Glad you’re getting into it so much! This Episode is notorious for it’s absurd difficulty, throwing Battler and the reader into increasingly confusing situations. But as far as most people go, you’re doing very well. Battler didn’t play very offensively this game, but you’ll get to see many of your own theories and interpretations come into play later on when Battler stops being so incompetent
Really? I think Umineko has a beautiful learning curve, and this episode is a huge part of that. It’s one of my favorites for that reason; Maria is another.
It’s listed on the title screen as “The difficulty is first-rate.” Ryukishi was originally going to make Episode 3 even harder, but made a lot of changes after people complained that Episode 2 as more difficult, so he toned it down.
Time for my thoughts on Episode 2! This one’s a doozy, and for most people trying Umineko I insist that they at least read Episode 2 before dropping it. I know it’s a big ask, but it isn’t really until this episode that Umineko begins to reveal what it’s really all about. We have the introduction of Purgatorio, or ‘The Meta World’, and Battler’s battle with Beatrice to prove that the murders weren’t committed through magic. We also have the introduction of another essential element of Umineko: The Red Truth. If you ask me at what point I really became hooked on Umineko, it was when the Red Truth came into it. Watching Battler try to navigate his way through Beatrice’s twisted logic puzzles was a delight, and it really added something to the story that a traditional mystery can’t offer alone.
And of course, I can’t forget all the fantasy scenes in this Episode. Beatrice was really pushing hard in this Episode to corner Battler, and pulled out all the stops to ensure Battler (and by extension the reader) were left hopelessly confused. But yknow, seeing Kanon pull out an aethereal sword and fighting goat butlers was so cool, hahaha. Even if it’s totally abandoning mystery and reason, I can’t help but love the fantasy scenes. They just add an extra bit of flavour to things, a bit of eye candy to excite the reader. But it becomes especially interesting when the fantasy blends with reality, and you’re unable to determine what’s real and what’s not,like with Kanon suddenly being resurrected and killing a bunch of people, and hearing people testify to it. It’s not surprising that Battler ended up giving up, but it would’ve been a really disappointing ending if Battler really did give up here, so I guess they’ve decided to give him a mulligan and offer him one more chance to fight back against Beatrice. Onward to Episode 3!
And say what you will about Rosa, but she was badass at the end here. I’m sure part of this was how worldenddominator was used, still one of my all-time favourite tracks from the Umineko OST.
Also known as “the one episode where everyone gave up for a while”.
Honestly, Episode 2 was the one that overall left the weakest impression on me the first time I read Umineko. Sure, the introduction of the meta elements and red truth were cool, but overall it just felt like… more of the same except this time with Rosa instead of Natsuhi. The fantasy scenes were the most interesting thing since I couldn’t fathom how they’d bounce back from being an obviously magical story after showing me that. But that also made me less interested in actually tinkering with theories. I suppose I followed Battler’s development pretty much to the letter.
Conversely however Episode 2 was the one that left the biggest impression on my reread. It was only then that I realized the major differences that made it vastly distinct from Episode 1 in many ways. Not to mention (General Umineko Spoilers) out of the first three question arcs it’s certainly the one with the most crucial clues and information. My overall opinion of this episode shot up like crazy when I reread it with all of the later reveals in mind.
Not much else I can add to that without delving into massive spoiler territory, maybe another time. Oh, Worldenddominator is goddamn amazing…but you knew that already.
Damn, I loved episode 2. Sure I’d watched the anime before reading, but I was nowhere close to knowing everything. It rehashes stuff, but I don’t mind since the reader’s position has changed; you go from a confused victim to a confused player. It sounds a bit tame when I say it like that, but the notion of you having a more active part of the story is big in terms of mentality. Rosa also does more than Natsuhi by introducing the wolves. Natsuhi does bloody nothing from what I can remember; Kyrie was the one to throw you a tool in episode 1.
I also looooove Battler giving up while also making Maria into a benevolent saint. And yes, that’s the reason I have her as my avatar. That development also hits you with the fact that, while Umineko is a well crafted and fair game, it also has a difficulty that puts Dark Souls to shame.
