Your comments on Bern and Lambda are pretty interesting, hadn’t really thought about that. And with regards to the act of reading Umineko I understand completely. I’ve never been particularly good with mystery solving, the appeal to me is reading how the detective finds out how things happened. Reading and attempting to theorize about Umineko is quite a new experience for me that I haven’t completely gotten the hang of.
Actually, this conversation got me thinking about ‘what it means to enjoy a mystery’ … which probably is one of the central themes of Umineko.
To enjoy a mystery, you don’t have to solve everything yourself. I think there’s a satisfaction that comes from seeing the solution, and respecting the cleverness of the detective character for reaching the solution before you. But in order to truly feel that respect, the solution has to be possible for you to reach. When the clues are all there, when you see how everything fits perfectly together, then you can think the detective character is clever, and you can think the story they inhabit is clever. If the clues were hidden from you all along, if the pieces don’t fit together, you feel cheated. You feel like you never even had a chance. The detective character isn’t respectable anymore, because they’re an agent of almost supernatural insight. It isn’t pure reasoning that got them this far, but the grace of the author guiding them to the right answer.
I think I enjoy a mystery best when I give it my all, and concede when I know I’ve been bested. Finding the answer and proving yourself right is also enjoyable, but there’s a tension between ‘too easy’ solutions and a solution that’s truly fair. Isn’t that the nature of the contest between Beatrice and Battler? Whatever Beatrice is trying to show Battler with this cruel game, it isn’t something she can just tell him. If it’s too easy, it isn’t meaningful. But if it’s impossible, it also isn’t meaningful.
I also think Umineko is enjoyable because even if the characters aren’t the cleverest or the most perfect, they’re still characters you can love. Battler is incompetent and (if I’m right about my theory) couldn’t even remember the importance of a promise he made with his first love. But he’s passionate, determined, bold, and whenever he fails, he finds the spirit to try again. Natsuhi is a murderer no matter what, a woman who pushed an innocent servant and a child to their deaths, but there’s something admirable in her commitment to the honor of her newfound family and something pitiable in the fact that commitment will never be rewarded. Finding more about these characters and what drives them, even if I’m not the cleverest detective, is enjoyable in itself.
And I could probably get into how Erika is introduced to be the clever detective, but she’s so merciless that her cleverness doesn’t mean anything, but I think I’ve TL;DR-ed enough.
Preliminary poll analysis: Despite there being 11 fewer votes, Natsuhi already has as many votes as she did last time.
Ange has gone down, unless all 11 missing people come back and vote for her again.
Dlanor may have made an impression; she’s currently third, and only so many characters are going to pass 9.
Hideyoshi had 0 vote sin episode 4, but he will get at least one this time. Was it something he said? Or perhaps some other character on some person’s list got bumped down.
I shouldn’t be helping my enemy, but thanks to a discussion with Jokrono I had I thought of another way to claim Kanon=Shannon as possible. I’ll put it in a details box though so that those standing by that theory can still use that move themselves. See it as a hint you could take if you have no idea yourself. If you have, though, please ignore this post. Mainly talking to Jokrono (who will most likely state something like this anyway) and Seraphitic. @mimsy but maybe it gives you a reason to try to think of an explanation that doesn’t rely on person X?
When we see everyone in the parlor, we see that scene through Battler’s perspective. Since Battler is proven to be subjective and susceptible to Knox’ 9th, it is possible that he claimed Kanon and Shannon as different people even though they weren’t. The red truth in this scene doesn’t actually state a number. We don’t see Erika’s perspective in this scene. We also never see her outright perspective when both Kanon and Shannon are in the same room, or to be precise, her differientating between Kanon and Shannon existing at the same time in one room while she is there. Thus there is still room for the two being the same person without relying on some unknown person X that disguised themselves as one of them since episode 1.
Ohoho I’ll accept the challenge, @VyseGolbez. At this point in the game, I need to discard any reliance on ‘Person X,’ anyway.
I also have a theory about the letter, the knock, and the first twilight murders – one that won’t rely on a Person X. There are three keys, I think, to unlocking this mystery.
1 is Knox’s 9th: It is permitted for observers to let their own conclusions and interpretations be heard. That means characters can misinterpret, misremember, and misrepresent information, without violating the rules of fair play.
2 is a corollary to Knox’s 8th: In the world of Umineko, the narrator is also an observer. Unlike many other narratives and mysteries, Umineko is not told from an omniscient ‘eye of God’ perspective. The narrator can misinterpret, misremember, and misrepresent information, without violating the rules of fair play.
3 is something we’ve discussed in this thread: The red truth has a perspective. It’s spoken by a certain person, regarding a certain place, at a certain point in time. It must be true for that person, regarding that place and that time. But it can still be misinterpreted, and it can be used to mislead.
Let’s start with the riddle of the letter and the knock. Earlier in this thread, I tried to argue that Kanon could have placed the letter, become Shannon, and entered the room. I also argued that someone could lie about hearing the knock, and thus did not mishear it or mistake another sound for a knock.
These arguments more-or-less work. But the question I was trying to answer was ‘who was fooling the observers in the room, and how?’ I was limiting myself to ‘the observers in the room.’ I forgot the narrator is also an observer.
The narrator said there was a knocking sound. The narrator can misinterpret, misremember, and misrepresent information. Just because the narrator said there was a knocking sound doesn’t mean we have to believe there was a knocking sound. If we believed everything the narrator said, we’d believe in magic and illusions, too.
I’m not doubting the narrator just because I can. The people in the room all have a reason to maintain the illusion of a closed room (to put it poetically). Everyone in that room wants Battler to be named Successor, and they’d probably enjoy rattling Natsuhi and Krauss by claiming a witch named Battler the new Head and delivered him the Head’s signet ring. Maybe they all agreed to this, in the convenient moment when Natushi and Krauss left the room.
By the way, that also means I don’t need a Person X pretending to be Kanon. The narrator says Kanon is in that room, and the relatives can agree to lie about it. But since the red truth only says ‘all others were in the dining hall,’ there’s no need to place Kanon or a Kanon-pretender there, since I think Kanon doesn’t exist.
So! Let’s move on to the riddle of first twilight. This is where we have to remember the red truth has a perspective. Most importantly, the red truth is moored in time.
