DISCLAIMER: I am not trying to figure out motive in this post! There are several things I am intentionally glossing over as well, or simply don’t find interesting enough to spend time on properly considering and reviewing. Usually this is because they are not interesting, or perhaps the difficulty really is too high, as Ryukishi suggests. In any case, this post is more so written for the purpose of entertainment. Whose entertainment, you ask? Perhaps that is a another mystery.
There are plenty of general reviews to
Ellipses no Naku Koro ni Umineko’s first episode in general, so I’ll skip past that. More interesting to me is the mystery here. I personally find the setting of the mystery, and its peculiar “flavor” rather interesting. Though that being subjective means stating anything further would be meaningless. So let’s try to figure out something a bit less subjective: whodunnit?
Alright well, providing an answer at this point, if my experience with Higurashi carries over, would be rather difficult! Still, let’s not use that as an excuse and stop thinking just yet.
If I can just jump right in and say a few of my working thoughts.
- Several identities in the rose garden’s storehouse aren’t confirmed. Definitely unconfirmed: Rudolf, Kyrie. Confirmed: Krauss, Shannon. Others: Rosa, Gohda. (I don’t recall whether Rosa or Gohda had their faces entirely pummeled or not.)
- Nobody checks the storehouse after the murders. Only Natsuhi has the key, or so we’re led to believe. For a body to no longer be in the storehouse, the key would have needed to be taken. Or someone could have busted the lock, since nobody checked.
- We only know that it is unlikely for there to be a hidden entrance/exit in Kinzo’s study, however this is not confirmed for anywhere else.
- Beatrice never makes a legitimate appearance within the story. Her only appearances are in purgatory, which is separate from the mystery. I’m tackling this from the perspective that the reader is given everything they absolutely need to know in order to solve story at a high difficulty from the first episode, as with (the name of another Ryukishi work, spoiler tagged in case nobody wants a hint like this: this might be a bit of a stretch, but I’d say Higurashi is solvable from the first episode).
Kinzo didn’t die. At least there’s no solid proof he did. The dialogue and facts listed make this a very easy conclusion to reach. (Maybe that’s just a seed of doubt that they’re intentionally sewing though.)
- Six toes? Hereditary. Could be one of the bodies from the storehouse, or elsewhere.
- A special key being on his body? Like that matters. It’s one that people apparently knew about. Weak method of identification.
Further, none of these murders required magic.
Alright, let’s see how far along I can get here!
"Who handed Maria the letter and umbrella?"
The murderer, or an accomplice!
:p More on that in my theory below.
"How were the six in the storehouse killed?"
With murder! They were killed by the kills. I don’t have anything more specific than that. Also, this assumes that all six were dead. Is that necessarily the case? Well, I mean yeah probably. But a trick could have been used. Doctor Nanjo was likely not interested in checking for such a trick, or a pulse, during that time. Even so, he did find that rigor mortis did set in on at least one of the bodies. (Did he check all? Did he really though?)
Okay, but let’s try our hands at reasoning… There was little blood found in the dining room. If we assume they were killed there and not led out into the storm, which would be a ridiculous thing to convince a bunch of people who are at each other’s throats to do, how about saying they were poisoned? We know Gohda was and Shannon were with them, so they could’ve been dragged into it at that time with a similar method. They didn’t all need to be in the same room together, but they did need to die outside of each other’s sites, or at roughly the same time. With poison, everybody would be affected differently, though. Likewise with some sort of sleeping aid. (The bodies could have been put to sleep, then dragged to the storeroom, then bludgeoned repeatedly.) Any of those methods would work, as far as I’m aware. Though I don’t know how far sound travels in the mansion, it doesn’t seem like a scream would carry over that far.
