Umineko: Final Thoughts

Still better art than the VN

Best Chapters

Chapter 3: A survivor?! A real Beatrice?! Capping the number of suspects?! Moétrice?! Sheer number of bombs being dropped in a non-solution arc make this the best chapter.

Chapter 7 Tea Party: An actual solution?!

Beatrice x Battler scene from the Magic Ending: Ryukishi07 can really write when he wants to.

Worst Chapters

Chapter 1: No Beatrice.

Chapter 4: Too much Ange backstory, overdid the magical version of events, lots of characters acting out of character. On the bright side, it sets up the Chapter 7 Tea Party, and the Sakutaro backstory was solid.

Thoughts on other Chapters

Chapter 2: Better than Chapter 1, not as good as Chapter 3. Good setup, but Battler’s incompetence makes it painful to follow.

Chapters 5-6: Not enough Beatrice. Battler fighting the detective was a cool twist. Not crazy about Erika, but she’s amusing for what she’s worth.

Chapter 7: Valuable infodumping, but hard to treat as a real story arc. Will and Lion are both likable. Delightful Tea Party!

Chapter 8: In-story logic games and Bernkastel’s tutoring game were pretty cool. Speaking of Bernkastel, this is the only time I’ve ever liked a character more when I didn’t know she was an evil lesbian. Way too much teasing on revealing the whole solution; it was obviously never going to happen. Pushes the theme of love too hard, but you buy in by the end. Still have no clue what to make of the pirate attack. Battler x Beatrice ending had some of the best writing I’ve seen in a long time.

Best Opening

Chapters 5-6. This applies to both the PC version and its PS3 knock-off.

Best Character

Any scene with Beatrice > Any scene without Beatrice

Honorable Mentions: Eva, Rosa

Worst Character

Pointless and bitchy. Bitchy characters should at least have a purpose.

Dishonorable Mentions: Kumasawa, Kanon

Thoughts on Solutions

The Epitaph: Ridiculously hard, but it had to be that way to keep fans from solving it. Bold move. I approve.

Beatrice’s True Identity: Fascinating but totally implausible. Shouldn’t somebody have noticed? Shouldn’t the whole fucking island have noticed? Hiding behind an unreliable narrator is no excuse. You can only get away with this shit in anime/manga/visual novels.

Game Solutions: Not as satisfying as I expected. Too many co-conspirators, and most fall in line predictably. I can’t say I’ve nailed the solutions in-depth, but you’re looking at at least five co-conspirators per game. It’s inelegant. Something along the lines of the solution to Bernkastel’s training game would’ve been a lot more satisfying.

Final Grade: +

10 Replies to “Umineko: Final Thoughts”

  1. So.

    How did everyone on the Island die in the first chapter, if not killed by magic? That was, I believe, the original premise. Did the game forget about that?

    • The first chapter isn’t necessarily the “true” chapter. Any one of the chapters could be true, or none at all. The VN never reveals the one truth to rule them all, for better or worse.

      The first step to solving any of the games, as far as I’m concerned, is knowing the true identity of Beatrice. (Don’t want to spoil anything here.) Without that you can’t really get anywhere. Then you need to pay attention to everyone’s perspectives. Who saw the murders? Who examined the bodies? There are many perspectives that can’t be trusted. In fact, you generally can’t trust any perspective other than Battler’s. From this you can figure who Beatrice’s co-conspirators are in each game. If you know who’s in on it and whose perspectives you can trust, you can solve all the murders with non-magical explanations.

    • Pretty much what Baka Raptor said and even if one were to assume that they died despite there being no killer around, all of that can be easily answered by the solution to the riddle Beato was proposing to Battler at the end of novel 4 and said riddle got sufficiently solved with the Tea Party of chapter 7.

  2. SPOILERS ahead:

    “lots of characters acting out of character”
    Like who?