There’s a long series of red truths meant to show that the murders had to have happened in a certain timeframe. I think these red truths are equivalent to Erika running down the hallway of the mansion, looking in room after room, trying to prove that Kinzo isn’t in them and thus can be nowhere but in Natsuhi’s bed. The murders couldn’t have happened between 1:00 and 3:00, when Erika was in the parlor, or between 3:00 and Battler’s scream, when Erika was listening at the wall. And the murders couldn’t have happened before 24:00, because the red truth says that at 24:00 in the guesthouse, George, Jessica, and Maria were alive and in the second floor cousin room.
That all makes it sound like the murders had to take place between 24:00 and 1:00. But they simply couldn’t have – Rosa was among the victims of the first twilight. During the short break at 1:00 AM, the first two to leave the dining hall were Rosa and Eva. Rosa wasn’t in the guesthouse until well after 1:00, when Erika saw her pass through the parlor. So what gives?
I think it’s the same logic that lets Erika brazenly claim that Kinzo can’t be anywhere but in Natsuhi’s bed. There’s a hidden conditional: ‘if Kinzo exists anywhere, Kinzo exists in Natsuhi’s bed.’ But Kinzo doesn’t exist anywhere. Similarly, ‘if the murders of the first twilight happened, the murders happened between 24:00 and 1:00.’ The murders of the first twilight didn’t happen.
Erika didn’t inspect the corpses. She disdained the very idea. The red truth says anyone looking at George, Jessica, Maria, Rosa, or Genji’s corpses could confirm at a glance that they are dead and at a glance, anyone could confirm that these corpses are dead, so it’s absolutely impossible that they’re just playing dead. But that’s just like saying none of the characters misidentified a knocking sound or it’s totally impossible that any sounds except hitting that door directly would be misinterpreted as a knock. If someone lied about hearing a knocking sound, they didn’t misidentify it and they didn’t misinterpret. And if someone lied about there being ‘corpses,’ they could still confirm at a glance that a corpse was dead.
So my theory is this: After 1:00, Rosa returned to the guestroom and convinced the cousins to pretend to be dead. This was planned out with the other relatives during the short break in the family conference. Battler agreed to scream the next the morning and wake up the house, pretending to find the corpses of Rosa and the cousins. Because they weren’t really dead, they could leave when everyone left for the mansion, seeming to disappear.
As for the ‘whydunnit,’ I think this was all a plot to scare Natsuhi and Krauss into admitting Kinzo was gone and accepting Battler as the Successor. Battler was pressured to agree with the plot, in the same way he was pressured to sit silently at the family conference. However, I think this is a plot gone wrong. George, Jessica, Maria, Rosa, and Genji really are dead. The red truth has a perspective and this red truth was spoken on the 5th of October. We’re also told that after George’s/Jessica’s/Maria’s/Rosa’s/Genji’s death, his/her corpse never moved. Sometime between the mock first twilight and October 5th, the six encountered the culprit and were killed, and their corpses were left undiscovered. The same culprit killed Krauss, and later Hideyoshi.
Now, who was that culprit? … Well, this post is already TL;DR. I want to establish this much before I move on to Krauss and Hideyoshi. TL;DR – the knock and the first twilight were both lies that allowed the culprit to strike.
Well I certainly have a bit of catching up to do. Most of the participants in the Umineko podcast thus far have posted their theories over in the Episode 4 thread. For the sake of brevity, I’m definitely in the Seraphitic camp in terms of who I think is the culprit, as well as why they undertook these crimes, and for many of the same reasons. I think the most important difference between my opinion’s and @Seraphitic’s is that I think we can speculate more specifically on how each Twilight was carried out, and also what happened in ‘reality’. Also, much like Seraphitic, I’ve taken to calling the culprit ‘Sayo’, the alternate name that Shannon gives to George, for similar reasons he has posed already. If you want to understand my thinking on that topic, I’d really suggest reading Seraphitic’s last episode 4 post, since it covers most of what I would have said.
Since this is my first ‘in progress’ post on the forum other than my Epitaph Theory, I suppose it would be fitting to go through my full rundown on episodes 1 to 4.
Episode 1 Theories
Sayo as the culprit, with Eva, Hideyoshi, Nanjo, Kumasawa and Genji as accomplices.
- Before: Sayo gives the letter to Maria. Maria is used to identifying this character as Beatrice. Sayo also bribes Eva and Hideyoshi in to working with them. The other accomplices are already on board.
- Twilight 1: Sayo and accomplices murder Rosa, Rudolf, Kyrie, Gohda and Krauss. Natsuhi was likely an initial target but after discovering the scorpion charm the culprit decided to change plans to reinforce their magical narrative. Hideyoshi claims to also see the corpse of Shannon, but it is hidden from view for those who are not accomplices.
- Twilight 2: Sayo goes to speak to Eva and Hideyoshi, being let in since they think they are safe with the culprit. The two are murdered, and then the scene is staged by Kanon and Genji such that it seems the room was locked.
- Twilight 4: Kinzo was already dead so this was easy to set up before or during the staging of Eva and Hideyoshi’s locked room.
- Twilight 5: Nanjo helps Kanon fake his death.
- Twilight 6-8: One accomplice (since all three surviving accomplices were there, who is mostly insignificant, but for the sake of episode to episode consistency, I suspect Genji) places the letter on the table, so that they can go meet with the culprit. I am unclear on if they thought this would lead to their deaths, though it is likely they did know. Perhaps the culprit did not intend Maria to be caught up in this but uses it to her advantage when she kills the others and stages the phone call.
- Twilight 9-10: Sayo left a letter to draw out Natsuhi, and shoots her. The culprit survives the shootout likely since Natsuhi’s gun has blanks. Since it had not been shot thus far, and since Natsuhi was only able to procure one of the four we can assume to exist, it is likely the culprit had tampered with or hidden the others. Soon the cousins come out, who see the culprit dressed as Beatrice before explosives below the island detonate at midnight.
Episode 2 Theories
Sayo as the culprit, with Rosa, Gohda, Nanjo, Kumasawa and Genji as accomplices.
- Before: Sayo gives the letters to Maria and Rosa. Rosa is an accomplice, and Maria is used to identifying this character as Beatrice. Sayo also bribes Rosa in to working with them. The other accomplices are already on board. When Kyrie sees the culprit with Genji, they are dressed as Beatrice, thus reinforcing the narrative of the extra person.
