Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-4: Blunder

Another tragedy occured. The remaining survivors have barely the time to realize what’s going that another incident strikes them mercilessly.
Forced to keep a defensive stance, Battler and the rest are sheltering themselves, but an unexpected event will plant the seed of discord among their group.

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Everyone is at a state of shock upon the sight of Eva’s corpse. George cannot bear his anguish and embraces his mother’s body. But soon enough, seared in hatred, George yells and swears he will kill the culprit.
In the meantime, Natsuhi picks up the enveloppe left by the culprit below the door previously.

… I really want to have a word with the idiot(s) who thought it is a good idea for such tasteless fanservice. I could more or less bear it before, but that BOOB DIVE and breast jiggling were totally over the top.
The mood was absolutely no good for this, and they could easily make George embracing Eva around the stomach/waist instead, or do the same as in the VN/Manga, making him next to her without any embrace. Any would have worked, yet, even if the bed was that large, they made George jumping and burrying his head in his mom’s chest?
A choice I will never understand.

As everyone is leaving, Natsuhi tells everyone the door will be sealed so it won’t hinder the police investigation.
Then, Maria complains from a stench that Jessica and the rest soon enough notice afterwards. Concerned by this, Kumasawa goes to check the source of the stench, but in order to prevent any danger, Genji asks Kanon to accompagny her as roaming around is dangerous.

Although I liked the fact they didn’t forget George was still in anguish, the way how they were showing Jessica and Battler was absolutely not convincing. I would expect them to bend a bit, keeping a hand on George’s back. Yet, they are just holding his arms as if he was some kind of luggage instead.
The only “change” is only for the next scene…

Everyone else is back in the parlor. Jessica and Battler are troubled by the crime and try to figure out how it could happen. They know that not only it was locked from the inside, requiring a key for the outside, but even the door chain was set, resulting into a perfect closed room.
Jessica believes the culprit knocked the door and gouged Eva’s head in a surprise attack, but the problem is that Eva’s corpse was lying on the bed, and Hideyoshi was in the bathroom, so it isn’t possible.
Then, Maria barges in the discussion, asking if Battler is satisfied with this. Obviously annoyed by her attitude, Battler feigns ignorance and asks what she is talking about and soon enough, Maria sneers at him, saying Battler didn’t want any of his relatives as the culprit, so he wanted Beatrice as a culprit, deepdown.
Maria laughs as it is impossible for a human being to commit this crime, but Battler then hits her head, as it isn’t a matter to laugh at. Then, he asks her what is the meaning of this new magic sigil on the door of Eva and Hideyoshi’s room.
She explains it is the first circle of the moon that allows the practitioner to open any door. As she is again laughing creepily, Battler again hits her head, lecturing her that people died so she had to be cautious regarding relatives’ feelings.

This matter actually worries Jessica and she discretely discusses with George about it: no matter how Maria is obsessed with witches etc, it is way too weird to see her like this, despite her own mother died.
George thinks Jessica believes Maria is an accomplice, and Jessica states that Maria met Beatrice after all, so it is even possible that she actually knows who is Beatrice but hides it.

They made everyone back to the parlor. Now that is a change I don’t get because it makes everyone’s whereabouts much less clear for the next scene (especially Genji’s). At least, they kept discussion regarding the modus operandi of the culprit. But still, it wouldn’t make anything worse if they discussed about it right in front of the room, as they are in need of information.
And now, for the thing that REALLY bugs me are Maria’s FACES here… They were exaggerated before, but at least they were done so that Maria looks like a freak. Here, she is retardedly grinning with eyes wide open for several seconds without blinking. It conveyed a silly comic mood instead, which isn’t any better with the cartoon-ish bump sound when Battler hits her.
Again, I think it was some bad taste because the mood was totally not supposed to be like this (if we consider Battler being that serious), yet they just make Maria on the antipode.

That said, I’m rather relieved they finally digged up that Battler isn’t the only one who is freaked out by Maria’s attitude, though it is still left unchecked for some obscure reason.

Kanon and Kumasawa determined the source of the stench and it seems the boiler room is again a problem. All of a sudden, they hear a door slam, which startles Kumasawa.
Kanon knows that there is a door in the boiler room that leads to the courtyard, so if they don’t hurry, the culprit will be able to run away.

Kanon makes his way to the boiler room, but the light switch doesn’t work. In case, he is picking up a cleaver lying around and walks slowly in the boiler room. Kanon then starts talking about the roulette: betting low risk odds, such like blakc or red, wouldn’t give a good payback. Consequently, betting on a something with a lower probability gives a payoff proportional to the risk. Kanon doesn’t care of the roulette Kinzo and “she” prepared, but Kanon states they forgot one thing: in the roulette, there is a pocket called 0 that will make the house winning all bets placed.
Kanon swore that if Shannon dies but he stays alive, he would sacrifice himself to stop Kinzo and “her” game.
Kanon hereby claim he isn’t furniture anymore, but the 0 of their roulette and will end their game. Brandishing his cleaver, Kanon yells Beatrice she will have to wait 1000 years for the next summoner.
However, an odd sound, like a woodpecker, rings all over the room, and after a sudden burst of an unknown laughter, Kanon is gouged in the chest by a stake.

