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Umineko Episode 1 Once-Over

July 1, 2009

Oh, God. Shannon is hot.

Get it? ‘Cause she’s voiced by Rie Kugimiya.
And it sounds like ‘Shana is hot,’ as in the meme.

Fine. Anyway.

One of the biggest bugs about the first episode, which is understandably only a hindrance with people who have played the visual novel, is that the pacing was way too fast. Instead of receiving an introduction of each of the characters through Battler’s internal monologue, we are instead given – quite literally – a snapshot of the characters with their respective names. We don’t learn anything about how Kinzo’s love of the West influenced the names he chose for his children, or how the Ushiromiya clan promotes indirect endogamy through favoritism. Hell, one episode in and we don’t know much about anyone in the cast.

Granted, this is simply an introduction. It would have been cumbersome for Battler to individually introduce every member of the cast. But some of the little nuances really influence the viewpoints that the viewers have on the characters. For example, the scene where Natsuhi was scolded by Eva because she is not related to the Ushiromiya family by blood would have been more effective with a proper build-up. In the visual novel, the dinner scene shows how Natsuhi – who is even seated apart from her husband and main relatives – may have a bloated perception of her importance in the family, shown by her condescending attitude to Shannon, among other things. Thus, when she is reprimanded by Eva, there is a sense of feeling that Natsuhi got what she deserved. The meet-up scene at the very beginning of the visual novel allowed us to see affable side of the Ushiromiya family, and later scenes would run counter to them by showing their selfish and money-hording side.

The all-star seiyuu cast worked a lot better than I expected on some levels. Daisuke Ono, who’s known for keeping a rather composed vocal range, lets loose on the scenes that require him to act like a pervert. Watching it now, it’s hard not to hear Sachiko from MariMite or Yoko from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is actually kind of cool.


While the Beatrice painting and glass-shattering eyecatcher are nice touches that were lifted from the game, the opening song is still a mild cause for unease. It’s obvious that they were trying to stay true to the graphics found in the intro movie within the game without giving away too much of the plot, and while the visuals are striking and beautiful, it ranks with one of the more mundane OPs of recent creation.

With scant talk of Beatrice’s influence on the Ushiromiya family, the question lingering on any viewer’s mind at this point is “Just who exactly is this Beatrice person?” when it should actually be “Does Beatrice actually exist?” It all boils down to how there’s just so much going on at the same time that it seems as if the animators couldn’t decide which route to take.

Although Umineko is expected to be widely popular this summer, it’s hard to tell if it will live up to the hype as of yet.

But if all else fails, I can watch it for delicious Natsuhi.


Poor… poor… hot Natsuhi.

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