Posted by psgels on 24 December 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Umineko no Naku Koro ni



When it aired, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni really blew my mind with its mystery horror combination, so obviously I was looking forward to its spiritual successor: Umineko no Naku Koro ni. It really managed to take the Higurashi formula, and take it into a new, fresh and original direction with a really mind-blowing mystery-story.

Umineko at heart is a murder mystery-story with so many layers, so many red herrings and so many times at which the viewer is forced to look beyond the box for new clues as to the identity of the real killer. Higurashi already had me forming wild theories about what was going on, but this effect is even more noticeable in Umineko. It’s a really thought-provoking story that makes you think you have a clue as to what’s going on, only to throw a plot twist that renders all of your speculation useless. This mystery really is why you want to watch this series, because it really does this like no other.

It’s just a shame that the story’s incomplete. There’s no second season announced at this point, so at the end of the series, you’re not going to know what the heck happened throughout the majority of the series. This really is the thing that I hate the most about modern anime: that the shows with weak sales don’t get their much-needed sequels. Umineko is at the verge of becoming yet another one of them. NOTE TO SELF: delete this paragraph in the unlikely event that a second season does get announced.

Okay, so how about the execution? Unfortunately, it’s a bit rushed. Apparently, the creators tried to stuff 50 hours of visual novels into just 26 episodes, so a lot had to be cut. While the cuts were made skillfully so that the entire storyline is still intact, the direction feels rushed at times, and not as captivating as it could have been. The animation is rushed as well, but thankfully neither are bad enough to get in the way of what’s really important.

Because of that, I can say that I really enjoyed this series. It’s a thought-provoking series that really brings mystery to a whole new level. But where the heck is that second season?

Storytelling: 8/10 – Direction could have been better, but well paced which keeps your attention.
Characters: 9/10 – Large and varied cast of characters where nobody feels redundant.
Production-Values: 7/10 – Good music, rushed animation.
Setting: 10/10 – Incredibly thought-provoking. Brings mystery to new levels.

31 Responses

  1. chounokoe says:

    Thank you for thinking almost exactly what I thought about the anime. *laugh*
    After I decided to stay away from one particular community after the last episode aired, because the hate for the anime starts spoiling my enjoyment of the visual novel, it is very refreshing to read some reflected thoughts.

    Even though many VN-readers said that the anime was butchered beyond belief (something that I would say about Higurashi S1) I’m glad to see that people can actually enjoy the anime AND think about the mystery.

    Don’t let yourself be disscouraged, there was also no Higurashi S2 announced when S1 ended, so I think the best we can do is wait and see.
    I would be surprised if there really won’t be more, at least when the console remakes (which I’m sure will follow) start hitting the shelfs and some bigger game company starts financing them…
    I know it takes time…but well, we VN readers are also always waiting half a year for another Episode, so it’s bearable.

    So, well, Merry Christmas and thank you for your good work. Even though your taste is not always mine, I think you’ve got one of the most structured and wellwritten blogs out there…it’s almost like you actually don’t hate anime *laughs*
    I wish you nice holidays and well…there’s still Aoi Bungaku and Bantora for me this season, so see you in the comment section.

  2. Acylia says:

    @ psgels & chounokoe
    Same thoughts here. I’m glad we’re able to enjoy the anime as well, even though it’s really rushed. :) Let’s just hope Chiru/second season’s going to get animated (hopefully without one certain Kon Chiaki… but I guess that’s too much to ask. xD). Merry christmas to you all, I really enjoy reading this blog.

  3. Geekodot says:

    Well, what to say… this anime really got me interested in reading the visual novel, so I bought it and became a part of the Deen hating Umineko fanbase. I do think highly of this anime though, but there were some huge mistakes here and there and I really think they should’ve had some more episodes to work with the different games and especially the ending of episode 4.

    I am satisfied with the anime, but some of the feeling from the visual novel just isn’t there. I still hope there will be a second season so that anime-only watchers also may get some closure.

  4. Acylia says:

    Geekodot, please…
    Don’t hate DEEN. Hate Kon Chiaki instead. I really liked those Rurouni Kenshin OVA’s… >.

  5. Marion says:

    The anime is definietly rushed. Hopefully a second season is announced though, and hopefully not done by DEEN. If it is done by DEEN then at least get a better director than Chikai Kon.

