Tag Archives: Mystery

Review: Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1

Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Mimori

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In 2006, twenty-three years after the Hinamizawa Disaster, a group of strangers find themselves meeting up in the ruins of the city. Each has their own reason for being there. Can they actually even trust each other. One claims to be Mion Sonozaki, a resident of the village; another is Ryunosuke, a tabloid journalist writing a story on the haunted village; Yae and her boyfriend Takumi who just happened to drive out to this village; and Otobe, who got out of the car with his friends to relieve himself only to find them gone when he returned.

It’s a stormy night as these strangers gather. Are they telling the truth about their motivation? Is the spirit or entity that caused the mysterious murders in the past still around? Or is it a human agent that lurks in the darkness.

Because it is clear that these characters are not alone. Something still haunts the ruins of Hinamizawa.

This scenario is a version of The Atonement Arc. We get a tease of what happens in this arc in the talk of a terrorist incident at a school and the students who were killed before the disaster. If you’ve read the series, Mion Sonozaki present won’t be a surprise. There are some other hints to the true cause peppered about.

However, if you read this story knowing what is going on, the tension is a little lacking. It’s interesting. The art is drawn in a way to accentuate the tension of the story. The angular look to the characters is effective at the task. It’s several mystery tales all rolled into one and the ending leaves you wondering what will happen next.

For an additional arc, it gives you a taste of the Answer arcs to come with those little tidbits that make sense when you know the entire story. Higurashi keeps being an excellent mystery/horror series. The tension builds great in this arc.

If you’re a fan of these type of stories, check out this series!

You can buy Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2

Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yoshiki Tonogai

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Akasaka, a detective investigating the kidnapping of Japan’s defense minister’s grandson, has come to Hinamizawa. The village, protesting the government’s plan to build a dam that will flood their valley, have grown violent. The long shot that they might have kidnapped the kid has paid off.

Akasaka has a lead.

With Oishi, a local cop, Akasaka heads out. He’s about to find that the men who have the minister’s son are not your average citizens. They are armed and dangerous. Will he be able to survive. Rika has already promised that he’ll regret not going home. Is he going to die to save the kid.

Well, no, we know he lives. This is him talking to Oishi seven years in the future. So what does Rika mean? What will Akasaka regret?

This chapter is intriguing. We have Rika with knowledge of the future. She knows events that always happens, including her own murder. Something is definitely wrong in Hinamizawa. We have plenty of suspects, but the clues are not lining up. This is the perfect ending to the Questions Arcs. We’ll transition to the Answer Arcs and see if our theories match up.

The story is poignant. Especially the parts in the present as Akasaka realizes that Rika’s predictions of the future all came true. That this poor girl was crying out for help and he was too wrapped up in his own grief and life to come to her aid.

Whatever is going on, Rika is at the center of it.

The art is beautiful. The story is poignant. It goes from the action pack fight to the surrealness of Rika. The story is great. It leaves you wanting more. Higurashi continue excelling as an intriguing and engaging mystery series!

You can buy Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1

Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yoshiki Tonogai

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In 1985, two years after the Hinamizawa Disaster, a detective named Akasaka learns that the young child he met seven years ago on a case was murdered in the shrine the night before the volcanic eruption released the toxic gas that wiped out the village.

The story flashes back to 1978, when the village of Hinamizawa is in the middle of protesting the dam project that would see their village flooded beneath an artificial lake. A high profile politician’s son was kidnapped and the village’s protest group, known to be violent, is suspected. Akasaka is sent to investiage. There he meets Rika Furude, a little girl respected by the village. Akasaka isn’t happy to be on this assignment since his wife is in the hospital with complications from her pregnancy.

He gets to know Rika as he’s given a tour and learns about the village. They seem friendly and he has a hard time believing they could be behind the kidnapping. That is until Rika suddenly begins talking like an adult and warning him that he should leave before he regrets it. She predicts that the dam project will fail within the year and he’ll only find grief if he stays.

Undaunted, Akasaka soon learns that his cover is blown and he maybe in danger from the Sonozaki family. Will he stay, or will he leave?

This short arc provides a lot of the back story. It shows us there is something up with Rika. She’s shown herself to have a surprising maturity at times in the story, dropping her girlish act. Now we see her giving threats to Akasaka that have the young detective unnerved.

