Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei Review: A “Perfect” World and the Final Choice
After almost half a year since I finished watching the two seasons of the Higurashi anime, I’ve finally decided to watch the sequel OVA, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei. As an OVA it didn’t have the same development and impact as the TV series did, but it does well enough for Higurashi fans to enjoy regardless. For anyone who has not seen the Higurashi series, I must mention that Rei is by no means the part of the story to jump into and can only be appreciated (and probably understood) after finishing Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai.
Rei has two components: the humor-based episodes and the plot-based episodes. The first and the last episodes are the comedic ones, while the middle 3 episodes serve as a followup to the events of season 2. Both are enjoyable, but it is certainly the middle 3 that make Rei shine more than anything else.
The middle three episodes are part of Saikoroshi-hen, or the Dice Killing Chapter. Following the events of Matsuribayashi-hen, Rika and the rest of the main cast are enjoying their lives knowing that the struggles of the past two seasons have now been overcome. However, this peace is suddenly broken when Rika is hit by a truck, sending her to yet another world. Rika wakes up to find that this world is very much unlike the others, as none of the tragedies that shook the Higurashi world in the regular timeline have ever occurred. This means that many characters who would not exist in the other worlds are present here, while some others who were central to the main plot are missing from the village. Rika attempts to return back to her own world, but upon learning the situation, she is forced to make a terrible choice: forever leave the world that she once knew, or face the worst in order to return once again.
While Saikoroshi-hen does not have the strong horror element of the first season’s arcs or the extended, complex plot developments of Kai, it does stick closely to the Higurashi style of mystery and suspense. However, the story that is told in Saikoroshi-hen is very different from the conventional Higurashi tales, and focuses more on the dilemma of morals and choices than the TV seasons did. Seeing Rika’s mental and emotional struggles added much more to her character development, especially considering the fact that there were only 3 episodes to work with, and the issues presented by this arc were fascinating to see. Unfortunately, the ending did feel rushed for obvious reasons and was slightly anti-climactic considering the buildup that had taken place before.
The other two episodes are just as they seem, amusing comedy for those who enjoyed the lighthearted moments of Higurashi. The first episode revolves around Keiichi’s time at a water park with his friends and his “magical” swimming trunks that he is led to believe shall give him the power to be ladies’ man. However, there is more to the situation than he thinks and he struggles to avoid losing his trunks as the entire Higurashi cast threatens Keiichi’s future with women. The last episode focuses on a set of ancient jewels that will cause the owner of one to fall in love with the owner of another. When the jewels break out of their seal and one flies into Rena’s mouth, Keiichi and friends have to retrieve the jewels before Rena decides to take somebody home.
Any viewers who enjoyed the humor of the Higurashi seasons will undoubtedly have fun with these two episodes. The first episode is filled with many over the top instances of characters pursuing Keiichi and plays on their personalities and trademark items to exaggerate the humor. The last episode focuses primarily on Rena humor, in particular parodying her famous “Uso Da!” multiple times, as well as showing particularly amusing sides of other characters such as Tomitake and Takano.
After such a long time without Higurashi, I definitely enjoyed watching this OVA. I was surprised to see that there was actually a good storyline ahead of the fantastic conclusion of Kai, and even though it was short, it stayed true to the Higurashi spirit and added even more development. In the end, I give Rei an 8/10. It might not be as glorious as the regular Higurashi series, but it’s certainly a set of episodes that anyone who enjoyed the first two seasons needs to watch.