Review written by forum member MegaHentai.
Publisher: Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc.
Length: 650 minutes
Video: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0, Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Release Date: August 25, 2009
MSRP: $69.98 US
- excellent horror
- unique story structure
- clever art style juxtaposition
- creepy, yet beautiful, soundtrack
- initially confusing
- too violent for some viewers
With Halloween fast approaching, many of you will be deciding which horror movies to watch to get ready for the day. For those who are looking for something better than mere special effects jumping out at you and shouting BOO!, allow me to make a recommendation: the newly-released eleven-hour box set of When They Cry.
Keiichi Maebara has moved from a big city to the small, close-knit community of Hinamizawa. At school, he falls in with the Games Club, a quartet of cute girls with a penchant for low-stakes gambling, and quickly befriends all four. Everything’s coming up roses for Keiichi until a visiting photographer clues him in to the town’s dirty little secret: a series of murders and abductions which take place every year during the annual Cotton Drifting festival, and which seem to have something to do with an abandoned dam construction project and a local legend known as “Oyashiro’s Curse”. Within days, more people are dead, and a cop is hinting that he suspects Keiichi and/or his friends.
What makes When They Cry so unique is that it tells this story three times. While the above details remain the same each time, everything else changes. Clues to the mystery are provided in each story arc, though it is unlikely that first-time viewers will correctly catch all of them. Following these three stories, three more give the answers to the mysteries. If anything, the answers are often even more disturbing than the questions.
Like the manga and video games on which it is based, When They Cry makes use of an unusual clash of art styles to increase the tension and terror. Most of the series makes heavy use of the kawaii aesthetic — the cute, bouncy style most commonly associated with anime. This creates extra unease in the viewer when things start going badly for any of the characters and the style suddenly shifts into jagged lines and grotesque features. It’s a crude technique, but a highly effective one. Imagine a version of Nightmare on Elm Street in which any scene not featuring Freddy Krueger is filmed in the style of The Doodlebops, and you’ll have an idea of the effect.
None, unless you count several trailers.
Both audio and video are high-quality by DVD standards. The music is especially wonderful — I actually watched the opening credit sequence in its entirety for all 26 episodes, which is a rarity.
The box set contains six discs in three double-sided slimpacks, all contained in a slipcase. The cover art on the slimpacks seems to replicate that of the single-volume releases from last year.
When They Cry will haunt your dreams for days. Anime and horror fans alike will find it an interesting experiment in their respective genres. A second series and three OAVs have been made; here’s hoping they receive an English release very soon indeed.