Wait wait, but what about the golden butterflies that Shannon saw? Well, I won’t dismiss it and state “people be hallucinatin’ yo.” That would be the same as saying witches are real! (In other words, it would be the suspension of thought so I could live in a world of my own construction, since the level of friction in my own law of physics would likely be much lower there!) Okay, then what were those butterflies? Are they important? Shannon did see them just before this took place, and nobody mentioned seeing any dead butterflies or anything like that. Plus this story didn’t take place at a time when technology was so sufficiently advanced that even the rich could create mechanical golden butterflies or anything of the sort. Okay so… what were they then?
Unfortunately I don’t know, but I’ll assume that they’re similar to hearing an extra footstep.
Awww! That’s not a fun answer! How about: “They were actually fireflies all along,” or perhaps “They were butterflies with glow in the dark wings.” Something like that maybe? cough cough Anyway.
"How were Eva and Hideyoshi killed?"
Drill-like Demons’ knives to the face! Or perhaps someone with one of those drill haircuts went to say hello to each of them, but in his bow managed to fatally stab each of them. Then, realizing he was in the wrong series, the drill-haired fellow leaped back to their own series. The end! Except not, because they also needed to kill Kanon! Okay, now the end! Oh wait, there were also those three after that… Man, this guy sure gets around a lot.
Actually though, there’s one thing I need to confirm first: Was it ever explicitly stated that Eva and Hideyoshi put the chain up, aside from Eva saying she was planning to? I know they locked the door, or so they thought (but never tested), but was this confirmed to have actually been the case? I know at least one trick to put the chain on the door as you exit the room. If you need to lock the door as well, depending on the type of lock on the inside, this trick can also close the lock. There are plenty of tricks like this; the one I know merely requires string/wire of some kind. (Well, the variation I saw of it also required tape, however through my own testing I found the tape was unnecessary.) You can also prevent the door from locking completely by doing something similar to what Eva herself did: put a receipt, or other wad of paper, in the door. Specifically where the lock closes at. (Or maybe if you have a master key, you can just unlock the door and enter.)
If the chain was up (and it probably was, really), then the following is potentially reasonable: Just break it and replace the chain. Not all the guestrooms were checked, but presumably if one room has a chain then another room is likely to also have a chain. Would the killer risk this though? Sure. If the killer is with the group, or has an accomplice, they can suggest rooms that aren’t the one with the chain they removed it from. Am I saying this is actually what the killer did in the case where the chain wasn’t there? No, but I am stating this is a possibility. There would be enough time to break the chain, kill the two, install the other chain, and leave before dinner is ready. That said, there’s probably a more elegant way to accomplish this.
"How was Kanon killed?"
It’s stated that the location of all 18 people were known, but that’s not actually true. As I outlined above, Kinzo’s location isn’t actually known and there’s no guarantee that all the people in the storehouse were the guests we saw.
A trap? Well, there are traps where the mechanics of them can destroy or sufficiently hide themselves, but let’s not focus on that. Instead we’ll say that there’s a tool that the killer uses, akin to a (potato) gun. (Come on Potato!) Though in this case, rather than shooting an ordinary fluffy dog or some sort of strange mysterious vegetable, it shoots “Demons’ Blades” instead.
So what I’m saying is that someone whose location was thought to be known could have used such a tool to shoot him with a cylindrical (read: aerodynamic) knife.
(realtalk: Kanon is such a bro in this scene where he provides everyone else with the clue that the knives actually are aerodynamic instead of letting someone say “Don’t disturb the crime scene!” thus allowing good clues to go to waste. And I mean, really, at this point in the story your life > crime scene preservation anyway.)
"Who placed the letter on the table in the study?"
If we assume the only candidates were those we knew to be in the room who were also physically near the table, then one of: Maria, Genji, Nanjo, Kumasawa, or Natsuhi. Those first four were stated already though.
If we assume that a trick could have been done by somebody we knew to be in the room, and it wasn’t Battler, then naturally: Maria, Genji, Nanjo, Kumasawa, Natsuhi, George, or Jessica. What would that trick be? Not sure.
