A maze where the journey is what matters.
Umineko No Naku Koro Ni
was one of my Gateway Series
to visual novels, so I admit in having some bias towards this series. Nevertheless, I'll try to be as impartial as possible while writing this.
starts out very slowly, taking its time in constructing the setting and atmosphere with Legend of the golden witch
. A certain person on the TVT forums said that it was akin to watching people talk about the whether for two hours. An apt analogy might be a board game — it takes time to set it up before you can play with it.
However, once the set-up is finished, the novel gets into the good part rather quickly. At its core, Umineko
is a mix between fantasy, mystery and horror. Each subsequent arc throws at you more and more mysteries to solve while subtly (or not-so-subtly
) providing you with more hints (or Red Herrings
) which will drive you to solve the riddles presented. This makes for an engaging story which will keep you thinking until you're at wit's end.
The "sound novel" format works to its advantage. The terribly-drawn art can be easily overlooked after a while; the draw to this novel isn't the art, but the music and sounds. The music is absolutely fantastic, ranging from soothing, classical musiques, to lonely piano pieces, to intense murder-rave music. The sound effects are also very effective in conveying the atmosphere of the story, particularly the endless rain on the island.
What I like about the narrative is the Unreliable Narrator
aspect. Because of this, you are driven to look for clues from the limited amount of things you can trust about the plot. The narrative, however, occasionally suffers from being so lengthy that the pacing slows down considerably.
Finally, the antagonists are simply incredible. You will
be trolled to hell and back by them, and you will love them for it. The characters overall range from trolls that you love to hate, to being incredibly badass that you inevitably end up cheering for them.
As a whole, I consider Umineko no Naku Koro ni
to be a flawed masterpiece. While the ending is surely controversial, the journey is incredibly worth it.
Truly, without love, it cannot be seen.