When They Cry Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: When They Cry - Higurashi

When They Cry Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     October 05, 2007
Release Date: October 09, 2007


When They Cry Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Following Satoko's traumatic breakdown, Keiichi takes it upon himself to use extreme measures against Satoko's abusive uncle; however, things quickly get out of hand. An ominous encounter with Takano, an emotional revelation to Dr. Irie, and a hostile run-in with Inspector Oishi all begin to take their toll on Keiichi. Is he losing his grip on reality?

Contains episodes 11-14.

The Review!
The tension of the Curse Killing arc reaches a new high before the series begins to introduce something new to keep it fresh.

Audio:
When they Cry features two basic language tracks for its release that work well for the material but aren't all the impressive in general. The two stereo mixes are encoded at 224 kbps and provide basic dialogue placement and mild directionality during a few key scenes but are otherwise fairly simple. The opening and closing sequences handle the music well enough and everything comes across clean and clear but it's fairly unmemorable in total. In listening to both language tracks, we didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The visuals for the series are essentially in a sleepy country town with lots of soft looking exteriors during sunset or sharper looking interiors at night with lots of black shadows. The look of the show is one that is carried off very well here and looks solid throughout. The soft areas during sunsets with the orange shading look great and there's hardly any banding going on. During some of the other scenes such as the opening one of the first episode you can see some color gradients there but with the way it's animated it's fairly clear it's a source issue. Throughout the five episodes here the series looks solid outside of a few minor panning motions that look slightly off and maybe a zoom or two. While it isn't an in your face kind of transfer with striking visuals, it's one where the look is solidly maintained and represented here.

Packaging:
The cover art for the series is one that's going to be a hard sell since it's so indistinct and almost unappealing. With a background of dark reds and grays, the foreground character artwork of Mion and Keiichi is done in negative form with just black and grey lines. The artwork is nicely detailed and the deigns are certainly appealing but with it being so overly dark and uninformative, it's hoping that the way it looks will get you to read the back cover to see what it's really all about. That side is a bit awkward as well. While the opening quote about the premise works well enough, there isn't a general summary of the premise but rather an episode by episode breakdown of the plot. This to me gives away just a bit too much and has the back looking far too text heavy. The discs features are clearly listed and there are a couple of shots from the show that are too dark. While there was a trend with several releases to provide solid technical grids, there isn't one here this time as things are basically kept to a minimum.

The reverse side cover art for this release is completely different and far more appealing. The front side uses the same artwork as the front cover but with a normal color background and completely colored characters. The back cover has numerous brightly colored shots from the show and the few technical basics. While it may not give away too much about the darkness contained within it's a cover that is far easier to sell to someone on the retail racks.

Menu:
The menu design uses the cover artwork in a static image with the series logo along the top and the navigation strip along the bottom. With no music attached to it the menu is obviously quiet but unusual for a Geneon release. The navigation is quick and easy and provides the translated credits at the top level instead of in the extras. Geneon appears to be moving away from translating the credits at the end of each episode and leaving the opening credits in original form as well. As long as they provide easy access to the credits like this I can't complain as it leaves the video untouched which is a plus in my book. The disc did not read our players' language presets however and defaulted to English language with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
None once again though they at least moved the previews up to the top level so there isn't a "fake" extras section this time.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When They Cry reaches the halfway mark and finishes off the third of its "rebooted" storylines. The series has presented an interesting setup with those first arcs in how everything starts over again, with changes abound but still some very similar ideas. At this point in the series however you start to really want more to come about in regards to what's really happening. While that may not be what we'll get, the final episode on this volume provides a sizeable enough change to indicate that we're in store for something new.

The final three episodes in the five part storyline entitled "Curse Killing" makes up the bulk of this volume. Thematically, it's the same as the previous two as Keiichi moves into a spiral of madness over what's going on. The storyline has been fairly focused on his interest in protecting Satoko from her twisted and mean uncle which gives him a knight in shining armor feeling. Through the storyline, we've learned more about Satoko's brother, a bit about her parents and a few other things that has helped flesh out what happened in the past with the dam project and the protests about it. Mixing in a bit of material with the good doctor who has an interest in Satoko as well and the storyline has been fairly creepy in more ways than one.

Where the fun lies is in seeing how Keiichi handles each of the situations he's been thrown into. They've all varied pretty well so far and this one seems to push him off the deep end. The previous storylines had him reacting more to events around him, caused either by others or by himself indirectly, but this one shifts the onus onto him. The realization of what kind of danger he perceives that Satoko is in has him wanting to act in order to help her. Like any teenager though, the method he decides on is one where he doesn't get all the details of before going into. Using some helpful words from his mother but without the proper context, Keiichi sets out to remove the terrible uncle from the picture through whatever means necessary.

What proves to be the most fascinating aspect of this show is the sheer brutality of it. The mixture of the cute and far too innocent characters in such violence, while not exactly shocking, is rather rare in general. When you see some of them in situations where they're openly gutted to the point where the crows have come and are finishing off the job, you know you're not in normal territory. These moments are few and far between in each of the arcs, but since you know that they'll be there you're left to the tense pacing of it all. Each arc works wonderfully in telling what is a self-contained tale of terror and suspense that doesn't leave you bored or wandering when it will be over. A series like this could falter easily in holding the viewers attention, and maybe it doesn't work quite as well on a weekly basis, but what they do here has me enraptured from start to finish with each volume.

The best element of this volume however is the final episode which kicks off the "Time Wasting" chapter of the series. Taking place a couple of years before the events we've been watching repeatedly, it goes back to when the dam project was the subject of the news and the citizens of the village were doing the best to draw attention to it and put an end to it. Tensions are high, the shrine is the focal point of the "resistance" group and the Sonozaki family is working to ensure that everything goes as they want it to. The situation changes a bit when the grandson of the minister in charge of the project is kidnapped and young police investigator Mamoru Akasaka is sent to the village to check out any possible leads. Nobody believes it could be related but the avenue has to be checked out.

This shift back to the past lets us see more of the characters that aren't really that involved in the previous arcs. Those have focused on Keiichi's return and the kids that he befriends and deals with. Here, they're much younger and Keiichi isn't really in the picture yet. That lets other members of the family take the stage for a bit and lay down more of the foundation of what's to come. Rika is the only character that gets used in this storyline so far but seeing her in an even smaller and cuter form is just as deadly as anything Keiichi has done. With this only being one episode of the "Time Wasting" arc there isn't a lot to go on nor is it clear how it will play out but it's already standing out strongly against what has come before.

In Summary:
When They Cry hasn't broken new ground here but what it is doing is providing a very tense and atmospheric show at a pace most others wouldn't dare to touch. The three main arcs that are now completed have been fascinating to watch both in terms of its pacing and its brutality. Each new arc adds some new facets to the larger storyline that only draws you in more, making you feel compelled to see it through and understand exactly what they're driving at here. The mixture of the cute and adorable with the darker elements has blended together very well here, sometimes too well, which results in an unsettling experience. It's an experience that does bring you back for more though if you can stomach it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI set to 1080p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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