Review: “Umineko – When They Cry” Volumes 1 & 2 (TV Series)

Details:

  • Title: “Umineko – When They Cry” Volumes 1 & 2 (Complete Series)
  • Series: “Umineko – When They Cry
  • Creator: 07th Expansion
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural, Thriller
  • Format: Premium Edition Blu-ray Set(s)
  • Description:
      • “The affluent Ushiromiya family patriarch, Kinzo, is on his deathbed, and his family has assembled at their private island to discuss the division of his estate. As they bicker over their father’s immense inheritance, a typhoon closes in, trapping them on the island. They suddenly receive an eerie word of warning…and then, in the dead of night, the murders begin. One by one, family members are discovered murdered in bizarre and inhuman ways. Some within the family turn to superstition, blaming it on a witch rumored to inhabit the island. But one of them – the young Battler Ushiromiya – refuses to accept the supernatural and vows to uncover the real killer behind the seemingly impossible slaughters. He soon finds himself confronted by the apparent witch, and enters into a life-or-death battle for the truth.” – NIS America
  • Contents:
      • Volume 1 – Premium Edition
        • 2 Blu-ray disc set (Episodes 1-18)
        • Full Color, Hardcover Artbook (Approx. 11″ x 7″)
      • Volume 2 –  Premium Edition
        • 1 Blu-ray disc set (Episodes 19-26)
        • Full Color, Hardcover Artbook (Approx. 11″ x 7″)
  • Publisher: NIS America
  • MSRP:
      • Volume 1 – Premium Edition – $79.99
      • Volume 2 – Premium Edition – $49.99
  • Purchase:
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Review:
      • Watching the entire “Umineko – When They Cry” series is a lot like tracing the outline of some hideous ouroboros symbol, i.e. it’s a twisted beast of a show that just grows more complex and warped the longer its allowed to feed off of itself.  It’s like a sick amalgamation of “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Saw” series with a Phoenix Wright-esque character as its main protagonist.  Though there’s no deny that part of its appeal is due to its often disturbing displays of physical violence and gore, what makes “Umineko” truly surprising is its ability to retread the same basic premise not once, but four separate times, without becoming repetitive or boring.

Unfortunately, while “Umineko” is a great thrill ride and delightfully complex mystery, the sheer amount of data that viewers need to keep track off in order to truly plumb the depths of the mystery as it unfolds onscreen can quickly become a bit overwhelming.  To make matters worse, the series also suffers from a frustratingly ambiguous ending filled with unanswered questions and no clear resolution of its main plotline.  While this is probably due to the fact that the visual novels that it’s based off of are still ongoing, it’s still an aggravating way to end a series as deliciously dark and intoxicating as this one is.

For the “Premium Edition” release the “Umineko – When They Cry” series, NIS America has gone its usual route of packaging each volume in an illustrated album-size slipcase that includes one or two Blu-ray discs (depending on which volume it is) and a hardcover artbook/episode guide.  Each of the episode guides is laid similar to a case file that tracks the shows numerous plot twists and various other key details via a series of newspaper style clippings and character bios.  While this approach has its merits, the manner in which many of the clippings are written is often as confusingly obtuse as the series itself.

Overall, “Umineko – When They Cry” is a great series that will keep you engaged throughout its twenty-six episode run, but viewers unfamiliar with the series’ long history should be prepared for a frustrating end to an otherwise fantastic journey.

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