    “On the bright side, it sets up the Chapter 7 Tea Party, and the Sakutaro backstory was solid.”
    Plus, there’s also more story to Maria and Rosa and their relationship is just an incredibly interesting thing. Episode 2 did that better but this wasn’t too bad either.
    Episode 4 also really stressed the entire “Magic as escapistic delusions” motif. Ange, a character who has lost her entire family, has absolutely no friends and was getting bullied, is the only one who can see Maria, with that one teaching her about magic, ultimately getting her a lot of new magical friends. A similar thing applied to Maria, with her basically being left on her own while her mother was off having fun with non-motherly duties, thus Maria bringing her plush toy to life to get some companion (which made Rosa tearing it apart all the more of a striking moment). Also gets drawn towards magic because there’s nothing else in her life. Heck, she even believed that she had no actual father but that the Holy Ghost was her father. For as much as one might dislike Maria, she sure is tragic, broken character. Plus when Rosa killed off Sakutaro, Maria resorted to fantasies of endlessly torturing and killing her while aided by Beatrice. Escapism much!
    (Note how something similar also applies to Kinzo and Natsuhi during chapter 1 and especially chapter 5)

    “Speaking of Bernkastel, this is the only time I’ve ever liked a character more when I didn’t know she was an evil lesbian.”
    Frankly, I never really considered Bernkastel as particularly likable or striking. Higurashi reference character, ultimately turning into a final throw-in replacement villain. LamBROdadelta, meanwhile, actually managed to positively stand out.

    “Still have no clue what to make of the pirate attack.”
    Nothing metaphorical there, just all the Rokkenjima characters getting a last time to do their best.

    “Shouldn’t somebody have noticed?”
    But they did. Well, the ones that were in the know anyway. Shkannon was pretty much the new ruler of Rokkenjima, ultimately giving them control over Genji, Kumasawa, Dr. Nanjo and perhaps Krauss/Natsuhi too. There’s also a possible set of accomplices. And whenever there was a reliable narrator around for once, the two of them never appeared in front of others at the same time.

    On another note, some things I actually found to be fairly idiotic were Battler vs. Ange with that closed room thing. Admittedly a very cool, creative idea but both of them using every single possible solution until finally resorting to crap like “Your closed room had no roof!” and actually getting away with it was just cheap. Also, in novel 3, when Battler freaked out about the magic fight, having absolutely no clue on how to explain that, I was just baffled. He was the one watching countless goat and stake killings before and just shrugging them off as magical nonsense not applying.

    Oh yeah, please cut Gohda some slack. For as much as I agree with your disdain about Kanon (welp, now that was a boring character, all the amazing stuff the writing did with him aside), poor Gohda had the unfortunate luck of just happening to be there with no relations to anything, stuck on an island with a bunch of crazy people, most of them dying left and right. Besides, we all know he’s the real culprit anyway.


      In Chapter 4, Kinzo suddenly became Hercules (then dies at Beatrice’s whim), Virgilia became a dojikko, George became Bruce Lee (a change for the better but still out of character), and I still haven’t figured out the truth behind Jessica and Kyrie’s weird calls to Battler.

      On the human side, Maria’s actually my favorite character after Eva and Rosa. Maria and Rosa are twisted, sure, but do tell a really unique and interesting story.

      I always thought the connection to Higurashi, while cheesy, was acceptably fun, and we did get a nipah out of it. Never liked Bernkastel’s complete change in character though. Rika was my favorite Higurashi character. Bernkastel would probably rank in the 20s or 30s.

      Here’s my problem with Shkannon. I can easily buy into Genji knowing and concealing the truth. He was ideal furniture. Kumasawa…she has the length of service on her side, but she does act scared and screw around here and there, so I don’t quite believe that she’d have the resolve to go along with the scheme if it meant her own death. Nanjo is loyal, but I always considered him a friend, not a servant, so his being an accomplice was hard to swallow. Natsuhi, Krauss, Jessica, and Gohda all had plenty of time to figure out the truth. Why couldn’t they, unless they were accomplices?

      There’s actually something valuable I got out of the Battler vs. Ange closed rooms. By that point I’d long since given up on solving the closed rooms on my own. Then when I saw them go through all the possibilities and reach a final correct answer, I thought, hey, maybe I should’ve tried a little harder myself. It’s kind of like Bernkastel’s game. Once you go through a puzzle and come up with a correct solution, you get some hope that maybe your effort wouldn’t be wasted if you tried a little harder.

