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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » When They Cry, Vol. 5
When They Cry, Vol. 5
FUNimation // Unrated // November 11, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted January 24, 2009 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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The Series:

Violent murder, torture, and insanity fill the fifth volume of When They Cry, a unique series that is grim, eerie, and very dark.  This disc wraps up the "Eye Opening" story line and begins the final chapter, Atonement, which promises to be just as spine-tingling and horrific as the previous arcs.  This show isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for a show that will stay with you long after the final episode ends, this is 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 years, 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 picks up where the last one left off, with the fourth episode of "Eye Opening."  This six-part story begins a few years ago, when Shion, Mion's twin sister, escaped from boarding school and returns to the village of Hinamizawa.  She heads there even though she knows that she's not welcome.  Her twin is heir to one of the powerful families in the area, but Shion 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.  When the aunt is murdered and Satoshi disappears, Shion is heart broken.
Years pass and Keiichi moves into town.  He looks and acts a lot like Satoshi, and Shion soon starts to investigate the circumstances of the young man's disappearance.  She convinces herself that her family is responsible for his death and comes up with a plan for revenge.  Kidnapping her sister and locking her in a dungeon cell, Shion takes Mion's place and lures unsuspecting family members away so she can torture them to death while Mion watches.
The final 'chapter' (as the stories are called) is "Atonement."  The narrative reboots once again and the tale takes place soon after Keiichi arrives in Hinamizawa.  Rena hasn't been there long either, having moved there with her father after her mother ran off with another man.  Things are going well for Rena until she overhears her father's new girlfriend talking to her real lover.  She's planning on milking Rena's dad for all of his money before dumping him and moving out of town.  What can the petite young girl do against this scheming crook?
The conclusion to "Eye Opening" was very good.  The show illustrated Shion's decent into madness well and the horrific results were hard to turn away from.  This is one of the few 'horror' anime series that is actually scary. 
The big picture is getting a little less opaque too.  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 some of it is self-inflicted makes it even 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. 
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 5 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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