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Incompetence, thy name is DEEN

October 2, 2009


Premise for an Anime: a high school, slice-of-life comedy centering around the anthropomorphisms of popular animation studios. If it was ever made and I was the director, the character archetypes would play out like this:

Kyoto Animation would be the busty classroom moeblob slut who would always tease the other main characters but would never willingly put out. She’s also a virgin. Bones would be the James Dean-esque stud; the classroom heartthrob with an indignant attitude towards authority and a cigarette tucked behind his ear. Gainax would be the child prodigy who ruined test averages and completed all of the extra credit assignments, even when he didn’t have to. Shaft would be the walking 80’s counterculture anachronism who would come to class hopped up on psychotropics – a running gag would be that the other studios would come to him for advice while he’s in a stupor and would misinterpret something he says for the better.

And Studio DEEN? DEEN would be the annoying fuckwit who would always cling to the other characters in times of need and would never have anything to contribute. The other characters would go about their daily shenanigans, laughing and joking around with each other, and DEEN would come in and just shit on everything.

The Umineko Anime is hands-down the worst adaptation I have ever seen, next to Fate/Stay Night – another DEEN production. At this point, with all the hype that Umineko has garnered, it would be counterproductive to talk about why this show fails as an adaptation – or just as an Anime by itself – so I figure it’d be much easier to talk about what went right.

Note: The following is a rant by a butthurt Umineko sound novel fanboy.

First and foremost, the OP is beautiful. Impeccable, even. They stayed true to the source material by having an Italian chamber choir in the backdrop to contrast the distinctively shrill vocals of Akiko Shikata, who maintains her role in both versions. The lyrics also offer decent foreshadowing without giving away any vital plot points. If there’s one thing you can’t fault DEEN for, it’s the opening sequence. You could even say that the poured their entire budget on its production…

Secondly, the aesthetic touches on the characters are agreeable, for the most part. The voice actors exert themselves in a way that makes me believe they’re the original characters from the sound novel. As someone commented on my previous Umineko post, the role of Sugita as Ronove is something I don’t entirely agree with, but I can learn to appreciate it with coming episodes.

I don’t, however, appreciate how they have to have a BOOB or ASS shot for every in-between frame of animation, especially during climactic scenes like Natsuhi’s “suicide” or magic battles between Kanon and the stakes. Why does Chiaki Kon feel the need to fix the camera angle right below the nape of the neck so that the frills of the panties are the center of focus. And why are the women so fucking jiggly? Why do the mothers have tits that are bigger than their heads that only keep growing after each successive shot? It’s supposed to be a murder-mystery series. To insert so much blatant fanservice detracts from the austerity.

Then there’s Maria, whose personality is a mangled caricature of her original self. Yes, she is an annoying, unfeeling brat who’s deluded enough to support the ritualistic torture and disembowelment of her direct family members. But she’s also one of the most important characters in the entire series and is worthy of a little more development. There’s another side to her that isn’t stupid-looking contorted faces and constant uu-ing. My guess is that Chiaki Kon inserted Maria as she is now as a way to appease the Higurashi fanbase, which doesn’t make any damn sense. Higurashi and Umineko aren’t remotely related, save a few likenesses in characters. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it a thousand times: Higurashi was more of a horror and drama, whereas Umineko is more mystery and action.

For me, the latest episode was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They ruined the Virgilia danmaku battle, unmistakably one of the highlights of episode 3. In the novel, Virgilia and Beatrice are in a perpetual stalemate of a magic fight, summoning large horsemen, armored knights, and spears from heaven, culminating in Virgilia turning around to see that she was actually dead the entire time. Meta-Battler interjects amidst the fight, flabbergasted at what’s happening right before his eyes. Virgilia fades. Beatrice laughs.

The scene in itself has its own background music and is delegated a substantial amount of time, so it’s only natural for fans of the novel to want a decent fight. But what do we get in the Anime? Barely two minutes of cheesy dialogue and horrible CG animation that doesn’t even have a proper build-up. Static images that rely purely on text were able to evoke more emotion than the actual animation. That’s pathetic.

