When people first experience the Higurashi anime, they claim that the anime is very “scary”. However when they say this they don’t necessarily mean the fear that you get when you watch an episode of “Ghost Adventures” or something, they’re talking about the violence in the anime.
A common concept that comes to people’s minds when they think of the word “scary” is a horrific scene with an axe murderer filled with blood. I feel that people really don’t know the difference between gore and fear. To me, gore is simply an add-on to fear, a movie should deliberately get you scared before they top it off with gore, like a cherry on top.
I genuinely like horror movies, but I’m not so much of a fan of the horror movies that come out these days. If you go into a supposed “horror movie”, you expect to be scared, you don’t expect just blood because that’s not scary. The best presentation of fear in recent horror movies is the widely known, “Paranormal Activity”.
Why is this movie so well-known and feared? Because it was essentially a movie that created a new form of bringing out that horror that people get when they’re all alone in the house at night, the unsettling uncertainty of what lures within the dark corners around them. Paranormal Activity brought a new idea to the plate by having the actors themselves film the footage to make it seem more real, which ultimately scares the crap out of people because they feel it could happen to them.
That. Is. Fear.
Now, when people say that Higurashi is “scary”, you can see the displeasure I have when people say that. I believe only in the Visual Novels can you actually be frightened since Ryukishi07 does a very splendid job at describing the character’s fear and emotions so vividly as if you are the character yourself. Ryukishi07 brought a new idea to the plate just as Paranormal Activity did.
I often think a question to myself that I ask constantly, “If I had a chance to make a live-action drama series of Higurashi, how would I be able to make the best drama series I can?” One of my answers to that is stressing what a character goes through when they are in Hinamizawa Syndrome. I would want the viewer to feel as if they understand why the character does what they do. An example would be in Onikakushi-hen, where the viewer saw first hand how the syndrome changed Keiichi, they understood why Keiichi was carrying around a bat all of a sudden, and they understood his view on what was going around him.
The kind of fear that I would want in this drama series is the same exact fear that I got when I watched a certain youtube video. I posted it on my Higurashi 30 Day Challenge, but I’ll post it here again.
The video contains a very simple but terrorizing setting. The viewer is faced at an opening of two Japanese slide-doors (I don’t know what they’re called) in a dark room. There are multiple sounds and drum beats that escalate as the video progresses. One of the sounds includes a voice saying, “I’m so happy.” with contradicts the mood of the video. There are flashes of Japanese text and one of Satoko crying. A light opens in the hallway through the doors and a floating still image of Satoko appears staring at the viewer, Satoko gradually gets closer to the viewer and “Demons away” the viewer. This is so simple yet it brings a whole new kind of fear to the table. It shows how there’s no explanation to what’s going on and leaves the viewer feared of what is happening in the video. That video is essentially what I picture the kind of paranoia a character feels when under Hinamizawa Syndrome.
This is exactly what I would want in a drama series of Higurashi. Now, I don’t want floating demonic Satoko’s going around if that’s what you’re thinking, but I want to use the same concept. I would want the viewer to feel so confused about what’s happening but at the same time so scared that they feel intrigued and drawn to find out what is going on. I want the viewer to be so scared that they actually fear for the character and believe that Oyashiro-sama is watching them at the foot of their bed as they sleep. That way, when the time comes that the viewer is brought out of the horrific experiences of Hinamizawa Syndrome and into the clarity of a third person view of someone who is diagnosed with it, (I’m talking about Higurashi Kai) the viewer can say, “I know what they went through.” which makes the show so much better. One way I feel I could implement this is by stressing paranormal scenes.
An example is that time in Watanagashi-hen when Takano brings Keiichi and Shion into the shrine and talks about Hinamizawa’s dark past and how Shion thought she heard a child’s footsteps. Then after when Shion asks Keiichi about the footsteps, Keiichi could be very concerned and confused about the footsteps. Now I know this has already been done in the Visual Novels but I would like to stress it more to actually scare the viewer.
All in all what I’m saying is I wish Higurashi could be re-done with the element that I discussed. I feel that focusing on paranormal scenes would grab the viewer’s attention since people are genuinely attracted to the unnatural.