Higurashi When They Cry: GOU Anthology Comic Manga Review

Higurashi When They Cry: GOU Anthology Comedian Manga Overview

Welcome back to Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983, where things are looking a little…different. Released to accompany (or at least celebrate) the anime sequel to Higurashi: When They Cry – GOU, SOTSU, the Higurashi When They Cry: GOU Anthology Comic collects nine stories that stick to the lighter side of things. That’s not bad, and not just because part of the initial bait-and-switch format of the original games relied on the misconception that Keiichi would just be hanging around with a harem of goofy girls.

That’s the theme that a couple of the stories take, with the silliest being the opening tale by Tomato Akase, manga artist for a couple of Higurashi arcs. This story features Rika waking up at school and finding that all her friends are now younger than her, leading to much confusion and a fun reframing of their mischief. Satoko is a stand-out here because, as a younger girl, she can’t quite live up to all of her plans, finding some definite issues with not being able to snap. Akase has worked within this franchise before because they clearly grasp the character dynamics in these lighter moments, and everyone genuinely feels like an elementary school version of themselves.

Unlike other official comic anthologies, this one doesn’t necessarily shine brightest when it takes its characters seriously or adheres to Ryukishi07‘s original story. The strongest entry in the book comes from horror manga creator Yoshiki Tonogai (Doubt, Judge), and it’s not a horror piece, although some readers might find it horrifying. Tonogai dares to ask, “What if instead of one of her usual deaths, Rika was hit by Truck-kun?” Well, as we all know, the laws of the animeverse dictate that if you’re hit by a random truck, you immediately get reincarnated in a fantasy world as the summoned hero, and that’s what “Rika-chan’s Adventures After Being Reborn in Another World” is about. It’s as stereotypical as its title, with the bonus that the very confused Rika soon figures out that this may be the absolute best fragment she’s ever visited – everyone’s alive and playing a true-to-genre role, with Takano as the Demon King, Rena as a cleric, and even Satoshi popping by as an alchemist. The plot doesn’t do anything new with the genre (although it still reads like a solid parody based on the premise), but it’s fun, and the final pages even go so far as to suggest that Rika may have inadvertently invented the isekai genre.

There’s also some appeal in seeing Tonogai do something that’s so off-brand, which is the exact opposite of the story from the creator of My Clueless First Friend, “A Happy Tale for Loli-Takano-san.” Again, this is precisely what it says on the tin: little Takano, in her orphanage days, has a very different childhood than the one Ryukishi07 gave her. In Taku Kawamura‘s offering, little Takano is spoiled and pampered by the attentive and loving men who run the orphanage: they feed her feasts, dress her up, worry about her… it’s like she’s gone from being an orphan to having twelve dads. (And it’s fully non-creepy, if you’re worried.) Kawamura’s art isn’t great – it looks distinctly less polished than in My Clueless First Friend – but the same sort of good-natured goofiness that fills that series is also present here, and it’s just a delight. It makes you wish Kawamura would write doujinshi for other depressing series; imagine what he could do with Happy Sugar Life.

Of the weaker stories, Aki Yamaguchi’s “Dinner with Satoko” is probably the least engaging. It plays it very straight, sticking to the tried-and-true story beats of the source material’s lighter storylines without ever really doing anything particularly interesting unless you’ve been dying to see Satoko in the Angel Mort uniform. (That uniform gets a lot of use in this anthology; apparently, other people find the crotch ruffle more appealing than I do.) Nowhere is that more evident than in Taka Himeno’s “Searching for Adorableness Arc,” which pits the club members against each other as they try to find something that Rena will deem cute; Keiichi falls into a terrible rabbit hole of unlikely people in the outfit as he desperately tries to understand Rena’s taste. If you’ve been dying to see Ooishi in the Angel Mort outfit, now is your moment.

On the whole, this is a decent collection. It doesn’t have the grasp of the material that either Sasaki and Miyano Official Comic Anthology or The Devil Is a Part-Timer! Official Comic Anthology does, but it’s miles above the Mieruko-chan Official Comic Anthology. It’s very nearly worth it for the Takano and isekai stories, and on the whole, I’d call it a decent read.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.

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