This arc has mystery and gives us clues, providing a great transition from the question section of the series and the answer part. We see that the Hinimizawa disaster and Rika’s murder happen in multiple timelines since the Oishi of this timeline doesn’t go missing in the woods while investigating Teppei Hojo’s murder like in the last arc. It’s a hint towards what is going on, though we are still struggling to understand it.

There is something evil in Hinamizawa. The question is this: is it Oyashiro’s curse or is there a human culprit working in the background. We’ve had both the Sonozaki family put forth as the human cause, and the curse punishing the wicked on the other end. But the story is murky, and like all good mysteries, nothing is what it seems.

The art is great. Young Rika is adorable and the artist captures her childish glee and enthusiasm. It has a mellow story, but the tension slowly builds as new information is revealed, leading us towards the ending driving us towards the ending.

What will Akasaka find with Oishi?

Higuarshi is an intriguing and engaging series. The characters are likable, making you feel for them when things go wrong over and over again. You are rooting for these characters to survive one of these summers. Will they?

You’ll just have to read this series to find out.

You can buy Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2

Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Jiro Suzuki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The first volume, we have come to know Satoko. Keiichi’s surrogate big brother relationship was really sweet. But this is Higurashi, and the happiness between the friends can’t last. Doom falls on the gang in the form of the return of Satoko’s abusive uncle Teppei Hojo.

A vile man who abuses and degrades her. As Keiichi and his friends want to help the girl, they find out that even the adults in their lives are powerless. Their teacher has done all she can. The government finds no evidence of child abuse. Keiichi becomes more and more desperate as he sees Satoko swallowed up by pain and suffering.

And then he remembers Oyashiro’s curse. For the last four years, one person has been murdered and one person disappeared on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. Oyashiro, the shinto deity who protects the village, punishes those who try to harm it.

So why not Teppei Hojo this year?

Not wanting to relay on the nebulous “curse,” Keiichi plans to use the superstition to his advantage. He’ll save Satoko. He’ll murder Teppei Hojo.

This is one of the most heartbreaking stories to read. The artist and writer have captured the way Satoko crumbles beneath the abuse, how she tries to be strong, to pretend nothing is going wrong even as she grows more and more dead, wliting. The bubbly, happy, outgoing girl crushed beneath Teppei’s curelty. It crashes into the unfairness of the world. Into the grinding pace of a government bureaucracy. Into the limitations of modern life to defend your neighbors.

Keiichi’s transition from student to murderer makes sense. It flows down the path. You’re rooting for him, so it’s so tragic when it all goes wrong. And that ending. That gut punch at the shrine then the “disastor” only makes you have more question.

Just what happens in this village? What is going on wrong? Why did the disaster happen this time and not in the last scenario. Mion no longer seems to be in charge of the killings like she was last time. But once again, Tomitaki dies and Takano is murdered/goes missing. Only this time, we get something more with her. Something sinister.

For the most part, the art is better in this volume. The style fits the more depressing shift in the story. There were a few times it didn’t work, like with Takano. All in all, this was a powerful story. It leaves you hoping there is a way out for these friends, to survive the summer of 1983. This is the last of the question arcs. Up next is an arc to get some back story and set up the ending, and a filler one that gives us a spooky story set in the aftermath of this arc.

You can buy Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1

Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Jiro Suzuki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Once again, everything has reset. Keiichi (newly moved to the village three weeks back) has just returned from that two day trip back to Tokyo. Things appear to be playing out the same as the last two times only now we’re focusing more on Satoko. Things have shifted, allowing Keiichi to get to know Satoko before.

She’s adorable beneath her hyperactive facade. She’s looking for love, abandoned by her family who have died or vanished. In Keiichi, she’s finding what she lost a year ago when her older brother Satoshi “transferred schools.” Satoshi and Keiichi have a great relationship. The playfulness and bit of sibling rivalry is capture well, along with a level of affection that will inform the second half of this story.

As always, Keiichi learns of the villages dark secret and Oyashiro’s curse. Clues are dropping as we, the reader, are struggling to understand what is truly going on. What leads to these “demonic” possession and the friends turning on each other in horrible ways.

Beneath it all lurks something nefarious. A woman has been found brutally murdered. The police are investigating. It’s something new to story. Is this the even that triggers off this scenario? How does these events relate. The questions are building and building.

The mystery of Hinamizawa continues.

