meet by coincidence, one of them claiming to be Mion, and get dragged into the supernatural aspects of the "Village of the Dead." Tips for this chapter can be read via mobile phone at Gangan Mobile. This chapter was included as part of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kizuna: Dai-San-Kan Rasen
for the Nintendo DS.
Utsutsukowashi-hen (現壊し編, "Reality Breaking Chapter")
A prequel to Meakashi-hen
. Shion is sent away to the all-girls school, St. Lucia Academy, for confinement. One day, a male teacher's body was found in the school swimming pool and the first discoverer, Mizuho Kōsaka, is summoned to the chairman's office to report the details. Shion hears rumors about how Mizuho's grandmother is after Mizuho's life and the girl is taking refuge in the school, so Shion approaches the aloof Mizuho. The chapter started serialization in the December 2006 issue of Comp Ace
Kataribanashi-hen (語咄し編, "Anthology Chapter")
A collection of reader submitted comics that were created into a story by Ryukishi07.
Kokoroiyashi-hen (心癒し編, "Heart-Healing Chapter")
An epilogue to Matsuribayashi-hen
where Rika and the others, including Hanyu, go on a summer vacation to heal their hearts, so to speak, after everything they have been through.
Yakusamashi-hen (厄醒し編, "Disaster Awakening Chapter")
The arc was introduced in the second anime series, airing before Minagoroshi-hen
. It was made by the request of Ryukishi07 to include important plot details that were left out from the first season so as to tie the two seasons together. The issue of Hinamizawa's secrets is resolved early in this scenario, allowing the other characters to attend school without further issue. The story is told from the perspective of Satoko as she grows increasingly concerned with Rika's odd behavior, including speaking with invisible Hanyu about her own inevitable murder, and her vain attempts to change her fate on her own. Satoko later undergoes a situation containing elements from Tatarigoroshi-hen
, from discovering Rika's body to surviving the Great Hinamizawa Disaster, and dying in the hospital once she understands the secret behind Rika's murder.
The Higurashi no Naku Koro ni series is the first visual novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The game director and scenario writer for the series are Ryukishi07, who also drew all of the character illustrations. Background images were taken from photographs taken by Ryukishi07, his younger brother Yatazakura, and Kameya Mannendō. Programming was worked on by Yatazakura, who worked on the main structure, 4U who worked on the intermission and Tips, and BT who worked on the mini games. The games were designed using the game engine NScripter. The music of Higurashi was provided by various music artists including both professionals and dōjin artists, including Dai, the composer of most of the music found in the answer arcs.
Ryukishi07 wrote in 2004 how he was influenced by Key's works during the planning of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Ryukishi07 played Key's games as a reference, among other visual novels, and analyzed them to figure out the reason why they were found to be so popular. He figured that the secret was due to how the stories would start with ordinary, enjoyable days, but then a sudden occurrence would happen to lead the player to cry due to the shock value. He used a similar model for the basis of Higurashi but instead of leading the player to cry, Ryukishi07 wanted to scare the player with the addition of horror elements. In this way, Ryukishi07 wished to be in some way associated with Key who he described as a "masterpiece maker."
In an interview in the December 2008 issue of Yen Press's Yen Plus manga anthology, Ryukishi07 stated that Higurashi had its origins from an unpublished theater script called Hinamizawa Teiryūjo (雛見沢停留所, lit. Hinamizawa Bus Stop) he had written a few years before the first Higurashi game was released. When he decided to rewrite the script and release it, he wanted to build upon "the contrast between a fun, ordinary life, and something terrifying and out of the ordinary." Ryukishi07 was greatly influenced by the worlds of Seishi Yokomizo when developing the universe of Higurashi. Ryukishi07 had decided "early on to design the story so that the truth comes to light by looking at several overlapping stories," though he originally planned to release it as a single game due to initially believing he could finish the story in a single year.
The word higurashi is the name of a kind of cicada. Naku means "to make sound" (鳴く), specifically referring to those sounds made by non-human organisms. According to the original creator, Ryukishi07, the red Na (な) in the logo is an official part of the title.
The first game of the Higurashi When They Cry visual novel series, titled Onikakushi-hen, was released on August 10, 2002. The second game Watanagashi-hen was released on December 29, 2002. The third game Tatarigoroshi-hen was released on August 15, 2003. The fourth game Himatsubushi-hen was released on August 13, 2004. The first four games are part of the question arcs, and the following four games, under the title Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, are part of the answer arcs. The fifth game Meakashi-hen was released on December 30, 2004. The sixth game Tsumihoroboshi-hen was released on August 14, 2005. The seventh game Minagoroshi-hen was released on December 30, 2005. The eighth game Matsuribayashi-hen was released on August 13, 2006. A fan disc titled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei was released on December 31, 2006. A second fan disc titled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Hō was released on August 17, 2014. Each chapter keeps the same cast of main characters and general premise but unfolds in a different manner. Each of the chapters give valuable answers, hints, and clues as to the mysteries of the previous installment while at the same time bringing forth even more mysteries.
