Let me start with the trivial concerns first. The pacing for the first game has been absolutely glacial for most of it. I shit you not that in the time it took me to actually find the plot a bug on my wall manage to evolve the ability to communicate through sign language with its front legs. It thinks things suck too. I can understand the need to set up background information but even after ridiculous amounts of exposition, you still don't know anything important about most of the characters. I feel like I just waded through 5 hours of inane party conversation for a very small handful of interesting tidbits. It's also ironically fitting that just as I mention in the other entry that the characters seemed all nice and genial, they immediately turn into assholes and bitches. Oddly, I think that sort of duplicity actually makes a lot of sense since the genial part was all in interactions with the kids and we all put up a happy front when children are involved. It's different when we deal with adults with which we have a long and checkered past, not to mention completely opposing and mutually exclusive goals. It's probably not a bad idea to keep in mind that the generous uncle who gives you candy and asks you how school is going could also be a heartless jerkoff in a work/social environment with people he loathes.
What is really making me angry about Umineko is I'm getting that vague prickling in my thumbs that signals no good. It's my own personal screw-o-meter. It tells me that some writer has dug themselves such a ridiculous series of incongruous plot segments that there is no way they can ever tie it all back into a neat bow. While I didn't actually watch Lost (Those of you who did are morons), that's exactly the sort of effect I'm talking about. The series is basically forced to end with a ridiculous number of plot points unaddressed that all seemed ominous and portentous at the time because the writers were whacked out on their own ego and making shit up left and right. Eventually all the craziness gets away from them and they find that there's no way they can reconcile all the crap they've regurgitated into people's heads. At that point they have 2 options:
1) Rush straight for an ending tying up as much as you can and simply ignore the rest and hope no one asks about it.
1b) Don't address any of it and simply end with no real ending.
2) Come up with a wallbanger/dues ex machina that could theoretically explain everything but is a massive cop-out.
Examples of the latter include shit like 'it was all a dream' or 'it was really aliens' or 'God came down with a giant glowy finger and set off the nuclear bomb'.
It's hard to tell which one of these results will piss off more of your audience. What is clear however is if you know what you're looking for you can see the danger signs heading to one of these two conclusions. That's what my spidey sense are telling me about Umineko and I'm getting pre-emptively pissed.
I've said before that one of my favorite literary devices is the unreliable narrator. I like it for a variety of reasons, mostly because I often fall for it and it always seems elegant in hindsight. I tend to put a lot of trust into whoever is narrating the story, always have, which probably says something about my personality. The idea that the information I have might be faulty at its core is an interesting concept for me since my instinct is always for deduction. To string together facts and build them into a spear with which I can make my assault.
All of that being said, Umineko takes that idea and makes a mockery of it. The whole reason an unreliable narrator is interesting is because we usually trust the narration as a default. The impact can only be felt if the poison is slipped in among the normal food or drink. Only a idiot will drink from a goblet that's smoking and bubbling and which corrodes metal. In Umineko, just about every single god damn narrator is unreliable. There's only a single person out of a minimum of 18 who is at all trustworth in his observations. Any other person could (and likely is) suffering delusions and spouting gibberish. Seeing as the one reliable person only witnesses a quarter (at best) of what happens personally, it makes it impossible to figure out what the hell is going on. The dead hold conversations with groups of people and those who don't even exist run around like normal characters. There is absolutely no foundation on which to base anything logical and I don't think it's possible for the ending to be anything other than a mindscrew when I had been hoping it would all piece together beautifully like Higurashi.
Maybe I'll be proven wrong but I don't like the way things are going so far and from all that I've read, it only gets more screwy in the parts to come. Eventually, only statements written in 'red' colored font are considered true statements. Considering how sparsely those appear, you can imagine the logical trucks that can be driven through the gaps between them. Feh.
Everyone loves tako's.