The change regarding everyone’s whereabouts was extended to Kanon and Kumasawa’s. By itself, it isn’t really that bad, but it is really a problem in the end, because the change makes Kumasawa’s actions even more difficult to gauge than it originally was.
In the VN, Kanon and Kumasawa were going to the kitchen as Kumasawa was concerned if she did let something on fire which is not a mistake she would usually do. Everyone else are still in front of the door of Eva and Hideyoshi’s room (all whereabouts are confirmed because of this). And while the 2 servants are on their way, they wonder if it isn’t again the boiler room, when suddenly, they hear that door slam.
Kanon had a very quick thinking process and since everyone’s whereabouts are definitely confirmed, he dashes like no tomorrow in order to chase after the culprit.
Kumasawa was really scared, but tried to run after Kanon as if she leaves him alone, it is possible that he will be killed. Even if she won’t change much things, she had to join him (so she was running as well, but being in her eighties, she obviously took much more time to catch him up).
After the whole scene, Kumasawa arrives right after Kanon removes the stake planted in his chest, and it is her yell that alert everyone else and everyone gather there.

Aside of this issue, I will commend them for keeping Kanon’s full monologue and his angst, though Kobayashi Yuu sounded way too feminine here, but it can’t be helped I guess (Sakamatooo ~~ >_>)
Also, I was VERY surprised they used not only the stakes SFX (when they are bouncing off of the walls), but also the witch laughter SFX. I have no idea if they will use it later on, but it might be too awkward with Ohara. Nevertheless, it isn’t really what I call a good surprise: it isn’t like you need to stick to the VN with such elements anyway: the sounds themselves convey the idea well in the VN, but they don’t really fit that well an anime format. What’s worse if the ahahaha SFX that is nowhere close to ohara. Personally, it would have been much better if it was her, but now… I fear they might overuse this SFX like what Ryukishi did in Episode 2 (thankfully, EP3 and EP4 were ok with these and some moments even worked perfectly with this).

The survivors quickly make their way in the boiler room, and everyone is shocked to see Kanon lying on the ground, bleeding.
As Genji is unable to switch the light on, Battler use a flashlight and sees the back door still opened. Battler runs, trying to run after the culprit, but he can’t find him anywhere.

The mood here was lackluster despite Kanon’s scene was rather climatic. As I explained above, normally, Kumasawa would arrive and scream with all her lungs. Not only that, but the survivors were REALLY concerned about Kanon and the culprit.
Even if I didn’t read the VN, this scene is really not convincing: everyone arrive, see Kanon and… we have Jessica concerned and that’s all. Natsuhi doesn’t order Genji to fetch Nanjo: all of them are staring at Kanon and Jessica like bunch of statues.
To make things worse, they again changed Battler’s behaviour: actually both he and Natsuhi suspected the culprit might still be around as Kanon was still alive, so Natsuhi was ready with her gun and yells, while Battler was dead pumped up and used his flashlight. Upon seeing the door, he screams with all his might that he won’t let the bastard to run away. And when he is caught up by Natsuhi, he was actually breaking, crying and screaming after all the tragedies… yet here in the anime, he is just like “shit!”, and it was just because of frustration, nothing else… Likewise, Natsuhi embraced him and swore she would protect everyone. Dampening the characters like this isn’t really amusing…

Now back with Kanon, another thing ticked me off: the wound was about right, but the amount of blood was rather minimal despite the location of the wound. This is actually the reason why he died as he lost too much blood even before Nanjo could do anything.

Back in the boiler room, Nanjo is trying to save kanon while the rest contemplates the stake that gouged the young butler. Then Battler sees the source of that stench: a charred corpse with a stake gouging the head.
The identity is confirmed as Kinzo’s, considering the context and the fact the said corpse has 6 toes on each foot. Furthermore, Genji notices the ring of the Head of the Ushiromiya is nowhere to be seen.

Again, I’m not so impressed by the lack of initiatives people take in this setup. Sure, Nanjo is the only specialist that can treat one’s injury, but I doubt someone like Jessica would be interested a single bit about the charred corpse. It is a good thing that Nanjo applied a bandage first before moving Kanon to a proper room, but it would have been much easier if someone helped him.

Back in the parlor, Jessica is missing as she is with Nanjo, trying to help Kanon as well. Battler wonders if Jessica is in love with Kanon, which George could only nods to this.
Natsuhi asks Genji about the boiler room, and the head butler confirms the boiler room is usually locked, so it is very likely the culprit seized the key.
George concludes there is definitely 19 persons on Rokkenjima as result. However, Battler believes that if one of the first 6 faked their death, it is possible they were comitting the murders, despite being “dead”.

