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 is a Japanese murder mystery dōjin soft visual novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The first game in the series, Legend of the Golden Witch, was first released at Comiket 72marker on August 17, 2007 playable on the PC; the game sold out in thirty minutes. The story focuses on a group of eighteen people on a secluded island for a period of two days, and the mysterious murders that befall most of the people. The goal of the game is to discern whether the murderer is human or of some other supernatural source. Umineko is the third title in the When They Cry series, preceded by Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, and followed by Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru.


A manga series adapted from the games began with three different artists working separately on different story arcs, and is published by Square Enix. The first manga, an adaptation of Legend of the Golden Witch, began serialization in December 2007 in the Japanese manga magazine Gangan Powered, and is illustrated by Kei Natsumi. An anime series produced by Studio Deen began airing in July 2009. The word umineko is the name of a kind of seagull known as a Black-tailed Gull. Naku can mean , specifically referring to those sounds made by non-human organisms, or . It so happens that the English verb "to cry" carries the same double meaning as naku. According to the original creator, Ryukishi07, the red Na () in the logo is an official part of the title.

Gameplay

Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a murder mystery game described as a "sound novel" by 07th Expansion. A sound novel is similar to a visual novel, though the gameplay requires no player interaction as the game is composed entirely of text dialogues. While a visual novel's basis would be the visual aspect, as the name suggests, a sound novel's basis takes more care in producing an atmosphere via the music, sound effects, and the story itself. As such, the original Umineko games have a simple-looking art style, which stays consistent over the course of the series' releases. The original releases contain no voice acting for the characters.

While during gameplay, the TIPS Mode can be viewed via the game's internal menu, which also includes save and load functions. These TIPS allow the player to read various supplementary information on the characters and story that may or may not be useful in solving the mystery. These are updated according to the progression of the story, so it is recommended to view the TIPS every once in a while. The ultimate goals of the gameplay involve solving the multi-cased mystery, determining where the gold is hidden, figuring out a solution in which ultimately everyone survives, and to solve the whole case by determining who the true murderer is in each chapter and whether it is due to supernatural events or human actions. An in-game feature from Turn of the Golden Witch onward known as "red truth" states something to be true in red text, offering clues to the reader to both create theories as well as to break them. In contrast is "blue truth" from Alliance of the Golden Witch onward, which is used to bring up theories on what is truly going on while abiding by the red truth, and has the possibility to become true if not countered by red truth. There is also "golden truth" introduced in End of the Golden Witch, which is suggested to be absolutely true, leaving no room to argue with the red or blue truths.

When an episode is completed for the first time, an additional short epilogue called "Tea Party" becomes available to play, offering crucial plot points that advance the overall progression of the story. When that scenario is completed, a second epilogue called "????" also becomes available to advance the story. After all the scenarios in a given game copy have been completed, a Music Box section becomes available on the title menu, enabling the player to listen to any of the music used throughout the game.

Plot and characters

Umineko no Naku Koro ni takes place primarily in the year 1986, during the time frame of October 4 and October 5 on a small, secluded island named 10 km around owned and lived on by Kinzo, the head of the wealthy Ushiromiya family. Kinzo is near death, and eight of his family members arrive on the island for the annual family conference, where the adults plan to discuss how Kinzo's assets will be divided once he is dead. Also on the island are three family members who live there, five of Kinzo's servants, and his personal physician. After the eight family members arrive, a typhoon traps them on the island, and shortly after, strange things start to happen and people start dying.

The main character of the story is Battler Ushiromiya, son of Kinzo's second son Rudolf. Battler has not been to the annual Ushiromiya conference in six years due to living with his maternal grandparents ever since his mother Asumu died, and even took his mother's maiden name instead of Ushiromiya. When his grandparents died, he went back to living with his father, his second wife Kyrie, and their daughter Ange, his half-sister. Once on the island, Battler once again becomes acquainted with the legend of the golden witch Beatrice who supposedly lives in the naturally dense forest on Rokkenjima. A portrait of her lies in the entrance hall of the Ushiromiya family mansion, and a puzzling epitaph is written below the portrait. Rumor has it on the island that Beatrice gave ten tons of gold to Kinzo in the past to restart the Ushiromiya family after being crippled in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquakemarker. It is said that whoever solves the riddle of the witch's epitaph will receive the gold and be the next successor to the Ushiromiya family.