"How were Genji, Kumasawa and Nanjo killed in the parlor?"
That tool. Maria claims she turned around and sung during that time. We hear a partial recording of this, but we don’t have any proof she didn’t place the call herself and start singing after she was a sufficient distance away. “Maria did it!” is not what I’d say here though. Sorry, no perfectly deranged lolis today. (Only partially deranged in my theories! My sincerest apologies if you were hoping for psychotic lolis in the recesses of my mind to leak into my written theories. Perhaps I can interest you in other half-baked nonsense though? If so, please exit this parenthetical statement and continue to the main topic of this section of this (overly verbose) posting.) So who did it, if not Maria? First, I want to state that nobody actually checked anybody else’s pulses! (And even if they had, one of the bodies from the storehouse could have been reused, or prepared in advance, since it was stated (IIRC) that they were only recognizable from their clothing. Maria did not see any of this take place at that time.)
“On the floor lay Genji-san, Kumasawa-san, and Doctor Nanjo, their entire bodies stained bright red with the blood… …But the only way we could identify them was by their clothes.”
OKAY, SO WHO DID IT NOT
Oh. I suppose I didn’t state that yet… Please wait for my theory below! It might be a few years (of text) before you see it, still, will you wait for it? It’ll be released from the shackles of its prison in only twenty years! Maybe twenty-five. Possibly three-hundred. It will wait for you at least! By which I mean it probably won’t do any waiting and will just as soon jump to the [
... loading relevancy ; skipping unnecessary text ...] In short Genji, Nanjo, or Kinzo, if we assume there is no 19th person, and my assumption that Maria didn’t do it isn’t strictly incorrect.
"Why did Natsuhi shoot herself? Or, what exactly happened there?"
Officer Delicious’ small knowledge bombs!
From the beginning I did not suspect that Natsuhi shot herself, but rather that the gun either backfired (due to a modification by the culprit), or she herself was shot by another gun. We already know that Kinzo enjoyed modifying that shotgun.
What were the contents of the letter that Natsuhi received though, I wonder? I can’t even wager a guess here. If she did intentionally shoot herself, I would suspect the letter was mostly to blame, and that whoever showed up at the end there just exasperated it all.
The seagulls did it.
The ellipses did it.
The drill-haired guy from another series did it.
Rika-chan, how could you!?
This joke is getting old.
Kinzo and Genji did it. (Maybe.)
I have some questions of interest, myself. “Beatrice ‘exists’.” ‘exists’
Apostrophes no Naku Koro ni. Why is “exists” quoted so often? It’s not once or twice, it’s every time Beatrice’s existence is stated by Maria.
So hold on, let’s address another elephant in the room regarding Beatrice’s existence. Maria states, and has full understanding, that Beatrice can’t revive into her human form without having had the ritual on the “epitaph” completed. (By the way, the word “epitaph” is interesting here. More on that later.) However, at this point in the story, no sacrifices had even been made! (Except maybe Kinzo’s golden ring.) Yet, Maria believed that this person who handed her the umbrella was Beatrice despite knowing full well that Beatrice can’t have been revived yet. Why?
Further, why was Maria’s rose missing? Unless this was just a random event for narrative purposes, which would be unacceptable for a mystery IMO, then maybe it was a necessary event for the killer.
If we assume this was a necessary event for the killer, then the killer must have known about that rose being special in order to keep Maria out there. Unfortunately, we can’t go on much based on that alone. It’s such a novel thing that it could have been mentioned by anybody present to anybody else. It’s also such a random event that if the killer, who we would assume planned this all in advance, that it shouldn’t actually have been truly necessary for the killer.
DIDN’T YOU JUST STATE IT WAS NECESSARY NOT
No, I said maybe it was necessary! Then addressed that “maybe” and showed that it probably wasn’t a prerequisite. What I’m really trying to say here is that maybe it has a factor that we should consider.