- Twilight 1: Sayo and accomplices murder the adults after bringing them to the chapel to show them the gold. Rosa helps the culprit stage the scene with candy she bought. The door is not locked the whole time, as the culprit unlocked it before giving the key to Maria, and those there in the morning are accomplices.
- Twilight 2: Sayo as Kanon goes with Jessica goes to her room, kills her and then flees, changing to be Shannon from now on.
- Twilight 4-6: Sayo as Shannon goes with Gohda and George to Natsuhi’s room, under the pretense of getting the mirror, and then Sayo kills the other two and commits suicide by setting the gun such that it would fall behind the dresser, whilst the stake is at her feet to make it seem like that caused her death.
- Twilight 7-8: Genji kills Nanjo and Kumasawa under orders from the culprit, in order to make it seem like Sayo is still alive, thus the large time he is absent. Before all of this, the other accomplices and culprit return to the survivors to try reinforce the narrative of the witch.
- The Discord Letter: Rosa plants the letter to send Battler away such that she can find Sayo and escape.
- Twilight 10: Genji invites Battler to the study whilst he is drunk, to tell him about what happened before the bomb again explodes at midnight. He likely told Battler the magic version of events, thus the banquet scene. Rosa, with Maria, look for Sayo, likely to help them escape or disable the bomb, but Rosa realises that the culprit has in fact died, and then tries and fails to flee the bomb (represented by goats and butterflies), by swimming away.
Episode 3 Theories
Videos coming soon. I think we’ll be up to the end by that point.
Sayo as the original culprit, with Genji and Nanjo as accomplices. Eva as another culprit, with Hideyoshi as her accomplice.
- Before: Sayo meets Maria and gives her the letter. Maria is used to identifying this character as Beatrice.
- Twilight 1: Sayo sets up the closed room ring, so that Shannon is easiest to get to, and Kanon is furthest from Shannon. Kinzo is thrown in as a red herring. Nanjo falsifies the deaths of Shannon and Kanon.
- Twilight 2: Eva has found the Gold, Rosa knows about it, and they get in to a scuffle over it, in which Rosa is killed by Eva, and Eva then kills Maria to silence the truth.
- Twilight 4-6: Kyrie and Rudolf bait Hideyoshi in to going to the mansion to question him, as Battler and Beatrice reason out at the end of Ep3. Eva also goes over in case it is a trap, and in the gunfight that ensues, Kyrie, Rudolf and Hideyoshi are killed. Hideyoshi was killed by one of Kyrie or Rudolf.
- Twilight 7-8: Using the sleeping pills presented earlier in the episode, Krauss and Natsuhi are sedated and then choked to death by Eva, before moving them elsewhere to try establish innocence.
- Twilight 9: Nanjo is called by Sayo, who instructs George to go to the mansion, and closes the window behind him as he leaves. George sees ‘Shannon’ there alive, thus the scene of ressurrection, and then Sayo kills George to set up the second twilight (where Shannon has disappeared, the inverse of episode 2’s second twilight). Soon after Sayo realises that the epitaph has been solved, and leaves the PIN behind as pennance for breaking her promise.
- Kanon’s Ghost: Sayo, still trying to resolve their mistake of breaking their promise, leads Jessica to safety, dressed as Shannon, thus why Jessica cannot touch ‘Kanon’, since it would break the illusion.
- Twilight 10: Nanjo is killed by Sayo, perhaps in vengeance for him not informing Sayo that the epitaph had been solved. Eva kills Battler and flees to Kuwadorian.
Episode 4 Theories
Videos coming soon. I think we’ll be up to the end by that point.
Sayo as the culprit, with everyone except Battler as accomplices. The other cousins are likely not as informed as the adults are. I think Genji was a primary accomplice since he has been in the previous episodes, and also due to BRonove’s role in the magic scenes.
- Note: The gouge twilights aren’t separated clearly so I have separated them by the order I think they happened.
- Before: Sayo tells Maria to tell the adults that she was met by Kinzo.
- Twilight 1: Sayo reveals themselves and somehow convinces the adults to work with her on staging a crime for the cousins (or likely just Battler) to solve. No one is actually killed at this point, thus why everyone is willing to go along with it. Those who are ‘teleported’ by Gaap to Kuwadorian are in fact taken there by Sayo.
- Twilight 2: George and Jessica are brought to their locations and told of this setup. George is killed, likely by Sayo as Shannon. Genji (represented by BRonove) meets with Jessica, gets her to make the phone call, still under the pretense that this is fake, and then soon after, either Sayo or Genji kills Jessica (more likely Sayo). Their ‘killing each other’ is indicative of them being forced to accept they loved the killer/same person.
- Twilight 4: Kyrie by this point has realised what is going on, that they are actually all going to be killed. Whilst making the phone call with Sayo watching, Kyrie tries to tell Battler as much as she can so he might escape. She shoots the floor near the phone to produce the sound at the end of the call, and the markings Battler finds on the floor. Soon after this, Kyrie is killed by Sayo.
- Twilight 5-6: Sayo kills Nanjo and Krauss, possibly with Kyrie. If with Kyrie, it is likely Kyrie offered to help in order to try save herself and/or Rudolf. It is possible this happened after the phone call, while the ruse was still being enforced.
- Twilight 9: Kumasawa and Gohda were instructed to appear ‘hanged’ by the culprit as part of the ruse. At some point, Sayo returns, asks them to open up, kills them, then swaps the key on the tag before re-locking the door. Somewhere during this period, the first twilight is carried out, likely by Sayo and Genji. Maria is poisoned (or perhaps just sedated) by Genji and taken to the dining hall before he is killed to complete the first twilight. I think Genji since I find it unlikely that Sayo would directly harm Maria, especially after the large focus this episode had on Mariage Sorcière.
- Twilight 7-8: Sayo returns to put the stakes in the gouge twilights, but has lost heart after Battler’s ‘test’, and doesn’t bother to set the stakes up in proper sequence. Then, Sayo as Shannon kills herself over the grate that Battler later tries to open. The gun falls through the grate and this is what is alluded to by Kanon ‘falling’.
- Twilight 10: Battler is left alone on the island and is killed by the explosives again.
- 1998: Ange abandons her former self, akin to Shannon and Kanon ‘dying’ on the gameboard, instead accepting herself to be ANGE. Flimsy I know but I just don’t want Ange to actually be dead guys. See my Meta theory below for more on this.