Going along with my mention of the learning curve above, that digs into one of the many things I want to explore when I reread Umineko – how Umineko functions as a game. The way I see it, episode 2 is the tutorial where you learn to press A to jump, press B to swing your pathetic weapon and so on. With that analogy, episode 1 is akin to an opening cutscene because the player isn’t an active participant yet, at least you’ll think that if you go in blind. Normally, ending the tutorial with the hero crawling naked on all four would be a strange way to do it, but -once again- Umineko is hard. Besides, Battler refuses the call to adventure by not trying hard enough, and that shit is not gonna slide with Beato.
The dark souls of visual novels? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
One thing that’s really interesting in both 2 and what I’ve read of 3 is how I feel like my perception of the whole thing is changing.
In most games (and to some extent, Episode 1), there’s a distinct player character - your agent in the game’s world. But I feel like me and Battler are decidedly distinct entities.
Battler is no one’s agent, he does his own thing, and all I can do is watch. I know things he doesn’t (well, I think I do, I’m not even sure how much of it is true anymore), and his actions constantly catch me by surprise. The unreliable narrator element really helps.
The best part is that doesn’t stop. To an extent it even continues on re-reads.
Battler is very much his own character as you point out, but he is also the average reader. His theories, his ways of thinking, where he gives up and where he strikes back are all in line with what the average reader is thinking as they are going through the story. It’s really quite interesting to read what parts of Umineko people most saw their own way of thinking being mirrored in Battler, because it tends to be different for everyone.
Episode 2 was like the introduction to the fantasy and logic elements of Umineko, where as episode 1 was like an intro to the world and characters, as least that’s how I saw it. What made the episode great for me was that you kind of felt just as confused as Battler, not know how to fight Beato and her Red, you don’t know how to respond to it at first, but as it goes on he gets a little better as his understanding increases. Things only got better after this one. It also introduced a lot of the fantasy characters, which are all fun and unique in their own way.
That’s precisely what hooked me. Well, I should say that’s what elevated this from “good” to “bloody fantastic.”
I loved the gradual build-up of horror in Episode One concerning Beatrice; the music especially set the mood, switching between horror tracks and the kind of exciting, passionate tracks that represented Beatrice’s malicious joy. It really made me love Beatrice before I ever saw her.
But the moment she appeared, revealed herself, and declared this logic game between her and Battler, I knew I would love this. Logic is one of my passions (quite literally majored in it, as a subset of mathematics and philosophy. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems ftw), as are mysteries, so this introduction of Red Truth hooked me beyond belief.
Because of that, Episode 2 holds a very fond spot in my memories. I think this Episode is where I tackled the locked rooms the most; as it went on, the sheer number of locked rooms began to overwhelm me, but Episode 2 kept them to a manageable number. It was awesome, and I certainly didn’t figure them out.
Tea Party Discussion begins from this post onward!
I’ll try to be a bit more direct this time, since on reflection my Episode 1 write-up was more of a regurgitation of the story with a few comments written in. Also it’s been a while, so my memory isn’t perfect.
Let’s quickly get this side-arc out of the way first. The developments between Shannon and George, and Kanon and Jessica, were nice to watch. They were interesting in being two very similar stories with different views and endings. Kanon is quite a walking tragedy. Hope it works out for him one day. Anyway, Beatrice is a bitch, that’s the main thing you get from that. It starts off nice but then she’s so willing and happy to tell you she set it up just because she would get to watch it fail. Moving on.
Since we’ve got the cast and world set up, it’s time to delve more deeply into the ‘game’ aspect in Umineko. This is the story continuing from the Tea Party, and Battler and Beatrice’s direct confrontation. This is fantastic.
The first thing I wanted to clarify for myself, through @Aspirety, was ‘who’ these characters are. Battler, I had assumed and was confirmed, was the Battler Ushiromiya of the First Game. Since, going off my theory from my ‘Legend’ write-up, this tea room was taking place in the Golden Land (or a corrupted shadow of it, now that it had been rejected), this piece of the story is an almost-direct continuation of the end of Legend. Beatrice, I at first assumed, was the same, however it seems to become clear that the Beatrice at the table and the Beatrice on the gameboard are one and the same. I guess Beatrice needs to directly take her role up in each game, whereas there will always be a Battler piece arriving on the island.
