I’ve been writing on an Umineko Review for way too long now and I pretty much gave up at this point. This was due to me not knowing how to spoil as few as possible, as pretty much all praise I give towards Umineko with the exception of the Soundtrack leads into a spoiler. This is not the only problem, the bigger issue is that I myself, the one who writes the review does not fully understand Umineko.
Now, Umineko is complex, if you’ve read the first paragraph you probably would have suspected that. Umineko is indeed complex and complicated. The world of Umineko is built around three things: The Rokkenjima Incident, The character Beatrice and (especially in Umineko Chiru, the “Answer Arc” of Umineko) Ange Ushiromiya. This is only very roughly, because there is much more in Umineko and the whole story also goes way deeper than just what is shown.
Primarily, Umineko is a Mystery Story, that means that in the beginning a primary question is asked that peaks the readers interest (What happened on Rokkenjima?) that gets resolved at the end. However, Umineko teaches over time, that this is not the only question that matters. This is in actuality already Spoiler Area, so I have to leave it as that.
Now, a topic that comes up is the Mystery Genre and the relationship between reader and story. It is an odd relationship that relies on Mutual Distrust. Some of you might tilt their head now, thinking it shouldn’t be possible that a story can mistrust its reader. However, this relationship is surprisingly simple, a Mystery becomes a thrilling experience through clever questions and clever solutions. It has to build up a riddle that is difficult for the reader to solve and has to come up with a solution that will either surprise or impress the reader, or in case the reader has solved the riddle, making him feel like a god or at least a really smart person.
However for that to work, the story must be “assured” that the reader does not spoil himself the big reveal, otherwise it would be boring. However, the reader himself must be assured that he can actually solve the riddle. Imagine the following, a murder mystery, two people are the most suspect ones. With all the hints presented you start to make a theory on how the murder happened and who the culprit is. However, the big reveal in the end is that the culprit was an unknown Person X which never has been introduces, that used methods that were never hinted at during the story. This a riddle that you can not solve, because there were was no object or narrative that could have been connected to the culprit. This is not only pretty lame and cheap but also will cause a huge amount of disappointment in the reader.
Now, can Umineko be trusted in that sense? Yes… 100% it can be. However, when you’re finished with Umineko you might have not noticed it that the game gave you the solution… What I mean with that? Well, you might have guessed it, Spoiler Area. I can guarantee you however: Umineko will give you the solution to the main question(s) of the story.
However, Umineko is not “just” a Mystery Story. What I said above is only a small dive into a world of complexity in structure that is unrivaled for me so far.
My understanding of Umineko is not big enough to give it the justice it deserves. Reading Umineko is one thing, but understanding Umineko is something entirely different. I love it so much because setting, characters and the sheer motivation to solve the Rokkenjima Incident drew me into this world. I tried understanding the whole thing that Umineko is, I crafted theories about what the solution of the main question(s) is, wrote notes, tried to think and connect. Never stop thinking, always pay attention to everything. This even went so far, that I encountered a spoiler and shrugged it off with “I don’t believe it” because it opposed my theories on Umineko.
It is a long process understanding and connecting certain events and objects appearing in Umineko. I mean, does anyone actually completely understand Umineko, except for the writer Ryukishi07? There is a discussion about Umineko Chiru (HUGE SPOILER ALERT) which gives a really fascinating insight into diferent views interpretations of the events of Umineko, and it does not even cover everything.
Overall, the whole understanding of Umineko is what was restricting me from writing a review. In fact, most of what I have written above basically shows the main appeal of Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, and I have not even mentioned the absolutely phenomenal sounddesign, this includes voice actors and soundtrack.
In the end, this is really all I can say. I could now just say “Read Umineko” and just finish it here, but I do not want to be this kind of guy. I want to give you a good reason to give it a try, and I hope that with this blogpost, I could give you at least some kind of grasp.
See ya, Bye Bye then!