I suspect that anybody who told Maria their body was being borrowed by Beatrice would have won Maria’s trust. The story sets up Maria as an extremely gullible person from the very beginning. The story also often points out that it told you “something” in the very beginning too. For instance, at/near the end of the story: “The rule that the witch would win when time ran out had already been revealed.”
Kinzo threw his ring shortly before then. Who would be prepared to find or catch it? Someone who was at the mansion for a sufficient period of time or who had been part of the planning, or both. Jessica, for example. Natsuhi, for example. Kumasawa, for example.
Alibis are pretty weak for most of the people in general at around this time. It’s never (iirc) stated whether anybody (or for everybody) left to go to the bathroom or anything like that. Nobody treated it like they would receive the inheritance if they solved the mystery of who gave Maria the umbrella and letter. It’s also never stated whether Maria simply found the umbrella, that letter, and perhaps a message that stated it was from Beatrice. (Nobody needed to actually be physically present!)
My understanding of Kinzo’s room, by the way, is that it faces the courtyard, which is only reachable from within the mansion. Meanwhile, the rose garden is reachable from anywhere, implying it’s on the opposite side of the mansion. (Though it doesn’t necessarily need to be.) Therefore, the culprit would have needed to retrieve the ring from the courtyard, then headed to the rose garden, then returned to wherever they were. A servant doing this would be the most natural.
"How would they know when to do that?"
The storm is the cue. It was an expected event, after all. Possibly even a prerequisite.
Press “Start” to continue.
How were the six killed?
I answered that earlier. Possibly poison. Possibly some other method. They were then moved to the storehouse. The exact method doesn’t matter, since that’s not the interesting part of my theory. They only needed to be severely beaten so one or more of the bodies could be reused later.
But how did whoever get back into storehouse?
Did you know you can actually get padlocks with identical keys and locks?
Did you know that you can break padlocks?
Did you know that it’s actually not that hard to pick a cheap padlock if you’re good at picking locks and had, I dunno, a year or fifty to practice?
This problem isn’t interesting since there are hundreds of readily available answers that would work within the story. Nobody ever checked the storehouse after everybody left! Even if someone went to check if there was damage, there were apparently other padlocks available that could have been used! If Natsuhi would have had trouble opening the storehouse again, the culprit could have merely asked to see the key to try opening it him( or her)self, then opened it with the actual key. It would have been storming at the time anybody would be around to check, and visibility would have been low as a result. (Not that anybody would be likely to want to check the storehouse anyway!)
Next up is Eva and Hideyoshi’s room. Their room… was it the same as last year’s? Probably. Their rooms were prepared for them, though. Servants necessarily have master keys, the chain could have been cut and replaced then locked from the outside using any of fifty stock tricks, or there could have even been a hidden entrance into the room that nobody but the servants (such as Genji) would have been familiar with. I stated as much earlier though.
How was Kanon killed? Kinzo could have easily used the tool. “But wait, isn’t Kinzo supposed to be dead?” Nah foo’(bar(2000(is a decent music player))), there was no proof and the story (painfully) goes out of its way to give you enough information to figure as much. Maybe it’s just trying to send you down the wrong path though… (In which case, I went down the wrong path! Uh oh. Ah, but we don’t know that in episode one at least. Phew)
How were the three killed?
Genji/Kinzo, and preparations by Kinzo. Genji would have placed the letter on the table in this scenario so that plans could continue. Genji’s build isn’t too uncommon, so someone else could have been put in his suit, possibly in advance. The phone call would have been made so the scenario could, once again, continue.
Who is Beatrice?
Genji. Or Kinzo. Or Genji/Kinzo placing messages/letters for Maria to find. Or an actual 19th person! (Though I don’t like that, so I won’t really suggest it since a 19th person so far isn’t necessary.)
But WHY would they do that!?
