I think the reason the Answer arcs will not work live action on television is for a few reasons.
[spoiler]Firstly, the answer routes are visually more graphic. The question arcs do not show much violence. Sure, you have Keiichi getting nailed by Mion and stabbed, but they are not fatal, and furthermore aren’t any more violent than anything you’d see on another TV drama. Sure, Keiichi kills Tepei (uncle), but that’s through blunt force alone.
The real violence begins in the answer arcs, where a 9 year old, Rika, repeatedly stabs herself in the head otherwise gets her stomach ripped open and organs pulled out, fatal lobotomies without anesthesia, a 12 year old girl, Rena, strangles a woman to death and chops up her limbs, then proceeds to go crazy and smashes a child’s face with a CLEAVER, then there’s the part where Shion repeatedly stabs and kills Satoko while she’s begging her brother. And that dreaded nail scene…
Then there are the issues that Higurashi Kai might be too offensive for public television. F
Firstly, the climax of Tsumihoroboshi, where Rena takes a school hostage in a situation comparable to Columbine, would be incredibly offensive to the “general” audience. I don’t know what things are like in Japan, but I can confirm here in the West it would offend a lot of people to have it play on public television. While the scene did get a pass in the movie (I think?), there is no way it could air on public television.
Secondly, it shows a lot of underage kids being tortured and killed with very cruel violence. Again, I do not know what things are like in Japan, but here in the West, people don’t seem to tolerate violent depictions of children, otherwise the rating of their work goes way up to AO territory. It’s for the same reason you do not see any children inside Grand Theft Auto.
Third, Higurashi itself deals with contemporary political issues that might be too sensitive for a general audience. Japanese nationalism, American occupation, etc…
Lastly, the most controversial part of Higurashi yet: “Religion is a disease.” The very premise of Hinamizawa Syndrome itself would make the general audience flip their shit.
Even if subject matter doesn’t offend people, Higurashi Kai is still considerably more expensive to produce relative to the Question Arcs.
In the original question arcs, most of the plot was self-contained to Hinamizawa and a very small cast of characters. For set pieces, you had Keiichi’s house, Sonozaki residence, Rena’s junkyard, the Furude Shrine, Festival, school, general village scenery, Irie clinic, baseball field, library, and Mion’s game shop. Maybe one or two more.
But the answer arcs had much more broad set pieces, like a huge forest scene when Shion is escaping her boarding school, an expansion of the Sonozaki estate and tunnels, surgical rooms, computer rooms, orphanage, the outdoors of that orphanage, more cafes, rooftops, hills, roads, the places Takano was when meeting with members of TOKYO, Takano’s home, expansion of Irie clinic, house place where Rika met the village elders, and so on… and so on… and don’t forget the meta-world where they have to do all sorts of CGI!
Higurashi Kai would also require significantly more actors to play new characters. Keep in mind Higurashi Kai had many spriteless characters who would need real actors inside the live action.
I don’t know how much passion is going into the live-action. But assuming that it’s just a cash-grab, they have no reason to do Higurashi Kai.
On the other hand, if they do a decent job, I’ll eat my words. I do hope there is passion behind this!