Written by one of the best writers in the field, Ryukishi07, Umineko no Naku Koro ni (Time When Seagul’s Cry) is a masterpiece of mystery fiction.
Release: 2007 – 2010 (07th Expansion)
Writer: 竜騎士07 (Higurashi, Rose Gun Days)
Japanese difficulty: Medium
English: Witch Hunt
Ratings: VNDB (8.80); EGS (7.95)
Ryukishi07 borrows from his extensive knowledge of mystery genre to construct one of the most mind-blowing, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking detectives the world has ever seen. The mystery in this visual novel is so celver and effective it will take you dozens of hours to even grasp the fact that the story is supposed to be a detective instead of a horror splatter with witches and demons. With 84 murders in total, Umineko is on a completely different level than your average mystery novel, successfully utilizing the time-loop approach not only to create countless locked room tricks, but also to paint one of the most complex murderers in the history of fiction, whose motivation itself is the central puzzle of the whole humongous story.
Having said that, all other characters, ranging from the eighteen island visitors to various fantastical personifications, are all, without exception, simply fascinating. Even the sisters of purgatory, whom I thought to be just stock characters to metaphorically re-enact the murders, turn out to be extremely interesting and likable characters with “mortal sins”, they are supposed to represent, interpreted not only as negative, but even as positive traits. It’s really tough not to like “Greed”, whose wish to dominate and monopolize everything gives her capacity for endless effort.
You just have to read this visual novel; it excels at everything it tries to do. Be it mind-cracking intelligent mysteries, mind-boggling novel philosophies or heart-wrenching drama. It’s one of the very few works of fiction that incorporates elements from many different genres so effectively they succeed at evoking an indisputably “complete” self-consistent world of their own (Atziluth!).
|Beautiful, varied character designs||Low number of event CGs (PS3)|
|High music variety, including some really good tracks||Needless action scenes kill the pace in EP8|
|Fantastic ending song (EP8)|
|Interesting, likable, complex characters|
|Fantastic complex story which can take the form of mystery and fantasy at the same time|
|Extremely engrossing mysterious plot|
|Ingenious detective tricks|
|Full of effective emotional scenes|
|Extremely touching ending|
|Thought-provoking on family|
|Thought-provoking on the power of money|
|Thought-provoking on the destructive nature of love|
|Thought-provoking on our perception of reality|
5 thoughts on “Umineko no Naku Koro ni”
Awesome blog, really enjoying your entires.
I will always remember Umineko as the game that first got me interested in the detective mystery genre, and eventually finding myself completely captivated by Japanese Detective Fiction. While the Western Detective Fiction’s golden age, under the contribution of Agartha Christine/Ellery Queen/Carr, set in place many conventions that are still in use in today, Japanese Detective Fiction writers continue to evolve and surprise me every year (of which I feel that the Western side of things had really stagnated after the golden years).
Horror and Unreliable Narrator – Ayatsuji Yukito and Ichi Orihara
Short stories with heartwrenching narration and twist endings – Renjou Mikihiko (look up 夜よ鼠たちのために, Ayatsuji considers it one of the greatest short story collection ever written)
Seamless blend of Sci-Fi/Supernatural with logic deduction – Nishizawa Yasuhiko
Most imaginative solutions to locked rooms – Ooyama Seichirou and HajimeTsukatou
Combining folklore with detective fiction – Mitsuda Shinzou (If you enjoy the scenes of logic battle which revolved around not being to identify a corpse because the victim cannot be I.D. by face, check out 首無の如き祟るもの offers an extremely memorable motive, locked room situation, and meta-fiction ending that will blow your mind)
More lighthearted detective fiction which offers impeccable logic chain based on observing a few clues, similar to the style of Ellery Queen – Arisugawa Alice and Aosaki Yuugo
Also, Kitayama Takekuni wrote a series of light novels detailing Kyoko Kirigiri’s adventures before the events of Dangan Ronpa, also worth checking out 😀
I agree that the lack of cg events in key or interesting points was a bit disappointing.
Oh and if you did not know the action scene with goats is actually a parody of the readers who complained the whole time of the mysteries xD.
Yeah, that was some interesting meta over there, but they overstayed their welcome a bit, in my opinion.
I was mostly complaining about the “battle scenes” toward the end with Bernkastel and Lamba Delta.
An amazing VN, nonetheless, I can’t believe I was left wanting for more even after over 100 hours of reading.
Yeah, read Umineko was an amazing experience.
btw, have you thought about reading Higurashi? (or already read?) because i heard it was pretty interesting.
Heh, I was meaning to read Higurashi for almost ten years now, lol. I bet my copy has turned to dust by now.
I saw the anime, which was amazing, so it’s kinda holding me back from picking up the novel since I know what happens and all, but I’ll definitely do one day!
It might be a good idea to read the VN first if you haven’t watched the anime yet though, I hear lots of great things about it; and MG seems to be in the middle of giving it a really good re-translation, too (if you read in English, that is).
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