Other Notes for 1-4's Gameboards
- Each of the magic characters created by Sayo are representative of Servants. BRonove is Genji, Virgilia is Kumasawa, the Stakes are the other Fukuin house servants, and Gohda is Gaap (I wish).
- Each of the Chiester Sisters represent calibers, as well as Maria’s Rabbit Band.
- I think those who see the Golden Butterflies are those who cannot or will not deny the witch; that being those who die before getting the chance to speak to a reliable perspective, or culprits/accomplices.
- Battler is Kyrie’s son, at some point having been switched with Asumu’s son, inverting the claims made before Kyrie’s death in episode 3. This may be why he came back to the family in the ‘reality’ of the murders.
Episode 5 - Gameboard
Okay so now that all of that is out of the way, it’s on to the flavour of the moment, Episode 5. This one’s a monster. At the moment @MagusVerborum and I just finished the first chapter in which the Cathedral appears, but I figured I should get this done as early as I could, and instead modify and update it as we go forwards. I have three things I want to address in this; the first is my solution for the gameboard. I think this is a pretty tricky one but I think given how it reuses a lot of tricks and moments from earlier episodes, it would make sense that some of the solutions are the same too.
Episode 5's Gameboard
In the scenes with Natsuhi before the typhoon, I took a wild stab that since Lambda was the game master this time, it was likely that the least obvious possible character would be the one on the phone, and I thought this was clearly Battler. I wasn’t sure as of yet how this was going to work, but it was a stab in the dark that paid off. I honestly wasn’t expecting us to be outright told that Lambda was controlling Battler’s piece, but we got it, so I think it was useful to go in with that assumption.
The other thing to consider about the gameboard is how easily Natsuhi could have been the culprit. Even before we got the truth that Ushiromiya Natsuhi is not the culprit, I was fairly confident that this would be the case, especially after all of Erika’s talk of Natsuhi being a ‘third rate culprit’. I think a lot of people who took on the Sayo theory after episode 4 probably felt as though they were debunked the moment that Shannon and Kanon appeared in the same room. To me, this, in combination with my earlier guess just screamed that Battler was an accomplice, and that made this game pretty easy, I felt, but we’ll get to that.
First of all; Erika. Erika is a very bittersweet character to me. She is clearly mean to be an obnoxious, smug, awful, insensitive character, but she behaves a lot like a few villains I wrote for various reasons in the past, so as awful as she is and as much as I dislike her as a person, I feel a certain affection for how she’s written.
Sayo as the culprit, with everyone except Natsuhi, Krauss and Erika as accomplices.
- Phone Calls: Battler over the phone, participating in a scheme to corner Natsuhi in to confessing to hiding Kinzo’s deaths and embezzling funds. This was all a set up to frame Natsuhi as the culprit.
- The Letter/Knock: The letter was never placed, the knock never happened. “Among all those inside the mansion at 24:00, not a single person placed that letter in the corridor” doesn’t just make it impossible; it also gives you the answer. In addition to this; at no point is it ever confirmed in red that the knock even happened, it merely refers to people ‘mishearing’ or ‘misinterpreting’ the knock. The scene we are shown contains only accomplices and culprits, so it is effectively a magical scene. This I think is a new take on Maria receiving letters in earlier episodes; the classic Devil’s Proof that no one can or will disprove how the letters were delivered.
- Twilight 1: The deaths were initially faked, and Erika did not get to see the corpses directly since they had been covered by blankets before she arrived. This is a reference to, I think, how the crime from Episode 4 was committed. They moved away from the crime scene and were killed later.
- Twilight 2: Hideyoshi’s death was faked. Everyone else was supposedly under the direct gaze of Erika, and Nanjo was amongst the first in to the room. This was both a reference to Hideyoshi and Kanon’s deaths from Episode 1; Nanjo helped to fake a death, and the appearance of the Mansion guest room.
- Other notes: To claim that Sayo is Shannon and Kanon in one person, I would have to assume that Erika was aware that one of Shannon or Kanon were not in the room at the times where she claims everyone has an Alibi. I think this is intentional, Bern isn’t playing to get the truth. One of Bern’s original Blue Truths about the first twilight is what I am claiming to be the truth, yet she doesn’t press on it later. In addition to this; Bern spends most of the game bullying Natsuhi for seemingly no reason. She tears apart her magical reality, rubbing salt in the wound with the truth that the real Kinzo wouldn’t say that, even though it has next to no relevance to what she is trying to prove.
Episode 5 - Characters
The next thing I wanted to address is the characters. This is definitely my weakest point through the whole story, but it’s something I’ve been trying to focus on a lot as we get further in. Truth be told I’m not being terribly successful in this regard; rather than actually looking at why, I have a terrible habit of rephrasing ‘who’ and ‘how’ questions as ‘why questions’, and also looking too broadly on the story, rather than on the individual characters (more on that later )
This character explanation is a relatively short one, partly because we’re not actually at the end of episode 5 yet, and also because the next dropdown is huge so I’m a bit burnt out after writing that.
Episode 5's Characters
I love Erika so much. She is the most smug, self-centred, repulsive, crazy, unlikeable sociopath, but she also hits a soft spot for me, in that she is a lot like the way that I write villains. Particularly as a GM for Dungeons and Dragons and other TRPGs, I write characters like her because it’s a very easy way for me to get people to hate the villains I want. I find they’re particularly useful for either introducing villains that you can flesh out later, or for short-burn villains that come and go, giving a quick and easy target for spite. The key ingredients are this; the villain is doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons and by all the wrong means.
Erika is still being a ‘good guy’ in her world; she’s solving crimes, catching criminals, saving the day! To us though; we see the bad side; she’s doing it to tout her own intelligence, because she likes to think and her ‘little grey cells’ need something to do, not because she has any moral obligation or any interest in actually stopping crimes, she just wants to be able to solve them. Then the final part, her absolutely awful methods; listening in all night, taping up entire houses with tape that is very prone to stripping paint, and constantly pointing out problems with the way things are being done.