Once the typhoon hits, a ghastly game begins, starting with the murder of six people on the island. If the witch's epitaph cannot be solved, people will continue to die in mysterious deaths, following the outline given by the epitaph itself, until the witch Beatrice ultimately revives. After this comes to pass, Battler is the only one left alive who does not believe in witches or magic, and as such the door to the "golden land" (as stipulated on the epitaph) cannot be opened. Beatrice takes Battler and herself to a parallel dimension, Purgatorio, which is able to oversee events on Rokkenjima. From this point on, Battler and Beatrice are locked in a game of twisted logic where Battler must attempt to explain all of the mysterious events on Rokkenjima from the standpoint that they are caused by a human, and Beatrice attempts to explain everything with witches and magic. One of the recurring motifs is use of the locked room mystery, and several logical arguments are presented to explain the mysteries including the devil's proof, the raven paradox, and Schrödinger's cat. If Beatrice can get Battler to ultimately surrender and accept witches and magic, Beatrice wins.

Story arcs

Umineko no Naku Koro ni

The games are the first four games in the series which are meant to give the player a sense of the world where the story takes place and introduce the mysterious circumstances surrounding Rokkenjima and the legend of the golden witch. Each arc in this series contains all the previous arcs.

Episode 1 Legend of the Golden Witch
The Ushiromiya family gathers on Rokkenjima for their meeting, presenting the background of the story including the history of the island, family, and Beatrice. Being the introduction of the series, this chapter familiarizes the player with the island's 18 residents (the family itself plus the servants and staff), and gives the implication that one of them is posing as a 19th resident, Beatrice, and carrying out murders. The story is mostly narrated by Battler, and presents the first "bad end" of the series, since all the island's residents are either killed or labeled as "missing".


Episode 2 Turn of the Golden Witch
This chapter revolves around the first direct confrontation between Battler and Beatrice, both of whom are granted an alternate, independent existence to participate in the events of the story. Unlike the first chapter, Beatrice plays a direct role in the game and greatly hints on supernatural existences, including hidden powers of some of the island's residents and the introduction of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory. The chapter is narrated by several characters, including an omniscient narrator, and presents information on the relationships between Jessica and Kanon, George and Shannon, and Maria and Rosa. Shannon's past is also heavily mentioned.


Episode 3 Banquet of the Golden Witch
For this chapter, the residents of the island focus more on solving the riddle of Beatrice's epitaph rather than on who is carrying out the murders on the island and how, which leads to the introduction of a new character who interferes with the game between Battler and Beatrice. Other new characters include Ronove, Virgilia, and the Siesta Sisters Corps., all of whom contribute to the development of magical details. This chapter sheds light on the pasts of Eva and Beatrice, and is the first to feature one of the island's residents surviving the murders.


Episode 4 Alliance of the Golden Witch
This chapter is told mainly from the perspective of Battler's sister Ange and her life twelve years after the massacre on Rokkenjima. The story constantly shifts focus between 1986 (the time of the murders) and 1998 (Ange's time period), and provides even more backstory to some of the characters. The existence of magic is once again heavily implied, and more hidden powers from the Ushiromiya family are revealed. New characters introduced are Gaap, Siesta 00, Sakutaro, and a number of humans including Amakusa and Kasumi.


Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru

The games tell the second half of the story and start to delve into the core of the mystery. These games are not simply solutions to the first four arcs, but instead continue the story, shifting it into new terrain. However, as the core of the series is approached, several clues to the first four arcs are revealed along the way. Each arc in this series contains all of the previous Chiru arcs.

Episode 5 End of the Golden Witch
A new perspective on the mystery of the Golden Witch is presented in this chapter, with the witches Bernkastel and Lambdadelta playing a more prominent role. The main characters of this story are Kinzo, Natsuhi, and a new character, Erica, who approaches the murders from a "pro-mystery" perspective, unlike Battler who had taken an "anti-fantasy" stance. The story focuses on the possibility of a relationship between Battler and Beatrice. This time the game is suspended before its conclusion, so the fate of most people on the island is unknown.


Episode 6 Dawn of the Golden Witch


Extra TIPS

Alongside the main series, Ryukishi07 has also written some extra TIPS outside of the games. These are considered canon.

Lambda's Diary
This TIP talks about Lambdadelta, and her history of granting wishes.


Bern's Letter
This TIP is a letter that Bernkastel wrote to the player, which contains her musings and speculations on the rules XYZ in Umineko. It ends with a couple of poems, one written by Ronove, and one written by Frederica Bernkastel.


