Posted 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.
Posted on with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



Okay, so apparently this episode was terrible for the visual novel readers. I however am just watching this anime, so I don’t care. This episode was pretty good, and the only thing I’m raging about is that bloody cliff-hanger, especially considering that that second season might not even come!

However, I do agree that Umineko was really, really rushed. How could this have happened, really? People keep saying “DEEN! DEEN! DEEN!”, but they’ve made plenty of great series and adaptations in the past, so that can’t be the only thing. In the end, my eye still falls back to Chiaki Kon, the director. I don’t like her. While she adapted the Higurashi novels really well, with nice balance and a strong direction, she was able to do so because she really didn’t have anything else to do at that time. It was her debut, so she really had to prove that she could direct something right.

But take a look what she’s up to from the past spring: 20 episodes of Hanasakeru Seishounen, 26 episodes of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, and when this is over she’s going to do Nodame Cantabile’s finale. That’s more than 52 episodes within one year! She really took way too much on her plate, and like Shinbo I’d wish that she’d just concentrate on one single series and make that one right, instead of trying to do everything at the same time. Now all of those shows are just going to be really rushed, and they’ll miss the strong direction that Higurashi had. Most directors manage to produce one series every two years, or perhaps even one series a year. Counting the upcoming winter-season, Chiaki Kon has directed six series in two years. Somebody stop her and hand those series over to some other directors. I mean, Studio Deen has enough other talents walking around.

At this point, I have a really hard time deciding how to judge this series. Rushed or not, Umineko has one hell of a backstory. It was always fun to formulate theories, trying to figure out what’s going on. This is why I’m not going to recommend this series to people who already played the visual novel. Not because it’s badly executed, but by far the best thing about Umineko is its mystery. When you already know what’s going to happen, then what’s left? What’s the fun in reading a detective novel if you already know exactly how everything is going to happen?

As for the people who haven’t played the game, it’s a bit trickier, though. It’s a great watch, but I sure as hell ain’t going to recommend this if a second season isn’t being produced. It’s like reading a detective novel, only to discover that someone ripped off the entire second half. This is probably the thing I like the least about anime: it’s “let’s just animate the first part so that we can only animate the conclusion when the sales are good”-mentality. Imagine if Monster or Legend of Galactic Heroes were animated this way.

EDIT: ah, forgot to talk about the episode. It’s interesting how Beatrice basically let Battler bombard her with theories that she could in fact just have blown all away, as if she wanted to lose. At first I thought that she was simply acting again, but for some reason I don’t think she really did that here. Kinzou’s death actually being confirmed was a major revelation, of course. The question really is: who the hell is this guy? If he is one of the seventeen people alive, the servants must be playing a really strange game.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that at least one of them is in on the game: there are only a few family members who knew about Kinzou’s death, while they were in on it all along since they lived inside his house, and otherwise the closed room murder in the third arc would be pretty impossible, but actually plausible: they knew that Kinzou was already dead, and made it seem that he was killed along with the other six to cover him up.

I also wonder, at the end we see Lambdadelta and Bernkastel talk about how Beatrice must never win. Again, big clue: the two are working together and somehow have interest in keeping the game going on forever. And how is Bernkastel’s magic going to play in, I wonder? I mean, her magic is to make anything happen as long as the possibility isn’t zero. If Beatrice is going to be able to win of her she’s going to have to be able to create such a lock-down that there’s no possibility for escape.

There. Happy now? ;)
Rating: * (Good)

And remember: even though the series is finished now, I still reserve the right to delete any comment that spoils beyond this point in the novel

Posted on 17 December 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



This episode was evil. The previous episode left with a huge cliff-hanger, so I was really looking forward to see what would happen with Beatrice next… and here this episode comes and focuses entirely at Ange. That’s definitely not what I expected for a semi-final episode.

