Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni General Discussion

If I were to comment on one thing…

This is one thing reading Higanbana and discussing it with people here has definitively changed my view on. Bullying really is this bad. Stories like the ones presented in Higanbana have been documented countless times, especially in Japanese contexts. I have @kyuketsukimiyu and Pictoshark to thank for opening my eyes there. These two articles miyu linked are particularly startling: Article 1, Article 2.

It clashed with my worldview a bit at first, but I think it’s good to be aware of these problems. This is how bad ‘group psychology’ can get in such a contained environment as a ‘school’.


So it’s really like that. I guess it speaks for itself when we would rather view it as an exaggeration than actually checking how bad things are there…



Higanbana presents to us, in the most absolute cynical way, the worst humanity has to offer. We are selfish, greedy, prideful and mean; we use others as stepping stones and devour our prey like lesser animals incapable of thought or reflection. We do all this to fit in and feel good. The youkai, who hunt and devour the souls of people, manage to look good by comparison. The world, no matter what time of day, is merely different shades of gray and black. This is what I believe Ryukishi wants us to remember and think about as we read Higanbana.

This is where I refuse to fail Ryukishi’s test. Higanbana chanced upon me at the perfect moment, as I sit upon a freshly written chapter of my life, and has now reaffirmed everything I now believe in. I will never again see humanity as vile animals who sharpen their blades on the stones of vice and false virtue. I refuse to lose hope in this world and the people in it, no matter what dark and disturbing things surface from our primal selves. Not when I remember (First Night Chapters 1 and 7 spoilers) Marie or Yukari, pure and innocent beings who seek to challenge the bleak world before them, or (First Night Chapter 2 spoilers) Takeshi and Yoko, demonstrating the best of humanity through the power of forgiveness and understanding. Not when I remember (Second Night Chapter 2 spoilers) Aya, who swam up from the depths of nothingness and discovered the value of life as I have. As I form the base for my new idealistic outlook on life and humanity, Higanbana reinforces it with a thick layer of beautiful white concrete. Never again will I fall into the pits of cynicism and nihilism, no matter what Ryukishi shows me. This is what he told me through Higanbana. The worst of humanity will never dim the best of it, not in my eyes, ever again.


Higanbana is a neat collection of short stories surrounding the mysteries of a particular school building, the way that the characters are framed and the leitmotif of the Higanbanas ‘blooming’ are central to the themes of the story. As I’ve layered throughout my forum posts I’ve realized that this work is a depiction of the worst that humanity has to offer, but also the best. As we watch the characters struggle we come to realize the importance of living, the cruelty of the human world, and the hope that one can find even in the darkest of places.

The journey from beginning to end was a bumpy one, I don’t think the story is perfect and i don’t think it has to be. I enjoyed getting a chance to understand Ryukishi’s approach to art in a more direct way, without the cryptic puzzles of his previous work. I feel that Higanbana is his most straightforward story of the three of them and I much appreciated this peek into the heart of the author that I hold so dearly. This story that Ryukishi wanted to tell is coated in emotion from his own heart and it shines through, to me this was a call out to all that would listen to stop the injustices of the world, to preach appreciation of others and as a whole is an excellent attempt at tackling the complicated topic of abuse in schools.

In the end I take all of his arguments, all of the discussion on the forums and I bundle it up into a ball, and I process it. Everything anyone has ever said to me about this story condensed into ‘my opinion’, something I don’t think I can entirely express with the words I type. I’m very happy to have had the experience of travelling through this shadowy valley of night with everyone else who joined along the way, whether you were on the podcast, joined in on the forum discussion, or just made a passing comment about the outrageous emojis on Discord. To me all of this is a part of Higanbana, and even though I have put the story down I will still remember all of the arguments I’ve had over the meaning of the chapters, the bonding with others over the soundtrack, and the individual experiences others have told me about which are echoed through the tale. To me all of this is important, all of this creates my own unique perspective and it shapes me to become a different, better person.

Heh, have I managed to become an old softie… just from this? It’s ‘only natural’ I suppose. :smirking:


Higanbana strongly reminded me of contemporary fiction of ages past in my country that were also critisizing problems in society that existed at the time. As such, while it is certainly nice to discuss it in our international community, and I can recommend it to others, it is even more important to me that more Japanese people read this story, and contemplate on the points raised in it. Because in the end, this is first and foremost critisizing Japanese schools, and only Japanese can truly bring about a change there.


