Higurashi When They Cry: Atonement Arc, Vol. 2
written by Ryukishi07
“If only they were dead…if only they were dead, we could live happily.”
That is the thought that has been going through the mind of Reina “Rena” Ryugu since Teppei Hojo and Rina Mamiya began to make her father’s life miserable. In the little town of Hinamizawa, there has always been a history of bad things happening within the inner circles of our main characters, and this arc is no different, because not only have hands been stained with blood in the first book of the arc, but they are about to be again.
Rena’s best friends are completely unaware of her plights as they see her in school, though she seems a little distant. They are completely unaware that she has committed not one but two murders. One day, for club activities, they head to the huge trash heap that Rena loves, exploring for “adowable” things that will make Rena happy. Keiichi spots Rena over a ridge and discovers her using a saw to cut a pair of corpses into pieces! As Keiichi, Mion, Satoko, and Rika look on in awe and shock, Rena tells them everything, also questioning what options she had. Loyal as he is, Keiichi reassures her that they are all friends and will always stand by her. To prove it, they help her cut up and hide the bodies and do their best to return to their happy daily lives. However, affairs in Hinamizawa never stay peaceful and happy for very long.
Every year at the time of the Cotton Drifting Festival, an event meant to honor and appease the shrine god of Hinamizawa, Oyashiro-sama. However, every year for the last several years, someone has always been found dead at that same time, including by some truly gruesome means. Many believe it to be Oyashiro-sama’s Curse, which strikes down whoever defies Oyashiro-sama’s will by leaving the village, thinking about leaving the village, entering the village, and several other transgressions (rather fickle god, huh?).
If that wasn’t bad enough, a local nurse with a flare for dramatic occult conspiracy theories believes the curse is really a conspiracy plotting to kill outsiders, traitors, nonbelievers, etc. She passes on a scrapbook to Rena that she has compiled, one that explains everything that has happened, including all the murders. Rena, who has been very upset and paranoid about the lives she’s taken, becomes absorbed in the information she has been entrusted with. Sure enough, seemingly for passing along this information, the nurse is killed, as well as an outsider friend of the club’s who enters and leaves the village semi-regularly. Why have they been killed? Is it really a curse, a murder conspiracy, or something else?
Higurashi is an absolute work of art by Ryukishi07. When he and Karin Suzuragi set out to make this series, they sought to create something that would scare, but also make people think. The story is truly addictive, and the artwork is graphic yet beautiful. I think he has definitely accomplished that. Higurashi is the exact definition of intriguing, thought-provoking, and engaging, and it always leaves me wanting more. Psychological and laced with death and murder, Higurashi is an amazingly addictive series that adult manga lovers should pick up at least once.