Nanjo and Jessica are back, but the later collapses in tears, giving the obvious answer that Kanon died. As she is having an asthma fit, Battler believes the culprit might have picked up a master key: there is a possibility that the culprit took Shannon or Gohda’s key, which makes any room of the mansion unsafe. However, Genji realized that there IS a safe location…

Yet another “not so impressive execution”: I’m rather surprised they nevertheless tried to introduce Jessica’s asthma. That’s good but…
For starters, they don’t even explain what she has (which people can mistake with a wild coughing due to the shock etc), but what was worse is the fact NO ONE helps Jessica during her asthma fit, and to make things worse, Nanjo is just patting her back.
That absolutely NOT what one would do during an asthma fit: the person is literally choking so an inhaler is absolutely required (bronchospasms aren’t something that go away easily and by themselves: bronchodilators with cortisone, for example, are highly required).
So while Jessica is choking, Battler is plainly explaining there might be a culprit among the first 6, because their identity is impossible to confirm…
I’m all for keeping all theories Battler had, but again, he never tells all of them out loud, because it wouldn’t be exactly productive as he has no evidence. And I finds it strange he even says any of the 6 could do that despite only 4 of them had their faces entirely crushed.

Another odd point was: why did they make Genji say it wasn’t a complete closed room? It wasn’t even one to begin with: the door was locked previously, but the culprit entered in there, then only afterwards, Kanon barged in the boiler room.
And no, the boiler room door remained open, regardless which media it was, so this comment sounds more strange than anything else.

Another rant (my apologies…) but: if they made Jessica suspecting Maria, why didn’t they take this opportunity to develop it to that extent?
Originally, Jessica was way too grieved and started to convert her sadness into anger, and first blamed Kumasawa, who was actually regretting that she wasn’t with Kanon.
This change also prevents anyone to really suspect Kumasawa (she was originally the first one who discovered Kanon’s corpse, but suddenly, she doesn’t even show up, until late in the boiler room).
And afterwards, Maria keeps going with her witch talk. Because of this, Jessica explodes and asks everyone’s opinion about Maria, and she is almost certain Maria is in cahoots to the point Natsuhi is forced to slaps Jessica. However, as Maria is again laughing, Natsuhi gives her a very cold stare that made her shut up instantly.

With so many occurences of the same problem, I can only say this: all characters are rather emotionless or absurdely timed/scripted like robots. They don’t act on their own, they react one by one, or they simply remain in shock for few seconds, then act as if nothing happened afterwards.

… and this is Kinzo’s study. Maria says Beatrice couldn’t open the door because of the scorpion circle on the knob, similar to the charms she gave to Battler and Jessica.

As they enter, they can see the auto-lock of the door in action. Genji explains there are only 2 keys to this room: one carried by Genji, and the other one by kinzo, which was salvaged by Genji in case.
However, even with these explanations, Jessica says the culprit still could attack Kinzo nevertheless, thus the room isn’t totally safe. But there isn’t any other safe room anyway.
Then, Natsuhi brings the matter regarding the charm, and Maria tells her that the charm surely protected her from Beatrice. Remembering about the gruesome handprints that was on her door, Natsuhi is horrified that such thing could happen.

Then Battler remembers of the letter and Natsuhi then opens it. There is only 1 line: “praise my name”.
After that, Battler asks Genji more information regarding Beatrice, but as he remains silent, Natsuhi asks if Beatrice was Kinzo’s concubine.
Genji tells them everything and Beatrice actually died long before. Because of this, Kinzo went mad and tried at all costs to revive her with black magic and the like. Nanjo adds he heard that he was engaged with another woman, due to an arrangement of the family, but his true love was only towards Beatrice. Thus they can only conclude that Kinzo made this whole study only for the sake of reviving Beatrice. As result, both George and Jessica understand their grandfather feeling and they would have done the same if they knew black magic would allow them to revive their lost love.

Battler wonders if there is a hidden child from the union of Kinzo and Beatrice, but even Genji never heard anything about that. And speaking of which, Jessica remembers a rumor about Kinzo managing an orphanage in order to have young people used as sacrifices for his ceremonies. She is cut short in her explanations by Natsuhi who cannot let such rumor slander the name of Kinzo.

Okay, now I don’t get it: why didn’t they just keep together Maria’s explanation over the scorpion circle and Natsuhi’s charm? It isn’t like no one except Battler can hear what Maria says, and furthermore: it would make the whole discussion much LESS disjointed. And no, the eyecatch isn’t a problem since they are rather inconsistent in most series, you can put it at the first third, half or even after the second third so.
Another example of disjointed moment is exactly the point after this one: when Natsuhi is shocked about the charm etc, Battler all of a sudden asks about the letter: there isn’t much link between both topics, yet, Battler had a hunch… again a very contrived flow for the discussion between the characters…

As for the rest, I’m pretty satisfied with the digest summary about Kinzo and Beatrice, as well as George and Jessica’s reactions towards this (very important, or it would make all their grief void).