The eight original PC games were released in English by MangaGamer under the title Higurashi When They Cry starting with the first four games released in December 2009 and the last four released in monthly intervals starting in February 2010. MangaGamer's release of the visual novels does not include several background music tracks and other bonus features specific to the original Japanese version which include: the staff room, the music room, and a minigame. The eight original PC games were also released in French by Saffran Prod under the title Le sanglot des cigales, starting with the first two games released together in November 2009. The Japanese company Seams has done releases for iOS devices in Japanese and English. The Japanese version includes all eight games. The English version is based on the translation by MangaGamer and as of May 2012 includes the first five games. A remastered version of Onikakushi-hen from Higurashi When They Cry Hō was released by MangaGamer on Steam on May 15, 2015 for Windows, OS X and Linux. The updates include a re-translation, previously cut music tracks and content, the original Japanese text, and alternative character art by illustrator Kurosaki.
A dōjin game named Higurashi Daybreak, based on the Higurashi series and featuring an original scenario by Ryukishi07, was developed by Twilight Frontier, the creators of Immaterial and Missing Power and Eternal Fighter Zero. The gameplay is that of a versus third-person shooter, in which most of the characters of the main Higurashi series are playable. Higurashi Daybreak was first released on August 13, 2006, and an expansion pack followed on April 22, 2007.
A video game console port for the PlayStation 2 was released as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri (ひぐらしのなく頃に祭, When Cicadas Cry Festival) by Alchemist on February 22, 2007. Higurashi is the third dōjin game to be ported to a video game console; the first was Hanakisō by HaccaWorks*, and the second was Melty Blood by French-Bread and Ecole. Although Higurashi was the first to have a video game console port announced, its longer development time made it the third to be released. Due to the popularity of Matsuri, a second enhanced PlayStation 2 port, known as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri: Kakera Asobi (ひぐらしのなく頃に祭カケラ遊び, When Cicadas Cry Festival: Playing with the Pieces), was released on December 20, 2007. It was sold as an append disc to the original Matsuri and as a standalone game. It contains all of Matsuri's content, in addition to Matsuribayashi-hen from the original games and other bonus content.
A series of four games for the Nintendo DS under the collective title Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kizuna (ひぐらしのなく頃に絆, When Cicadas Cry Bond) with new story arcs are being developed by Alchemist. The first, with the added title Tatari (祟, Curse), was released on June 26, 2008 containing the first three chapters from the question arcs, and a new chapter entitled Someutsushi-hen, with its story based on the Onisarashi-hen manga series. The second, with the added title Sō (想, Idea), was released in November 2008. The third game in the series, with the added title Rasen (螺, Spiral), was released in March 2009. The final game, subtitled Kizuna (絆, Bond), was released in February 2010.
A PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita port titled Higurashi When They Cry Sui and published by Kaga Create was released in Japan on March 12, 2015. This edition features all scenarios from previous versions, in addition to full voice acting, new songs, CGs, minigames and functions.
There were two official sets of drama CDs released, one by Wayuta, and the other by Frontier Works. Wayuta has released seven CDs since May 27, 2005 starting with Onikakushi-ken and going through the main story arcs from the visual novel series to Tsumihoroboshi-hen on February 22, 2008. Two more drama CDs will be released by Wayuta to cover Minagoroshi-hen and Matsuribayashi-hen. Wayuta has already released two bonus drama CDs named Append Disc 01 released on December 29, 2005 at Comiket 69, and Append Disc 02 released on October 26, 2007. Wayuta also released two drama CDs covering a new arc named Kataribanashi-hen (語咄し編), the first on April 25, 2007, and the second on May 9, 2008. Frontier Works released two CDs, starting with an anthology piece called Anthology Drama CD 1 on December 22, 2005, followed by a sequel entitled Anthology Drama CD 2 on March 24, 2006. There have also been numerous drama CDs released during special events such as at Comiket or through magazine subscription.