Now, while the story is sweet and heartwarming (for now), there’s a problem using different artist for the scenarios. The last two produced some great, high-quality art, the characters looked great. This artist isn’t as skilled. The characters are little more cheaply drawn and less detailed. It’s a shame because I think the last artist could have really captured Satoko and Keiichi’s relationship better.

Still, this is a great series. The characters continue to be great, their personalities consistent (until things start going crazy). The clues to what is going on are scattered throughout, placed so well it’s only in hindsight that you can really make sense of the true story happening in the background.

If you’re a fan of mystery and horror, Higurashi is one of the best manga (and properties) in the genre. You can’t go wrong with reading the original visual novels, playing the game, watch the anime, or read the manga, you can’t go wrong.

You can buy Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2

Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yutori Houjyou

Reviewed by JMD Reid

It’s the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. Keiichi Maebara, newcomer to the village, wants to watch the ceremony, but Shion (twin sister of Keiichi’s friend Mion) wants to show him something. They find two individuals breaking into the sacred storeroom for the shrine. With everyone in the village watching the ceremony, it’s the perfect time to break in.

Inside, Keiichi learns the dark past of Hinamizawa. A history of human torture of those who break the rules. For the last four years, the village has been punishing those who supported the dam project that would have seen village destroyed.

This year, they’ll have to punish the four people who entered the sacred shrine.

As Keiichi realizes just how bad the situation is when he learns that the two people who broke into the shrine with him and Shion have been murdered. Worse, other people whom Keiichi and Shion confided in have gone missing. It’s clear the secret leadership of Hinamizawa is cleaning house. How much longer before they come for Keiichi?

While the first volume of this story is rather peaceful, things ramp up fast in here. Paranoia sets in and things get nuts. After the last volume, we saw that Mion and Rena were possessed by demons. It seems that same force is at work as we learn more about the history of the village. The tragedy plays out to the bitter end. The horror is intense.

But it’s all so tragic. Once again, close friendships have ended in bloody murder. The culprit is different, but the results are just the same. There is something wrong with this village. What is the truth of what is going on?

What will happen when the time resets for the next arc? As always, look for the things that stay the same. There are little clues for what is really going on.

This arc, while tragic, is well done in what it’s purpose is. Ryukishio7 has created a scenario that serves to fuel the mystery. The art is great. I especially like the color drawings at the start. I like how they use different artists for the arcs, matching them up with the corresponding answer arc.

You can buy Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1

Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yutori Houjyou

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“I cannot quench your thirst,

because you who want the truth will not acknowledge it.

I cannot quench your thirst,

because the truth you hope for doesn’t exist.

Even so, I want to quench your thirst,

because I am the one who left you in the desert.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

Once again, the poem starting off this series hints that this Frederica is behind what is going on in the story, but that she feels bad for the people. What is going on?

Good question. Last volume, Keiichi Maebara, a newly transferred teenager to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa, beat his two friends, Rena and Mion, to death when they become demons trying to inject him with a syringe. Shortly after, he died by clawing out his own throat trying to get the truth out.

How does this volume start? Back at the beginning.

Keiichi Maebara just moved to Hinamizawa three weeks ago. He’s made friends with some of the local girls: Rena, Satako, Rika, and Mion. They play games. Have fun. They are close-knit so fast. It plays out so similar to how the story began.

Except this time, while playing a game at store in the nearby town, Keiichi makes a fateful choice. He gives a doll to Rena, thinking the tomboy Mion doesn’t like girly things. That off-handed comment set in a chain of events that leads to a different story than last time.

Soon Keiichi meets “Shion,” a girl claiming to be Mion’s twin sister but is a girlier version of her. Suspecting Mion is pretending to be someone else to act more like a girl, he plays along with it, enchanted by her beauty.

Other than that, things are playing out the same. The Cotton Drifting Festival approaches and Keiichi learns about the annual murder/disappearance, known as Oyashiro’s Curse. One person is killed, and the other is demoned away. As a glowing dread builds, Keiichi and his friends look forward to the festival with “Shion” eager to join the fun.

After the end of the last arc, I had so many questions. Where would it go? Would it follow new characters, or would it track one of the survivors as they struggled to uncover what happened to Keiichi, Mion, and Rena. What I didn’t expect was for everything to reset.

The summer of 1983 in Hinamizawa is playing groundhogs day. Keiichi and his friends have no idea that it’s going on. But there are differences playing out. How will that effect it? What is causing it to happen? Is it part of Oyashiro’s Curse? Or is something else at play.