Another irrelevant point but… did they need to make such a close up on that Mackerel can?

But the whole “sacrifice” stuff ticks off Battler, and as he believes he heard that somewhere, he quickly realizes that it was in the epitaph. As he rushes at it, he can only confirm the whole sacrifice matter was already told in the epitaph and the ceremony is actually going on just as described. Horrified to read in depth the epitaph, Battler, Jessica, George and Natsuhi can only conclude there are still 3 people who will be sacrificed, but then everyone will die in the end.
Amused, Maria laughs at their reaction, since at the end of the journey during the tenth twilight, they will reach the Golden Land and will be bestowed 4 treasures. The resurrection of the dead, most notably.

All of a sudden, Maria points out that there is a new letter from Beatrice on the table.

I assume they didn’t make any character reading the epitaph before this scene so it makes the whole plot less “predicable” though it really leaves the watchers out of the loop for obscure reason.

Another point I don’t get: why was Maria positioned right behind them? The problem is regarding the last letter: Maria should be a viable choice behind this, however at a certain shot, we see a close up on Natsuhi while the servants and Nanjo are on the background. In this shot, there isn’t any letter. Yet very few seconds later, Maria points it. The problem I see here is that… if it wasn’t something Ryukishi asked, it makes the possibility of Maria putting this letter absolutely null and void. However, readers were absolutely left unaware who among the 4 could put this letter, yet in the anime only 3 possibilities are possible.
Because of the insane number of inconsistencies DEEN has made so far, I cannot even tell if it was intended (with Ryukishi’s directive) or if it was again another of their mistakes (like the clock at some point, characters locations, the letter at Eva’s room etc).

Natsuhi immediately aims at the servants, ordering them to have their back to the wall. She then asks Battler to read the letter. Beatrice reminds all of them there won’t be any draw between them, so they have to abandon the idea they will survive if they wait for the typhoon to goes away.
Natsuhi believes only one of the four of them – Genji, Kumasawa, Nanjo, Maria – could put this letter there as she and other cousins were at the portrait while she was certain there wasn’t any letter when she puts some canned food on the table.
Nanjo tries to calm her down, but Natsuhi is certain that the culprit is one of them and if they can’t determine that, they will be all considered as accomplices.
Maria is pulling a tantrum and states none of them are Beatrice.

Natsuhi states if there is no answer, she will have to consider all of them the culprits, and thus kicking them out of the study. Nanjo, unable to fight against this decision, is fine and invites the rest to leave the room as well. Before leaving, Genji lets his master key and the 2 study key on the table.  As Maria is also leaving, she states again they will soon reach the Golden Land and the dead shall be revived, thus it will be everyone’s happiness.
Battler still concerned, calls out Maria and throws at her the charmshe gave her before. Although she is surprised to see him with it, Battler admits he lied back at that time and always had the charm with him.

Color me disappointed. No really, there is absolutely no tension here. The letter was actually very creepy, borderline spooky because there can only be 8 persons in the study, yet the culprit managed to put that letter there. Thus the culprit, the one who slaughtered 10 persons already is in the very same room. That thought should make anyone turning hysteric, nervous or paranoid. But here, only Natsuhi and Battler react, George and Jessica are as good as Kinzo’s books: plain background.
On the other hand, although Genji’s behavior was normal, Nanjo and Kumasawa were almost not responsive at all. Worse, what makes everything worse is that they don’t try to convince Natsuhi about how many stuff happened, and… they were just fine to leave the room, ready to be killed as well?
I’m sorry, but I cannot buy that: their reactions were almost inexistent. None protested, they were startled a bit because Natsuhi aimed at them with the winchester, but past this point, nothing.
And Battler’s reaction wasn’t any brilliant either: instead of balancing between the doubts and how the culprit might benefit from this situation, he is plainly speculating the culprit might have sneaked in and put that letter. That is so wrong in many level, because when Battler saw that letter in the VN, he was the first one saying “This isn’t a joke, there’s only the eight of us here!!  There’s no way some ninth person snuck in!!”, and since he knows perfectly what Maria is about to say, him asking “how Beatrice could enter” is moot and ridiculous: Even if Battler can be naive and undecisive at times, he isn’t an idiot, so seeing him speculating such ridiculous idea is moronic.

The tension was really lacking especially by the lack of Maria’s interventions. Sure she said it was Beatrice, but the characters didn’t brush it off and asks her “who the hell gave you that letter?!”. At this point, Battler had to stop Jessica as the later was about to attack Maria, but he also had to be dead serious and yells to Maria that their situation is extreme and she has to stop stirring conflict etc.
The whole scene was a spiral of doubts, distrust and chaos, with Battler and George trying to find the voice of wisdom, but it was really impossible because both boys couldn’t find any explanation either for this madness.

