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Higurashi When They Cry (ひぐらしのなく頃に, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni; literally When the Cicadas Cry) is a Japanese murder mystery dōjin soft sound novel series produced by 07th Expansion. A manga series adapted from the games began with eight different Mangaka working separately on one to three of the multiple story arcs, and is published by[Square Enix and Kadokawa Shoten. The manga was licensed for release in English in North America by Yen Press under the title Higurashi When They Cry and the first volume was released in November 2008. Following the manga's release in Japan, two TV anime series were produced by Studio Deen in 2006 and 2007; a third anime adaptation was released as an original video animation series starting in February 2009. The first anime series was licensed by Geneon Entertainment in English, but became unavailable due to Geneon's decision to stop sales and distribution in the American anime market. In July 2008, Geneon and Funimation Entertainment announced an agreement to distribute select titles in North America, which includes Higurashi. A live action film adaptation of the series, directed by Ataru Oikawa, premiered in Japanese theaters in May 2008, with a sequel released in May 2009.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni takes place during June 1983, at a fictional rural village called Hinamizawa (雛見沢) (based on the village of Shirakawa, Gifu, a World Heritage Site), which has a population of approximately 2,000. The main character, Keiichi Maebara, moves to Hinamizawa and befriends his new classmates Rena Ryugu, Mion Sonozaki, Rika Furude, and Satoko Houjou. Keiichi joins their after-school club activities, which consist mostly of card and board games (and punishment games for the loser, usually him.) Hinamizawa appears to be a normal, peaceful, rural village to Keiichi. However, the tranquility abruptly ends after the annual Watanagashi Festival, a celebration to commemorate and give thanks to the local god, Oyashiro-sama. Keiichi learns that every year for the past four years, one person has been murdered and another has gone missing on the day of the Watanagashi Festival. Keiichi himself soon becomes drawn into the strange events surrounding the Watanagashi Festival and The Oyashiro-sama legend. In each story arc, he or one of his friends becomes paranoid (and eventually reaching Level-5 Hinamizawa disease), and a crime is committed. Usually, the crime involves the murder of one of their own friends. While it seems impossible to tell their delusions apart from the mystery of Hinamizawa, slowly the truth is revealed.