Is that what it means to you though Vyse?

Basically. It made me think as to how the situation is right now, and it made me want change, so I thought “Okay, how can I change this?” And, well, I reached the conclusion that I can’t change the situation in Japan, simply because I’m just some foreigner who grew up with different values. Well, I guess it also reinforced my stance to try to prevent bullying and similar things around me, in my own way, but as that was “only” a reinforcing of ideals I already held, it wasn’t that prevalent for me.


So you don’t think this work is applicable to cultures outside of Japan?

1 Like

Not as much. I wouldn’t go so far and say it’s not applicable at all, but it loses some of its oomph. We both felt a disconnect at first at how awful the bullying was depicted, and I believe the same would happen for anyone from cultures where bullying isn’t as much ingrained as a concept in society.


But does that mean it doesn’t happen? We could just be fortunate enough to have had decent schooling. There’s a lot of baaad schools out there, especially when you start getting into places with lower socioeconomic standing.

That’s not what I’m saying. If you’re asking if I believe that it’s not as big of a problem in my country, then I’ll say yes to that. Remember that I talked to my mom, a teacher, about the topic. This gave me the impression that teachers in my country are educated on how to deal with bullying. Thus it already is a problem that is widely recognized. What Higanbana mainly critisizes are places where adults don’t even realize that it’s a problem.

Exactly, if you get to places with lower socioeconomic standing. But what can we do to change the situation in those places?

Okay, let me revise my earlier statement. For me it is more important that people in places where bullying is still a bigger problem read Higanbana. Japan would then simply serve as an example for such a place.


Okay, well let’s switch it around. Are you saying bullying doesn’t happen anywhere around you?

No. Bullying certainly happens around me as well; heck, it even happened at my school considering we were taught several times about the implications and effects of cyberbullying. I merely think that at least the experts (so teachers, mainly) are aware of the problem and are trying their best to get rid of it or to find it early, so that cases of month long or even year long bullying don’t happen.

I think Aspi is pointing out that we can’t rely on those in power to fix everything, thinking that way leads us to a place where it’s the belief that we can’t do anything that stops change in its tracks. I think it’s important that we all educate ourselves to recognize bullying in all its forms, whether in or out of school, and learn how to deal with it. And ‘bullying’ isn’t just kids in school pushing each other around for attention or pride, it’s in abusive relationships between partners, it’s work colleagues pushing all their tasks on you while they go out drinking, it’s a friendship that isolates you from the world and makes you cut off all other relationships. The point of Higanbana isn’t just to say ‘bullying in schools is bad’ (which it is) but to say ‘this is abuse which happens in school, apply the lessons learned here to your own life’.


Now that the Bookclub has come to a close (dw I’m still working on the podcast, I’ll have time soon!) I’ve decided to compile all the polls on the chapters and do some graphs! Let’s take a look at the results.

All chapters scored higher than 3, but there’s a bit of variance! Let’s zoom in a bit…

Whoa that’s a big Izanami, a perfect 5 across the board! I don’t think we’ve agreed on anything so much on Rokkenjima’s history. Reaper of the Thirteenth Step is a gem.

The first five chapters excluding the pitiful “Shrine of the Guardian Deity” had very high scores, but most of the remaining chapters are pretty all over the place. I wish I had access to the raw data so I could actually measure that divisiveness, but I guarantee Chapter 7 was the most divisive. But people really didn’t like “The Lunar Festival”, that surprised me. And wow, I thought “A Thistle for Vengeance” was heaps better than “Utopia”, but I guess I’m in the minority there! Seems most people loved how the story ended though.

Oh, and I also did a line graph of the number of ratings per chapter.

You can see a steady decline in voters with each successive chapter, showing how interest in the Bookclub petered off toward the end :tehehe: What’s very odd is that so few people voted on The Lunar Festival though, I guess not many people stopped to analyse it and just went straight into Reaper of the Thirteenth Step. As for the spike in votes there, I guess it left a big impression on people, and I’m expecting some old readers who weren’t part of the Bookclub contributed to the votes there.