    But an announcement will not come as quickly as an announcement for a second season of Higurashi came. You have to remember that when Higurashi became an anime the VN was already done with both question and answer arcs. So when Higurashi Kai was announced to be done in a year they had all the source material they needed.

    But Umineko is still a story in progress – the 2nd answer arc (Dawn of the Golden Witch) is only coming out on December 30th. So even if they do announce an anime they can’t really start producing one because the answer arcs aren’t even completed yet.

  6. Kanao says:

    “But where the heck is that second season?”

    You’ve said this so many times but you must know they can’t simply announce a second anime season before they have enough content to adapt. Higurashi and Umineko are popular. Of course Umineko’s going to get another season. Perhaps they’ll wait till Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru is fully released in Visual Novel format before beginning planning. If you’re lucky maybe the second season will be based on just Episodes 5 and 6.

  7. Happy says:

    There’s still some Umineko to look forward to this year.

    The translation for Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru EP5: End of the Golden Witch is most certainly gonna be released in the next 3-4 days~!

    \(^_^)/

  8. PL says:

    well what can I say. I’ve ranted about VN readers enough, and how much better a format anime is, so I’m not going to repeat myself. This series was the one I enjoyed and looked forward to the most during 2009. There were shows with deeper themes, stronger characters and more moving storylines, but in my opinion Umineko had more entertainment value than any of them. It was intelligent, complex and left me thinking every single episode. Sure, it was a bit rushed, and the reasons for that have all been layed out here before. But ultimately, that did little to detract from my enjoyment of Umineko. I recognize that there are fans of the VN unsatisfied with Umineko the Anime, but they seem to be the only ones. Most anime-only fans have had mostly positive things to say about this series. An adaptation is always going to have choices to make about what to change, what to leave the same, how to conduct the pacing, etc. A fan of the original can always find things to complain about in an adaptation (except in a few rare adaptations that have source material which seems to be written with adaptation in mind, making the pacing perfect for a normal length series). And ultimately, an adaptation has to stand or fall on its own merits, and the director of that adaptation has no obligation to the source material, beyond creating an adaptation that satisfies as an independent entity. Umineko has accomplished this, because as I’ve pointed out, to those of us who havent read the VN, this series was extremely enjoyable. How it compares to the source material is ultimately entirely irrelevant, and if that disturbs you, then quit watching adaptations and leave them for those of us who can appreciate them as they stand.

    Of course, this is all moot if a second series is never created. Umineko is only half of a story, and the cliff-hanger at the end makes that clear. There was certainly a climax to the major plot strands but this climax actually resolved nothing beyond some temporary tensions. If the second season comes along, and satisfyingly concludes the series with the same level of quality and entertainment value the first season did, I could easily rate the series a 95. If there isn’t a second season, I don’t feel like I could rate this series at all.

  9. Sanity says:

    Armed with only the image of the promo poster and a short synopsis, I disappointed myself slightly by thinking it would be a “whodunnit” type of series when half of the time they’re not deducing anything concrete.

    But I agree, for an anime-only viewer this series has been interesting. I just hope that I can remember half of what happened in Umineko if a second season rolls out.

  10. Deus says:

    As Umineko is known for its trolling, it might be good to show a short eyecatch at the very end of the episode that was omitted from the latest sub:

    http://feb.2chan.net/dec/18/src/1261587303681.jpg

    “See you again. have a nice day!”

    Now, this might not actually mean anything… or it just might. :D

  11. Geekodot says:

    @PL
    You have a very good point and it would work on any other series, but not for Umineko. This is because ANYTHING even down to the smallest detail in the VNs might be hints to the mystery and the red text is extremely vital. Without it, there won’t be a mystery because it won’t be solveable for the fanbase.

    Of course, anime viewers can enjoy it for the story, and I think they did this aspect of the franchise pretty well, but it is not a mystery in the same sense as the Visual Novel (or Sound Novel in this case) because of the omissions in hints.

  12. Anon says:

    @PL

    No, “most” anime watchers were NOT satisfied with it, sorry. A lot of people liked it, but just as many people didn’t. Tons of the people who were following it dropped it because it was so bad as a standalone anime. I myself started out an anime-only watcher, but eventually had to switch over to the VN because I knew something had gone very wrong.