The most interesting thing to me about Erika, though, is her role as a vessel of commentary. There was a conversation Magus and I had in episode 2 about how the golden age of detective fiction disappeared because detectives had no emotional stake in their stories, and that Battler was written in response to that. Check out a snippet of that discussion here, shoutout to @SleepingPliskin for inspiring that bit. Clearly though, Erika is part of that commentary; she is the exact opposite of an emotional stake in the story. Erika goes through Episode 5 as though she has a script for how things are meant to go, even asking Natsuhi to confess her motive because that would be when it ‘should’ happen in the story. Even when Natsuhi refuses to throw Kinzo under the bus because she respects him, Erika ignores that and continues to claim that Natsuhi’s motive was that she hated the family thoroughly. In particular, when Erika claimed that she knew Kinzo wasn’t outside the mansion because she ‘hadn’t found clues’ WHEN THERE IS AN ENTIRE FOREST, SEVERAL BUILDINGS AND INNUMERABLE HIDING PLACES ON THE ISLAND, is just hilarious because the fact is, she’s not wrong; if this is a Murder Mystery, not Fantasy, she must be able to find clues. It’s a brilliant take on many of the problems I undertand traditional detectives had; ignoring anything emotional about the story in favour of their ability to show off.
To twist that around again, I find it hilarious because Erika could also be taken as a commentary on readers who completely ignored the massive character detail and development the whole way through, in favour of trying to figure out the three core mystery questions; ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’. Even then; Erika also only chooses the ‘why’ that is most convenient for her narrative; she’s taking a why that is entirely based on the confirmation bias of finding these diaries from years ago, rather than actually looking at Natsuhi’s character. The most hilarious part of this to me is that THIS IS ME. I DID THIS. I came in to episode 1 fully expecting that everyone would die, and that Episodes 2-7 wouldn’t even be about the same time and place, but instead be about similar cases that would help us solve episode 1. Because of this, I didn’t even try to care about any of the characters, I made fun of writing quirks, ignored any character development unless it seemed to help me to solve what was going on. Fortunately, Episode 4 turned me around; because I understood what was going on in terms of how the story was being told, Ange absolutely hit home as an emotional connection to the story for me. I’ve noticed on the forum that Episode 4 seems to be lower down on people’s ‘favourite episode’ lists, largely because I think it tries to tell too much too quickly, but truth be told I would have completely missed the true element of the story if it wasn’t for Ange’s story, as poorly paced as it was.
This is before we even get in to the meta implications of Erika’s character? What does it mean that Bern is the one playing for the human side in this game? Why did this random extra person get thrown in? But I think I’ll leave that for now.
So again; I love Erika as a character. I think she serves an amazing purpose to this story, and is an incredible commentary on the genre. I’ve been told several times that Umineko is a swan song to the golden age of detective fiction, and I think that this is an amazing movement to that song.
Lambdadelta and Bernkastel
I’d kind of ignored Bern and Lambda up until Episode 5. Clearly they were very important to the story, but their ‘higher state of being’ had me not worrying about them for various reasons. This time though, it’s full bore. The most noticeable thing to me is that my perception of their characters has flipped. In the past, Bern was the helpful one who got Battler back on his feet, who helped Ange when she was lost, and Lambda was the devious one backing Beatrice, trying to keep the game going forever. In episode 5 though; Bern is cold, calculating and isn’t around to help anyone, whilst Lambda is having fun, telling a cool story for her friend. Of course, their personalities as we see them in Ep5 are definitely foreshadowed, such as in Lambda’s discussion with Ange in episode 4, but it definitely surprised me, despite that. The thing that really caught me though, was after the closed room of Kinzo’s study being broken open, Lambda has Beatrice and Battler embracing as they fly to the ground. It went completely over my head, but Magus pointed out to me that basically, Lambda ships Battler and Beatrice. That’s amazing to me. I love that Lambda’s self-proclaimed <pop, cute> style is coming out all over the place on this game; she’s just having a blast telling a fun story.
Then there’s Bern. What the hell is Bern up to? If Sayo is indeed the one person claimed by the culprit theory, it means Erika would have observed that one of Shannon or Kanon were missing at all times, yet at no point does this seem to factor in to her establishing of alibis. With this culprit theory in mind, it almost seems like Bern played the game purely from the perspective of winning and tearing Natsuhi down in the process. Bern is described as ruthless many times through the episode, but why is she bringing down Natsuhi? Is it because she’s just playing along with her friend’s fun game? Is it because she sees it as the quickest way to victory, even though there are holes in her reasoning? I think especially given that Erika is her ‘double’, it has to be the latter; Bern is part of the commentary on the genre, in that she is representing the ruthless one who pushes things to their conclusion. It would also explain her actions in helping Battler and Ange earlier, since it would just let the story play out further to entertain her.
We’d been shown Bern and Lambda as enemies for a lot of their appearance in the story before this, but this time (along with the end of episode 4), it seems like they’re just out for entertainment. This had definitely been mentioned in that they try more than anything else to avoid boredom, but this is the first time we’ve really seen Bern and Lambda conspiring, rather than fighting, to do so.
Natsuhi and Krauss
Natsuhi was definitely one of the characters that suffered most under my indiferent approach to the initial episodes, before Episode 4 turned it around. If anything; my willingness to just say ‘Kinzo was dead’ when theorising around the end of Episode 3 was largely triggered by the fact that I was so willing to call Kinzo’s ‘wear the crest on your heart’ comment as a delusion. So far we’ve had a ‘feature episode’ on a few members of the family, and this one seems to definitely be Natsuhi’s. Even at the start, when the first of Natsuhi’s ‘delusions’ is denied, I laughed it off as being ‘too easy’ to guess, rather than worrying about the implications of denying that reality to Natsuhi, even though I was right in the middle of writing up a theory founded off the claim that characters use ‘magic’ to cope with trauma.
What’s really incredible about Natsuhi in this episode is how all of her seeming stupidity and poor acting in previous episodes, her stress, particularly towards the end of episode 1, all gets justified to some extent by all of the pain she’s been forced to endure because of this family and her dimwitted husband. She was indeed dealing with what was in essence an impossible scenario; faking that Kinzo was still alive for two years to cover her husband’s mistakes. If her husband had followed her advice and not bought in to shady deals, it wouldn’t be necessary, but Natsuhi is loyal to the end. Despite the red truh that the real Kinzo wouldn’t say that, it’s arguably true that Natsuhi was the most loyal to the family and their honour of anyone in the story.