It wasn’t exactly a major episode, though for some reason the characters kept using different names for older Eva and Maria’s diary. For some reason, old Eva now changed her name to Kasumi, though this was probably to escape the links she had with the Rokkenjima murders. Maria’s diary somehow is called Mariage Sorciere. We still don’t exactly know the how and why of this, but my guess is that it’s Maria’s magical alter ego who wrote the diary, explaining why the handwriting is different.

I think the most confusing part of this episode was right after Kasumi showed up from out of nowhere, as it took a while to sink in what the heck she was talking about. Basically, Eva refers to Kyrie as her older sister, meaning that she’s actually a part of the Sumadera family. Then really, what does this mean for the Ushinomiya-family? Is Hideyoshi actually Kinzou’s child? On top of that, Kyrie was about to marry this mysterious Hideyoshi, but instead married Rudolf, who then had a son called Battler who isn’t the same Battler as meta-Battler. Damn, and I thought the previous episode was complicated.

EDIT: Ack, I just realized that there are two old ladies in Ange’s timeline: her first aunt is Eva, who apparently did die a few episodes ago. Her second aunt is Sumadera Kasumi, who is Kyrie’s sister. And I kept thinking that they were the same person! Well, this at least makes things a little less complicated, and this episode much more straightforward. Which is a bit of a shame considering that there’s only one episode left!

Ultimately, this was an episode of building up. Which is a goddarn shame considering we have to wait around two years before actually seeing it being paid off.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 10 December 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



Very nice, the plot twists just keep heaping up with this episode. While not as interesting as the third arc yet, there’s plenty of potential left for this in the final two episodes.

The first half of this episode was the usual slaughter-fest in which members of the Ushinomiya-family die rather one-sidedly, though there are several interesting questions raised here: has non-meta-Battler ever directly seen magic up till now? The only point I can think of is the end of the second arc, and that could easily have been an illusion. My guess has always been that what he saw with his eyes happened in real life, and this puts the three phone-calls he made during the first half in a very interesting light.

Right now, my guess is that the murderer used some sort of psychological attack to kill these people. Perhaps some sort of drug or mushroom that made them think that there are things that there actually aren’t. We’ve never really seen Nanjo check for any drug effects, and I can imagine how the killer could have created the flesh wounds afterwards to confuse people and hide the real causes.

A different theory is that the three characters in question found out who the murderer was, and why they were committed. As this seems to have been a very good reason, and simply resigned to their fate.

Because that second half gave a very interesting twist to the whole matter. Beatrice could have acted this again (I see her crazy enough to just ignore Battler like this), but I think that this was one of the first time in which her actions were genuine. Otherwise it would not have made sense for Lambadelta to have shown up.

So the way I see it, Beatrice made a mistake. Something happened six years ago that for some reason really upset her, and she believed Battler to be the culprit… and yet he wasn’t. This wasn’t a case of simple amnesia, he really had no clue what happened. The thing that would make sense is how Rosa killed Beatrice, but this doesn’t make any sense because Beatrice would know this, and she’d be going after Rosa instead.

My guess is that the creators have yet to reveal the exact reason, but I do believe that six years ago multiple things happened that set everything in motion, Rosa’s sin being one of them: I can very well imagine that Kinzou wasn’t really happy when he found out what happened to Beatrice. Also, why couldn’t Battler claim that he’s the son of his mother? Was he switched as a baby with someone else or something? In that case, what happened to the real Battler? And how did this create Battler’s “sin”, six years ago.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 4 December 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



Oh wow, now this is indeed more like it. Talk about an intriguing episodes after the rather boring past three episodes. This episode returned Umineko where it’s good at: mind-numbing mystery. How the heck are the creators going to write themselves out of this? It’s a bloody shame that we have to wait for more than a year to get to see those answers animated.

The biggest question mark of this episode was obviously George becoming the demon king. While I have no idea what that meant, he now also has his own magical powers (a shield, which is something which he somehow learned from his mother, who I guess knows martial arts…), with which he pwned Gaap in this episode.

