#1 The horrendous animation
Watching older anime always requires one to accept some less-than-stellar animation quality, but When They Cry came out in 2006 and was already looking crap back then. As I rewatched this show for my articles on it, I often tried pausing my DVD to take screenshots. Nothing unusual, but man did I struggle getting any of the shots to look good.
Studio DEEN has some notoriety to it and though I love the directing work, the actual animation and design of the show leave much to be desired. Many of the female characters look almost bobble-headed, with uncomfortably thin necks supporting giant heads. The characters always just look off and in many shots they are blatantly off-model, sometimes for such a long duration or so clearly that it’s impossible to miss.
It’s not bad enough to ruin the entire show, but you really do need to lower your expectations for the visuals and accept it’s going to be rough from time to time.
#2 The Dub
The English dub of When They Cry is not good. Not terrible, mind you, but it just has an awkwardness to it and consistently fails to match the nuance and skill of the Japanese actors and actresses. I still like to watch it for nostalgia’s sake and it does have its moments, but for your first time viewing it’s not recommended.
Now, making this matter more complicated is that the dub is incomplete. Financial trouble arose as the show was being localized, so only season 1 has an English audio track. While Sentai Filmworks picked up the license years later, they didn’t make an attempt to finish or redo the work either, so less than half the show has English available for those who would want to see it, or worse, just flat out don’t enjoy Japanese audio. If you are dyslexic or otherwise struggle with following subtitles, then be warned.
#3 Sentai Filmworks
Now, another problem with the English re-release by Sentai are the boxes they come in. According to Because.moe there is no legal avenue to stream the show, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to do so illegally or buy Sentai’s box set. When you do, be sure not to read the back of the box because it flat-out gives away the most important plot-twist in the show. While the boxes for the main series are otherwise cool, when they released When They Cry Rei they tried their hand at the ol’ “sex sells” and plastered an erotic picture of Mion on the box, which happens nowhere in Rei and also uses a completely different art-style than what the show uses. They also sexed up some of the art on the discs itself, which seems like a blatant attempt to misrepresent the show.
So what else is up? Well, Sentai has already allowed the first season to go out of print since reacquiring the license only recently. Season 2 and 3 still appear to be readily available, yet there is also the vastly more expensive “collection” set that includes all 3 seasons. If you want a physical copy of the show at this stage, chances are you’ll have to go for that one even if you don’t particularly feel like owning Rei.
Now, I have heard the argument it would be unreasonable to expect Sentai to invest in redubbing a niché show from over 10 years ago, but to release it the way they did, with only a half-finished translation, art that doesn’t appear anywhere in the actual show, and with cringy, plot-spoiling taglines on the back-cover… it just reeks of absolute incompetence, I have actually once had a bootleg from Malaysia that had better packaging than this.
For a different take: 5 Reasons To Watch: Higurashi – When They Cry