Umineko novels are loved by fans of the genre due to its incredible story. Too bad the 2009 anime adaptation didn’t do it fairly.
Kodoani.com – Also known as When the Seagulls Cry, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni tells the story of Battler Ushiromiya, a young noble who visits his extended family for a long-awaited reunion on a private island. The higher-ups in the family will decide how to distribute the wealth when the patriarch dies.
However, not everything is as it seems when the legend of Beatrice, the Golden Witch, comes to light. Soon after, the island is plunged into chaos and Battler is left with the responsibility of breaking his family from the never-ending cycle of greed, death, and unhappiness.
While the plot remains true to its original material, Umineko’s anime adaptation has been criticized for the lack of trust in the characters. Many important factors in the development of the characters have been pushed aside in favor of jump scares. Viewers unfamiliar with the novel have trouble keeping up with the story. But what is lacking most, is the element of surreal horror that the visual novel has. Scary scenes are deliberately pulled out to add excitement and anxiety. The anime, on the other hand, as mentioned earlier, turns it into a brief scene of a character screaming then blood, before moving on.
Beatrice’s character, while briefly touched, is not as explored as in the original visual novel. She is mostly the driving force behind the events of the story, though her involvement is much more direct than what audiences believe. The anime adaptation casts this fact aside and focuses instead on the title “Beatrice”, passed from witch to witch. It’s still a core part of the Golden Witch lore, but audiences don’t understand who she really is. Also, her relationship with Battler doesn’t develop or progress as well as the original.
It goes without saying that the Ushiromiya family’s moves are baffling – even in the original novel. But the large number of family members in the 26-episode series leaves little room for character development. Eva’s younger witch partner has had a slight bump, and she’s had time to plant her seed, but the past’s effects on the future remain unexplained.
How does this relate to current Rosa? Did another version of Beatrice live through her? What kind of relationship do they even have? There are also two other witches who play an important role in the later story, Bernkastel and Lambdadelta, both of whom act as a bridge between Umineko and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to dig deeper into these mysterious characters.
It’s clear that the studio has put together as much information as it can in that short 26-episode span, but because they’re only allowed so much, that’s a whole other matter in itself. The anime had to condense each story into a single episode, with several taking place at the same time. But in a way, that also becomes its own undo – it takes no time to butcher the story or the characters. Limited length anime is there, but there’s always potential for more seasons if it’s well received. But if the story is not adapted properly, the chances of it getting a second season are very low.
The first season of Higurashi, for example, was slow-paced, but the build up to the final episode was well worth it when the audience got to know what was going on in the episode. It also tells the story through different characters’ perspectives, which helps the story come together in a timely manner. But Umineko rarely tells the story from someone other than Battler’s point of view. The main concern might be telling as much of the story as possible in an adaptation – but without the key elements it can’t be enjoyed properly and the potential for not having another part is self-fulfilling.
However, Umineko’s adaptation wasn’t all obstacles. Studio Deen tried to give the show an atmosphere like no other and was able to set the right mood whenever an important scene was unfolding. Youko Kikuchi’s art style is also a plus, as she designs the characters to fit the setting. The cast looks great, with lots of attractive male and female characters that keep viewers hooked. And finally with a beautiful blood-colored cherry on top, an amazon soundtrack.
The opening song in particular is complete with stunning visuals and a hint of mystery that will leave chills in listeners but also leave an impression loud enough for them to sing along. Starting from scratch to give this anime another chance to grow, like its predecessor, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, would be a great way to re-introduce it to the public, so fans of the game play and those who only watch anime can enjoy it together.