Even this guy from Nico Nico Douga outperformed DEEN:

But what’s even more pathetic is that a lot of us will continue watching just to see our favorite scenes from the novel animated (horribly).
In any case, I defy anyone to think of something objectively good about the Anime thus far, ’cause it’s a real task for me.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. dood permalink
    October 2, 2009 9:17 pm

    Patiently waiting for EP 5 to be translated, but in the meantime I’ll continue to watch this adaptation (not all is fucked up, most of it is) and enjoy its good parts.

  2. October 2, 2009 9:18 pm

    “But what’s even more pathetic is that a lot of us will continue watching just to see our favorite scenes from the novel animated (horribly).”

    Including you, yes? I mean, that feels like the crux of the matter, that you seem to be a glutton for punishment. 🙂

    All I can say in its defense is that for someone who’s never experienced the VN, it all remains decently watchable…. If only just barely, whenever Maria enters the scene. I really hate that kid so much.

  3. October 2, 2009 9:36 pm

    Haven’t played the VN. My review so far: there’s so much substance that I love it despite the clumsy execution.

  4. October 2, 2009 10:09 pm

    I haven’t seen Umineko, so I can’t really comment on that. I will say however, that I’d totally watch your slice-of-life with anthropomorphisms of animation studios.

  5. Veldril permalink
    October 4, 2009 1:49 pm

    Adaptation-wise, Higurashi first season is worse than Umineko. It’s just that not many people got a chance to play the original VNs.

    For me, Umineko still fair a lot lot lot better than Tsukihime anime. Wait, I forget. There’s no such a thing as Tsukihime anime…

  6. robotization permalink
    October 25, 2009 2:08 am

    I agree with you completely.

    I’ve read through the Umineko visual novels, and they’re among my top favorites (just under Nasu’s works). But, despite my love for the series, I couldn’t even make it past the first episode of the anime. I honestly couldn’t bear to watch another episode. It was absolutely terrible, for many of the reasons you described (among others). I have no idea how you can subject yourself to such a perversion of the original works.

    What really confused me the most about this anime is its warm reception–even among those who have read the originals. I really don’t understand how somebody who has read the visual novels could watch this anime and think that it’s good (this is mostly based on reactions to the first episode).

    To those of you who have not read the visual novels: I pity for you, I really do. The anime is ruining the visual novels for you.

    On a related note, I didn’t make it past episode 5 of the Fate/stay night anime. And I’m a huge TYPE-MOON fan. I think I stopped it mid-episode, directly after the godawful Rin/Shirou battle scene.

    In conclusion: Fuck you, Studio DEEN.

  7. ThreeLeafIvy permalink
    February 10, 2010 3:28 am

    How about Brains Base? 😀

  8. February 10, 2014 10:13 am

    This is old, but I just have to say this:

    The Higurashi anime is a lot worse. No, it was worse because it was better, if that makes any sense. It was a better adaptation and a better standalone anime, it even managed to make you cry and love the characters. But it was still a terrible adaptation. Anything it made you feel, the novel did it 50 times better. I was so angry when I found out that I had spoiled for myself one of the most beautiful stories ever written.

    But because it was enjoyable, and because the source material was just THAT good, it came off as a “great anime” and developed a (shitty) fanbase instead of being forgotten. A fanbase that doesn’t know what Higurashi actually is. They’ll just keep enjoying their killer lolis and plotholes, instead of reading the masterpiece that was the original novel. R07 may be an amateur writer, but he compensates it with his talent as a storyteller. Higurashi is one of the best stories I’ve ever read, and I’m not exaggerating. It deserves more recognition, a lot more. But no, it will always be a simply “good” story in the minds of 99% of its so-called “fans”. And they keep recommending it to their friends, so it gets worse every time.

    In that sense, the Higurashi anime did FAR more damage to the reputation of the series than the Umineko one. I’d even say that the Umineko anime is harmless. Anyone with half a brain would realize how terrible it is and drop it. And then, they may read the novel and experience Umineko in its full glory, without having spoiled the story for themselves, without misunderstanding the themes of the story, without having a warped view of the characters… But sadly, it’s not the case for Higurashi.

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