    If you like the anime, that’s great for you. But don’t assume that everyone who says it’s bad is comparing it to the source material.

  13. Howling-kun says:

    I had a lot of fun with Umineko, but probably not the way it was meant to… I laughed my ass off all the way due to bad animation, and many “lol what?” moments, even if it made me think more than all of Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    It is extremely entertaining!

  14. Azule says:

    I find this anime to be brilliant in itself. What it sets out to do- make half a mystery with witches and magic. It does that. The characters are nicely done in the end, and it still leaves you guessing.

    Though I had the theory about Kinzo/Person X at the third arc. It got realllly obvious to me there.

    Obviously, without a second series, this anime will be really bad. Its a lot of building-up, making way for a second series to come.

  15. Troyen says:

    I pretty much agree with your assessment – both here and for ep 26. As an anime-only viewer, I had a lot of fun watching, especially the first and third games. I wish they had juggled around some snippets – a few episodes just dragged on (especially in game 4, and especially the second part of ep 25), while others didn’t seem to last long enough (the ending!).

    When someone posted that remark from the art director saying another season was unlikely, I was a little worried that they’d completely abandon the story and come up with an original ending, though fortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s to hoping we see a continuation in a couple of years!

  16. PL says:

    Actually Anon, I’m not making assumptions. I’ve actually kept track of comments on Umineko from a variety of sources and overwhelmingly Anime-only viewers said positive things about the show, while VN readers did the majority of the complaining. Of course this is far from scientific, and I realize that there were anime-only fans who were confused, bored or otherwise unhappy with the show. Also, there were plenty of VN reader/players who did like it. But, on average it tended to break down how I described.

    Geekodot, I am sure the director knows which clues are vital and which ones are red herrings, and has simply cut down on the red herrings. If anything, I would imagine that this has simplified things for the anime-viewer. I could be seriously wrong, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking they could just pick and choose what to take out without knowing the ultimate direction the end is taking and the vital points to get there.

    The main problem I’ve noticed from comments made by anime-only viewers that WERE negative are two-fold: First, the characterizations are not always done well, and sometimes done badly. This I agree, and I agree that this is also a place where the VN readers have a good point about stuff left out. But, this series wasn’t about deep character studies to begin with. It’s about testing the powers of logic, and creating an extremely layered mystery. The series is essentially a game for the viewer, and as such, the characters are ultimately just chess pieces in that game. I certainly don’t watch Umineko to get all weepy about Beato’s betrayal in EP3, for instance. The plot twist itself, however, which was pulled off beautifully in the anime, even if the characterization wasn’t that well done, was kick ass.

    Two, the Meta-World, the game board, and the game rules were confusing in the anime for many. This was a legitimate complaint. I figured it out quickly, and I didn’t have any problem with suspending my disbelief because once again, I could view it as a game more than as a story. But, I can imagine how frustrated I’d have been if I watched an episode or two after the meta-world stuff started and I still didn’t get it. I probably would have dropped it, or done what Anon did and started reading the game. They could have cleared all this up really easily too, so it was a dumb mistake on the part of the direction. But, on the other hand, one of the best things about this series, is that the thinking is never done for the viewer, and you don’t know more than Battler on most occassions. So, if you had the brains to keep watching and figure out how it works for yourself, it was very rewarding and satisfying intellectually. Still, they could definitely have made what the meta-world was clearer to the viewer without connecting the dots for them. Of course, maybe it DID make more sense in the original Japanese, and some of that information was lost in translation. I couldn’t say. But, I do sympathize with and understand this point of view. Of course now there are plenty of explanations of the Meta-world on the internet, so if you stopped watching early on for that reason, do a little reading and give it another shot.

  17. Geekodot says:

    @PL
    I thought the same about the red herrings being cut to make room for the real hints until the 4th game. They had way too much cut in red and continuation errors because of the red towards the end of that arc and I therefore doubt that they ever knew what to cut and what to keep.

    I do however think that it is a great anime despite all that, but it makes theorizing alot harder for the anime only viewers. In the beginning, I myself was only watching the anime and I was making theories based on that… Of course, they were denied in the VN, but those theories I had for the first game is not yet denied in the anime. They didn’t even remove the most obvious solution to the game which is what made Battler start making atrocious theories in the first place.