There are eight main titles in the Higurashi manga series, spanning the four question arcs and the four answer arcs. Each question arc manga are compiled into two bound volumes. The first two answer arc manga are compiled into four volumes, meanwhile Minagoroshi-hen is compiled into six volumes, and Matsuribayashi-hen into eight. The manga uses multiple artists between the various arcs. Karin Suzuragi drew Onikakushi-hen, Tsumihoroboshi-hen, and Matsuribayashi-hen, Yutori Hōjō drew Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen, Jirō Suzuki drew Tatarigoroshi-hen, Yoshiki Tonogai drew Himatsubushi-hen, and Hanase Momoyama drew Minagoroshi-hen. Another manga entitled Kokoroiyashi-hen (心癒し編, Heart Healing Chapter) is drawn by Yuna Kagesaki and began in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace on August 26, 2008. The manga series was licensed by Yen Press for English distribution in North America under the title Higurashi When They Cry. The manga was initially serialized in Yen Press' Yen Plus anthology magazine, the first issue of which went on sale on July 29, 2008. The first English volume of the manga was originally planned to be sold in early 2009, but was released in November 2008.
There are three side stories related to the main Higurashi story, but with new characters. The first, named Onisarashi-hen (鬼曝し編, Demon Exposing Chapter), is drawn by En Kitō and was serialized between March 2005 and July 2006 in Comp Ace. The next, entitled Yoigoshi-hen (宵越し編, Overnight Chapter), is drawn by Mimori and was serialized between in GFantasy between 2006 and 2007. The last side story is known as Utsutsukowashi-hen (現壊し編, Reality Breaking Chapter) is also drawn by En Kitō and was serialized in Comp Ace between 2006 and 2007.
A manga adaptation of Higurashi's precursor Hinamizawa Teiryūjo began serialization in the debut issue of Square Enix's Big Gangan magazine, sold on October 25, 2011.
There are four light novels which contain additional illustrations by five different artists, and seventeen novelizations of the separate visual novel arcs. Each novel is written by Ryukishi07. The light novels were all released as limited editions not sold in stores. The first one, Nekogoroshi-hen, was illustrated by Karin Suzuragi, Yutori Hōjō, and Jirō Suzuki, and was sent out to those who bought the first volume of the manga versions of Onikakushi-hen, Watanagashi-hen, and Tatarigoroshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all three of these manga by the deadline to receive this special short story. The second light novel, Kuradashi-hen, was illustrated by Yoshiki Tonogai, Karin Suzuki, Yutori Hōjō, and Mimori. This novel was sent out to those who bought the second volume of the manga version of Himatsubushi-hen, and the first volumes of the manga Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Meakashi-hen, and Yoigoshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all four of these manga by a certain deadline to receive this special short story. The third light novel, Hajisarashi-hen, contained illustrations by Rato, and was included with the limited edition of the PlayStation 2 game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri. The light novels were published by Square Enix and released between 2006 and 2007. The fourth novel, Kuradashi-hen Zoku is a sequel to Kuradashi-hen and was sent out to those who bought the second volumes of the manga Tsumihoroboshi-hen, Meakashi-hen, and Yoigoshi-hen. One needed to send the cutout stamps in all four of these manga by a certain deadline to receive this special short story.
Kodansha Box released seventeen novelizations of the visual novel arcs between August 2007 and March 2009, starting with Onikakushi-hen and ending with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei. Most of the story arcs are divided into two volumes, except for Himatsubushi-hen and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei which are compiled into one volume each, and Matsuribayashi-hen which is compiled into three volumes. Rei included illustrations by Tomohi.
The first anime series, produced by Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon, covers the four question arcs as well as the first two answer arcs. The original Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime adaptation aired in Japan between April 4 and September 26, 2006, comprising twenty-six episodes. In Japan, most of the characters were voiced by the same voice actors that voiced their respective characters in the drama CD series. The series is available on DVD in Japan, France, and North America (following Geneon Entertainment's licensing of the series). However, in September 2007, Geneon's U.S. division announced that it would discontinue all ongoing anime projects, including Higurashi, effective November 6, 2007. Only three of a planned six DVDs of Higurashi were released, under the title When They Cry: Higurashi. On July 3, 2008, Geneon and Funimation announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America. While Geneon still retained the license, Funimation assumed exclusive rights to the manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution of select titles. Higurashi was one of the several titles involved in the deal. Funimation released a complete box set of the series in August 2009. However, in August 2011, the rights to the series expired due to low sales. Sentai Filmworks has licensed both anime series.
People in Japan, who had bought all nine of the DVDs of the first season, had the chance to receive a special anime DVD entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gaiden Nekogoroshi-hen, based on the short story that was given to those who had bought the manga. Despite being a bonus for the first season (and having the first season's opening and closing sequences), Nekogoroshi-hen featured the updated animation style as seen in the second season.