We still follow Ange as well, and the mystery gets yet another extra dimension: all of the children of the people who died on Rokkenjima received a key to a lot of cash, presumably the Ushinomiya family fortune. If it were just Ange who received it it would have made sense, but why did the son of Nanjo, who is totally not related to this case nor the headship of the Ushinomiya family, receive access to this fortune as well? Also, what was that thing that Ange saw in that plastic bag?

What also surprises me is that meta-Battler doesn’t make an appearance whatsoever in this episode. In this way, it becomes a bit tricky to see what Beatrice is planning with this incredibly elaborate set-up. I mean, if her goal is indeed just to keep the endless loop, couldn’t she simply show the first arc over and over? Something tells me that she’s really wanting Battler to acknowledge magic, and that this isn’t because of the job she received from Lambdadelta.

This also makes me very curious to see what Kinzou has in store for Battler and Maria. Battler will probably have the option to kill off Kyrie, while Maria just lost her mother. who is the one who is listed on her trial? On top of that, the two of them have a far weaker resolve than Jessica and George. Meta-Battler excluded, Battler has so far struck me as someone with a strong opinion, but also stubborn and not the most competent. To come with a comparison: Jessica doesn’t just talk about protecting her loved ones, she also acts upon it. Battler just talks. Now that I mention it, has he ever actually done anything significant?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Oh, and just a reminder: I don’t know exactly when chapter six, seven and eight will be released, but remember that I will unceremoniously delete any spoiling comments about them. I’m not repeating this message because the commends during the past few entries have gotten out of control, but rather for after this series finishes, in the case that some random visual novel player stumbles upon this page and finds it a good idea to let the anime-only viewers know about what’s going to happen in the end.

Posted on 27 November 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



So now we’re back at the island again, and this episode portrayed a new character as the villain: Kinzou. Like all villains of Umineko, this guy is way over the top, but then again, that’s part of the fun. You don’t exactly watch this series for its realism. We also see a new servant introduced: Gaap (not the most fortunate name: it means “yawn” in Dutch, which makes it a bit hard to take her seriously).

What’s also interesting is that in this arc, we never get to see the corpses for the first twillight confirmed. All we see is Beatrice smirking and claiming that it’s the same as the previous first twillights, but the massacre scene was just like any other magic scene in this show so far: an illusion. Who is to say that these people really died? This is especially notable because one of the biggest suspects right now (Dr. Hanzo) could have used this to his advantage and pretend to be dead, killing everyone from the sidelines.

Still, this also supports the theory that there are multiple killers. My prime theory at the moment is that Kinzo is responsible for the first twillight (see the third arc, in which the murders had to be committed by one of the six people who died there), and after that Hanzo took over with the rest of the murders.

And boy, that scene between Maria and Rosa was intense. This also explains why the scene between the two of them in the last episode felt a bit incomplete, and now you can really see where the twisted personality from Maria came from. However, Rosa does raise a few questions: if this supposedly happened in every single arc (of which I’m not convinced of at the moment), then it doesn’t really fit with her behavior during the second and third arc. Having been killed more than a 100 times, Rosa should now be terrified of of her. I didn’t exactly get that impression from them, aside from the first arc, perhaps.

Now that the first season has nearly ended, I do have to say that so far, I do consider Higurashi to be better than Umineko. We’ve now seen 22 episodes, and while the potential for mystery on both series is just as interesting, Higurashi had far better characters at this point. And while Studio Deen’s influence really contributed to the creepiness and atmosphere of the first season, I’m not feeling the same as with Umineko.

Overall, I’ve been getting a bit disappointed by Studio Deen for the past year. They used to be one of my favourite studios, but their shows seem to have dulled, and ever since Amatsuki, their good shows have either been good shows because they had awesome source material, or because they were sequels of already good shows (Jigoku Shoujo and Higurashi Rei). I’m missing that typical Studio Deen-esque feel that can make already good premises even better.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 19 November 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



Well, the third arc was awesome: it had a new twist in just about every new episode and kept holding the balls in the air with increasingly astonishing plot twists. In comparison, the past two episodes have really been a let-down. Especially considering how the creators have the arduous task of filling about 50 hours of visual Novel in just 26 episodes, they really could have used this episode better.