The questions are dancing in your mind. A mystery is begging for answers, driving you to keep following the story to find out what is going on. That is the beauty of Higurashi. Even better, as the story unfolds, it’s clear that the creator thought of these questions. He had answers for them when he created it. This isn’t an empty mystery box, but a story with substance.

So just keep with it and know that answers will come, eventually. And until then, speculate away and try to figure out what is going on.

You can buy Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Keiichi Maebra, a teenage boy who recently moved to the sleepy village of Hinamizawa in the mountains of Japan, fears he might be murdered. The village has a dark reputation. Beneath it’s picturesque exterior, rumors of a man-eating demon lurk. A demon the villagers aid in its mission of protecting their villagers.

Outsiders have to be sacrificed to it, and Keiichi’s new friends, the girls Mion and Rena, might not be humans like he thought. They might be demons wanting to murder him. He’ll have to find the evidence to prove what is going on and defend his life before he’s the next person demoned away.

The paranoia and fear escalate. Rena especially seems to transition from her normal, cute girl persona to a demonic, cat-eyed demon. She goes from taunting Keiichi to wanting him dead, demanding to know his secrets. The art gets crazy, capturing Keiichi’s terror along with transforming the young Rena into something monstrous and terrifying.

And when you know the secret of the series, these scenes only become more tragic. The clues are there, little speckles at the true story, but that first time you read it, you’re left stunned. How did this happen? It all started so fun, so light-hearted. Keiichi, Mion, and Rena were such good friends. They were playful and innocent.

And then syringe and the baseball bat.

At the end, you’re wondering how this series can continue? Where could it possibly go after this ending. Where it goes only makes this series more intriguing. The story may seem over, but it is far, far from complete.

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“Please don’t be sad,

Even if the world doesn’t forgive you, I will forgive you.

Please don’t be sad,

Even if you don’t forgive the world, I will forgive you.

So please tell me,

What shall I do so that you’ll forgive me.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

If you know the story the above poem that opens the series is stunning. Who is Frederica Bernkastel? What is going on in his series? You’ll have to read to find out.

Keiichi Maebara is newly transferred to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. He’s quickly made friends with some of the local girls, Rena, Satako, Rika, and their leader, Mion. He feels like he has a new life. A new start from living in the city of Tokyo.

But there is something dark lurking beneath the surface of Hinamizawa, a dangerous past that his new friends are hiding from him. Why don’t they want him to know the truth of the village? What are the concealing from him?

As Keiichi discovers more of the village, can he truly trust his new friends? Are Rena and Mion wanting to protect him, or are they setting him up to be the next victim?

Higurashi is a rather interesting story. IT starts out light and fun, the characters introduced well. They have a fun atmosphere, hyper-competitive but in a good-hearted way. You can see that they know each other and are welcoming the newcomer Keiichi.

And then he hears rumors about the village’s past. Suddenly his friends are acting weird. A sense of unease slowly pervades the story. Paranoia steps in as things grow more and more dire. The story has a mystery that keeps you reading while the characters keep you engaged. What is going on? What will happen? Are Rena and Mion truly his friends, or are they something else?

These questions will be begging to be answered over the course of this manga.

The art is great, bouncing between the playful to the tense with skill. The artist captures both with ease. If you’ve played the doujin visual novel this is based off of, you’ll see the story is being faithfully adapted.

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is one of the best mystery series in Japanese pop culture. Whether it’s the anime, the original doujin novels, or this manga series, it’s worth checking out!

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Blog Tour – A Whisper of Rage

A Whisper of Rage

AWhisperOfRageCoverRagePromo1 RageQuote1

You can buy Whispers of Rage from Amazon!

And check out the never before publish prequel, If Wishes were Horses, also available from Amazon!

IfWishesWereHorsesCoverWishesQuote1 WishesPromo1

Tim Author Promo photoTim Hemlin is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, having studied with poets Charles Simic and Mekeel McBride. He has published in poetry journals, anthologies, and magazines–most notably in Ellery Queen. Currently he has six novels out. Finds the links to his books and social media sites at the end of this book.

By day he is an educator; however after teaching ELA for 22 years he decided to put his master’s degree to work and is now a high school counselor. In addition, he is an avid marathoner, fly-fisherman, and outdoorsman. He lives just outside Houston, Texas with his wife Valerie, two dogs and a cantankerous cat.

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