I finished Higanbana a while ago, but for some reason it never even occurred to me to make a post here, so I’ll do that.
Why Ryukishi? Why have you done this? There’s so much material you teased us with but never covered.
What was that you were saying about the old school building in 2nd Night Ch.1? You ever gonna clue us in about that?
How about the connection between Higanbana the character and Higanbana the flower? No? Then what about the reason behind Higanbana’s particular hunting method? Every other youkai has a method to the madness, so why not her? And as for her attire… did she change her dress along with her personality or something?
What’s the connection between the Black Tea Gentlemen and Izanami anyway? And what’s with the sibling relationship between Sumire and Azami? Were they real siblings who died perhaps? Or was the relationship formed as youkai due to their similar hunting methods and appearances?
And is the headmaster ever gonna actually do anything? And speaking of, if there’s a ghost story about the spirit camera, wouldn’t you normally expect there to be an accompanying youkai?
To me, there’s clearly more than enough material for a third night or even a fourth night, and I at the very least felt like I was set up to expect more content and just didn’t get it. I’m not usually one to complain about “season 2 plz” but I feel like we were deliberately set up to expect more and were denied it.
HOWEVER this doesn’t mean that Higanbana wasn’t fucking amazing. It probably comes in last out of the two When They Cry series’ and Rose Guns Days, but that’s purely a product of it’s length. Something that only provided, say, 20 hours of entertainment could never hope to compete with something that provided over 100 hours of entertainment. But Higanbana honestly gives it a hell of a go. For reference, I rate Umineko first, Higurashi and RGD tied for second, and Higanbana last, but the difference between Umi and the next two is bigger than the difference between those two and Higanbana. If Higanbana had been as long as Umi while keeping up it’s quality, there’s no doubt it’d be my favourite fictional story of all time. Other than the Planetarian VN, Higanbana is the only story I’ve enjoyed more per unit time than the Rewrite VN - and that really says something.
I want to quickly address a mistake I’ve seen a lot of people make with Ryukishi. That is: what he writes does not necessarily reflect his own views. The characters are not him. The solution used for problem X is in all likelihood not the solution he personally thinks is the best. Just because he proposes a solution does not mean he can’t think of any other solutions, and it doesn’t even mean he thinks it’s the best solution. In particular, I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people think this about A Thistle of Vengeance, and it’s just not the case. All he’s saying is that it’s a solution, he’s not saying “this is the one-size fits all solution to any problem of this nature” - he’s not even necessarily saying that it’s a good solution. And I really feel like this is why people should read Higurashi before all Ryukishi’s other works - because by going back to his roots you can better understand the way Ryukishi thinks and the way he writes. I’m not claiming to understand the man better than anyone else, but coming from having read Higurashi first, I can’t even understand how people come to this kind of conclusion about what Ryukishi writes.
Now to quickly shout-out my 5 favourite chapters in order:
2nd Night Ch.6: A Thistle of Vengeance
2nd Night Ch.2: Reaper of the Thirteenth Step
1st Night Ch.7: Utopia
1st Night Ch.2: The Spirit Camera
2nd Night Ch.7: Before the Spider Lilies Bloomed
I of course loved every chapter, and it was difficult to choose, but I think it’s fair to say these are my top 5.