Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a world of horror.
In a lot of ways Higurashi’s tricks are nothing special. The unassuming loli doing a crazy psychological horror twist to haunt the consciousness of a male-protagonist-harem-lead-ero-game-player is probably the most straight-forward incantation of this narrative spell. But like any good mystery, there are some elements that are worth watching for, even if they are the mundane, everyday elements that every mystery story shares. The start, the setup, the final collapse of the scheme, the unraveling of the charade spiraling to the end of the story, the 4th-wall self-satire, all of that, I say, is what make a mystery story any good.
In some ways Higurashi anime cheats, too. Its nonlinear, nonsequential-parallel, alternate approach to the narrative gives us at least 3 different way to look at the same setup and that’s like having the Luftwaffe doing 3 hit-and-run passes at Allied bombers than the single pass. Unfair. But it does work out very well to diffuse those inevitable problems with other adaptations that did not share the same format–lack of traction after a time, poor pacing, and the ability to stick with the source material while maintaining enjoyment as a different medium.
In the end, however, does it really matter? We’re treated to a show that is all about form and the form is so unique that I can’t remember any show like it. Elfen Lied? Not even close. It doesn’t quite drive you to apathy; rather it drives you to amusement because in a very close-by perspective to “ZOMG that is actually creepy” is “HAHAHA this is so ridiculous.” I suppose that is good, too, because it does keep you guessing to a degree. And to that, it’s kudos to the source material.
Maybe if it wasn’t a show about harem-like loli killing each other, it might actually be taken for serious. Even if it won’t be half as funny as is.