Anyway. I don’t have too much to say about the altered introduction sequences on a scene-by-scene basis. Overall, the addition of Beatrice as a guest to the mansion was a fascinating and exciting immediate change. I think doing something crazy like this on the Second Game was a really good decision from a writing standpoint; it stops the concerns of any new player coming into ‘Turn’ and having to worry about an extremely similar story with minor changes building up to a different ending, like multi-path visual novels do with their Common Routes. If nothing had changed up until the point of the First Twilight having different victims, I’d be rather put off the idea of continuing the story. “I just read this didn’t I? I don’t want to read it again!”. Having Beatrice, the grand mastermind villain appear on-stage so suddenly so quickly is enough for me to go “Oh shit this is a big deal this version of the story is gonna be crazy”, and I’m hooked again. With this done, I was more than willing to overlook what hadn’t changed, and even those parts were made more interesting due to the perspective of sitting outside the gameboard this time.
Skipping ahead to the First Twilight itself, the introduction of the Red Truth has a brilliant execution. Personally, while the Red Truth’s use continued to be expanded on and used more cleverly, this first scene with the Chapel Closed Room Mystery is my favourite use of the Red Truth in all of ‘Turn’. With the introduction of this concept, and the first real confrontation at the game table, it’s so exciting and fun and intense AND ON TOP OF THAT, FOR THIS SPECIFIC CASE AT LEAST, YOU WIN? It’s awesome. It’s such a strong stand-out from the entire episode and I love it to bits. It’s all this coming together at once and having the realization that the GAME IS ON.
I guess with that said, it’s actually appropriate that Beatrice plays so hard and utterly destroys both Battler and you as the player. With her present and with all the dramatic flair she puts into the scenes, it’s an extremely strong push for the Witch side of the game. Not only that, but Kanon, Shannon and Genji are magical too? Kinzo made them?? I’m supposed to believe that pieces on the HUMAN side are so tied into the Magic World??? Way to fuck me over, Furniture, what goddamn side are you on!? Don’t deny Beatrice from BEHIND A MAGIC SHIELD, SHANNON. THAT DOESN’T HELP ANYONE. Also Kanon the sword reveal is cool as fuck but I still wish you’d lower your damn arm.
Anyway, in review. The rooms are harder to solve in this game, moreso enforced not only by the result and situation but also by the fact that the game shows you (with the exception of the First Twilight) each murder as they happen with Beatrice present. However despite this, they have gone out of the way with the First Twilight to explicitly show you that you CAN win.
This game is also interesting in the fact that Battler loses so goddamn hard. Even with that knowledge that victory is possible, he completely breaks due to being consistantly made to have to suspect one of his family or friends. It’s entirely a mistake on his part, so it’s not something the player can really deal with while trying to solve the game. One of the pieces is just acting weird. The fact that he is so determined to reject the witch yet isn’t willing to blame anyone else is incredibly weak and childish, and it’s very appropriate even to me, the player, that Battler lost this match. He didn’t deserve to win the way he played this time. As @uppfinnarn and Beatrice herself mentioned, Battler is undeniably incompetant. Goddamn.
Anyway the ending piece of this game is a lost more interesting than the one in ‘Legend’. We have four believers and one non-believer, and due to the fact that the Witches are winning at this point we get to actually see the introduction to the Golden Land… except its fucked up and everyone gets wrecked by the goats. Also Bernkastel finally shows up in the story, right at the end, just to be blank and cool like she is and does basically nothing.
Overall, it’s odd. For the purposes of the Human side, there’s not a lot to go off after Battler cracks. The view we see of the game is already skewed to look more magical, without any effort from Battler it’s just blatant magic world. There’s obviously a lot of stuff you can still try to assume and solve, but as promised by the title screen narration, its hard.
Moving on. The Tea Parties. This time, I knew what they’d be doing as a sequel story, and going in without that surprise, and the content itself… I found these ones much weaker.
Beatrice’s torture of Rosa to get her to submit doesn’t really do anything for the player, it’s just more of Beatrice trying to get a human to change their stance. Rosa, for this episode, is listed specifically as a non-believer in the Game Record. It’s nothing notable. The only real content is Battler regaining his will to fight, which of course he does, we’re a quarter of the way through an 8 Episode Story right now.
