I think the best way to really form a final impression of Umineko no Naku Koro Ni is to look at each arch and evaluate it from there.
The first arch was probably the quietest of the four arches, which makes sense as it was an introduction to the series. Still, it managed to be rather engaging, what with murders abound, and a crazy Maria, and no one having an idea what was going on. The main frustration with this arch however, was the fact that I still wasn’t quite sure who was who and was constantly checking back to wikipedia to see who was who. Out of the four arches, this one ranks 3.
The second arch really started to pick up. We got introduced to Ronove, the Goat Butlers, and the stakes. There was a lot of like about this arch, with diagrams of sheep, a touching scene between Kanon and Jessica as well as George and Shannon, the servants featuring some awesome fighting skills, Rosa go crazy with a rifle, and seeing the depth of Beato’s sadistic side. Also some of the best quotes in the series such as “Maria, you’re ten years too young to let yourself be eaten,” and “Why don’t you slice up those cow tits of yours and make me a sandwich.” Out of the four archs, this ranks number 2.
The third arch was definitely the best part of the series. There was so much going on in this arch with the fight between Beato and Virgilia, the solving of the epitaph, the introduction of EvaBeatrice and of course, Beato turned moe and then trolling us all. This arch was the most gripping of the four, with the best character development seen in this arch. Out of the four archs, this ranks number 1.
With the third arch finished, there were high expectations for the fourth arch. Unfortunately, the fourth arch was a complete trainwreck. There were parts of the fourth arch I liked, I did like seeing more of the Stakes, I liked Sakutaro, and I enjoyed watching Maria turn into a sympathetic character. But for the most part, the fourth arch left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Too much time was spent on Ange’s backstory and her journey to Rokkenjima, and not enough time was spent on Battler and Beato. Also, the switching between the different stories was disorientating and hard to keep track of. Not to mention, the terrible troll ending. Out of the four ranks, this well deserves it spot at number 4.
In the end, it was a fun ride, with some awesome moments, but not overly spectacular, which I suppose is comparable to the first season of Higurashi. At least Higurashi had some sort of conclusion in its first season. We didn’t get any sort of that here.
I wrap this up by saying; one thing Umineko strongly pushed is to try to look beyond appearances. Personally, I don’t think Beatrice is as evil as either DEEN or Battler wants us to believe. True, she’s on the sadistic side, and methods are drastic but I think her intentions are good. I’m not quite sure about that. We’ll see.