Well, a lot of the horror/mystery is used to drive the philosophical topics Sca-Ji wanted to talk about. They’re intertwined very well but it’s also because of this that I didn’t like how some parts of the mystery played out. I can see it being a world changer if you resonate very strongly with some of the things that happen in the story, but it didn’t cause me to think that much.
The thing with Sakura no Uta is pretty much everyone hated the ending in one way or another. But it’s also thematically perfect and makes the meaning of the story that much more powerful. I suspect that depending on how people rated it was largely dependent on how much they appreciated the ending for driving home the message of the story versus how upset they were that it ended the way it did. I recall Sca-Ji saying something like a sequel would ruin the theme but the ending paves the way for more, and I’m inclined to agree. Who knows how Sakura no Toki will turn out.
Contrast that to Subahibi where I can see people criticizing it for different things: the pacing, the mystery, some of the more cop out answers, and some parts that were just really painful to read - intentionally so, but consequently hurting enjoyment. I don’t get the feeling that there’s a majority consensus on where it lost points, but I could be wrong, especially since people seem to only focus on its good points. shrugs Like you said, it’s been over 5 years, so that alone changes my perspective compared to its initial release.