…there are no survivors.
The announcement of the Umineko anime came with both excitement and dread. Finally, everyone will be able to see why I won’t shut up about how great Umineko is! Oh no, is it even possible to condense that much complexity and text into a two-cour anime series? Awesome, we’ll see the murders in animation! I sure hope the voice actors aren’t terrible.
And with that, Episode I is done. How did it fare?
One thing Higurashi did not have was very good art. It kind of helped the crazy-faces when the art for the crazy-faces was off, but that’s about the most charitable thing I can say about it. While it’s still Studio Deen and it’s still LOLOL at times, the art is a lot better than Higurashi and while it isn’t spectacular like it would be from a top studio, it’s adequate.
The character designs are one point where I don’t understand the mind of the VN reader. Well, I guess I do understand, since they’re pretty much occupied at pointing out every single inconsistency with the VN. Sorry guys, the uglier character designs from the game probably have more to do with Ryukishi07′s terrible drawing than it being his exact vision for the characters.
I’m pretty surprised that the voice cast has pulled through. I remember looking at the cast initially and while it was pretty solid, I had a few misgivings. My biggest concern was with Rie Kugimiya as Shannon, who pulled it off by not doing her Shana/Louise/Nagi/Taiga/all the same/URUSAI voice like I was worried she would. Next was Yui Horie as Maria, who manages to sound like an annoying kid and become sufficiently creepy, so good job there. Finally, there was Daisuke Ono, who was a bit shaky at the beginning, but was much better for the serious parts, where it really matters.
The other big concern was with music. A lack of stuff like goldenslaughterer or worldend_dominator would instantly break Umineko for a lot of people. It turns out that they got almost all of the music into the anime, even something excellent that will be happening early in the next arc. The music could have been a bit louder though. The thing that I felt was missing was the absolutely dominating role that the music played. The first time I heard goldenslaughterer, the dread and fear I felt coming from the speakers was pretty palpable.
This is where the VN readers are split. I consider it a good adaptation because the division of VN readers is almost even. I never would expect Deen to be able to adapt Umineko perfectly to win over most of the VN readers. On the other hand, the fact that there are a large number of VN readers who are satisfied with the adaptation means that they’ve done well.
What Deen has included in the anime is adequate for the Umineko story. Anyone who would make any major changes to what’s there doesn’t understand the difference between visual novels and anime and will never be satisfied.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate that we didn’t have the gigantic scene at the airport and on the boat at the beginning. It’s too bad that we didn’t have the exposition about all of the characters, their backgrounds, and their motivations going into the first twilight. It was useful to know, but it was also boring as hell. Even reading it, I would be ready to stop if I didn’t know what was going to be coming later. And you guys want to put this into an anime episode and expect people unfamiliar with Umineko to stick around?
Beyond that, what did we miss? We get most of the character relationships anyway. The only thing that wasn’t clear was how much of an arrogant jerk Gohda is. Everyone’s basic personalities and motivations are covered. Oh no, we don’t find out Jessica has asthma! Great, we’ll find out next chapter, when it’s important. We might have skipped out on the long introduction, but all of those details end up getting beaten into you anyway when they become important. If there are any plot-altering omissions, then I haven’t seen them.
To me, the biggest adaptation challenge was the tea parties and the meta-world. These scenes are extremely important and are where the real story takes place. I was pretty surprised to see the tea parties adapted pretty much as I’d remembered them. I expected them to cut out the stuff where they were talking casually about how it sucked that they died, but even that made it in. And the ???? made it in too. I was super happy to see Bernkastel there.
So that solidified my satisfaction with the adaptation. It’s definitely not perfect, but I am perfectly fine with the direction it’s going in. I have no huge grievances with it that would make me hesitate to suggest it to someone. In fact, I’ve been trying to get everyone to watch it. And with that, I’m looking forward to what Episode II will be bringing to the table.