Siren pioneered the new field of a "Made in Japan" domestic horror, based around Japan's wild scenery. The game, containing a drama staged by a group of several characters and a creative game system, receives acclaim to this day from the public. Let us begin an explanation of its story.
Hanuda, a village inland surrounded on three sides by mountains. This village, with its unique religion and deep-rooted indigenous legends, is enshrouded in stillness and silence, along with the doings of its inhabitants. Almost as though they reject contact with the outside world...
In 1976, Hanuda Village is struck by a sudden huge landslide, burying much of the village in mud overnight. The people and their houses who are caught in the landslide are never found, the lone survivor being an 8-year-old boy (Tamon Takeuchi), an investigation into the cause of the disaster being called off with the details still a complete mystery.
Time passes, the year now 2003. The day the village's customary "hidden ceremony" is to be performed for the first time in 27 years, an occult-loving boy, a TV reporter, a folklorist and several other people visit the village as though called by fate. At midnight on this day, a strange siren-like sound rings out, along with an earthquake - the village turns into the "Other World".
The red water falling incessantly upon the Hanuda trapped in the Other World transforms those left behind into otherworldly beings, the Shibito, using its power. The people gradually disappear, as the Shibito increase in number. The village is sealed off from the outside world, becoming a paradise of the dead.
As these hopeless circumstances unfold, amongst the survivors are those rebel against their own destinies and pursue the truth of the strange happenings. Kyoya Suda, who protects the beautiful blind girl who holds the key to the events, Tamon Takeuchi, a survivor of 27 years ago, and Shiro Miyata, a young doctor who knows of the village's dark side - these people's actions gradually begin to reflect the nature of the Other World, trapped in a dimension that repeats itself in a loop, rewriting their fates. When Datatsushi, the origin of the occurrences, is ultimately defeated, the village's curse is finally lifted. The humans' fight against desperation causes a young girl (Harumi Yomoda) to return safely to the real world, the 3-day-long story drawing to a close.
Manaism, in which the people of Hanuda Village believe, is a religion that was created by Hisako Yao (the founder of the village, beginning with the Kajiros) in order to repent. The hidden ritual in which one of the sisters always born to the Kajiros is given as a human sacrifice is an extremely bizarre thing to do by the views of modern day society, but for the villagers this is a taboo teaching that must not be broken, and if this ritual fails part of the village will actually befall a catastrophe (part of the village will be completely lost). To the real world this appears to be a simple landslide, so no one knows the truth in case the villagers leak their secrets to the outside world. However, it cannot be covered up completely, so Hanuda is an urban legend in some places.
The sound of the titular siren is a symbol of the story's mysteries at the same time as being a sign that the strange events are occurring. However, the sirens in Siren 1 and Siren 2 should be thought of as completely different in terms of their meaning. The siren from the first game is a cry to lead the humans who have turned into half-Shibito to the sea to take in more of the red water (umi-okuri). According to the stage of Shibito transformation, those who were people enter the red sea and there mutate into forms called Spider and Flying Shibito - those who are not prepared for the change return to land (umi-gaeri). Finally the Shibito merge with the red sea, becoming part of the "god" called Datatsushi.
The people in the Other World desperately try to survive and protect the lives granted to them by heaven. From the human perspective, Shibito are immortal monsters, fearsome foes that try to rob them of their lives. However, how do humans look to the Shibito? With their haphazard kind of immortality, possessing the ability to regenerate their flesh from even a single cell, there is also the possibility that Shibito attack from pure goodwill, see humans as "incomplete" existences with a fleeting life and wanting to convey the happiness they feel to their former fellows. They are shown indirectly from the position and viewpoint of foes who view them as enemies, creating a deep storyline containing multiple sculptured groups. That these kinds of interpretations can be made is another of the series' charms.
In Siren and Siren 2, there are fixed differences between the divergence of the levels as shown on the link navigator. Siren's characters are forced into a loop over three days enclosed within time and space, but over the course of the game, when certain actions are performed some kind of change occurs in the next loop (in the sense that something changes in a level). With Siren 2, the concept of different dimensions diverging into parallel universes is introduced, so sometimes the progression changes completely, speeding the whole thing up. If you actually play both games, you will understand well the intentional juxtaposition to the staff's way of portraying sculptured groups (scenario progression).
A totally normal high school student with a healthy sense of curiosity. Enchanted by an urban legend spreading across the internet, he takes his favourite folding mountain bike and heads for Hanuda Village; however, after glimpsing the village's secret ritual being held, he ends up becoming caught in the strange events there. He is one of the game's protagonists.
A beautiful blind girl who is at an extreme disparity with the village. She is the younger daughter of the Kajiros, Hanudans who carry the cursed bloodline, and is fated to be sacrificed to god from birth. After meeting Kyoya amid the chaos of the Other World, she entrusts her wish to him and travels to the Underworld.
A folklorist who researches in a wide range of fields, from archaeology and religious studies to the occult. His radical theories and use of logic mean that he is viewed as a heretic by the scientific community, but as a survivor of the landslide in Hanuda 27 years ago he has discovered a degree of information about the cause of the strange events there. He visits the village along with his student, Yoriko Anno.
The young director of Hanuda Village's hospital, the Miyata Clinic, and one of the few people who knows the secrets of the Kajiros and the Shibito. He despairs at his own destiny and hides deep trauma within, but ultimately decides to save those who become trapped in the Other World. He is the elder twin brother of Kei Makino, the Guiding Priest at the centre of the village's religion.
The Guiding Priest of the Church of Mana, Hanuda Village's unique religion. He is a young man born with the destiny of becoming the village's Guiding Priest, but fails in the "secret ritual" like his adoptive father and turns the village into the Other World. He confronts his twin brother Miyata, before returning as a "being without form".
The sole survivor rescued from the site of the Hanuda landslide that occurs late at night on 2 August 2003. After becoming separated from her teacher, Miss Takato, whom she trusts deeply, due to several coincidences she is miraculously able to return to reality from the Other World. She is safely rescued by JSDF member Misawa, who is part of the rescue team.
A Guiding Nun who leads the village church with Makino, having protected its religion for many years. Amidst the strange happenings her other self - the founder of the Kajiro family - awakens, and she begins plotting for the arrival of Datatsushi. She is the game's antagonist, and finally falls into a dimensional abyss, which becomes an "eternal happening".
As in the game's catchphrase - "struggling is futile" - there are many people in the game who cannot be saved. Reiko Takato blows herself up to save her beloved student, Risa Onda synchs with her Shibito-turned sister, Naoko Mihama becomes a Shibito due to her obsession with beauty... This human drama is a highlight of Siren.