A continuation of the series, based on one new story arc and the final two original answer arcs of the franchise, entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, aired in Japan between July 6 and December 17, 2007, containing twenty-four episodes. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the second anime series. The second season featured slightly different character designs than the first season and better animation. As the result of a murder case in September 2007 in Japan involving the murder of a police officer by his sixteen-year-old daughter with an axe, as well as the Japanese media relating the case to anime such as Higurashi, the latest episode screenings of both Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai and another anime at the time, School Days, were canceled by a number of Japanese TV stations due to excessive violence; however, AT-X, TV Saitama and Sun TV announced that they would be airing the episodes as planned. Later, TV Saitama announced that they had ceased broadcasting of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai from episode thirteen onwards. Additionally, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai had its opening altered when it re-aired. Originally, a bloody bill hook cleaver (as used by Rena) was shown halfway through (at timestamp 0:55) the opening; it was replaced with an image of a van from the series' fictional junk yard.
A three-arc, five-episode original video animation series, entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei, began to be released on February 25, 2009, and is directed by Toshifumi Kawase. The OVA series also started a limited broadcasting in Bandai Channel prior to DVD release. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the Rei OVAs. The OVA contains three story arcs, Hajisarashi-hen, Saikoroshi-hen, and Hirukowashi-hen, with Saikoroshi-hen concluding in three episodes, and the other two arcs concluding in one episode each. Hajisarashi-hen was originally a light novel included with the limited edition of the PlayStation 2 game Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri, and took the place of Batsukoishi-hen from the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei fandisc. Frontier Works announced another original video anime series, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kira, in March 2011, which marks the tenth anniversary of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. An anime series titled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kaku: Outbreak, adapted from Ryukishi07's short story "Higurashi Outbreak", has been announced.
A live action film adaptation of the series entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (ひぐらしのなく頃に, also known as Shrill Cries of Summer internationally), directed by Ataru Oikawa, premiered in Japanese theaters on May 10, 2008. The film is an adaptation of the first story arc, Onikakushi-hen. Gōki Maeda plays Keiichi, Airi Matsuyama plays Rena, Rin Asuka plays Mion, Aika plays Rika, and Erena Ono plays Satoko. A sequel, also live action, was released in Japanese theaters on April 18, 2009 and is entitled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Chikai (ひぐらしのなく頃に誓, also known as Shrill Cries: Reshuffle internationally). The sequel is based on the Tsumihoroboshi-hen arc.
A live-action television series adaptation premiered in Japan on May 20, 2016 on cable channel BS SKY PerfecTV!. The cast includes the members of NGT48. A four-episode sequel premiered on November 25, 2016.
Unlike visual novels created by established companies, 07th Expansion did not create the music found in the Higurashi games. The music for the question arcs consists of license free songs found on the Internet while the music for the answer arcs was provided by dōjin music artists that were fans of Higurashi. Later, a CD album called Thanks/you was released by the dōjin music artist, Dai; many of his tracks were used in the answer arcs. Fans initially referred to this album as the official soundtrack. However, the actual official soundtrack has since been released for the series, featuring a majority of the songs featured in the answer arcs. This two-disc set is, to date, the most complete collection of songs from the games.
The first season anime's opening theme is "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni" sung by Eiko Shimamiya; it went on sale in Japan on May 24, 2006. The ending theme is "Why, or Why Not" sung by Rekka Katakiri; it was released on June 28, 2006. There have been two original soundtracks released for the anime adaptation. The main composer for the tracks was Japanese composer Kenji Kawai and the albums were produced by Frontier Works. Volume 1 was released on July 21, 2006, and volume 2 was released on October 6, 2006, in Japan. Three character song CDs were also released, sung by voice actors from the anime adaptation, between March 28 and July 25, 2007. The second season anime's opening theme is "Naraku no Hana" also sung by Shimamiya. The first season's opening theme, when played backwards, includes the words Nigerarenainda (逃げられないんだ, [You] can't escape). This 'backwards' portion of the song is also included in the second season's opening theme. The ending theme is "Taishō a" performed by anNina. The first OVA season's opening theme is "Super scription of data" by Shimamiya, and the ending theme is "Manazashi" (まなざし) by anNina. The opening theme for the OVA Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kira is "Happy! Lucky! Dochy!" by Yukari Tamura, Mika Kanai, and Yui Horie—the voice actors for Rika, Satoko, and Hanyu, respectively. The ending theme, "Zendai Mimon Miracle Change" (前代未聞☆ミラクルチェンジ, Unprecedented Miracle Change), had four separate versions: one by Mai Nakahara, Rena's voice actor and the others are sung by Yukari Tamura and Mika Kanai, Satsuki Yukino, Mion and Shion's voice actor, and Yui Horie.