The other really interesting detail was hearing about how much Natsuhi hated the family at the start. Clearly, the family are pretty despicable people, from what we’ve been shown thus far, so it would make sense that upon being first introduced to the family, she would have hated the people she was around, but despite this she persevered and grew to love the family and fight for it above all else. Then there is the man from 19 years ago. What a crazy guilt to live with, and then after all of this, have it turned back on you all at once, along with being framed for murder, all in just a few days. I thought it was really tragic when Natsuhi’s diary description of her marriage as like being a ‘hostage’ was turned on her when she was being held hostage by the setup she had been put in .The track Discolor was a fantastic contrast to this moment. We’ve spoken a bit about it on video, but I really love scores that are brave enough to have music that doesn’t match the apparent mood of a scene. In a scene that is undeniably devestating, where everyone has cornered the person we know to be innocent, the music is just beautiful and hopeful, speaking not of what is happening, but instead of Natsuhi, and her will to be hopeful and fight through all of the hardship she’s had so far. What a fantastic moment that was.
Episode 5 - The Meta Theory
Okay, the third thing, this one’s the meat. I hope you’re all ready. I was having an easy time solving the gameboards at this point, so I decided to focus on something else. After the end of episode 4, I was determined to figure out what the Gameboards meant in the greater scope of the story. I’d been thinking for a long time about why Battler was Beatrice’s oponent, if he supposedly died at the end. For a while I’d given up and accepted that Purgatorio was a space outside the story where I didn’t have to worry about denying magic, but you know what, screw it, I’m going all out. Magic doesn’t exist anywhere in the reality of this story; only in the perceptions of the characters who use it to interpret their world. Let’s go.
The Meta Theory
This theory started with one question; after learning about the existence of the message bottles, should we assume that the Purgatorio scenes appear in these written versions?
I decided to ignore the possibility that they weren’t, since the idea that the Purgatory scenes were separate from the story had already been my working assumption, and I needed to go somewhere different if I was going to achieve anything. I decided to try come up with evidence for why we could claim the magic scenes to be part of the ‘real’ world story, and after hours of scouring our footage from my playthrough with @MagusVerborum, I found one key line that launched this to a whole new level. Higurashi.
Now there are two assumptions that I took from this; first of all, the author of the message bottles must have known about Higurashi, and that Battler likely also knew about it, and somehow the culprit knew that. There are definitely some holes in this logic (largely the word assumption), but it was a lead I was willing to chase up.
But how does the existence of Higurashi tell us anything? It could just be Ryukishi letting us know of his other ‘brilliant’ story! A throwback for the fans! I don’t think that’s it. There are already copious references to Higurashi through the story, including the entire structure of looping narratives with ‘tea partes’ (or so I’ve been told). I think there was no need to be so direct in these references unless it meant something in the greater narrative of the story. The next step I took was this; I know that Bernkastel and Lambdadelta are both references to Higurashi, in that they are heavily implied to have fought that story as a previous ‘gameboard’. I don’t know how heavily that connection goes beyond this, but it’s important for this theory. I do wonder how many more references to Higurashi there are, that I’m unaware of. I’m sure there are plenty but this is all I have to work with.
The next thing I had to work off was my theory of who was writing each episode. I was fairly confident that Episodes 1 and 2 were the message bottles, and thus written by the culprit, but during reading Episodes 3 and 4, I felt that the writing style was very different, most significantly indicated by Eva’s survival at the end of Ep3. This differing style also flowed in to episode 5. I think this tipping point is around when Virgilia tells Beatrice of the ‘North Wind and the Sun’ strategy. It’s honestly a bit hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it is that this stylistic change is; I think it’s largely to do with the willingness of the magic characters to cooperate. Now this could be claimed to be Ryukishi’s writing developing, but I feel it was likely intentional, signalling a different author, writing after the crimes had been committed. But who was this different author?
WHAT?! But none escape, all die! Well yes, but Eva lived. Shannon and Kanon ‘die’ all the time on the gameboard, but I’m still claiming that their body was alive. I think what is indicated by this is not that everyone actually dies, but rather that no one present will ever move past this in their lives. I think Battler’s body survived, and that after the event, he is writing to wrap his head around what happened.
If we take a step back, through Episode 4 we are shown something fairly comfortably, I think; Magic is used by those suffering trauma to interpret and cope with the world around them. This is how Maria copes with the cruel treatment from her mother, this is what Ange learns through episode 4 to cope with the loss of her family, this is how the culprit, who I claim to be Sayo, interpreted their suffering and created personalities for all of the people they lived with. As you can see in the notes above, for episodes 1-4, I think Sayo created these ‘magical’ personalities to cope with all the trauma of their life; their odd circumstance of birth, apparently being thrown off a cliff, sent to an orphanage, and then having their first love, Battler, leave them and not return like he promised. This is why Battler is the protagonist of the message bottles. This is why Battler is the one fighting Beatrice in Purgatory. Sayo’s love of Battler is the one true element that will let you understand the story of Rokkenjima.
So then we are back to Battler. Why do I think it is him writing? We’re told by the witch hunt in Episode 4 that many fake documents exist on the Rokkenjima Mass Murders, so why is it we’re being shown these ones in particular by Ryukishi? Surely it is someone connected to the story writing them, or at least someone who as access to the truth of who the culprit is. I think especially after the introduction of Knox’s rules, it would be peculiar to assume that the author isn’t someone introduced in the early part of the story. Battler is also the only other character in the story that has had clues presented claiming that he knew Higurashi, and thus be able to write using characters that reference Higurashi. Through all of the episodes thus far, we also get a lot of talk about how Murder Mysteries work; thus I think it is safe to claim that both Sayo and Battler knew a lot about detective fiction, both because the culprit is clearly referencing some in their crimes, and because the piece Battler seems to have some knowledge of these stories. Given that we are told that there are plenty of detective fiction stories in the Guesthouse’s library, it would make sense that perhaps Battler and Sayo used to read or discuss these together, thus why they are aware of each other’s understanding of mystery fiction in their writings.