Meanwhile, Natsuhi was narrowing her doubts as each of them has a motive or circumstances that help them: genji is kinzo’s best subordinate, Nanjo is a long lasting friend of Kinzo’s, Kumasawa worked for years, Maria is on Beatrice’s side etc.
Genji was simply stoic and was honored that he was called Kinzo’s best servant even at times like this, Nanjo was outraged at times, Kumasawa begged Natsuhi not to chase her otherwise she would be among the wolf and killed like the rest and Maria was just ignoring everything, saying the journey to the Golden Land is almost over.

But the chaos itself wasn’t the pinnacle here, it was also how the resolution went.
Even after such chaotic madness,  Natsuhi knew already the high risks if 1 or more were really innocent. As a mother but also as a woman, she was disheartened to use such measures and even apologized to the 4 of them (again a very important side of Natsuhi’s character). But because of her responsibility, she also asked them to understand her feelings and why she is doing this.
Few words from Nanjo managed to appease everyone and they were fine to leave the room. Even so, even if Natsuhi had still doubt, she wished them to find a safe place so they can meet again the next day, and she asked Genji for this important task.

Again, the whole “human” aspect of the characters were basically removed altogether: Battler lack of empathy and emotional bursts, his anime-only nonchalant attitude when he exposes his theories, Natsuhi’s lack of compassion, the missing fear of death expressed by the servants etc.
Even if I didn’t read the VN at this point, I would certainly be very unconvinced by such contrived and irrealist display of emotions in such characters.

On another note: the remix for system0 was…bad. No really, the track is good by itself, but they remixed in a weird way to the point it almost sound very amateurish… I dunno, they did a good job with Golden Slaughterer remix (even if they can’t even play it past 20 seconds) but System0 is definitely not sounding good here (though play, during the epitaph reading, was very good)
Here is how it should sound like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR9zxPhyRto

As Nanjo, Genji, Kumasawa and Maria are banished from the study, George and Jessica still wonder if it was the best decision. However, Natsuhi says she would even turn into a demon if it is to protect her daughter.

Then Battler realizes there is another sheet with the letter: another magic circle. And few hours later, he finds out the meaning of this sigil: discord, which will bring the enemy to their downfall. Realizing this letter was a trap to kick the other 4 out of the study, they are startled as the phone is ringing, despite it shouldn’t be working.
Natsuhi decides to picks it up, but she can hear nothing… except an eerie song.

As everyone is concerned about the other 4, they decide to rush out of the study. But once in the parlor, they are frozen, shocked to see Nanjo, Genji and Kumasawa, killed with their head smashed and a stake at different locations, while Maria is eerily singing, facing a wall…

And this is “only now” that George and Jessica react… It doesn’t really convince me one bit, but I’m sure you figured *sigh*. At least, they have shown Natsuhi’s strong mother side, which counterbalance this…

Some people noticed something wrong with Battler resolving the circle, and as unsurprised I was, they were right.
Battler is VERY bad at English. Not only he pronunce english words badly but he can’t really read, even very common words. This is the reason why it took him hours to find the circle meaning, because he had to go through many books that had various different foreign languages with dictionaries at hand, yet this one was half english, half japanese. Absolutely a nonsense. Well… I doubt many will notice that, so it is extremely minor.

Now again, I don’t get this: did they need to put forcefully the last twilights like this? It is obvious that they are just cramming ALL murders discovery at the end of an episode to put a blatant “look, someone died!” cliffhanger…
I don’t know… why didn’t they just stopped the episode when the telephone was ringing? Or when they hear Maria singing? That would be a much better momentum and it would allow them to animate more feelings and reactions for all characters.
The other reason is also the fact the material left after the discovery of Nanjo, Genji and Kumasawa’s corpses is barely worth 5-10 minutes long for the VN. Thus, it will take only something like 3-5 minutes for them.
Of course, there are more content before the end of Episode 1, but even knowing the remaining content makes me wonder if Chiaki Kon just messed up with the balance of the story… That is because the tea party and ???? will fill up the remaining ~15 minutes left of the episode with PURE talk. Thus, having a dash of 5 minutes then a super momentum break for pure discussion for the remaining of the episode is not exactly impressive in my book (thus why I thought they should have ended with the phone call).

And yes, again, Golden Slaughterer didn’t get past the INTRO… Will they ever play it past this point, or will it be the “weekly gore episode ending”? OTZ

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Overal Thoughts:

When I thought they were about to stop using such erratic pace, Episode 1-4 had again a big pacing issue (despite episode 1-3 didn’t suffer much about it).
Everything was crammed so quickly that they almost finished Episode 1 with a mere 4 episodes mark.

