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Umineko no Naku Koro Ni; My current obsession
Topic Started: Nov 16 2009, 10:26 PM (358 Views)
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GB Manga Whore

Note: This is in General because Umineko is a visual novel first, and an Anime/Manga adaptation second, so this thread is to discuss all forms of the franchise.

From the maker of the popular Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni comes the newest installment of the When They Cry series.

I knew about this series since a little while after I first got into Higurashi a year and a half ago, considering they are both franchises within the same 'When They Cry' series of Visual Novels (DoujinSoft 'games' you 'play' on your computer, but it's pretty much just pictures, text, and a soundtrack...no 'playing' of any kind), author Ryukishi07. Being that Higurashi hooked me so much with its charm and its characters and its ridiculously complex and addicting mystery, having read the premise for Umineko, I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much. It seemed a little too focused on the occult/supernatural aspect, whereas in Higurashi, it's more about trying to prove that the culprit is not a curse by the guardian god Oyashiro, but by humans. In Umineko, the mystery revolves around the Golden Witch, Beatrice, and from what I had read it seemed more likely that this time around the supernatural element was a little more 'true' than it was in Higurashi.

Then, in April-May or so, I was on another big Higurashi kick, and lurking the AnimeSuki forums and whatnot of course I saw much discussion of fans cross-referencing both series'. Then I found out that an Umineko Anime was in the works, and so I decided when it came out, I'd probably get into it then...at the time I was more interested in the new Higurashi Rei OVA series. But I found that the first 3 chapters were up on OneManga, and I read them...it seemed interesting, but it stopped just before things seemed like they'd get 'good'. A few months later I noticed more chapters had been added, and I got as far as just past the 'first twilight'...which, fans will know, is when shit really hits the fan, and boom. I was interested.

Well, when the Anime premiered in July and I watched the first few episodes of it, amidst the complaintfest that was going around the 'net about how the Anime butchered the story, I decided to check out the original visual novel, the first installment of which is free to download on the official 07th Expansion website (it contains all of the first game, Legend of the Golden Witch; if you enjoy it you can purchase the DVD with EP1-4 for about $30 online). The games are Japanese, but English patches are available at Witch-Hunt's website, with a complete translation of EP1-4 as of this post, and EP5 fast approaching completion. I ended up enjoying EP1 so much that I did in fact purchase the EP1-4 DVD, and I can't remember the last time I made such a worthwhile purchase. I highly recommend it...though if you absolutely refuse to spend money, there are bound to be torrents lurking around the 'net where you can get it.

If for some reason you can't download the game, but would like to see that version of it (rather than the much less enjoyable Anime or Manga), you can check out the YouTube channel of SkittlesXTheXPimp, who has as of this post uploaded the entirety of EP1 and is currently working on uploading EP2. The visual novel is far more comprehensive and enjoyable than its adaptations, though the Manga is available on OneManga, partially translated (most of EP1 as of this post, with EP2, 3 and 4 just beginning). As of this post, the Anime has aired 21 episodes, with a new episode each Wednesday, with subs released each Thursday by GG Subs.

The Anime should be seen as a cliffnotes version of the series, much like Higurashi was, and while this does not make it any less enjoyable, it is much like the experience of a movie being adapted from a novel or a comic - fans of the original will generally walk out of the theatre complaining about how they got this and that completely wrong, and butchered the original work. Admittedly, EP3's adaptation was seen as much more favorable by fans than the first two arcs, and the Anime has its strong points - mainly, excellent work from big-name voice actors (Sayaka Ohara, Daisuke Ono, Rie Kugumiya just to name a few...and personally, without Sayaka Ohara's brilliant performance as Beatrice, I probably wouldn't love her character as much as I do), and much more pleasing character designs than the visual novel (the art of which is, er...i-interesting...). My personal recommendation is that you check out either the visual novel or the Manga before the Anime, so you have a better feel for the world and the characters before checking out the Anime...especially since the first story arc is absolutely massacred. After that, it gets better, but still.

Regardless of the medium most preferable to you, i highly recommend this brilliant series, especially if you enjoyed Higurashi. I've come to find this series insanely addicting, with a brilliantly complex mystery and fascinating characters. And you'll learn things, too - assuming that the intense work you'll be putting your brain through to figure out how logical theories such as Schrodinger's Cat, Hempel's Raven, and more apply to this intricate mystery. Anyone who's ever read Agatha Christie's famous And Then There Were None will quickly notice the similarities in EP1...but don't let your guard down, as before you know it, those 'familiar' and 'comfortable' concepts of modern mystery writing will be twisted and contorted into a mindfuck that makes that of Higurashi look like child's play.

Don't come into this series expecting something you can just sit down and watch mindlessly. You'll need to stay on your toes and use your brain if you want to stand a chance understanding this train wreck. But if you're up to the challenge, you may just find a very unique and addicting series - a life preserver to pull you from the depths of the hundreds of generic Naruto's and Bleach's of popular modern Japanese faire.

Umineko no Naku Koro Ni earns my highest praise, and has quickly become my favorite series. I can't wait for the EP5 translation, and EP6's upcoming release this December.

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