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Umineko Final Impressions (Spoiler free)


Zalor

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I literally just finished reading Umineko around an hour ago. So these are my raw thoughts and immediate reflections after completing it. I will probably do a more comprehensive overview of Umineko after I've had it digest for a couple of days.

What a beast... I first began this journey in mid May, and I've just finished it now. So in around 4 months time, I have clocked in at a total play time of 141 hours. In that time I've not only finished University, worked on multiple projects (both personal and academic), read several books, but I've also moved and started a job. This is to say, I've been quite busy in between reading Umineko. And I've taken multiple breaks from it. It has not been a completely consistent ride from beginning to end. But also, it feels weird to part with it now. Even if I wouldn't touch it for a stretch of weeks sometimes, in the back of my mind it was always present and I felt a pressure to get back to reading it whenever I could.

The ending was fantastic, and I feel fully satisfied with it. But now it feels like I have to part with a friend I got to know very well. And despite being quite happy with most of the twists this story had to offer, I can't deny that at times it was a slog. Reading the last part of Ep.8 today I thought I was nearly finished, and yet it still took me ~4 hours to complete. This was mostly due to a very dragged out fight/battle sequence that while interesting in parts (especially at its end), mostly felt bloated. And this criticism of bloat is by no means reserved for only this part, but rather is a consistent issue throughout. The highlights of Umineko are so great, that when you do get to those parts often you instantly forgive the frequency of tedious and dragged out scenes you had to suffer through in order to get to the truly exciting bits. Yet none the less, even if forgivable, these bloated scenes are no joke.

If you have an average reading speed like I do, these tedious sections can sometimes take up hours of your time. This was part of the reason I frequently took breaks from Umineko. As often I would finish a fantastic climactic scene and call it a day. But then I knew that the next part would be one of those mundane sections which made it hard to get back into reading the VN the next day. I would actually procrastinate reading Umineko at times precisely because I knew I was facing a part that would be dull and stretch out for a couple of hours. And when its a nice Saturday evening and you can do literally whatever you want, resigning yourself to reading something that you know will be boring for the next 2 hours is a hard decision to make. Even if you know that by powering through those 2 hours of boredom, you will be rewarded thoroughly in the 3rd or 4th hour.

If Ryukishi07 got himself a decent editor I think Umineko could have been a quarter or maybe even half as long, and still be just as good. Actually it would probably be better, because then you wouldn't have the unnecessary excess anymore. Despite that though, when Umineko is good it truly is at the level of masterpiece. There really is nothing like it.

The entire cast, for the most part, is very strong and memorable. I think that is Ryukishi07's greatest strength as a writer. He consistently creates very interesting characters. And even if his writing often drags on, you still put up with it because you want to see more interactions with these characters and what will happen to them.

The introduction of Furudo Erika in the second half was a great treat, and I enjoyed her sadistic and incredibly cruel personality immensely. It was great fun to watch her do intellectual battle and make enemies with everyone. Then there was also Bernkastel, who has been a favorite of mine since early on. In general, all of the witch and supernatural characters were great in my mind.

George, Jessica, Kanon, and Shanon never quite fully grew on me, though I did eventually grow more sympathetic to them. However, I definitely found the parts that focused on them the least interesting bits.

From episode 1, watching what seems to be the setup for a typical murder mystery evolve so much in scope over the various episodes, I am at awe reflecting on it all now. The story goes in so many different directions, and yet it feels entirely consistent with itself. It's a mystery like no other. It manages to literally breaks all the rules, and yet somehow sticks to them. That in itself, honestly, is proof to me that magic exists.

For anyone that enjoys great fiction, Umineko is certainly a work worth reading.

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