If the pacing was only the problem, I would still give it a 7/10 as they didn’t cut that much anyway, but they screwed so many things in the execution that I really cannot recognize a convincing presentation.
The utter lack of “life” and “emotions” of the remaining cast just breaks my suspension of disbelief, which is of course worsened by my VN knowledge.
I could only give a 5/10, and yet I sometimes think I was too generous with this rating.

Frankly, I have no idea what is going on: they have shown thorouhg 4 episodes that THEY ARE CAPABLE despite the budget, they have the time to span balance and details with proper cuts. Yet, not only they use a debatable pacing, but they just downplay characters in their reactions and emotions.
That has a snowball effect since characters weren’t introduced properly thus, I wouldn’t be surprised if watchers can’t relate or even care about the characters’ plight.

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone would advice me to stop thinking about the VN or drop the anime altogether. However, here are my own stance:
For starters, again, I never believed they would be able to make a perfect adaptation. This is a myth.
However, what I do expect is an anime series that could give as much enjoyment as I could have with the VN, thanks to the plot and the characters. So long I can recognize the plot and the characters, I’m fine. By this extention, cuts aren’t a big problem if the aforementioned elements are kept intact and consistent. However, the characters side got shafted and the presentation has a lot left to be desired.
So far, my complains lately, from episode 1-3 and 1-4 were rather the execution and the change in the characters. I don’t care if they removed many jokes, I don’t care if they skipped discussions such like with Shannon and George.
But I do care when they make everyone like bunch of dolls being manipulated by the scripter one by one, instead of all at once. And even more when a character who was human and arguably empathic and attaching becomes only a detective, nothing past this point.

So far, I didn’t rate any episode below 5 because I believe no episode deserve to be classified as “bad” for the moment (though if I had to rate them only as adaptation, instead of plain anime series, it would be much more severe).
They are average and they do work within their spectrum. However, my review and purpose of watching this series is to get a new perspective of one of my favorite franchises with a new media. And this is where I’m trying to have enjoyment.
So far, I can only halfheartedly follow this series, yet it doesn’t mean I think “this is shit!”. Trust me, Umineko or not, if a series is crap, I drop it, end of the story.
Thus I hope my stance was clear: it isn’t like I follow the anime series in order to bash it. I watch umineko because I like the franchise, but because of this, I cannot start being the fanboy and bash/praise brainlessly just because it is Umineko.

*sigh* well, that’s it for this week. I will prepare another analysis article. Thanks for reading!

18 Responses to “Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-4: Blunder”


  1. 1 alyu July 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    although I hate how the scenes was condensed, at least they will probably fit everything in the next ep (from the end of ep 1 to the 2 extra scenes for ep 1).

    I like maria’s monotonous singing, fits the atmosphere.

  2. 2 RP July 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Another great post. Yeah, George burying his head into his mom’s bosom was completely uncalled for, IMO. And while I liked Maria’s Higurashi eyes in the past, I think they overdid this ep. Particularly in the semi-silly Battler-Maria bonk on the head scene. Otherwise, this is great to read to know what’s changed from the VN, since i haven’t played it. I think the one problem I’ve noticed is that they’re not doing a good job of making you care about the characters. Although, I’m hoping they’ll continue to be developed in future arcs.

  3. 3 Aetheus July 24, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    You made a few valid points there. From Day 1, I always thought that the Umineko anime had pacing problems. I’ve never touched the VN, but that the anime could git 3 60-page manga chapters into a single episode (episode 2 IIRC) astounds me. And while I haven’t read until the part where the servants and Maria get exiled, did they really all die at the same time in the VN? I had the impression that the killings took place on different nights, judging from the epitaph. Also, George diving into Eva’s boobs was rather startling and mood killing, especially when you consider that George is Eva’s SON who’s supposed to be GRIEVING for his mother’s death.

  4. 4 klashikari July 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Yes, when Battler and the rest were looking for them, they found the 3 corpses in the parlor, with Maria mechanically singing in front of a wall.

  5. 5 Digdri July 25, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Perhaps a little additional clarifications about the deaths:
    The twilights the epitaph mentions are not necessarily connected to the time passing in the story (only the order of killing matching so far).

    All the events of the story so far are happening in the two days the family intended to stay on the island. All the murders were discovers over the course of the second day. And like klashikari already mention: they didn’t change anything regarding the victims and the location where the were found.

    The novels gave you quite a good idea of the flow of time by inserting a clock after every chapter turning the hand to the next relevant situation. Sometimes even turning backward to suggest the next chapter was happing parallel to the one before.
    They tried to recreate the effect with the eye-catcher and the many close-ups of the clocks in the mansion. I like the way the put it in, but without knowing the novel perhaps it’s a little bit to subtle after all.
    Cutting all the actual talk about how to approach the riddle of the epitaph earlier on (e.g. first day, children at the beach) this only makes it worse.