So, the next question I had to ask myself was, what was the trauma that Battler suffered that started making him use magic to interpret the world? I was a bit stuck at this point until we got to the ‘Sea of Kakera’ in episode 5. I think he nearly drowned. Why is that? If I was writing that scene, of characters in a metaphysical world surrounded by realities, I would have just used space for the analogy. In the beginning, that’s even how Ryukishi seems to describe it; bringing up an ‘empty space’, ‘constellations’ and ‘falling endlessly’ but then the water imagery just keeps coming; there’s feelings of drowning, mention of seaweed. Something immediately struck me as odd by calling it a ‘sea’. ‘Sea’ and ‘Space’ have many of the same implications; take for example that astronauts use a water tank to practice for zero-gravity EVA (not the witch ), so I felt that there was something very particular about ‘sea’, such as when Battler starts to trust in the magic reality to let himself settle in this sea. The imagery didn’t really bother me too much, right up until when Lambda says ‘they might feel like memories to you’.
The other thing I noticed in this moment was Beatrice. At the end of Episode 4, when Beatrice was shackled, I had initially interpreted that as her leg being tied to the chair, but the rephrasing in episode 5 clarified that it was a large shackle hanging off her leg. This gave me the impression of a ball and chain. Directly alongside the ‘sea’, reminded me of many other uses of this motif in other stories, such as mutineers being sent to the depths with a cannonball chained to their leg. Also when we get Piece Beatrice talking in the cathedral, and being defeated, both times, Beatrice mentions ‘falling in to the depths’ and is thrown in to a ‘boiling pot’ of goats; further strengthening this connection between Beatrice’s ‘death’ and water. This claim of mutiny would also match with references to Dante’s Divine Comedy since the deepest levels of hell are reserved for traitors, and a mutineer sinking would match nicely with the theme of betrayal. I’m not entirely sure exactly how I think events happened in the ‘real’ world of the story, but I think Battler tried to save Sayo from drowning (and likely failed), causing this trauma that we now see reflected through his writings. I think this is indicated through Episode 5’s Golden Land cutaways being about Battler trying to re-awaken Beatrice from her comatose-like state. When I was initially thinking this up, I thought it odd that Beatrice was the one that had the shackle; if this is Battler’s trauma, why is Beatrice the one shackled? This hadn’t stopped me from drawing a conclusion, but in Kinzo’s study in episode 5, when Battler caught Beatrice, falling through the rain outside the mansion, it immediately redoubled my confidence in the claim that Battler is spending episode 5 reflecting on how he was unable to save Sayo from death, where Lambda’s story represents the fantasy that he would be able to save her.
Now the evident problem here is that I am claiming that Battler is still alive, yet 12 years later, it seems he has not returned to Ange, which in Purgatory he claims he will do once he escapes. Sorry Battler, time to turn this back on itself; none escape, all die. I think Battler developed some sort of memory loss, and his ‘new personality’ is having these traumatic memories and ideas from his past self, which he aims to resolve by writing about them. I think this is represented by the end of Episode 3; Beatrice denies everything, even herself as a witch, everything disappears, and then they reappear to fight again. I think that before his trauma, the original Battler discovered the truth, and then when the witch’s reality ‘goes black’, this represents his memory loss. I think it is likely that Battler’s knew personality is aware of the truth, and who he is; thus why he writes about Ange, and about the mysteries, and about Sayo’s magic characters, but these memories are too traumatic for him to return to what remains of his past life. My justifying moment for this is in the end of episode 4, where Battler could seemingly easily land the killing blow, but chooses not to (and then we are told by Lambda he was not close to the truth). I think Purgatory Battler’s actions represents the internal conflict in Battler’s ‘new self’ to accept who he is, and that Lambda & Bern in the end of Ep4 represents the fact that he knows the truth despite this. The other thing I think I can pair with this is Battler’s meta-death at the end of Episode 5; his author has thrown away this personality as a human, instead choosing to tackle their own trauma from a different point of view; through Knox, represented by Dlanor. I find this very interesing in paring with Erika; is it suggesting that the author is trying to be more disconnected from their own mystery, or is it their commentary on why they have to be more connected? If anything I think it’s actually that the author is trying to warn themselves that they will become heartless if they do behave like Erika about their own trauma. The other interesting connection in episode 5 specifically is how significantly the game seems to reference previous ones. Up until now, other than a few small sequences like the airport, beach and first dinner scenes, very few have repeated. This time though; we have dialogue quoted seemingly directly from episode 1, and crimes that take place in the same locations, such as Hideyoshi dying in what seems to be the same room, on the same twilight, as he did in Episode 1. This is very easily explained by Battler, the new author, re-exploring the story that kickstarted it all, Sayo’s first message bottle.
The next thing is something I really struggled with; I’m claiming Battler wrote none escape, all die. He believes so thoroughly that he would write in red, that he will never be able to return to this past life. Why is that? Supposedly Battler has this motive to return to Ange once he defeats the witch, but from the end of Episode 4, instead it seems that Battler is trying to save the witch. Now this is not the problem; to my mind it is clear to me that Battler came to love Sayo, but why has he not come back to Ange? The way that I tackled this was by looking at how Ange appeared in the story, but unfortunately I’m not quite sure about a conclusion on this one.
First thought: Ange died by falling from the tower at the end of Episode 3. Her appearence in the story is purely written of by Battler’s new personality, signifying his regret. His portrayal of her with magic and learning to cope with hardship was his hopes for his sister being able to live without her family. This would explain how Ange was able to be guided by ‘Bernkastel’, was saved by all manner of miracles, and was able to summon the stakes at the end of Episode 4. Also if she did die from falling from the tower that would explain why she became a pile of crushed meat in Episode 4’s ending. I think this is the theory that makes the most sense but I also doubt that it is the truth because I feel like Ryukishi intentionally left Ange’s status on a cliffhanger to pick it up later.
Second thought: Ange jumped from the tower and the author heard of this somehow, but not that she survived, thus why she is listed as ‘dead’ in the credits, since Ange was with Amakusa and thus not in the public eye. This explains Bernkastel saving Ange, since it was miraculous to the author that she could disappear. Battler’s new personality wrote Ange in to his Purgatory for the same reasons as above, except that Ange’s movements in 1998 were largely true. I think that this theory fits nicely, but it also brings in to question if Ange’s story in 1998 was the truth or Battler’s version of it, and that’s a weak ground to work from.
Third thought: Ange was saved from Kasumi’s toughs by some means (likely Amakusa’s intervention) on Rokkenjima and her ‘death’ instead signifies her throwing aside her original personality and becoming ‘ANGE’ in her mind, much like how I claim Sayo abandons the ‘Shannon’ and ‘Kanon’ identities on the gameboard. The problem with this one is that it would not make sense that the Author would be aware of this throwing aside of personality, or the events leading up to this.
