[This was a post I originally wrote for Diving Deeper and, since I’m merging the blogs, I wanted to make sure it didn’t get lost in the shuffle. I’ll still be posting new content tomorrow. But if you haven’t gotten a chance to read this one yet, hope you enjoy!]
Hey all! I’m still working on polishing my review and analysis formats, but I thought it’d be fun to start off Diving Deeper as informally and nerd…ily? as I could: by doing a play-by-play of my read-/playthrough of the visual novel Umineko.
For those of you unfamiliar, a visual novel is something like a cross between a graphic novel and a video game. It’s mostly reading with visuals and some voice acting, but many have options to choose from throughout the game. Think of it as the modern rendition of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.
Although a friend of mine has told me a little bit of the Umineko storyline, I’m walking into this almost completely blind. This is also going to be my first extended experience with a visual novel. The only other one I’ve ever started was Steins;Gate (and I didn’t get far in it–didn’t want to spoil the anime adaptation for my family if they happened to walk in while I was playing).
Well, this probably won’t end horribly! Let’s go.
Menu screen. The gentle lapping of water and call of seagulls. There’s a blurry building of some sort in the background; I’m assuming that’s our upcoming locale of interest. Let’s find out.
A bell tolls, and the game begins. I’m introduced to some game mechanics, including a TIPS MODE, which looks like it’ll keep updated biographies of the cast. Looking at the preview of the GUI, it looks like I might need the help. I’m notoriously bad at keeping large casts straight.
A portrait of a young lady in garb that looks 1800’s and a disclaimer that this is a fictional story. Then I’m introduced to a portly old man with a mustache. Music is sad, tragic. I’m getting a bad feeling already…
Apparently it’s my doc. I’m here because I’m struggling with alcohol. Again. There’s two men in the room with us, but I can’t see them. Another physician in the room is examining his own patient, and a servant surveys the whole scene. What kind of doctor has a servant in the examining room?
My mistake. Looks like I’m not the alcoholic, after all. A stately-dressed man with white hair–looks like as old as the doc–is the drinker in question. Apparently the two have known each other a while. This patient is Kinzo. The drink is getting to Kinzo, and not even the medicine will be able to help soon.
The doc is Nanjo, and Genji is I assume Kinzo’s servant as Kinzo requests another (watered-down) drink.
Yep. Genji is the servant, a butler. He serves his master a glass as requested, despite the doc’s orders. Looks like this is a house-call.
The family doc’s not too happy, but there’s nothing Nanjo can do. Now the room fills with a sweet smell… They mentioned it before, but I didn’t think it was important until now. When they add the word “poisonous” to the word “aroma,” I start to take notice.
I’ve been told this is a murder mystery story.
Kinzo and Nanjo go back and forth. They’re old pals and yet neither heeds the other’s warnings–Kinzo continuing to drink, and Nanjo making foolish moves in their games of chess. It seems this drinking is justified as a little revenge in Kinzo’s mind. Kinzo proclaims that he wouldn’t die without medicine, but he would if his drink were taken away. Is he immortal or something? I think I heard there’s something supernatural about this story…
The drink is green, like snake venom.
Kinzo asks how long he’s got left. Nanjo only replies not long.
They’re currently playing a game of chess. Nanjo uses it as a visual tool to explain himself. Kinzo’s close to checkmate, but hasn’t won yet. They’d make a few moves each time Nanjo came to visit, but Nanjo believes that Kinzo won’t live to end the game.
Nanjo mentions a will, and Kinzo seems less than enthused. Sounds like he has family issues. Golddigger family issues.
A suggestion by Nanjo that a will isn’t just for material possessions, but instructions on how the deceased’s “will” should be carried out… interesting. A mention of regrets Kinzo might mention, or unfinished business. Now I’m intrigued.
But Ushiromiya Kinzo has nothing to say or leave to his family. Apparently he’s a man of his own making. He has no intention of leaving his “foolish children” any of his money or prestige.
He doesn’t care to be buried… “Those were the terms of the contract I made with the witch!” Supernatural, indeed. “When I die,” Kinzo says, “everything will be lost!”
He suddenly slumps over. It looks like he’d been possessed by a demon and then exorcised. Weak. Dead?
Not dead. Not yet, anyway. He has a single regret. There’s something he can’t leave undone. Nanjo says he should write it down. That way, even his descendants can accomplish it if he couldn’t.
But Kinzo angrily insists he has to do it while alive. He’ll be devoured by demons when he dies, erased from existence. No afterlife for him. No RIP. Even if he could write it down, he wants to see Beatrice’s smiling face. The witch, I believe.
She’s resisted him, whatever that means. He wants to see her one more time.
OH NAW THAT’S TOO META STAHP GAME. He’s calling out to her, saying she’s invisible, but that she’s here and she’s listening to everything he’s saying. I DUN WANNA BE NO WITCH BRUH.
Black screen. Opening credits!
Wow. That was interesting.
Fanciful music. Anime characters. Somebody’s crying. It’s gonna be a good game.
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