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Umineko When They Cry Vol. #21 Manga Review (Final Volume)

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Acceptance and closure for the Ushiromiya family.
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Umineko When They Cry Vol. #21

Acceptance and closure for the Ushiromiya family.

Creative Staff
Story: Ryukishi07
Art: Kei Natsumi
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
Lettering: Abigail Blackman

What They Say
Umineko When They Cry Episode 8: Twilight of the Golden Witch Vol. #03
Though none may know the truth about what happened the day of the Rokkenjima massacre, Ange has come to understand the players were neither devils nor angels, merely people- her flawed, complicated, ultimately loving family. Now battling against every kind of cruel theory that’s been leveled at the Ushiromiyas since the tragedy, those who remain in the cat box fight to preserve the memory of their humanity. Armed with this truth, Ange strides forth to reclaim her future!

I’m going to post a breakdown and my thoughts of the story as a whole on the next page, so advance the review there if you want to see me discuss the conclusion to this very long, in-depth murder mystery. It will be full of spoilers so only go there if you really want to dive deep. Non-spoiler thoughts below:

In Conclusion
Umineko is no simply retelling of “And Then There Were None.” Adapting all parts of a large visual novel to manga, and seeing the story through to a final conclusion, is an epic undertaking. A lot of years, work, artists, and editors went through a lot of trouble to translate Umineko to the page.

While I have to admit I respect the skill involved in the crafting of not just one mystery, but a tapestry of potential scenarios for a massive murder mystery, the ultimate result is almost infinitely complex and obscured. The distractions from the clues provided take the form of scantily clad manifestations of id and ego, while grotesque and vicious depictions of gore seek to paint everything else red. The plot lingers over imaginary friends brutally murdering and insulting each other. 

That’s probably half the allure for most of the audience. In adapting a lengthy series of visual novels the obfuscating of the key points of the mystery behind the murders takes over. So thorough was the hiding that for many volumes of earlier arcs I began to lose interest. The plot only heads back on track for the final two story arcs as a whole. Did the adaptation have to be this thorough? No, and the series overall would have benefited from a trimmed and slimmed version of the events. Yet I’m certain that the manga provides better closure than the visual novels ever could.

Likewise, the adaptation does falter at some points where the artwork in one arc in-particular wasn’t as strong and the rest of the series. Yet compared with Ryukishi07’s original artwork for the visual novels, well, it was still a massive improvement.

I would be remise in not congratulating Yen Press and translator Stephen Paul for sticking out this series till the end. I can’t imagine this series was ever a best seller, and with each omnibus being a massive 800 page, $30 tome, it was not a cheap purchase for the reader. I doubt any other publisher would have stuck it out.

So, is Umineko a mystery worth unraveling? If you enjoy spectacle and Ryukishi07’s other stories than yes, there’s a twisted tale full of unique and tortured souls to experience. Tracking down the entire print run will cost an arm and a leg at this point though. For those that managed to follow through, we get our ending, our answers, and our closure, delivering on a promise from the author to readers of a grand mystery to solve.

Content Grade: B +
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: Teen +
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: June 23, 2020
MSRP: $30.00 US / $39.00 CAN

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