  6. 6 vermouth July 27, 2009 at 3:31 am

    do you think you can parallel so far the deaths with the epitaph? I don’t know who were ‘the two that remain will tear the two who are close,” and the ones that got gouge in the head, stomache, etc etc.
    thanks =D

  7. 7 Digdri July 27, 2009 at 11:29 am

    The default translation for this line is:
    “At the second twilight, the surviving shall tear apart the two who are close.”
    (from the “Witch Hunt” game translations, can be found here: http://witch-hunt.com/epitaph.html)

    Well… consider which events happened between the the six deaths in the shed and event about “praise my name”. (next line of the epitaph)😛

    If you watch the anime closely you also see they showed who was found in with manner. Even if 1-4 only showed the dead briefly in last few seconds.

    Have fun checking yourself😀

  8. 8 Shikigami August 31, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARG!

    That’s why I hate otakus.

    You are fucking over analyzing stupid things.
    The only thing I give you is the fact that the epitaph was not read, but really, for someone who have not read the VN there are no real problems. The only problems you have is because you are expecting to have the whole VN reactions and misc talk in the anime, but the problem with that is THE TIME.

    You need to understand that the format is COMPLETELY different. They have just 20 minutes for each chapter. They are leaving the emotions for the PLOT. They want to have the PLOT intact and still do an exiting episode with only 20 minutes. Really, the truth is that the main point for umineko are not the emotions BUT THE MYSTERY.

  9. 9 Zamp August 31, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    From that response I,m guessing you don´t really know what Umineko is all about.
    Sure, the mystery part is important, but the emotions are just as important, at the very least.

  10. 10 vermouth September 1, 2009 at 1:20 am

    i think both mystery and emotions are of equal significance in this anime, but I gotta admit, the emotions done aren’t very great. I do get they are trying to make people looks as angry or as sad as they should be, upon seeing their relatives murdered in such brutal ways, but for some people, like Battler, he seemed to be just all angry rather then feeling even a little grief for his dead parents.
    I’d havent read much of the VN because it’s not up to date here, but I just think that the VN explains some things of the anime even if the anime doesn’t follow it to the max. There are still areas where we can compare the VN and anime and are worth the time. There’s no use getting frustrated over people who try to link them together. There are many people who link them together, me included. It’s pretty much their freedom to over-analyze anything so please dont insult them because they like to overthink things…

  11. 11 klashikari September 1, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Shikigami: Did you actually read what everything I wrote? i think not.
    The problem is how the anime fails to deliver the proper execution, which does NOT require a specific time. The misc talk can be skipped and I only complained about things they could still present without much time needed (I deliberately avoided discussing about everything they skipped, because it would make an episode two or three times longer otherwise).

    I need to understand? Give me a damn break, I do understand already and I mention all the time what they did right in shortening some aspect, but when it is no good, it is no good that’s all.
    And to begin with, Umineko becomes quite enjoyable because of the CHARACTERS. PLOT is only the half of it, and without the empathy and sympathy towards certain characters, it just become silly (a lot of first time watchers don’t even bother to keep in mind characters’ name aside of the cousins and Natsuhi, for instance).

    and Otaku? Sure a silly way to use this term as an insult.

  12. 12 Digdri September 1, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Shikigami: Talking about different media working different is fine but that’s not justification for everything. Other formats also have other stylistic devices to convey the same effect. Otherwise every movie adaption of a good book had to fail by default. And thats not always about enough time and money but also often about good or bad choice while directing.

    And I think that VN-Readers don’t primely complain because they like nitpicking or ranting but because they want to see what make them like the game in the first place. And the character complexity, development and interaction is one of Uminekos strong points IMO. Cutting it to the minimum was bound to disappoint the fans and take away some of the impact of the original.
    When people start talking about unbelievable characters killing the mood (only in the anime) etc. there obliviously were some bad choices.

    And I don’t get your comment about “over analyzing” either. Mystery games are make to think about and many people have fun with it. Considering that noone can definitely explain this whole mystery by now this seems even more silly to complain about this. Thats like telling a riddle and afterwards telling those who heard it they are stupid because they want to solve it.
    If thats to your taste, don’t read watch it / read fan-posts about it. I on my part appreciate this summery even if I read the VN. There are never to many ways to approach a riddle.🙂

    At least now we can say: it got better… ^^ The 2nd arcs was handled much better til now.

  13. 13 Shikigami September 3, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    What I said by over analyzing are things like “It’s ridiculous that Shannon would still have tears after 6 hours”.

    Like an friend told me, people will always prefer the original. It’s not because it’s better, it’s not because it’s stronger, it’s because it’s the original and first version they watched.
    To be honest I hate Visual Novels, even thought I have played Umineko because the story is very good, but it’s not even a half of the emotion of actually seen this in action, at least for me.
    What I mean with Otaku is the real meaning of the slang, people that obsess them selfs with some kind of hobby that require them to e at home in their free time. As far as I saw you have watched the Drama CDs, read the manga, watched the Visual Novels and make a lot of critiques about the adaptations.