    Bottom line is: The anime is good, but it is hard to make theories from. Umineko is alot more detailed than ordinary mystery novels and requires to convey alot more information to allow proper theorizing.

  18. Anon says:

    @PL

    Like I said, most of the people who hated the anime dropped it. So looking at comments on current episodes isn’t going to give you the full range of opinions on it, because the people who thought it sucked stopped watching it awhile ago.

  19. 4saken says:

    @Anon:
    But that applies to every anime, not just Umineko.
    Because the anime that noone hates and drops doesn’t exist.

  20. Reltair says:

    The last episode felt extremely rushed for me with no real resolution. There needs to be a second season!

  21. spoofle says:

    @chounokoe Definitely passable as an anime, I agree. Not only is the base story great (it’s near impossible to mess up something basic like that) but most of the flaws that did pop up in the adaptation process were flaws that most anime have in some form. Most “unpicky” anime-only viewers could probably enjoy it without issue. Now for those who are more picky I can definitely see why they’d not continue very far past the first episode – or even want to pick up the VN after seeing it. (and there were a lot of potential viewers who dropped it at the first episode or after the first Episode/chapter, hence the apparent lack of heavy critics PL pointed out. And most of the aniblog “masochists” who watch bad anime throughout for the lulz weren’t interested in Umineko in the first place.)

    As an adaptation yeah it’s pretty dismal. It’s even almost kind of sad it how much it average-ifies an exceptionally well-written novel. Anime viewers may hate on the VN readers for disliking the anime – haha that’s kind of a silly wording but it’s a silly thing anyways XD – but sometimes you really don’t know what you’re missing.

    But it really is a hard-to-adapt series in retrospect, and it’s good that people are getting to enjoy the story without having to devote hours of their time to reading. When I think about the overall issues with it, there are just really two: 1) They could’ve directed the characters’ reactions better with little or no loss of time. 2) Instead of picking between speeding up the story to focus on the characters or slowing down the story to make it clearer, they did an odd muddy mix that often balanced to the wrong side at the wrong time. The adaptation probably wouldn’t be so universally disliked among VN readers had they picked a clearer path.

    Which boils down to what people on both sides are saying – sloppy direction was an issue.

    …As for the comparison to Higurashi S1, Higu was definitely a much worse adaptation, seeing as entire chunks of the story were just 100% omitted. Although I’d argue that it has its own merits that make it a better standalone anime.

  22. reverse says:

    the show itself pretty enjoyable before angel show up. there are a lot of mystery happening, but by adding her in to a mix, it kinda useless, went it end like this

    I take back my word if it get second season, until now i would say the direction for this show is lacking, the show should be more compact ,and they shouldn’t animate any fight in this show ( it wasn’t that good ) and focus more on the story.

    some of the gore, I thought it just plain terrible ( what the message “people died went they got kill?” )
    well directed show use less gore with more impact

  23. Meep says:

    Well, I was also really looking forward to this show after enjoying the Higurashi anime so much. It didn’t compare to my excitement and enjoyment for Higurashi, but I feel more inclined to check out the Umineko VN. In fact I will, lol. The characters managed to grow on me a bit, and now I find myself wanting more. ^^

  24. Anonymouse says:

    Comparing this to Higurashi, I’d say Umineko – Higurashi without the killer Loli.
    Back in Crunchyroll I post in the forums about higurashi being all gore and blood which is something to definitely watch; I’d probably do the same for Umineko. The same blood and gore is carried here but I have to disagree with one thing; Except for the first episode set, the viewers(us) is no longer looking for the killer; I mean we all know that bitch whose mood jumps among tsun/dere/psycho is killing them. All that we needed was a convenient logical explanation. The gore was good however, I’ve already watched Higurashi back then and still sleep deprived after watching Mnemosyne(Gore with 18+) a few days ago thus the gore has less impact.

  25. Lloyd says:

    You know, if it weren’t for you Psgels, I would have had to give up on this anime as I don’t know anyone else who was watching it. Rushing through the anime on a thursday afternoon, then rushing to your blog to see your theories was certainly the highlight of my week.