Not sure. I’ve never found it interesting in detective stories when somebody explains their motive. The only time this was ever half interesting was in the first Sherlock Holmes book, where the motive took up (meta, not content, spoiler: literally half of the book). So by the time you get through it you’re already so invested that you have no choice but to say you found it interesting because otherwise you would have put the book down!
I digress (which seems to be the theme of this post).
How do you explain the Tea Party!?
That’s a separate section! I’m treating it no differently than how I treat the “All-Star Cast Review” (err, I hope I have that title right) sections of Higurashi! Besides, it goes out of its way to tell you it’s taking place in “Purgatory.” Why should I care what happens in a separate dimension? It seems more like a meta-section to me than anything else. For discussing meta-things.
THINGS I AM AWARE THAT I AM IGNORING (that I remembered to list)
- Kinzo’s strange dual personality.
- Maria’s strange dual personality.
- That those two have a strange dual personality. (That is, that both of them have a strange dual personality, not just one of them.)
- Motive. (Huh, I feel like this might have been mentioned in the disclaimer.)
- The tea party at the end.
- The other tea party at the end.
- Motive. (Did I state that already?)
- Motive. (I don’t think I said this at all yet.)
- Kinzo’s lover.
- The orphanage.
- The other two servants.
- Why the killer did it.
- Also motive.
- Whether a 19th person actually is on the island.
- If a 19th person is on the island, where do they live?
- What the killer(s) would have done if the storm didn’t happen.
- What the killers would have done if they didn’t have a motive. Also their motive in case I didn’t mention that as well.
- Some stuff that Rudolf and his wife said at the beginning.
- That Rudolf has an exwife.
- That everybody NEEDS MONEY RIGHT NOW (in all caps).
- That the killer(s) probably had a motive, and what that might be.
- That I started these last four items with the word “that,” but with its first ‘t’ capitalized, which the remainder of this sentence lacked.
- Gold bar. Krauss knows it exists.
- Shrine that got pwn’d (by lightning?).
- Rokkenjima is a massive island.
- Golden butterflies.
- WHO’S SPOOKY FAST AT DRAWING STUFF!? (well, it was stated that “everybody in the room was good at drawing” or something along those lines)
Probably a few (or a lot) more things.
If anybody would like to list a few hints for things I should probably look closer at then feel free to list them~
This post took roughly three years to write, so if I left something out, my bad. But also, let me know! I’ll add it in, or maybe I hadn’t considered that point altogether and need to address it.
For the most part I was only focused on figuring out how the killer could have pulled off these tricks, and moreover what wasn’t confirmed. In my opinion, dodging a confirmation is akin to giving an indirect hint, especially on important points.
Perhaps it would be more prudent of me to properly note who could and couldn’t have done what, and when.
I’m really looking forward to reading episode two. And by “really looking forward” I mean “why isn’t it the next tea party yettttt!?”
Also, I rated this episode 4/5. It was really decent IMO. Dunno how it stands up to the whole of the series, but I did find it really enjoyable even with a few minor pacing issues. The “we all died” ending didn’t bug me at all. Actually, I found that to be a highlight. It’s unexpected, but we know that a new episode is “coming out” (or in our case, already available), plus the tea party and ??? sections after the main episode highlight a new and interesting aspect of it all. The mystery isn’t so obvious that you’d figure it out right away I suspect. (Pretty sure I didn’t at the very least!)
Anyway, that’s all for this post; it’s gotten long enough.
Edit: Just kidding! There’s also the problem of Ange (Battler’s half-sister, mentioned near the very beginning). Now here’s something interesting, why was she the only one who wasn’t brought to the family conference despite this happening? Meanwhile, Rudolf showed a sort of prescience in stating that he was likely to die that night. If we consider this in combination with Ange being the sole beneficiary of the inheritance after the events that took place on Rokkenjima, where does it lead us?
Well, I’m not sure… However it is interesting to think about! I didn’t consider this when addressing how the murders took place. Perhaps it will lead us to a different answer though…