The much-anticipated remake of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (When They Cry) has been delayed, so we won’t see it this Summer 2020. Yeah, we know, it sucks. We can always play the visual novels on various platforms, but for us anime fans who prefer a hands-free experience and want to live the story through animation instead of repeating character poses and facial expressions, then we’ll have to wait. So while we’re doing that, let’s discuss the upcoming anime remake and see what we’re dealing with here.
What’s the Story?
For those who haven’t heard of When They Cry, it’s a visual novel series authored by Ryukishi07 and the series grew in popularity and earned an iconic status within the anime fandom thanks to its strong characters, intelligent writing, and a gripping story. Maebara Keiichi has moved to the quaint little village of Hinamizawa, where he quickly adjusts to rural life and makes tons of friends. As the town prepares for its annual festival, Keiichi unwittingly discovers the village of Hinamizawa is holding a very dark secret—there are several unexplained murders and disappearances that are curiously connected to the town festival celebrating the patron god Oyashiro. When asked about these mysterious deaths and people going missing, Keiichi’s friends all give him the cold shoulder and become hostile towards him. What the hell is going on in this town?
The anime remake will be receiving a new facelift with brand new character designs to match the style of game developer Alchemist and Tomozo, who illustrated the original manga version of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Character designer Watanabe Akio, known for designing the characters for Bakemonogatari and Grisaia no Kajitsu, is in charge of the art style of the 2020 remake, so when it comes to horror visuals, Akio is perfect for When They Cry 2020. While the new character designs look great and maintain the cutesy innocence of the visual novel’s original chubby style, Akio’s designs are a bit of a departure from the 2006’s original anime adaptation by Studio DEEN. The 2006 style was nothing groundbreaking and feels low quality at times, but it has a charm that’s hard to replicate, won the hearts of fans, and reflects When They Cry’s humble beginnings as a doujinshi game—Ryukishi07’s original character designs are nothing spectacular, but his style has soul.
And speaking of “soul”, expect a lot of “Soul vs Soulless” memes when the remake airs. Yes, the style of the 2020 remake will likely divide the fanbase, but a clash between the old and the new is inevitable.
Animation Studio, Voice Cast, and Director
Studio Passione will be in charge of the animation so we’re dealing with a high-quality presentation and cutesy vibe of the characters who are essentially just grade-schoolers. If they screw up Rika-chama’s adorable charm in the remake… mark our words, we’ll… Oh and speaking of Rika-chama, Tamura Yukari will reprise her role as Furude Rika and the rest of the original voice actors of the main cast in When They Cry 2006 will return as well. Which makes sense because Tamura Yukari (Rika), Hoshi Souichirou (Keiichi), Nakahara Mai (Rena), Yukino Satsuki (Shion and Mion), and Kanai Mika (Satoko) also provided the voices for the visual novels and their voice performances are as iconic and familiar as the main characters of When They Cry. We’re not currently sure about the rest of the characters of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni retaining their voice cast in the remake, but as long as the main characters keep their original voice cast, there shouldn’t be a problem. Oh and please let Itou Miki keep the voice role of Droopy-tan, er, we mean, Takano Miyo.
Lastly, the director for When They Cry 2020 is Kon Chiaki, the very same director who directed the 2006 anime adaptation. Kon Chiaki’s directing performance is worthy of praise because she knows how to provide the right atmosphere from a typical life at school and the building of suspense when someone is stalking Keiichi to the part where Keiichi dies. You could say Kon Chiaki’s choice of making the characters look like bug-eyed aliens when they dilate their eyes when they’re about to stab or slash someone to death is rather silly, but it’s not the worst of choices we should say.
Things We’d Like to See
First and foremost, When They Cry 2020 will not work at 12 episodes. Sorry, it simply can't, given how massive the story is—When They Cry has a total of 8 main arcs and several expansion arcs totaling around 23 arcs. The original anime adaptation managed, though not flawlessly, to adapt all of the then-available arcs in a 26-episode first season, a 24-episode second season, and 3 OVAs. The number of episodes for the 2020 remake is still unknown, but there’s no reason the remake should be shorter than the original. Will When They Cry 2020 remake span a few 12-episode seasons, a couple of movies, and OVAs? Let’s hope it will because shortening the number of episodes while committing to cover all 8 main arcs means scenes will be cut short, and the pacing will be sped up, ruining tension.
When They Cry 2020 is shaping up to be a promising remake of a fan-favorite with the right people at the helm. Not everything is set in stone and things will change due to the recent pandemic—production may be completely halted, or the studio will end up cutting corners to meet a deadline. Let’s cross our fingers because a solid remake of a great series like When They Cry doesn’t happen very often.
With all that said, are you hyped for When They Cry 2020, regardless if you’re new to the series or not? For those who are long-time fans of the series, what is your wishlist for the upcoming remake? We love to hear from you so, as always, please share your thoughts in the cute ‘lil ole comments section below, nipah~!