I didn’t do it intentionally. When I was 12 or 13, I had no clue how to Japanese and could not remember the name of the first arc, so I went with whichever arc popped up first on the search.
It was Matsuribayashi-hen’s manga, the final answer arc.
It all went down from there. After reading half of Matsuribayashi, I got so confused where those bloody-ass scenes featuring the orange and green girls I saw on Youtube were. So then I went and found another arc: Minagoroshi, the next to last arc. I read half of that. Still confused as heck. So then the third arc I read was… I think it was Meakashi (the fifth arc) before Tsumihoroboshi (the sixth arc). Only then did I start reading the question arcs. I started with Watanagashi (second arc) because Meakashi was (and still is) my fav answer arc. Then, I read Tatarigoroshi (third arc) and Himatsubushi (fourth arc). Finally, I read Onikakushi as the visual novel, with original funky sprite arts and funky music and everything.
After I read Onikakushi, I reread Meakashi, then went back and finished the second half of the other answer arcs.
You could say I viewed the content of Higurashi almost in reverse order. What it allowed me to do was piece together how the little details and string of evidence presented in the earlier question arc connect to the main ‘mystery’ of the final answer arcs. There are lots of details I might’ve missed if I read it in the normal order, and knowing the truth beforehand made me view the characters, especially Takano and Shion, differently than I otherwise would have. It’s the details in the first arcs that added to my understanding of the later arcs that I’ve already partially read.
One thing that’s always bugged me was how little Rika appears to play a role, despite her being a catalyst in all this. Her contributions were usually so small it would’ve gone unnoticed (although they were big), and during key moments she sometimes didn’t offer the characters the help they would want, instead acting the mysterious dark girl. I find that kind of weird at times, but considering we’re viewing the story through the narrator’s paranoia… I guess that’s understandable.
Also, I think me being exposed to the supernatural parallel world elements of Higurashi earlier on in Minagoroshi would make it less off-putting than if I were to come across it in normal order. Just imagine you reading an intense murder mystery, and then suddenly we have a god that can loop time and a weird witch that can observe people across timelines. Yeah, right?
Reading it in reverse did not make Higurashi any less fun, intense, or scary. I still enjoyed the question arcs a whole lot, owing to the fact that each Higurashi arc is independent from each other, and knowing the truth doesn’t mean you can guess what will happen in that arc. The murders are different and the culprits are different. Higurashi is very character heavy, and since each arc focuses on a different character, seeing the developments is what makes it enjoyable.
I would say that the best order to read Higurashi is still in the normal order, since you get to see more and more clues as the story goes on, not the whole thing dumped on you right from the start like what I’ve experienced.
Alternately, a question-answer style is already pretty interesting. I’d say it could go like this:
Onikakushi > Tsumihoroboshi > Watanagashi > Meakashi > Tatarigoroshi > Minagoroshi > Himatsubushi > Matsuribayashi
However, Himatsubushi’s context is needed for Minagoroshi, and Tsumihoroboshi partially answers to Tatarigoroshi as well, my modified order would be:
Onikakushi > Tatarigoroshi > Tsumihoroboshi > Watanagashi > Meakashi > Himatsubushi > Minagoroshi > Matsuribayashi
I considered putting the first three arcs back in order because Shion’s appearance would make more sense, but that wouldn’t really be QA structure now would it…? Since Matsuribayashi picks up after Rika’s death in Minagoroshi where she finds the killer, I think it’s best read after the other. Still, best order is still to go the traditional order.
Onisarashi could be read after Meakashi (and probably after you’ve read Himatsubushi). Yoigoshi could be read after Tsumihoroboshi (I like the male lead in that manga lol). I think it’s best to read it after you’ve finished Watanagashi, Tsumihoroboshi, and Meakashi. Kira could go anywhere, as well as Nekogoroshi. Saikoroshi, Kokoroiyashi, and the rest of Rei should be saved after Matsuribayashi. I’m not familiar with the console-only arcs, but Kotohogushi-hen seems relevant to the overall story and should be for the very, very last.
Gou and Sotsu should actually be after you’ve familiarized yourself with Umineko. I’m not watching those two seasons. I don’t wanna see Satoko go on a murder spree. It doesn’t make any damn sense in Matsuribayashi’s OR EVEN IN SATOKO’S OWN context. And where the fuck is Satoshi? He’s there for only 30 seconds while Dear You plays in the background? Ok…? (But hey, I waited who knows how many damn years for this scene. Can’t wait to see him reunited with Satoko and Shion.)
Yeah I better stop this post. I feel that I’m already done with Higurashi.
What order did you watch the arcs in? How was it? Let me know in the comments.