(Repost because a major spoiler tag wasnt working ; ; my apologies, still getting used to the fourm)!
I love analyzing things, solving puzzles, mystery, philosophy, well versed in spiritual/magical references of Umineko…and yet…
I didnt understand anything at all in Umineko about the meaning/point of the story until Ep7, truthfully
I was also younger when I first read it, from 15 years old (Ep1) to 17 years old (Ep7). I think even if I read it now at 24 years old from the start, Umineko is still a long term puzzle to understand. I wouldn’t grasp the concepts right away. I can only say I would now since I know the story like the back of my hand! ;;
I get where you are coming from though, I dont think your anxiety is unfounded. I think one can know a good story is written when you read it all, still aren’t clear, but then go back and re read it and see all the hints, and clues, subtle comments, and you say, “Aaah…I see now!” And a way to enjoy the story a second time.
Even if you don’t re read the entire thing, thinking back to events in the story with the perspective of the ending is a good way too.
From large works like Umineko , to even small novels like The Little Prince, I’ve always enjoyed stories I don’t grasp at all the first time. To revisit stories, and see more as time goes on, I think that is a treat. The story never ends, and the meanings are numerous and a feast to enjoy thinking about.
Full series spoilers below:
I appreciated Umineko as even the meta characters (the witches, Battler, etc.) Themselves often didn’t understand Beato’s gameboard fully. Featherine herself didn’t understand all the gameboards fully until the end of Ep7. And Battler at Ep6. For Ep7, It was certainly a very direct Ep (“tearing out the guts” - so to speak - that is, exposing Yasu. Whereas in contrast the prior gameboards were more poetic and Beatrice’s identity remained. Its why often Ryukishi has Question arcs (unsolvable initial story) and Answer arcs (showing us, the readers, the meaning, but even then not entirely direct). In Umineko, its said Ep1-4 is Question arcs and Ep5-8 is Answer arcs. Its good to go back from Ep7 only for the events on Rokkenjima. I see Ep8 as not part of the main tale. the whole message of Umineko (mainly Beatrice’s tale of love - “without love it cannot be seen” - this riddle is laid to rest in Ep7) but I read it as a conclusion for Ange. After all, she became the last living true Ushiromiya. How will things be resolved for her? What will happen to her? Will she realize the truth? And Ep8 felt like that, written for her. Especially because all the real world events took place off Rokkenjima. And the tales in the meta world were centered around Ange finding the truth - her truth - and her family once more in the golden land. It was also to resolve her trauma with Maria and the Mariage Sociere, and magic as a whole. Whether that resolution was to accept or deny magic. Indeed the entire ending of Umineko as a series itself ended with Ange. As it should, since she was the surviving Ushiromiya. Thematically and how the story was set up from the start, it makes sense also why the direction went that way.
For Beatrice’s story itself, the true ending is Ep7. To understand the ending and meaning of Beatrice’s riddle, the end of Ep6 and into Ep7 is needed to tie in it. To add Ep8 will be confusing.
But there’s no way to solve it or understand it fully before then. You can grasp some theories (and indeed Shkanontrice theory was there, as early as Ep2 in the fandom!) but how it was really meant or to be understood cant be reached until end of Ep7[
Umineko is so hard to invite people to read because it truly is one of those unique stories that you need to keep pushing through. It’s not a linear or clear cut story at all! Higurashi is the same. Ryukishi is that type of writer, I feel. I wouldnt feel too worried when it comes to his works. Even just one character has so many riddles and puzzles - let alone the entire story! ;;
What kept me going through was the whole world of the story. While I didnt understand the point or meaning I was being taken to, I enjoyed to read about the events going on, the world, and I enjoyed the company, so to speak, of all the colorful characters. At times there was shocking things and the mystery aspect appealed to me too. All while reading, I kept having faith this will go somewhere, and the complete number of Eps wasn’t released back then too😅 But I think I wouldn’t have minded even if it was an endless story.
I think the best thing to tackle that anxiety is to just try to take the story, Umineko, or any riddle-like story, at face value first. Once you reach the end, if its still not understandable, try to go from the start and see if you had noticed any reference or foreshadowings in the journey to the end. If there’s nothing, chances are its just the author tried to be “deep” without really grasping their own message/concept. But if there is - armed with the ending and overall events in hand - you can easily crack it.
But yes; for stories like Umineko, and even again, shorter ones like The Little Prince, which are filled with riddles and metaphors, they arent understood until the end, and until they’re either read over or thought about over a period of time with that ending in mind. All the analysis written after definitely doesn’t come at once! And if one claims to know so, usually they are missing a lot of other details, hints, or meanings.
As (Ep7~ Ep8 spoilers) Featherine said, her realization of Beatrice’s tale would satisfy her to think about for another eternity in the same manner, its true for the readers too!