Anti-Mystery vs. Anti-Fantasy
This TIP explains and speculates the concepts of anti-mystery and anti-fantasy in full detail.


The Seven Sisters' Valentine
This TIP is a humorous story about Ronove making chocolate, albeit primarily for Beatrice, and giving one each to the Stakes of Purgatory. He then sends them to give the chocolates to the figures that are foremost in their hearts.


Why Are Closed Room Murders So Beautiful?


The Story of Coffee


Notes From a Certain Cook
This TIP talks about Gohda's past. This TIP shows that red circles appear before the murders have even started.


Beatrice's White Day
This is the sequel to The Seven Sisters' Valentine, in which the Stakes receive presents from the persons they gave their chocolate to. Beatrice, however, who had run afoul of Battler on Valentine's Day after a botched attempt at giving him chocolate, attempts to cope with not getting a present herself.


The Witches' Tanabata
This TIP is about Beatrice granting a wish for Maria, and Bernkastel granting a wish for Ange. The latter event shows Bernkastel as a cruel, ruthless witch.


Arigato For 556


Development

Release history

The first game of the Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel series, entitled Legend of the Golden Witch, was first released on August 17, 2007 at Comiket 72marker. The second game Turn of the Golden Witch was released on December 31, 2007 at Comiket 73, and the third game Banquet of the Golden Witch was released on August 16, 2008 at Comiket 74. The fourth game Alliance of the Golden Witch was released on December 29, 2008 at Comiket 75. The first game in the Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru series, entitled End of the Golden Witch, was first released on August 15, 2009 at Comiket 76. The next game will be released on December 30, 2009 at Comiket 77.

Taito released a version of Legend of the Golden Witch playable on certain mobile phones on March 31, 2009. The game is playable on FOMA 900 and i703 phones, using BREW as a runtime environment.

Related media

Manga

A manga version of Legend of the Golden Witch drawn by Kei Natsumi began serialization in the January 2008 issue of Square Enix's Gangan Powered sold on December 22, 2007. An adaptation of Turn of the Golden Witch drawn by Jirō Suzuki began serialization in Square Enix's GFantasy on July 18, 2008. The manga adaptation of Banquet of the Golden Witch will begin serialization in Gangan Joker on September 19, 2009 illustrated by Kei Natsumi. The first bound volume for Legend of the Golden Witch was released in Japan on June 21, 2008 under Square Enix's Gangan Comics imprint. A four-panel comic strip entitled and illustrated by Makoto Fugetsu was serialized in Ichijinsha's Manga Palette Lite magazine between March 1, 2008 and March 2, 2009. A single bound volume for Umineko Biyori was released on June 22, 2009.

Another manga, , is illustrated by Satoshi Shinkyo and was serialized between the November 2008 and May 2009 issues of Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine. A cross-over manga drawn by Yuki Hiiro and featuring characters from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni entitled Umineko no Naku Koro ni EpisodeX Rokkenjima of Higurashi crying began serialization in ASCII Media Works's Dengeki G's Festival! Comic magazine on January 26, 2009.

Drama CDs

Frontier Works began to produce a set of drama CDs for Umineko starting with the first volume released on June 24, 2009. The second volume followed on July 23, 2009. The voice cast is the same as the anime.

Novels

Kodansha Box began releasing novelizations of the visual novel arcs starting with the first half of Legend of the Golden Witch on July 1, 2009. This was soon followed by the release of the second half in August 2009, and the novelizations of later arcs began after that. The novels are written by Ryukishi07.

Anime

An anime adaptation based on the visual novel series was announced by 07th Expansion, and began airing in Japan on July 2, 2009 on Chiba TV, and will air on additional stations at later times. The anime will be produced by the animation studio Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon. The opening theme of the anime is by Akiko Shikata, and the ending theme is by Jimang from Sound Horizon. The singles for both songs were released on August 19 and September 16, 2009, respectively.

Music

The music of Umineko was provided by various music artists including both professionals and dōjin artists, and Dai, the composer of most of the music found in the answer arcs of Higurashi, also had a hand in the project as the music director. The opening theme song for Umineko no Naku Koro ni is , composed and performed by Akiko Shikata, which was released at Comiket 74marker on August 15, 2008, and for public release on August 29, 2008 by Frontier Works. The opening theme song for Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru is by Ayumu from Zwei, while the staff credits theme is by Rekka Katakiri. An original soundtrack for Legend of the Golden Witch entitled Essence was released on August 26, 2009.

References



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