Thursday, July 2, 2009

When They Fail

I actually have a healthy amount of respect for Ryukishi07's operatically batshit horror; the anime versions have generally failed to capture the necessary balance between the deeply unhinged core and the otaku pandering that makes them financially viable in the niche market he writes for, but I genuinely adored the first four novels when he got around to adapting his own games for a format that inherently fails to support his worst instincts very well. It was a lot easier to ignore his unfortunate fascination with irritating vocal tics.
While I'm sure Umineko ni Naku Koro ni does as poor a job at grasping the work's potential as the Higurashi anime did, the first episode of the anime is simply astonishingly bad. So bad I am utterly unable to perceive what little hint of quality that actually made me bother pursing Higurashi to the novel format.
First of all, just because you set your story in the 80s does not mean you can do tit-grabbing lech jokes, which haven't been acceptable since then, and weren't funny at the time either.

Indeed, the tone of this fucker lurches so wildly I expected the cast of Torchwood to put in an appearance. Some bullshit about a witch is clearly the driving force behind the plot, but a good chunk of the episode is devoted to psycho rich adults snarling at each other in soap operatic displays that reminded me eerily of that flash game about rich women slapping each other.
The hilariously odd clothing designs and suitably fucked-up-sounding opening and ending songs are probably the high points of this first episode.
The low points - or rather, the cratering-thundering-inescapable-pits-of-pain points - entirely derive from Ryukishi07's aforementioned unfortunate predilection for bizarre vocal tics, which here manifests itself in the show's one obvious moe bait, a goth loli yandere (I think she's yandere, but forgive me for not keeping up on my bullshit trends) who spends the bulk of the episode making the most annoying sound in the universe over and over until not only are you ready to kick the little shit in the face, at least one other character ACTUALLY DOES, and you feel fucking happy about it.
When the high point of your episode involves you cheering on child abuse, it's a good sign your show is a worthless piece of shit. Unless you meant it to play like that, but that only happens in Jason Statham movies.


  1. I found myself laughting every time somebody started shouting like a psycho, because it was awfully overacted. I laughted specially hard when one of the evil rich women called her sister-in-law a whore, and I ckracked up when the child abuse began. I'm really sure that was not the intented reaction.

    My main problem with this show, however, is how predictable and obvious everything is. I found the scene where the witch gives the loli and umbrella, or the one where the loli gives the main characters some amulets, really cliched. I haven't read a lot of "isolated island" murder mysteries, but at least things like Kubikiri Cycle have some really good conversations. This is just going through the usual places in a particularly mediocre way.

  2. lametasic, "predictable and obvious"? Uh, just wait a few episodes and see what happens. :|

    Blog post gets a... meh, 4/10.

  3. So, Blog Reader Bocom, can you explain how mediocre writers and directors suddenly become brilliant halfway through a series? According to your view, anyway.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the first couple arcs of the original Higurashi series, but interest gradually fizzled out as it went on. Couldn't stand the follow, and don't see myself watching this one.

  4. I've got to say that it's a rare, rare show that improves that much as it goes along.

    Stuff can certainly get better, but I don't think I've ever seen anything go from mediocre to interesting or exciting at all.

    I still stand behind my stance that you can tell whether something has the potential to be good shortly after the opening credits, in most cases.

  5. The only show that I've really changed my opinion of for the better as it went on is Mouryou no Hako, but that was just because I was bored by the majority of episode one. A few scenes gave promise, and episode two instantly delivered.

  6. Seems like every time I give a show a second chance, it turns out to be even worse than I remembered it being. Only exception I can think of offhand is Nadesico. I do seem to be in the minority in thinking that Escaflowne isn't really that good until episode 4, but even there I didn't think the first ep was unwatchable or anything.

    More on topic, I have no plans to try Umineko, since because Higurashi failed to grab me, and the ultimate answer to its mysteries is far too staggeringly retarded for me to even consider letting Ryukishi07 waste any of my time if "a wizard did it" is seriously his idea of an ending.

  7. "a goth loli yandere who spends the bulk of the episode make the most annoying sound in the universe over and over until not only are you ready to kick the little shit in the face, at least one other character ACTUALLY DOES, and you feel fucking happy about it."

    Beautiful. That's exactly how I felt. I haven't been annoyed like that in ages.

    I was hoping I'd like this, since I loved the first Higurashi series (need to watch the second two), but that wasn't the case. Laughable stuff.

  8. Her uu-uu- voice acting must have done its job if you're actually going to encourage anything Rosa does. It might take a while for that story to show up, though.

    So far (through 3.5 episodes of Umineko) he's done a great job at staying in control of the reader's expectations, but I guess he might write himself into a corner again if everyone wants a good end. The worst problem is that there's barely anything to discuss, since there hasn't been closure on a single plot element yet.