For the first live-action film, a short version of the film's theme song was released on December 22, 2007, in Japan. Once again, Shimamiya sang the song, entitled "Wheel of Fortune" (運命の輪, Unmei no Wa). Shimamiya also performed the ending theme entitled "Diorama" (ディオラマ).
Over 100,000 copies of the original games were sold in Japan by 2006, a feat not attained by a dōjin game since Type-Moon released Tsukihime. Many fans attribute the game's success to the suspense and horror the novel portrays, with no definite answer provided. Fan-based community boards emerged where fans began discussing their own theories. The popularity of the games grew exponentially as many took interest in their well-outlined script and story, which eventually led the game to be showcased in large gaming magazines with positive reviews. With the announcement of the live-action film adaptation of Onikakushi-hen came the news that over 500,000 copies of the games have been sold. The enhanced PlayStation 2 port, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri, has sold over 140,000 copies to date, and has received a total review score of 31/40 (out of the four individual review scores of 9, 8, 8, and 6) from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. The game was voted the tenth most interesting bishōjo game by readers of Dengeki G's Magazine in an August 2007 survey.
The English-language Steam versions of the first two episodes, released in 2015, sold 57,000 copies as of December 2015. This adds up to total sales of over 557,000 copies worldwide as of October 30, 2015. It received a positive reception from English-language critics. Hardcore Gamer stated that the "writing is incredibly eerie, and amazingly effective" and concluded that "few video games make it anywhere near the skillful story weaving present within the Higurashi series." APGNation stated the "Excellent writing and music make for an evocative reading experience."
In Japan, the third volume of the manga adaptation ranked as the 19th weekly best-selling book on January 16, 2008. The first volume ranked as the 18th weekly bestseller on June 10, 2008. The fourth volume ranked as the 19th bestseller on January 14, 2009. In the United States, the first volume was ranked 253rd in the top 300 graphic novels sold in November 2008 and ranked as 25th in the top 25 Manga sold in the first quarter of 2009 release of ICv2 Retailers Guide to Anime/Manga.
Debi Aoki of About.com stated that reading the chapters in succession as they were presented in its serialization in Yen Plus made the story "easier to follow" and built the suspense better. However, Justin Colussy-Estes of Comic Village disagreed feeling that this structure "backfire[d]". Justin Colussy-Estes of Comic Village praised the setting for hinting at something "much darker". He also praised the structure stating that the "mystery develops slowly" to immerse the reader in the characters and then later force the reader to "confront the possibility that one or more of them may be [the] murderer"; a decision he described as "clever". Critics criticized the manga for using "cliché" characterizations typical of the harem genre. However, Phil Guie of Popcultureshock expressed disappointment that this characterization "is brushed aside" for the horror as it gave the friendship between characters "real depth" adding to the surprise of the plot twists. Anime News Network's Casey Brienza praised the manga for being an "effective" horror story as it follows an ordinary situation, a harem manga plot, which "becomes terrifying" producing an effect that is "trashy horror at its absolute greatest". However, she expressed being frustrated by the end of the second volume as the central question remains "infuriatingly unanswered" though still felt the manga is "wholly enjoyable and satisfying" nonetheless. Brienza stated that although the artwork is "average", the illustrator "seems to know exactly how to transition between the adorable and the abominable—and does so with dramatic, nightmarish effect." Aoki described the artwork as although "pander[ing] to otaku fetishes" containing "generic" and "awkward" character designs, providing "overbearing cutesiness [that] makes the secrets that the girls are hiding behind their smiles just that much creepier."
A review of Higurashi When they Cry by The Escapist gave the anime a highly positive review. The reviewer, James Henley, praised the story, saying that each arc is interesting in its own way, but said that watching Kai was necessary to fully understand the story. He also praised the cast of characters, and how, despite having only one main male character, it never falls into harem stereotypes, and how each one has a unique back story, revealed in different arcs. He criticized the dub as poor quality, but recommended the anime, mainly subbed, if one "can stomach the brutality." The Anime Almanac similarly praised the story, as a unique method of storytelling and the art of the characters, but went to add that the "moe" design on the girls made the scary scenes less threatening. He ultimately recommended the series. Another review, from T.H.E.M Anime, was less positive, giving it 3 out of 5 stars, praising the story, but panning the sorrow of the characters and the violence, saying "Higurashi is a hard show to watch; while it's interesting, each chapter is progressively soul-sucking and depressing, as the characters struggle desperately to avoid grisly fates, often to no avail, multiple times." He finished the review by saying "...Higurashi is interesting and visceral enough to be worth viewing by the more adventurous."