First off let me say, I am heavy into anime. These reviews are going to pretty in depth, or as far in depth as I can go until I start majorly spoiling. That being said, I will make my best attempts at keeping them minor or absent all together.
I doubt i will ever be satisfied with my reviews of Higurashi. I just can't explain the show much without spoiling the hell out of it. So this is what i can do.
Watching Higurashi is like locking a group of happy people in a test chamber, only coming back to find they've hacked each other into a bloody mess. Its horrific, its shocking, and yet a part of you, cannot help but wonder, how did it happen?
The curiosity takes over... and so you repeat the experiment, knowing full well that those cute looking teenagers you just sent are going to end up as bloody pulps. But hey, at least each time they die, you're one step closer to figuring out why they died, it's all good.
Higurashi essentially places you in the role of the scientist. It divides itself into several arcs, each of which begin exactly the same. A teenager moves into a remote countryside village, and befriends a group of sweet fangirls that could have come out right from a harem rom/com. Then, explicably, thing go wrong... very wrong.
The pacing is excellent, the suspence pulpable. You know terrible things are going to happen, but you don't know exactly what. Higurashi would appeal to two types of people. The maglomanics who cackle madly in seeing a happy community descend into the depth of oblivion, and the curious scientist who watched each arc with intense interest... for they want to know exact *why* everything goes wrong (though they can also cackle madly just a little).
The true draw of Higurashi is the mystery. The series will leave you guessing, postulating all manner of reasons why the sweetest girl in the class is now butchering every child in sight with a giant cleaver. Each experiment you run (arc you see) reveals a few more clues, and you formulate a new theory, only to find it shattered by another totally unexpected horror in the very same arc. The beauty of Higurashi is that a mystery of such grand scale, every detail is meticulous, and while every bloody event seems random at first, they all eventually fall into place
Not only are the characters are memorable, and filled with interesting secrets, but unlike School Days, they're actually also extremely likeable. This is no small achievement, given that they're portrayed doing everything from ripping nails of off each other to nailing 9 year girls on a cross.
Higurashi is really the pinnacle of a dark mystery. You'll start off the mad scientist, watching those innocents in the test chamber with morbid curiosity. Yet, slowly, that morbid curiosity will be transformed into sympathy, and as you fall in love these victims, that initial curiosity will into turn a genuine desire to figure out whats going on so that they can be saved.