The Ura Tea Party is better. We get to see more of Bernkastel and Beatrice, and we meet the before mentioned Lambdadelta. I’m not actually a big fan of her. She’s clearly only trying to fill a character archetype, but also needs to be the big deal we were told about last time, so she has a crazy on/off personality switch for being dangerous and scary… but Maria and Kinzo already do that, so it’s not that much of a standout. Unless she’s actually Maria from the future, existing in the world of witches and therefore living outside the confines of time (its clear from this episode’s intro that Beatrice really is training Maria in magic like she claimed), I don’t like the fact she’s a carbon copy of her character style. It does step up the stakes a bit, with Bernkastel now going from observer to active player, with Lamdadelta joining the Witch side and allying with Beatrice. It’s unclear what will actually result from this decision at this point, but it’s interesting enough in the meta-narrative.
Also, as again mentioned by Upp, Bernkastel is presumably Rika Furude from Higurashi. As someone who hasn’t beaten that, I’m fascinated. She could be lying - she’s clearly actually a fan of a game called Higurashi When They Cry, which we know from Battler is a video game that exists in this universe. But regardless, that topic and train of thought doesn’t really belong here. Honestly I kind of hope she isn’t, Bernkastel is a really interesting character and doesn’t actually parallel Rika at all.
Anyway, that’s my piece. That covers everything I had in mind from this game.
I feel like this pretty much summarizes this entire episode. It’s fucked up and everybody gets wrecked by goats.
Battler even gets wrecked by the alleged presence of goats and flips the fuck out.
This is a really good post lmao
Ugh…I feel like I learned absolutely nothing from this episode, and yet…
Well, let’s start at the beginning, shall we? From the minute I started this episode, I knew I had to take notes because just taking pictures wouldn’t be enough. I had to formulate and fement my thoughts as the story progressed, and I will be sharing some of them throughout this post. I can’t guarantee how ‘on-the-spot’ they are because I feel like I didn’t learn anything new since the end of Episode 1, but at the very least I wanted to share my thoughts on this episode as a whole. For the sake of organization and adhering to this site’s regulations, [quote]anytime I’m referring to my notes, it will be in a quote box like this.[/quote]
So, [quote]After the mind-bending plot of the first episode and its appendices, Episode 2 throws me for an emotional loop by giving some focus to Shannon, who tragically died the first time around. It seems that she was the one who started the whole mess to begin with, finding the ‘key’ and shattering it to start down a path once forbidden by Beatrice.[/quote] At first I figured that Shannon was heavily involved in the murders, but Beatrice’s game is so tight that it’s still hard to tell exactly who the culprit is. As much as I tried to find faults in the witch’s strategy, I only have a good enough grasp of chess to understand how each piece moves! (Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things…)
I wrestled with these questions (the first question especially) for the entire episode. Now that I’m here, I know for a fact that Beatrice lies, plays dirty, and finds immense pleasure in the torture of others. As far as I can see, she wants everyone to suffer as much as herself. And yet, there’s a side of her that’s just a tiny bit generous, truthful and relatable. The problem is that she doesn’t find any sort of happiness in doing good, so she builds herself up as something to be feared.
On the subject of the shared nature of witches, it seems every one of them is cruel and heartless in some way, as I figured from both the first Ura Tea Party and this one. But their attitude towards humanity isn’t exactly the same, as Bern is sympathetic towards humans since she herself was one in the past. It’s not out of the question to think that Beatrice was once human herself, but it’s a detail that’s likely not important to the story. Still, I wonder…
This is one of my biggest pieces of evidence towards Beatrice being a misunderstood goddess rather than a purely malicious demon. Even Kinzo understands that the majority of the Ushiromiya family are liars, cheaters and just generally flawed people. They all knew about Beatrice but refused to acknowledge her because, let’s face it, magic does not exist.
While reading the Old Testament chapter by chapter every day for well over a year now, I understand well that Jehovah often makes covenants with his prophets and chosen people. These are promises between God and His children that ensure blessings and safety to the latter while the former’s commandments are respected, and a mutual love grows between one another. Since humans are not perfect like God is, they are often prone to breaking these promises through pride or some other sin that leads them to forget God and glorify themselves in vain. If they don’t recognize this and repent, God exacts punishment upon them for their continual and deliberate disobedience.
