Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: 16 +
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Vengeance is not very pretty … or sane.
I should admit here that I’m a big fan of horror films but don’t consider slasher films high up their in my twisted love for the genre. Yes, slasher movies tend to build up on our fears because it does stay away from supernatural creatures and concentrates on a more realistic fear … that of a psycho on the loose with a love for driving a knife/axe/machete into anyone they come across. Then I encountered When They Cry, a horror suspense tale that offers up a witty tale of bloody revenge by the hands of a real twisted psycho. This is also one of the strangest and most smartly entertaining anime series to come along in a long time.
If anything, When They Cry doesn’t go for the usual horror-anime route by maintaining the same story line or mood but rather mixes things up a little. It’s not surprising to find cute moments mixed in with a brutal stabbing in this series. In Volume 5 of the series, this format doesn’t change at all. The Cotton Festival story arc introduced a family curse in a small town consumed with its rich traditions that have been instilled since the Feudal Era. The disappearance of Satoshi has made Shion come to suspect that they boy she so loves is dead … murdered by the hands of the ruling class of the village.
Shion’s quest for revenge has pushed her over the edge and what was once a buxom, fun girl is now a psychotic mastermind that already dispatched Takano and Tomitake in the last Volume. With Mion and Oryo on the case, it’s only a matter of time before fingers start pointing in Shion’s direction. She even imprisons her twin sister, torturing her psychologically by making her witness the brutal torture and murders of friends and family members like their grandmother.
In episode 20 of the four episode volume, Shion’s paranoia begins to consume her to the point that she rushes her attempt to avenge Satoshi. She even comes to believe that a devil has possessed her body and she even sees Satoshi’s spirit who tells her that she must forget revenge and just live. Of course, Shion is completely bonkers and continues her mission by starting with the village major. Meanwhile, she meets up with her classmates without registering any sign that she had just butchered a few people. She sets her sights on the youngest daughter of a respected clan in the village who surprised Shion by attempting to stop her.
The climax comes in the third episode on the disc and let me tell you that it’s quite a brilliant twist. Explaining more would ruin the ending of this story arc and the build up is worth sitting through the number of torture and stabbing scenes … especially the one scene in the episode that was – to me – almost unbearable to watch. Still, watching Shion’s attempt to escape is one of the most intriguing and entirely convincing. Believe me, its surprising end will have you wondering why Hollywood doesn’t make suspense movies this surprising anymore. As gruesome as the violence in this series gets it never loses sight of the witty plot and execution of its finale.
In Episode 22, however, the story changes gears to set up for another chapter that does a complete 360 degree turn from the last story arc. Here we find all of the characters – including Shion – cheerfully hunting each another down with squirt guns. The episode concentrates on young Rena who – on the surface – looks happy but actually hurting on the side because she’s caught in the middle of her parent’s ugly divorce. Choosing to stay with her father, Rena comes to suspect that the woman her father is seeing might be a con artist attempting to get to her father’s money. So what’s a good daughter to do but to trail this hussy and find out what she plans to do with her father. What she discovers can only be answered in the next volume of the series.
When They Cry is definitely an acquired taste but beyond the horrific events that unfold it is suspense at its most brilliant. It’s rare to finds a series that is this unusual yet still downright entertaining to the point of really anticipating the next chapter. If you’re not opposed to trying something new, picking this one up is definitely not a bad idea.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The conclusion of Shion’s quest for revenge is nothing short of surprising and watching her flip out throughout the three episodes is very disturbing. We don’t know where the “Atonement” chapter is heading yet but it already has my attention.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The DVD bring us a 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen presentation that looks really sharp and it does the animation justice. In a anime with lots of blood, it’s strange to find some cute moments but everything seen here is handled well enough.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The English dub isn’t bad but it isn’t as great as the Japanese voice cast that suit the characters and dialogue better. This is DVD is even better with a good sound system hooked up.
There’s nothing here in terms of extras … unless you count the three Geneon trailers found here as a good bonus.
Revenge is a dish best served in the bloodiest way possible with an order of torture on the side. When They Cry plays up the horror and suspense rather well and in Volume 5 is closes with a bang not a whimper. It’s not an easy series to follow but trust me when I say that it is one that is full of surprises if you give it a chance.