      I saw Gohda as a filler character from start to end. If he had a bigger role than cooking and bitching at Shkannon, no problem, but if Ryukishi07’s going to brag about how he’s written the longest serial murder novel ever, he can’t be inflating the body count with uninvolved bystanders.

  3. The whole love deal is fairly cheesy, but one thing is that by the end of the story most of the readers get it. And yeah, it seems that R07 finally got romance right.

    Personal best episodes : EP3 and EP5. Because there is so much right in these episodes.
    In-between: EP2, EP7, EP8 because they were mostly good episodes but moreso eps with amazing sections. It is the /best/ Tea Party ever after all.

    Least favorite: Minus Erika EP6 was awful, EP4 because of what you mentioned. Were those bullies the worst. The best way of seeing the backstory is Ange being so lonely and miserable she created her own friends(and maybe some of it was magic). And that’s just tragic. And obviously EP1 then again most of R07’s stories have slow first EPs.

    Favorite characters of mine: Beatrice, Bernkastel, Erika, and Rosa.
    My least favorite character was too Kanon because he was deadly dull. I’ll add Genji for similar and other reasons.

    Too many things to say, so I’ll just say this: The journey has been long. Congratulations on being part of those who have finished the Umineko novels! I view Umineko as one of the few series who has experimented with so much that it touches almost everything.
    As out there as it was it succeeded in creating and presenting its world in the most meaningful and unique way it could. Not many can do that. Or leave such an impact. I know it did with me and for many.

    I recommend picking up the very short fan disks Tsubasa and Hane at some point if you haven’t already read them. They are entertaining and some insightful. They are basically the online published TIPS pieces made VN style. Hane is the shortest.

    • I remember the exact moment when I started thinking it wasn’t all that important to know the true solution. Couldn’t look at myself in the mirror for a week. May have punched myself so hard I forgot I punched myself. Still stand by it though. Found myself rewatching the anime and trying to solve the games for fun, not out of a sense of being ripped off by the lack of true solution being handed out.

      I liked everything about EP5 but the ending. Thankfully this was the last time Battler was bailed out after losing. EP6 has a great ending and some interesting moments with Erika overcoming her loss of the detective’s privilege. There was a lot of EP6 I didn’t like, but I assumed much of that was because I didn’t “get it” at the time (love duels, split Beatrice, Battler’s closed room). I considered 5+6 together one arc while reading it, so I ended up placing it somewhere in the middle.

      The whole VN I kept expecting Genji to do something totally awesome, other than dying stoically and throwing a knife at a butterfly. He had to be the strongest character if he ever decided to put up a fight, right? Never met my expectations, but I still do respect the guy for keeping the secret from Kinzo.

      Long indeed. It’s my only major knock on the VN. Really could’ve/should’ve been shorter without losing anything. Still a brilliant work in many ways. Definitely glad I read it.

      I started reading the Tsubasa manga. ONLY TWO TRANSLATED CHAPTERS! It’s a crime against humanity.

  4. As someone who hasn’t read Umineko but knows about certain things because of how Internet throws spoilers around, I’ve heard about an alternative explanation (that I haven’t watched, of course) that, as far as I’m aware, doesn’t involve the whole “shouldn’t the whole island have noticed” deal. Most of the fandom declares this thing to be full of holes and hate it, some swear by it. I just think you’d find an alternative answer entertaining. The idea is supposed to be that Ryukishi07 is intentionally lying to us, even in interviews, to obscure the third layer of the story or some shit, I have no idea how it works, I haven’t read the novels yet, I haven’t watched the anime, I haven’t read the manga, I haven’t watched this “alternative explanation”, I just know that it exists.

    Here’s part 1 of the video by KnownNoMore:

    Beware, the entire thing (all parts together) is over eight fucking hours long, but even among those who don’t agree with his theory, quite a few think it’s interesting enough to watch the entire thing regardless of length. Also beware, apparently among certain sections of the fandom, just mentioning KnownNoMore WILL cause instant flamewars over theories.

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