Having never seen nor read any of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, I had very little interest in Umineko no Naku Koro Ni when it was set to hit Japanese airwaves. However, while I was in Japan, a friend of mine insisted that we catch the show’s premier on TV, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a spin. Two cours later, despite the animalistic moaning of fanboys, I found the Umineko TV series to be quite good. Perhaps it’s because I have not yet partaken of the original visual novel, but I found the TV show to be a not-bad way to spend 24 minutes each week.
Before listening to a review of Higurashi, all I knew about the show was that it was a series of stories featuring recurring characters in which the continuity was reset each time. I just assumed all of these stories were standalone, but apparently they all have something to do with one-another. This being something of trademark for Ryukishi07, a similar thing is done in Umineko, and it happens to be one of the things I find the most fascinating about the series.
The way in which the story moves from a simple murder mystery into a Death Note style battle of wits between people who can walk between different thinly defined realms of existence while privy to the details of alternate continuities is really neat. The politics between the witches isn’t really focused on too much, but their interactions add another layer of intrigue to the story. The entire thing is underscored by unclear definitions of what’s real and what’s not, which serves to make things all the more exciting. All of this mixed together with some nice plot twists here and there makes for something of a satisfying viewing experience.
Fans of the novel complain about the show’s direction, putting forth that it doesn’t communicate the “feel” of the novel well at all, but I love it. I think the over-the-top handling of every ridiculous plot twist is part of what makes the show so entertaining. It’s kind of like Code Geass, I guess.
Umineko does suffer visually, but the novel does as well. For the anime, the character designs are actually drawn by a professional, but they just look generic. The actual animation really isn’t that bad, but it doesn’t stand out either–it’s simply average. It doesn’t really effect things much, except for the laughable fight scenes. The only real notably bad part about the show’s animation is how awful the colouring is. It really is just hideous.
One area in which the show does suffer in is characterization. The characters are merely meant to push along the narrative, and don’t leave much of an impression beyond the fact that some of them have nice tits. I suppose this is one area in which the novel is a lot better, since people seem to be quite attached to some of these characters, and I don’t understand why from just watching the anime.
I don’t see myself sitting down to watch this again, but it’s a good page turner for what it’s worth. If inspired I may pick up the visual novel, but I prefer sitting down and looking at moving pictures to sitting down and clicking through text on a screen.