Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch
Story by Ryukishi07, Art by Kei Nastumi
Original Title | Umineko no Naku Koro ni (うみねこのなく頃に)
Published in America on November 2012 by Yen Press
Genre | Seinen, Mystery, Horror, Thriller
WARNING EXTREME GORE
Each year, the Ushiromiya family gathers at the secluded mansion of its patriarch, the elderly Kinzo. It has been six years since Battler joined his cousins at the annual event, but their happy reunion is overshadowed by worsening weather and an eerie premonition from his youngest cousin—not to mention their parents’ feud over the inheritance. Battler doesn’t hold much stock in dark omens, nor does he believe the tales of the witch rumored to have given his grandfather a fortune in gold…and who walks the halls of the mansion to this day… But when the eighteen family members and servants are trapped on the island by the raging typhoon, the grisly events that follow leave Battler shaken to his core. Is one of his relatives desperate enough to kill for the family fortune? Or is this the work of the Golden Witch? (Courtesy of Yen Press)
Review | ★ ★ ★ ★
I was absolutely ecstatic when Yen Press decided to license Umineko WHEN THEY CRY series into English! I’ve seen both the Japanese anime and read a few scenes from the original sound novel game and really loved the story and its characters. So when I went to place my order for this manga, much to my surprise I was greeted with a MONSTER of a book. This manga is probably twice the size of the average American published manga and three times the width. But there is a reason for this…Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch is actually an omnibus bind up of two manga volumes. So really, you’re getting two for the price of one bind up.
While publishing this manga as an omnibus is probably a better business move for Yen Press and more economical for the consumer, in my opinion it’s a pain to lug around in my bag if I want to take it with me to read. I would have preferred to have this series published in the smaller standard size, even though it would cost me more to complete the series. However, it is nice to have most of the story in one convenient bind up.
Besides, as a die-hard Umineko WHEN THEY CRY fan I would still buy this series no matter what.
On October 4th, 1986 the esteemed Ushiromiya family gathers to the island of Rokkenjima for their yearly family conference. What starts off as a happy family gathering quickly escalates to a battle over the family inheritance and the legendary Ushiromiya gold. And if a feud within the family isn’t bad enough, a raging typhoon is expected to come bringing misfortune along with it…
If you have ever read Agatha Christie’s famous mystery classic And Then There Were None, the plot to Umineko WHEN THEY CRY Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch is very similar. You have a family stranded on an island cut off from the rest of the world due to a terrible typhoon…but there’s a twist. A witch is supposedly living on the island as well, and she’s there to wreck havoc.
This manga does an excellent job in mixing mystery with fantasy and horror. What makes the story so unusual is that is makes you question whether it is a mystery or a fantasy. By the end you’ll wonder if the culprit human or if the witch real?
I like that Kei Natsumi’s style can really capture a character’s emotions really well. If a character is feeling extreme frustration or sorrow, that emotion is clearly displayed and adds to the storytelling. Also, his depiction of horror and gore are definitely not for the squeamish. My only issue with his art style is the odd figure proportions he draws for his characters.
Would I recommend it?
I recommend this series for those who like mysteries and thrillers, as long as you don’t mind the blood and over-exaggerated breasts.