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Umineko: When They Cry Vol. 1 & 2 Premium Editions Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: 18+ M (Mature)
  • Runtime: 413 Mins. (Vol. 1); 191 Mins. (Vol. 2)
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray) (Vol. 1); 1 (1 x Blu-ray ) (Vol. 2)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: NIS America
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 4, 2012
  • List Price: $79.99 (Vol. 1); $49.99 (Vol. 2)

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3/5]

Umineko: When they Cry (うみねこのなく頃に) is based on a Japanese dōjin soft (essentially the equivalent of independent or shareware video games) visual novel series. When they Cry is the third story in the series and takes place mainly in 1986. it surrounds a group of eighteen people, on the secluded Rokken Island who are all mysteriously murdered. Called to a gathering by the family patriarch, the Ushiromiya family all sail out to the secluded island that has a long mythology about a golden witch known as Beatrice. When the murders begin to befall the family members, suspicion falls on one another as they each believe the other is vying for control of the family and the mythological ton of gold that the Golden Witch Beatrice had granted to the patriarch. In the end, however, it comes down to a battle of wits between one Battler Ushiromiya and Beatrice the Witch who exposes herself as the true culprit. Battler refuses to accept that the murders were done by a witch and that witches even exist, but he also refuses to accept than any member of his family or the servants were responsible. Therefore, to prove herself and ensure her status as a witch, Beatrice suspends the Ushiromiya family in an endless game of death scenarios, caught in 1986, in which Battler must prove how the murders could have been committed by a human – most of them in what they call “locked room scenarios” or else admit defeat, proving that witches exist, and thereby sacrificing his and the rest of his family’s life to the Beatrice.

The premise of the series is an interesting one, for the first several episodes, but after a while it becomes increasingly tiresome and convoluted as an almost endless number of parallel existences pile up on top of each other and the story shifts between years (we eventually find ourselves going between 1986, 1998, and “outside of the game board”). Finally, in what was meant to be “check mate,” in the much overused chess metaphor in volume 2’s denouement, we are given yet another twist that leaves us with a slew of unanswered questions and nothing but several unresolved story arcs.

On the positive side, Umineko: When They Cry has a beautiful Gothic style to its artwork. The detail in Beatrice’s Victorian gowns and some of the other witches who are eventually brought in are just tantalizing to behold. There’s also the often used visual effects of the golden butterflies that dazzles just as well as any Disney animated segment.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement of Umineko: When they Cry is generally free from major anomalies, but it does have a bit of a veiled look that imparts a softness to the overall image. Some slight color banding can also be seen from time to time. Apart from that, no motion artifacts are apparent and there is no evidence of compression or video noise.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

A simple LPCM 2.0 Japanese soundtrack is provided with English subtitles. Is provides clean dialogue with strong directional panning and stereo separation, but high frequencies are just a tad tweaked.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Each individual volume is housed in a slipcover and comes with a hardcover book that contains character sketches and explorations of each of the different “mysteries” from each chapter in the series. Additionally, volume 2’s book contains a character-connections tree and additional character artwork.

  • Clean Opening
  • Clean Ending
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

An interesting if flawed series that definitely shows its roots in the video game world, Umineko: When They Cry has its strengths, but it fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion and it drags on for far too long in this 26-episode series in doing so. Volume 1 and Volume 2 of these Premium Edition Blu-ray sets are sold separately.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Late comment, but the reason nothing was really explained at the end is basically that there were four more story arcs after that, but they were never animated because the parts that come on this bluray set were such bad adaptations that the anime bombed in Japan and they never made the second season with the rest of the story.

    Also, with regards to the last story arc, they spent too much time on the 1998 storyline, and skipped about half of the 1986 content.

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