When They Cry Series

Anime Hajime Review: When They Cry – Kai

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Original Run: July 6, 2007 - December 18, 2007
Number of Episodes: 24
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Thriller
Based on the Visual Novel: When They Cry

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for When They Cry – Kai. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The small country town of Hinamizawa remains cursed.

The residents have been stuck in a perpetual loop set during the June of 1983. It would appear fate has doomed this land to suffer the same tragedy for eternity.

Across all the cycles, one of four scenarios might play out.

  1. Keiichi Maebara (voiced by Soichiro Hoshi) succumbs to deep paranoia.
  2. Shion or Mion Sonozaki’s (voiced by Satsuki Yukino) psyche snaps.
  3. Satoko Houjou (voiced by Mika Kanai) must suffer the torment of her abusive uncle.
  4. Rena Ryugu (voiced by Mai Nakahara) uncovers a plot that will lead to everyone’s death.

When one story ends, the next begins. And no matter the scenario, there is always one destined to die, Rika Furude (voiced by Yukari Tamura).

However, for the first time, hope has appeared, and the curse of this endless June might finally end.

 Series Positives

The original When They Cry was a brilliant mystery story. It crafted a tale filled with suspense and fear to create a mind rush of adrenaline. Its sequel, When They Cry – Kai (Kai), was the epic continuation such a series deserved and needed.

Overall, season one came out on top. However, on a handful of occasions, Kai actually managed to surpass its predecessor.

This installment was dark, unnerving, chilling, uncomfortable, nail-biting, and impossible to put down. If there is one thing that can be commended about Kai, it would be its success at creating a sense of utter dread – unapologetic, unadulterated, undiluted dread.

Unlike the first season, Kai centered more around the actions of a single character – Rika.

If you remember, Rika mainly operated in the background last time. And though it was heavily implied, she did turn out to be the key to everything. Thus, Kai was Rika’s story, and she quickly rose to become my favorite character of the series.

Admittedly, it was odd that no one realized how mature Rika was. She was only in elementary school, yet her demeanor was more adult-like than some of the actual adults. And it wasn’t as if she hid this side of her personality; Rika was pretty open about it.

In similar situations, this would have bothered me considerably. For Rika, though, it didn’t matter. After all, this girl had to see and experience some god-awful things. You realize she was a battle-hardened veteran who wanted nothing more than an end to the fighting.

When Rika was close to giving up, you couldn’t blame her. Consequently, when there was even a small sliver of hope, her resolve was inspiring.

Series Negatives

I said it earlier; I have to give the edge to the first of the two seasons.

There was a scene in season one that has stuck with me. Every time I think of When They Cry, it pops into my head. And make no mistake, Kai had some disturbing moments, even accomplishing something akin to what happened in the original. Unfortunately, not once in this season did I get a gut-wrenching impulse of crippling fear.

Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that Kai is one of the best horror anime out there. Even with its more frustrating elements.

Since the story was so complex, a few plot points didn’t make much sense. This was not an airtight series. For example, it was well established what would happen if a villager left the village. Thus, it was strange how a few characters could break this rule.

Still, the most significant thing going against Kai was its length. This show shouldn’t have been twenty-four episodes.

Recalling When They Cry’s video game roots, the end of the Massacre Arc tapped into the gamer in me. Sometimes when getting game over, instead of becoming angry, I become invigorated. This often happens when I finally figure out what I need to do to win. Therefore, I want to continue right away. Anything that gets in the way of me trying again is an annoyance.

This same feeling sprung up in episode thirteen. However, instead of solving the issue right away, we had to sit through the next story arc. You will need to wait for five episodes before getting another chance at the endgame. And this wouldn’t have been that bad if not for the backbreaking amount of unneeded information.

Having said that, the unneeded information was interesting, but boy, was it cumbersome.

For such a fascinating series, in this instance, its ability to foster intrigue sort of back-fired.

Final Thoughts

The story was addicting; the mystery was intense; the dread was real. Everything came together to give us a sendoff worthy of When They Cry.

Even though the series was a bit too long for its own good, I had so much fun with it.

For your next horror night, might I make a suggestion?

When They Cry – Kai has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise When They Cry – Kai? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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