    But really, as far as I know I’m glad that there is even an anime for a history like this one, and that the anime is actually following the history line of the original story.
    You should know that an anime that actually follows the original story is rare, and even more when the original work is still to be completed.
    Here we have a work that is very large, and the number of episodes for adaptation very shot. Obviously they are going to cut a LOT, even really good scenes, but still the adaptation follows really close the original story.
    I find the “lack” of emotions to be an exaggeration, of course the scenes in the Visual Novels are larger and therefore more emotional, but here they do not have the luxury to do that, and many things that are explained in various arcs because of the repetitions are only focused in the arc that actually makes sense to focus on it.

  14. 14 klashikari September 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Where there is a contradicting element or a flaw, I think it is nowhere close to overanalyzing: is there any good reason for this to happen? Even many first time watchers notice something wrong with this element, and started to have doubt about the time of death, despite there isn’t anything to doubt about it from this point of the story. Many elements are totally useless or unjustified to be introduced in some adaptations, overanalyzing has nothing to do with that.

    Always the original? That’s funny because a lot of adaptations are better than their original, Shuffle being the prime example of it, because characters are elss one dimensional than their original counterpart (still with flaws regardless).

    As for obsession, it isn’t like the end of the world for me if X or Y weren’t included you see. I used the other medium in term of comparison to see whether or not they could do it or not. And they could.

    As for adaptations, they are still some that are nailing on spot the original story without being overly descriptive or slow (Key adaptations for instance). The fact it is “not complete” doesn’t change the fact the flaws regarding the “execution” (the content isn’t that much of a big deal).
    If you read what I say about Episode 2, I have much less issues with the cuts, but the actual presentation has many things to be desired.
    You can present emotions without stretching the screentime, it is all about presentation, instead of abusing sideways and far pan of the camera, as a half baked attempt to cut the budget.
    Prime example is the recent Episode 2-5: Gohda’s voice stirs quite well his panic, yet the animation does NOT show the extent.

    Execution is the key, and the time restraint is just an excuse: re arrange the scenes are enough. For instance, the first twilight of Episode 1 only lasted 1min30. I’m sure if they didn’t waste on random stuff like Battler’s sommelier moments, they could even make 3-4 min (drama cd compressed it very well without cutting one bit in mere 3 min).
    That’s just how it is: mundane things can be skipped, but when you do present core elements of a story, you better do it well.

  15. 15 Digdri September 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Shikigami: I think the mistake in your argumentation is that you see this “minor flaws” as irrelevant to the whole story.
    If you liked the way the animes presents the characters more then the VN thats nice but if you look around what the average anime reviews in the blogsphere or other people which didn’t read the VN complain about, this sounds mostly negative to me. The amount of small inconsistencies, background story cuts, over- or underplayed scenes really seem to add up and change the perception of the whole story. Right now where all the conflicting elements of the 2nd arc are presented, many seem to loose interest because the don’t get the point of the story at all. It was quite predictable that the whole fantasy distraction would scary away viewer who are not so much into “strange mystery stuff” but the always seem to complain for the “wrong” reasons IMO.
    “Maria is so annoying and insane. Why is everybody in the story so stupid not to notice it?”, “Battler is stubborn and stupid. The answer is in front of eyes.”, “Whats the point in this meta-stuff going on? How does it change anything about the murders?”, “The deaths are so meaningless if the repeated again and again”…. that aren’t the questions the VN imposed and are far from my thoughts about the VN plot because there were definitive answer to it or the train of thoughts never went that way by different presentation.

    If you have to summaries the basic intentions of the important characters or what IS the point to some essential plot points in hundreds or thousands of words (like klashikari did here) because the anime doesn’t provide this clearly that not a problem about plot vs characters development but missing vital informations and/or bad directing.
    Perhaps time constraints start to mix in here but who says that there way of adaption was the only way to do it… not every anime gets compressed in 24/26 episode if the plot is to huge and DEEN are no rookies either. The should know how to work with those schedules by now.

    And last but not least this posts here are obviously meant as a guide for newcomers / interested / confused viewers and not for himself. The analysis, opinions are always written from the present PoV of the anime excluding (almost) all the future knowledge from the later games which klashikari sure has read multiple times.
    So what’s wrong if he goes into all the details here, if people come here for answers or new thoughts about it? (Correct me if I misinterpreted this)

  16. 16 baidu678 September 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Wow, Great feedback and comments which are much appreciated on my part. I hope you continue to enjoy my future posts and let me know it you want to engage in an interactive online blog?

  17. 17 Www.soccerpunter.com March 3, 2013 at 4:47 am

    Smart way of observing things – I’m a little more of a monochrome person, myself


  1. 1 Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-4: Analysis, Thoughts and Random Comments « When Anime Past Meets Present Trackback on July 28, 2009 at 11:02 pm

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