My problem with the past three episodes is simple: who the heck is Ange? Why the heck should I care about her? And why the heck does she have more background than nearly all of the other characters so far? This backstory of the past three episodes could easily have been squeezed in one episode, just like what the creators did with the first arcs. That would actually have left plenty of room for background on some of the other characters who deserved this, instead of this rather one-sided mini-arc that’s just there to show that Ange feels lonely and gets bullied by really, really, really stereotypical evil classmates.

The fun in Umineko comes from creating the theories and the crazy out of control plot in which you really have to guess what’s going on, and you can trust nobody. This episode… I just can’t make anything from it.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 12 November 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



Whoa, the CG Shaders have found Umineko at last. I have to say, that now that the properly shaded characters actually look pretty good. That’s the thing with Studio Deen’s graphics: it either looks really good or really bad. There’s hardly any in between.

Anyway, this episode rounds off the second part of Ange’s background. We learn that she’s not only revived Maria, but also she attempted to train as a witch, which eventually went wrong. On top of that, Maria is also revealed to be not just a witch, but also as Beatrice’s ally. Which does at the moment make no sense because I have no idea on whose side Maria truly is. If it is true that magic even existed in the first arc, it would explain her strange behavior there: she indeed was on Beatrice’s side, and merely enjoyed Beatrice’s little game a bit too much.

The question of course remains: if this is true, then what was up with her in the subsequent arcs? And I think that that’s where the real killer comes in. My guess is that as a little kid, she knew Beatrice and she really believed that whoever was behind the murders was Beatrice. This worked in the first arc because she was one of the people that the killer apparently let live (or at least, killed the last), however in the subsequent arcs (especially the third) she wasn’t as lucky and realized that someone other than Beatrice was on a killing spree.

I really suspect that Maria is able to remember every single arc. That would explain her huge change in character, and more importantly why she was able to write down every single detail about all of the arcs so far. It’s a bit of a mystery how she ended up writing about her own death, but again: at this point we have no idea exactly how much influence magic has in the real world. The witches must have been able to use illusions: otherwise people would not have been able to see them, and if magic really was the culprit then it doesn’t make any sense that it completely disappears once the magic scenes are over.

Lambdadelta comes with an interesting twist at the end, although I don’t think I fully understand it. She mentions how, when Battler wins the game he gets sent back to 1986, not 1998. However, doesn’t that mean that Ange still gets to meet her brother, only his 30-year-old version? Or did she mean that Meta-Battler gets sent back to the dimension he came from, while the other Battler simply remains dead? After all, it actually seems that Battler survived in the second arc. I’m actually pretty interested to see what happened to the Ange of that world.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 6 November 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



This episode takes a bit of a step back as it explains more about “Gretel”‘s past. Her classmates were… stereotypical to say the least, but at least it’s good to see a bit more attention for her, and a bit of a more detailed report of what happened to Eva after the massacre of the third arc.

Maria was surprisingly tolerable in this episode, though. There’s one thing that I agree that the anime adaptation screwed up: the first few arcs showed her evil side way too much. The past two arcs actually gave her a bit of a character. The way she teased Battler with his fear of flight and how she was resurrected by Ange through magic (again, questioning how much magic there is in this world, and whether the world she came from is the same that Meta-Battler came from).

This episode also showed that even the starting events of each arc don’t necessarily have to be the same: we don’t know whether Rosa confessed about how she killed Beatrice in every single arc, because in this arc we see how Kinzou himself decides to attend the family meeting due to Krauss’ incompetence. This episode also raises the question: is Kinzou really alive? We’ve seen him a few times, but that says nothing: we’ve also seen Beatrice once in a while, and she too clearly wasn’t there. The only question is the point at which Natsuhi talked to him in the first arc: I’m still not sure whether that arc was completely free of magic, or whether it too had magical elements in it.