It’s also kind of like the relationship between parent and child, which reminds me of the subplot of Rosa and Maria’s relationship as mother and daughter. [quote]Rosa’s relationship with her daughter looks complicated, but it really turns out that Rosa is trying to figure out exactly what’s best for her child. Maria doesn’t understand what her mother does or why she does it…[/quote]
It makes me feel like Beatrice sees part of herself in Maria, and combined with the fact that she’s not the type to break her promises since she’s too young to know deceit, it makes sense that Beatrice likes her so much. Then again, Beatrice is a known liar and deceiver herself, and she tried to sacrifice Maria to her mother’s appetite, so maybe she actually thinks Maria’s life has as much value as the rest of the Ushiromiya family.
[quote]Now it’s proven that everything is a lie, and neither chessboard thinking or Devil’s Proof works. But if this is a game full of lies, where’s the truth? What’s the viable info I can use?
It seems some people are being kept in the dark about Beatrice, so it’s entirely possible some people in the room are lying about Beatrice. However, it’s hard to tell which parts of the story are true, and which are lies.
There’s a huge disconnect between the logical, theoretically truthful people on the island and this world full of lies. Meaning, who’s really telling the truth in this place? How do we know the obvious liars aren’t really telling the truth?[/quote]
For the longest amount of time, I felt like I was wallowing through the same foggy marsh I tread through in Episode 1, being unable to trust in any and every piece of evidence simply because neither side posed valid arguments or strong evidence to convince me witches existed or humans caused the murders. Even Battler expresses his frustrations in being unable to pinpoint exactly what’s right and who’s speaking the truth. That’s why I’m grateful that the generous witch Beatrice gave us both red truth, certainly a useful tool in concept. Unfortunately, Beatrice is a deceptive little freak, and sometimes deliberately withholds revealing the truth. Why give me a tool like that if I don’t have any opportunities to take advantage of it? Thus, as Episode 1 was, this whole game ended up one-sided, and the ending made me feel horrible.
Heck, Beatrice doesn’t even stop there! Through cruel and unusual means, she rubs her victory in my exhausted, blood-stained face during the Tea Party! And just when you think things can’t get any worse, Ryukishi pulls a Deus Ex Machina and overturns Battler’s decision made in the gameboard, just so Battler can get another shot at Beatrice! Screw you, Ryukishiiiiii! ;;
Seems the Ura Tea Party has its share of confusing parts as well. It seems Beatrice figured out that Bern has been trying to help us (although I can’t imagine why or how >.>), and she decided to invite Bern’s old enemy, Lambdadelta, to assist with the next gameboard. With Bern exposed and yet another cook added to the kitchen, Bern announces that she can no longer withhold her full assistance to us. For some reason, Lambda also chimes in after figuring out that Bern’s been talking to us. She decides to add her own advice, although I’ve yet to understand any of it myself… ^^;
With the next episode looming on the horizon, I fear I have no chance against these witches. But there’s one thing I know for sure: No matter what happens, I can’t surrender. If I surrender to the witch, it’s all over. And yet, I feel like I already have surrendered…
I wonder what Higurashi character Bern is…
Just a quick little fun fact about the Ura Tea Party I noticed while reading it: If you look carefully, you’ll notice that it’s set just before the regular Tea Party!
I think this is exactly what makes Beatrice such a good villain. If she was just a heartless monster, she’d be a boring, overpowered jerk, who pulls bullshit murders out of her ass for her own amusement… but rather, there’s this faint hint of something relatable - deep down, she’s lonely, and on some level wants attention.
A thousand years old witch being lonely is… both surprising, and makes a remarkable amount of sense. And this actually makes me genuinely curious to find out more about her, and witches in general.
(It also makes it hard for me at least to dismiss her as purely not real - if she doesn’t exist, then Battler has some seriously active imagination, and should consider a career as a writer.)
Even if Battler is actively fighting to deny Beatrice’s existence on Rokkenjima, I do still believe there is value to be found in analysing this narrative as a fantasy. The objective here is to turn the chessboard around, so trying to see things from Beatrice’s perspective can lead to valuable insight you won’t get by simply ignoring her.
The fantasy lore is also very deep, so it’s fun to think about~
Come on guys, where are you? It’s only a few more days left for the podcast, we need some more discussion happening!
I’d like to hear some of your theories based on this Episode. You can attempt to solve the murder mysteries if you wish, or try your hand at some more general stuff.