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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » When They Cry, Vol. 4
When They Cry, Vol. 4
FUNimation // Unrated // September 30, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 9, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Series:
When Geneon announced that they were stopping their North American operations that one title that was really gnashing my teeth over missing was When They Cry.  This series is truly unusual and unique with an unusual set of characters and a novel way of telling a story.  Happily FUNimation stepped up to the plate and released the rest of the series.  Woo-hoo!  Volume four continues to dish out the chills and contains one of the most horrific episodes to date.  You won't want to miss it.
Series background:
Keiichi Maebara is a teenager who has just moved to the small rural village of Hinamizawa, and is having just a bit of trouble fitting in.  The school is very small and everyone who attends has known their classmates for years.  He soon makes friends with Rena, who is Keiichi's age and might have a small crush on him, Mion the head of the school game club and a year older than Keiichi, and Satoko and Rika, a pair of younger girls who are too cute for words. 
Rena's a bit strange, but Keiichi hangs around with her mainly since she's the only kid his age.  She likes to go to the local dump and look for things, and on one such trip the new student accompanies her.  While he's there he meets a photographer from Tokyo, Tomitake, who comes to the village every once in a while to photograph the local birds, and his lady friend Takano.  Talking to this man Keiichi learns of the city's deep dark secret:  Five years ago a damn was going to be built that would have flooded the city.  One night a man working for the company that was going to put up the damn was murdered and dismembered, and parts of him were never found.  Every year since then during the Cotton Drifting Festival, the anniversary of his murder, another person turns up dead.  The locals say it's the work of a demon named Oyashiro, but who believes in demons in this day and age?
This anime is a little unique.  It is made up of several stories, with each story taking place at the different times, but with the same characters.  Each story shows a different aspect of some events that happened over the course of a few year, and some of them don't fit into a general continuity and contradict each other.  The backgrounds are the same but each different story is like a look at an alternate reality.
This volume:
The disc starts off with the final three episode of "Time Wasting" a short two-parter.  This tale takes place years earlier, when the dam that would flood Hinamizawa was still being considered.  While there is naturally a lot of protests in Hinamizawa itself the Minister of Public Works' grandson, a young man named Keiichi is kidnapped.  The police are handling the case very discreetly so they send a young officer who happens to be named Tomitake to the village to check out the groups that are resisting the dam (and who might have a reason to kidnap an official's relative.)  He's has some unsettling experiences while visiting, especially talking with the young girl Rika who predicts her own murder.
The volume is rounded out by the first three episodes of the series' penultimate tale, "Eye Opening."  This six-part story also begins a few years ago, when Shion, Mion's twin sister, escapes from boarding school and returns to the village of Hinamizawa.  It's revealed that she's not welcome there.  Being an heir to one of the powerful families in the area, she was born second, which is considered an omen of bad luck.  In the past the second twin was killed at birth, but instead Shion was just shipped off to a soulless school.
Returning home the young girl gets into trouble with a gang and is rescued by Satoshi, Satoko's brother.  She immediately falls for the attractive and brave boy and her heart goes out to him when she discovers his horrible family life.  He and his sister live with their aunt and uncle, their parents having been killed years ago and the second victims of the area 'curse'.  The aunt is cruel to them, especially Satoko, who Satoshi tries to protect.  The stress of constantly being there for his younger sister is taking a toll on the boy, which is apparent to all.  Shion, seeing things from an odd point of view, blames Satoko for her brother's problems.  After all if she weren't around he wouldn't have to protect her.  Faulty logic or not, Shion starts to grow closer to the young man, an act the will have horrific consequences when the head of her family finds out.
This series just keeps getting better and better.  As the stories start filling in events from the past, a clearer picture of what is going on emerges, but there are still a lot of questions left to resolve.  Definitely not a show for young kids, this anime has a violent imagery and instances of torture.  The fact that it's self-inflicted makes it ever worse.  This is a powerful show that will drag you in, especially if you enjoy eerie shows.
The DVD:

This disc includes the next four episodes in the series.  The version I received had a black case instead of the clear keepcase that the other volumes had.  There was still a reversible cover however and insert that lists the episodes and opens up to a mini-poster of Shion and Mion. 
This disc comes with the original Japanese soundtrack as well as an English dub, both in stereo.  I alternated between languages while watching the show and enjoyed both tracks a lot.  The young girl's voices in the English dub are high pitched and squeaky, which is annoying, but when the girls change to scary mode it's very effective.  The voice changes aren't so different to be silly, but they are very eerie. The sound quality is very good, with the dialog coming through loud and clear and the effects coming in at the right levels.  There isn't any distortion or other common audio defects.  Subtitles are available in English and for signs only.  
The 1.78:1 picture is anamorphically enhanced and looks great.  The image is sharp, the colors are solid and strong, and the level of detail is fine.  There is a small amount of aliasing in the background, but this is pretty minor and doesn't interfere with enjoyment of the show.
The only extras are three previews.
Final Thoughts:
Eerie, scary, dark, and grim.  When They Cry Volume 4 is all that and more.  One of the better anime shows to be released in 2007, I'm really glad that FUNimation picked up where Geneon left off.  It's an awfully good series and it comes Highly Recommended.
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