Umineko: When They Cry Vol. 1 TP (Manga)
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: 11/20/2012
Creators: Ryukishi07 (writer) and Kei Natsumi (artist)
Format: 512 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
Age Rating: Older Teen
ICv2 Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Every year, the members of the wealthy Ushiromiya family gathers together on a secluded island owned by the patriarch, Kinzo. In the summer of 1986 however, with Kinzo's health failing him, the family has gathered together to greedily discuss how the inheritance will be split amongst them. Before they can do that though, a typhoon strands them on the island and cuts off all of their communication with the outside world... and then six of them are murdered in a horrific way. Could this be the work of someone in the family who wants the inheritance all to themselves or is it the work of the fabled witch of the island named Beatrice?
Based off the visual novel from Ryukishi07 (Higurashi--When They Cry), this manga tells the story of eighteen people trapped on an island with no hope for escape and, after the murders begin, seemingly no hope for survival.
Let's just get this out of the way now now, this is not a good manga adaptation. Coming in at over five hundred pages, it takes six entire chapters and over three hundred pages before we see our first grisly murders. Up until that point, this entire book is character introductions and plot set ups that just drag this book down to the point of pure boredom. Think that you can sit through three hundred pages before settling down with the good stuff afterward? No such luck because after one single murder scene, Umineko is back to the remaining characters reacting and trying to figure out whodunnit.
But at least there's pretty artwork to look at right? Wrong. Occasionally Umineko manages to do interesting things with the artwork. Maria, the creepy nine year old of the family, is drawn especially evil at times to the point that you almost suspect her of the murders based on the way she's drawn and written alone. Everyone else however is drawn inconsistently at best with some panels looking downright horrible to the eye.
Being already familiar with the story, I know exactly what this story is capable of and this crawling start is not it. If you really want to see how creepy and disgusting this series can be, you're much better off watching the anime adaptation which will be released in the U.S. by NIS America in December. While foreshadowing hints that this manga will pick up in the future, this first volume does nothing to get me excited for more.
-- L.B. Bryant