The genuine “What the f@#$ did I just watch?!” moments experience throughout this column are increasing in frequency. In this case, it’s WHEN THEY CRY as whole that so confounds me rather than any single moment in it. Honestly, I’m seriously questioning if this was actually a nightmare I had while watching the first episode of CLANNAD. You have ever a dream that’s largely bright and sunny - - perhaps it’s you having an adventure in your favorite TV show - - and then genuinely horrific elements slither into it, like ink seeking into the edges of a white cloth? That’s really the best way I can describe this show.
See, this shares a lot of commonalities with CLANNAD, as I see it. The setting’s a school attended by all sorts of quirky, spunky girls with brightly colored hair. There’s just one guy amongst them and, even though he’s the big man on campus, he’s got some issues. Playing cards (not tarot) even factor into a scene that foretells a lot about the characters. The two key differences is that WHEN THEY CRY really isn’t funny when it’s trying to be and when it does venture into darker territory, it gets REALLY dark.
Seriously, what is this trying to convey? One scene has light-hearted school hijinks with spontaneously-appearing cartoony expressions to genuinely. The next scene has a creepy interlude where these kids investigate a junkyard where a hacked-up body is hidden somewhere, and this ominous drone of cicadas buzzes throughout the background. It’s like the whole thing suddenly turned into a David Lynch movie. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I found the whole thing kind of vexing. Really the only thing I could compare this to is the American comic the UNFUNNIES which purposely juxtaposed carefree children’s cartoons with disturbing social issues by having funny animals getting busted for kiddy porn, turning to prostitution and later being executed in electric chairs. Is that what this show is going for?
-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.