Original Run: July 2, 2009 - December 24, 2009 Number of Episodes: 26 Genre: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Thriller Based on the Visual Novel: Umineko When They Cry
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Umineko – When They Cry. Reader discretion is advised.***
The year is 1986. On the island of Rokkenjima, the wealthy Ushiromiya family gathers for their yearly conference. The family’s head is on the verge of death, and thus, he deems it time to begin a horrific ceremony.
Within the Ushiromiya mansion is a portrait of a beautiful woman. To the family, she’s known as the Golden Witch, and legend has it that she was the one who built the Ushiromiya fortune. Below her painting is a strange epitaph containing a riddle said to show the location of that fortune. Should anyone solve it, they would gain the rights to the great inheritance.
And tonight is the last chance to solve the riddle, and the price requires blood.
One by one, people start dying gruesome deaths. With no one able to solve the riddle, no one makes it off the island. Everyone acknowledges the existence of the witch’s magic — all except one.
Battler Ushiromiya (voiced by Daisuke Ono) refuses to believe in silly superstitions. His defiance puts him at odds with the Golden Witch herself, Beatrice (voiced by Sayaka Ohara). With these two locked in a battle of logic, the horrors of this night will repeat themselves until a winner is decided.
Umineko – When They Cry (Umineko) is the follow-up to the horror masterpiece When They Cry. As such, it would make sense to put some high expectations on this series. Once upon a time ago, that’s what I did, and I could not have regretted it more.
You see, this was not my first watch of Umineko. Perhaps against my better judgment, I wanted to give this show another try.
For reference, Uminkeo has many structural similarities to When They Cry.
- Both were violent.
- Both were brutal.
- Both had multiple story arcs.
- Both had a kick-ass opening song.
But where When They Cry was intelligent, scary, and engaging, Umineko was the exact opposite. In fact, I would go so far as to say this series was a f@#$ing mess.
However, you’d probably think me crazy if you were just beginning this show. I will admit, Umineko’s first story arc was fantastic.
Talk about starting with a bang. These first few episodes embodied the When They Cry spirit. They were creepy, frightening, and terrifying. There were so many questions; nothing felt right. Here was the opening act of a budding mystery story.
In true When They Cry fashion, Umineko’s first arc was gruesome. This was the type of violence that only added to the dread of the situation. And keep in mind, we only saw the aftermath of what was sure to have been an even more brutal scene. What this did was add to the helplessness of the environment.
As the arc progressed, things only became direr. This then led to a resolution that did not end well for our characters. With the plotline over, the series continued after a quick reset.
As a sign of things to come, how could you not get excited? So, what the hell happened?
Where to even start?
As Umineko went on, as more and more arcs came, everything just got dumber. I had forgotten the nosedive this series took.
Let’s not pretend the original When They Cry was easy to follow. That series was confusing, but when it was, the atmosphere benefited. It felt like there were rules.
That wasn’t the case with Umineko. Instead of trying to expose a mystery, this series kept making things more convoluted.
Another problem was the cast; there were too many people. When this show started, we were introduced to eighteen characters, a number which only increased as the story continued.
Looking back at When They Cry, it had a big cast. However, it only focused on six characters. On top of that, each When They Cry arc had a single focus. Doing this gave us a backstory; we got to know our leads; we grew to care about them.
The same was not for Umineko, and two worst culprits were our leads, Battler Ushiromiya and the Golden Witch Beatrice.
Beginning with the latter, Beatrice was not a person to be feared. No, she was a brat with the temperament of a six-year-old. Beatrice would throw a huge hissy fit whenever she didn’t get her way. Strange since she was the one who was consistently winning. But I suppose it could have been worse. Beatrice could have been Battler.
Screw this guy; he was our hero? Freaking Battler was the person we had to cheer for – why? What possible reason gave him the right to such recognition? He kept getting his ass handed to him. There was never a point where he was ahead. It would have been one thing if he put in a good fight. Too bad he rarely did that.
And while we’re at it, why were Beatrice and Battler fighting? Battler had to prove that a human could have committed the murders. By doing so, he would be able to deny the existence of magic and witches. If done correctly, I concede that that would make for an exciting fight.
Except Battler ruined the whole point of his argument by relying on both magic and witches. Never mind the fact that he saw Beatrice use magic to kill his family. So, it didn’t matter if a human could have done it or not because the culprit was standing right their with the murder weapon.
Also, why did Beatrice give Battler a chance to fight back at all? This show had it so whenever a character spoke the truth, their words would appear in red. Why then didn’t Beatrice simply say, “Magic killed these people”? It would have been the truth; Battler would’ve been finished, the show could then be over.
Umineko’s biggest fault was its failure to ground its premise. It got introduced at random, it seldom came into play, and it could’ve been beaten without much effort.
After a promising start, this series fell deeper and deeper into nonsense. The story was all over the place, characters weren’t interesting, the leads were obnoxious at worst and laughable at best, and the whole point of everything was fragile as all hell.
It’s no wonder why everything came crashing down in the end.
Umineko – When They Cry can be skipped.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Umineko – When They Cry? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
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