By the way, now that we’re nearing the end of this series’ airtime: has a second season already been announced? I know that the “no naku koro ni”-franchise should be popular enough to warrant a sequel that animates the answer arcs, but lately I’ve seen too many series that are in need of a sequel, yet never ended up getting one.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 30 October 2009 with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



It’s episodes like this that really remind me why I’m still such a fan of anime. This episode was just… beyond awesome. Major spoilers coming up, do not read this entry if you haven’t seen the episode, and for the rest I can say little else than:

What the Fuck!?

I sort-of suspected that this episode would end with a bang, but this kind of a bang… I never saw coming: freakin’ Beatrice set everything up. The reason why her acting felt so forced was that it was SUPPOSED to be acting: there’s no way Battler was going to notice, and instead Beatrice started playing the innocent victim, while creating a new villain in Evatrice. Holy crap, talk about an awesome plot twist!

I’m now starting to see why Beatrice was supposed to be such an awesome character. The sheer cruelty in which she continuously keeps thinking of scenarios to fool Battler, and does it every time, and at the same time you can see that she isn’t perfect. My guess is that she originally didn’t plan to include the Evatrice plot in this arc, and instead just tried to use her Teacher to confuse Battler, but when he cornered her (when Ronove interrupted her when she was about to give away an important clue) and they went into that emergency meeting of theirs, they decided to go for such an elaborate illusion.

On top of that, Beatrice seems to have two intentions that contradict each other: her first goal is to “win” from Battler: make him acknowledge that she’s a witch. However, on top of that it’s also her “job” to “win” the game endlessly, and she seems to be under the orders of Lambdadelta. While seemingly contradicting each other, could it be that the first goal of hers is also just a red herring? That she simply already is a mage, but needs to keep the Ushinomiya-family in that endless loop of theirs for some reason? That could explain why Battler’s sister suddenly popped up as a major player.

Anyway, back to the murders: the survivors this time are Battler, Eva, Jessica, Krauss and Rosa. It’s interesting how Evatrice confirmed that Jessica isn’t one of the murderers, and neither Eva nor Battler killed Nanjo. However, that doesn’t go for Krauss and Rosa. In fact, while I don’t think that Krauss was the murderer in the first two arcs (perhaps he got killed off before he could get started), but he actually seems like a pretty likely suspect this arc: remember how he said that surprisingly nice comment about how he regrets having been so mean to his family members? After Beatrice’s act and all, I don’t believe one word from that anymore.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)
And remember, I reserve the right to delete posts that talk about what happens in the novel after this episode

Shoutbox

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  • Emma
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:16 PM)
    I can get behind the idea K-off is suggesting, its a good one.
  • K-Off
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:14 PM)
    @Enka I’m not saying it has to be all text. I’m suggesting a crossover between manga and choose your own adventure novels.
  • Enka
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:09 PM)
    But then again, for H-Scenes, it’d be pretty awkward…
  • Enka
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:08 PM)
    Choose Your Own Adventure sounds like just the thing VNs need.
  • Enka
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:07 PM)
    Watched Idol master, and it was about as fun as watching water evaporate.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:04 PM)
    =< No noooo can't find the second tiger and bunny film on tokyo toshokan, animetake, kissanime or bakabt. Only in assworthy quality on anilinkz and primewire =<
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:03 PM)
    I already wear glasses from reading too much as a kid.
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:01 PM)
    I see where you’re coming from though, even nooks and kindles will damage your eyes.
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 05:00 PM)
    @K-Off reading a real book? Pfft.
  • K-Off
    (Thursday, Jul 24. 2014 04:51 PM)
    Now that’s an idea; give the VNs printed copies.

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Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]

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Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]