    Hell, I even had to stream the final episode over 2 hours to Ghana just so I could rush over here and see what the buzz was all about without ruining the ‘action’ for me.

    So, once again P-man, I’d just like to say thank you for the amazing ride through. If there isn’t a 2nd season, I’ll just have to try and find somewhere that does the visual novels.

    Looking forward to see what you review next! You just made a fan!

  26. Firechick says:

    Apparently, there are rumors that a second season is announced, but they’re not confirmed yet.

    http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=91419

  27. Jo says:

    I’m one of those VN readers that aren’t really satisfied with the anime. I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased against the anime, but that’s only because it turned something that was good into something more….mediocre. Not even so bad it’s good, just mediocre.

    I don’t really blame DEEN here, though I do think they could have put in more effort and been more tasteful in certain parts (boob jiggling in inappropriate scenes/ stakes hair always being messed up/ REACTIONS, REACTIONS TO DEAAATH GUYS comes to mind) .

    It the director really. It irks me because she shows she can do a good job (episode I-III or the entirety of Episode III for instance) but just decides to screw the whole thing anyway. It’s. Infuriating.

    I agree that Higurashi’s adaption was shit, but as a standalone it was interesting to watch. That was the main point. I understand that there’s less you can cut in Umineko seeing the two are completely different and gosh Umineko is much harder to adapt and so they had to squeeeeze, but really. At least get the characterization RIGHT. ;_; You can cut out all the not too important character development scenes, but GOD. Don’t screw the characters themselves. Battler, Jessica and Natsuhi come to mind. ESPECIALLY Jessica.

    I do think that it has it’s good points, and it honestly carried the story across fairly well. But really, isn’t it a bit difficult to care for a story with characters you cant really care much about? ;_;

  28. Tsukeru says:

    I dont think there will ever be a season 2.
    Ever.
    I mean, its been what, a year since the first season ENDED?D=

  29. Nayrael says:

    Umineko no Naku Koro Ni VN’s have to end first before they animate the 2nd season.
    Also, a year ain’t much.

  30. Ian says:

    I read the visual novel, but to be honest, I don’t mind how the anime turned out. I can see that, on it’s own, it’s a good watch. If it weren’t for the mystery, Umineko just wouldn’t be Umineko. For that, I can honestly say that the anime doesn’t deserve to end on this note. Since DEEN started it, they had might as well finish it.

    People can’t just easily transition from the end of the anime season directly into the beginning of EP5 of the visual novel. They instead have to read the visual novel from EP1, and that may reduce their overall opinion of the anime, thus decreasing demand for a second season. Fans who may never be able to get their hands on the visual novel (regardless of how easy or hard it is to do) will be cheated out of the ultimate ending.

    Poor sales or not, the anime deserves to be finished. It’s not supposed to end at EP4.

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  • Badesh
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:11 AM)
    Nice! Looking forward to the reviews. Some nice fighting scenes besides the build up of the story. I just hope they don’t play just this one tune all the time ;)
  • afgm
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:10 AM)
    @Aidan: Too bad you’re giving up on Berserk. You’re missing ooouut.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 02:09 PM)
    @Bam, sent you the details. Give me a heads up on here if you send a message back. My yahoo.ie mail is so clogged up with spam that I rarely check it.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 12:49 PM)
    @Aidan: for sure. Might as well put this one up before the next episode is out, and I’ll brush up on my WordPress and handle the next one on. Thx.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 12:35 PM)
    @bam, I got it but it would be a pain to check my yahoo.ie address for every post. So I am just gonna create an account and send you the details on how to log in. Then you can put this up yourself.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 05:51 AM)
    @Aidan: did you get it?
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 03:55 AM)
    @Aidan: already sent.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:51 PM)
    Creating a account on the site is easy but I am not sure if you need a WordPress account to access it. Though if you email me the thing I can grab screenshots for you to save you the trouble.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:14 PM)
    @Aidan: I believe I have your email from the time I gave you the Black Desert Online Pass. Whichever way is easier for you is fine with me.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:10 PM)
    @bam, Sounds fine to me. Do you happen to have any of our emails? If you have a MAL account I could send you my email through there. Or I could create an Account for you on here?
    @Mario, Silly Mario. Don’t call me mister. It’s Lord Aidan, you filthy mongrel.

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When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

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Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]