If Miles Edgeworth Investigations was a gory, horror/suspense/thriller visual novel, the result would be Umineko no Naku Koro Ni. The only difference would be, well, Edgeworth’s a lot less annoying than Ushiromiya Battler.
Set in the year 1986, the Ushiromiya clan set sail for Rokkenjima island in order to talk about what all rich families talk about — inheritance. However, the Ushiromiya inheritance is not your normal family riches. Legend has it that the Ushiromiya family head, Kinzo, resurrected the family’s wealth and honor with the help of Rokkenjima’s Golden Witch, Beatrice. All would have been well and good if it wasn’t for Kinzo’s obssession with the occult. And so, the search for Kinzo’s ten tonnes of gold (yep, ten tonnes. TONNES.) becomes a bloody, body-parts-all-over-the-place journey to solve Beatrice’s epitaph.
The show’s 26 episodes plays out like a visual novel so it can get quite confusing at times. On one hand, it’s clever. On the other, it’s just…well, a bit of a pain. It’s clever because they were able to incorporate the story’s origin into its TV transformation. It’s a pain because all of the details are easy to mix up. Bottom line, it gives you room to view it as you wish. I guess if you’re into visual novels, this show would be the time of your life. I haven’t tried visual novels so I wouldn’t know how to go about. As such, I was confused. As confused as a cat in a sack. Anyway, moving on, you’d first be presented with the whole Ushiromiya clan, so be prepared.
The premise for the whole plot is Battler denying the existence of magic. To be specific, Battler has to prove how the murders were done without magic. Until he does, Beatrice would simply revive everyone and do everything all over again. For the duration of 26 episodes, these two managed 4 rounds. Meaning, the Ushiromiya clan died four times over. If you think of it from Battler’s side, he seems more cruel than Beatrice. His “strong magical resistance”, aka his stubbornness in his resolve that magic cannot exist, simply caused his family and relatives to die four times over simply because he does not want to lose to Beatrice. Well, at least that’s what I think. Alright, moving on.
I guess for this show, some things to watch out for are hitotsu, the method of deaths for the succeeding four rounds; futatsu, Battler’s arguments; mitsu, tsundere Beatrice. The first one’s a bit morbid, yes, but one can’t get too creative when you have to kill people over and over again. Aaand, that’s just what Beatrice does. The second one’s where my head aches. Battler’s too stubborn. It’s annoying. On one hand, I applaud his strong resolve. On the other hand, I see in him how humans tend to rationalize everything they see. And that’s just… Yeah. Bottom line, Battler gets into my nerves.
As for the end, it’s one of those shows that leaves you puzzled. Literally. Because Beatrice leaves you with a final riddle. For your consolation, it does have a weirdly addictive opening song.