Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $69.98 US
Running Time: 650 minutes
Rating: 16 and Up
Release Date: Available Now
When they cry someone will die.
At first glance, you would think that When They Cry is a warm, cute and charming little series about friends, love and the quiet Japanese village life. The characters are certainly adorable and the slapstick comedy is just as cutesy but by the end of the first episode of each chapter the series has a tendency to turn disturbingly dark and by the middle of the second episode somebody ends up dead, turns up missing or goes insane. The Complete Box Set of When They Cry covers all 26 episodes of a series that will not fail to pull you into the dark and gruesome universe it creates.
Told in six chapters (or story arcs), When They Cry focuses on a boy named Keiichi Maebara who moved to the quiet village of Hinamizawa from Tokyo. The village is small and so is the school that crams together grade school students with High school students and each year the villagers hold a yearly festival in honor of their deity. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with Hinamizawa but look closer and you’ll see that something is disturbingly wrong.
In the first story chapter, entitled Spirited Away by the Demon, we get a glimpse into Keiichi’s life as we meet his friends Rena Ryugu and the attractive Mion Sonozaki. He also has cute grade school friends like Rena and Satoko. Since he moved here he thought nothing really happens in Hinamizawa but when he learns that there have been a couple of death linked to a failed dam construction project, curiosity gets the better of him.
Keiichi learns that ever since the dam project was mentioned a number of dam supporters mysteriously disappear or die during the annual Cotton Drifting Festival. He meets a photographer named Tomitake and the mysterious Miss Takano who tell him that it might have to do with the village’s deity known as Oyashiro who has cursed dam supporters for even considering flooding the village to make way for a dam. Could it be that the villagers have asked Oyashiro to curse them? Will Keiichi, an outsider, be cursed for learning the truth? Paranoia sets in and Keiichi begins to imagine the worst and this leads him to do horrible things that lead to a body count until the final bloody end.
Oh, but even though the main characters meet a gruesome demise, the story rewinds with the next chapter. In the next story, Keiichi runs into Mion’s identical twin named Shion who talks Keiichi into going into the tool shed where a statue of Oyashiro is housed along with photographer Tomitake and Miss Takano. Unfortunately, such an action is considered a big no-no and when Tomitake and Miss Takano are found dead it becomes clear to Keiichi that he and Shion are next. Then Keiichi begins acting a lot like a similar young man named Satoshi who disappeared and then people start dying in very bloody ways.
In the next story arc we discover what happened to Satoshi who is Satoko’s older brother. Having stood up for Shion one day, the girl falls in love with the tortured boy who is trying to stay strong for him and his sister. When Satoshi turns up missing, Shion believes that her family and the elders of the village might have been involved. Slowly, Shion grows crazy and all she can think of is revenge and begins her quest to find those responsible and punish them in squeamish ways.
The next chapter isn’t a gory as the others as we meet Mamoru Akasaka, a Tokyo special agent placed in charge of heading to Hinamizawa to find out who might have kidnapped the son of the Minister of Construction. He discovers that it might have something to do with a group that’s against the dam construction. Akasaka meets Rika who makes some startling predictions.
Then final chapter is dedicated to Rena who lives with her divorced father and spends her time hanging out at the local dump. When Rena discovers that her father’s girlfriend has a very shady secret, she takes it upon herself to remedy the problem … in the bloodiest way possible. Committing double homicide, the thought of being discovered eats away at Rena who slowly goes mad and decides to take her school hostage.
When They Cry is the kind of series that has all the appearance of a sweet comedy and there are actually some cute and funny moments. Yet all of this dissolves right before your eyes when characters begin to lose it and commit heinous crimes. Whether or not it is the result of a curse or an even more twisted supernatural element you will find yourself horrified and very entertained.
Simply put: When They Cry is a candy-coated nightmare that is not only one of the more inventive horror series you’ll find out there but also one of the more delightfully gruesome ones as well. Downright sweet one moment and outrageously twisted the next, the Complete Series set will not fail to violently grab a hold of you and watch the madness unravel and you will like every minute of it.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The seemingly sleepy village of Hinamizawa has long worshipped a deity that will turn the village into a landmark where ancient curses, mass murder and children go psychotically crazy. As the series follows the curse of Oyashiro, we witness different yet eerily similar takes on an event you will not forget anytime soon.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The episodes look great on DVD as we saw when the episodes were released individually and the Box Set is no different. As far as the animation is concerned, you’ll love how many of the cute-looking characters suddenly deform when they go insane. There’s also lots of blood in this series so if that bothers you then this is not the anime for you.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The English dub voices are great but it’s the original Japanese cast that steals the show. Top it off with a haunting score and an excellent closing theme song like “why, or why not.”
Each disc contains trailers for Geneon titles and there’s the option to watch the opening and closing animations without credits. That’s about it and it’s a tad disappointing.
When They Cry is the type of anime series that messes with your head and then does it again just for the fun of it as horrific things happen to the cutest characters. Rightfully sick and twisted in the best possible way, The Complete Box Set of When They Cry is the definitive bloody little package that should please horror enthusiasts.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment