Friday, December 29, 2006

Higurashi Matsuri Fun


We* here at Moetic Justice have been bullish about Higurashi no Naku Koro ni for some time now. The show's iconography is unique and unforgettable, and its complex story richly rewards close scrutiny. The D.I.Y. aesthetic of the whole enterprise is charming: what started out as a doujin sound novel created by two brothers, "Ryukishi07" and "Yatazakura," has expanded into a minor industry of anime, manga and games.

I'm really looking forward to the new PS2 version of the sound novels, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Matsuri, which is coming out sometime soon, though nobody seems sure exactly when. The game will be a bit pricey (though hardly out of line for a Japanese game), especially for those of us who elect to purchase the special edition, with soundtrack and other goodies. Preorders, complete with creative romanization, are also being taken by NCS. Of course, several people I know will also be forking over big $$ for Japanese PS2s or mod-chips, pretty much for the sole purpose of playing Higurashi Matsuri. Friends of mine, see. You understand. There will even be a Higurashi memory card available for $35, which doesn't seem so bad after you've blown $200, plus shipping, on a semi-obsolete game console.

I like the new Matsuri art style. At risk of offending orthodox Higurashiists, I find the painted backgrounds to be an improvement over the originals, which were just photos run through filters. The new character designs are professional, though still with a certain quirky edge. I'm expecting great things in the voice-acting department, as well, and spoken dialogue will give even a Nihongo poseur like myself a fighting chance to follow along (the sound novels really are novels, and pretty much hopeless if you don't read Japanese at a reasonably high level). There is said to be more actual gameplay in Matsuri than in the sound novels (where gameplay consists of hitting the key to bring up the next line of text), with choices affecting which scenario plays out, and requirements for clearing the first four "question" chapters before moving on to the "answer" chapters.

I've already pointed out the Higurashi Matsuri opening at YouTube. A high-quality version is available to download at Famitsu, if you register there, and can also can be gotten here, sans game-magazine entanglements. All technically for free, though like m... er, my friends, you may find that viewing the OP sets you back a half a week's salary in new hardware and software.

Another YouTube amusement is this quick tour of the 3-D village of Shirakawa, which was the inspiration for Higurashi's Hinamizawa:
A walking tour of Hinamizawa

*My Rena Ryuuguu garage kit and I.

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