The problem I have with these theories is that we do not have the same level of rules established about 1998’s world as we do the Gameboard. The other thing is that we have not seen any evidence of what has happened after Episode 4, or even that it is actually the truth. I have thought perhaps at some point in the story we have yet to see that maybe Ange meets with the author and tells her story thus far to them, thus why they appear in the story, but that’s just a thin attempt to get these theories to work, though I certainly won’t discount it.
The other thing I wanted to explore with this theory is the first two episodes; supposedly written by Sayo. I think it has more or less been confirmed by this point in the story that this is what the message bottles represent, and I’d really like to talk about what they represent in terms of Fantasy and Mystery, especiall after the focus we’ve had on that in Episode 5. What really intrigues me about these, is that what Sayo wrote all still seems to follow some sort of fair play when it comes to mystery. It could, of course, be said, that this is something we shouldn’t worry about too much, since clearly in writing a Murder Mystery, Ryukishi would want it to have a solution that the audience could reach, or that Ryukishi’s version is not exactly what exists in the world of the game, but that’s no fun to leave it at that. So; if Sayo is the author of the first two episodes, why did she not just write out a completely fantasy tale that is utterly undeniable? If she is trying to create this fantasy world that the mystery supposedly happened in, why leave room for doubt? Why not just make it objectively impossible? I think especially once the red truth becomes involved, it’s apparent that Sayo wanted the crimes to be solveable. It’s almost though Sayo wanted it to be known that she was the culprit (side note; I keep thinking of Sayo as female because of Beatrice and Shannon, but they’d likely physically be male, thus the ‘man’ from 19 years ago, plus the fact that they’re able to play Kanon, so forgive me if I keep switching that up). The other thing of note is that clearly, as mentioned earlier, Sayo had a stake in the mystery genre, so perhaps it’s just out of respect for the genre that it is written this way, but that’s still a flimsy motive for doing so. The other interesting note is the red scrawl we see at the end of episode 4. To me those are clearly meant to be words from the culprit, that by some means Battler saw and included in his tale, but why did the culprit state it, and where? I think especially given the motive and love connection established bothed in my culprit theory and meta theory, it’s clear there is an emotional connection between Beatrice and Sayo, but I struggle to consider the way that this relationship worked, and also how it actually lead to what happened. I could sit here for hours and spitball on all of this but it’d be just that for now, spitballing, I’d really have to go back and look further. I think the key pieces of evidence that we have thus far (other than those mentioned already for establishing this culprit theory and romance in the first place), is the turbulent early life it seems the culprit went through. Of course I don’t think it’s been confirmed outright, but I’ve taken it to be the case that the child who fell off a cliff with a servant is Sayo, and thus has been dealing with whatever wounds, both emotional and physical, remain from that incident, to this day. This also likely explains the origins and necessities of the personalities and magical characters that Sayo constructed; especially given that Beatrice, Sayo’s magical personality, has control over all of these magical characters. This would suggest to me that it is actually a thorough delusion, that the troublesome Stakes likely caused issues for Sayo, such as when in episode 2 Kanon bemoans that other servants only clean where it is inspected, whilst Shannon cleans everywhere. Was this a lifetime of hardship enough to warrant murder? I hope we’ll find out but that’s my guess for now.
Now I know that there’s a lot that I’m missing. There are a heap of magic scenes I haven’t covered, but truth be told I think this theory at the moment is unfalsifiable, and thus also impossible to prove. No matter what thing you throw at me, I could probably explain it away with some theme or emotion that the author was trying to convey. Since Umineko is itself is already a written work, it’s already trying to do, from Ryukishi’s perspective, something very similar to what I’m claiming Sayo and Battler as authors were trying to do. If anything the super interesting thing to me is that I was able to draw all of this meaning from Umineko, and I’m not even sure if that’s whay Ryukishi wrote intentionally. It’s like analysing any work, if you look hard enough you’ll be able to find meaning in things that were insignificant, even to the author. As I’m going forward, this meta theory definitely be how I reflect on the story, at least until something appeals to me more, but it might be an absolute pile of nonsense to Ryukishi, and I might never know.
I think the important thing to take from this, is that it’s not the point of the story. As much as what I claim might be the truth to me or anyone else ( pls bb), or might be an interesting way to consider the greater meaning of the story, this doesn’t invalidate or devalue a different interpretation. I don’t know what kind of answers (if any) we’ll get on this topic from here, but if you do take the tales of multiple realities, ancient witches bouncing between them, and great strategic battles between higher beings, this is a completely valid and awesome interpretation of what’s going on. Of course, to many of you reading this, you’ll think ‘duh, I know that’, but I just wanted to make sure I said it because I don’t want to discourage any other theorists from just having fun thinking about this story.
Final reminder; I’m not actually done with Ep5 (the last thing I saw was Erika’s accusation of Natsuhi sleeping with Kinzo), so I might avoid this topic unless anyone directly mentions me with questions or responses, until we have actually finished recording it.
It really is interesting how an interpretation I did at the end of episode 4 is still valid and perhaps even intended. I only hinted at that in an earlier post, but after ep 4 my impression of Lambda and Bern was that they’re an author avatar and a reader avatar respectively. It already fits the smaller things, like Bern entering as a supposed objective entity but actually aligning with Battler, which for a reader naturally happens because Battler, especially in episode 1, is the viewpoint character.
Then enter Lambda. What is her goal? Prolong this game for all eternity. What is an author’s goal, if you come down to it? Tell stories. Many, many stories. For all eternity, even, if death wouldn’t be a thing. So those were the initial parallels I used to come to the same conclusion. By now, Bern’s scope has narrowed, and the rest of this is in my earlier post so I’d just repeat myself.
I also love your meta theory. As for the Sayo vs. Shannon debate, in a chat with @MagusVerborum I said that I “don’t really care if it’s Shannon or Kanon actually killing people.” Right now, while I’m saying the two are individual people, I am also saying that they’re in on it together in every single episode. It’s basically quite similar to that tea allegory we got in this episode: Just like it’s not important if the tea was made with a hidden tea set or with magic, it doesn’t really matter if Shannon or Kanon carried out the crime. The important part is that Shannon planned the crime, and the message she wanted to convey with the crime.
My stance for the two is pretty much “As long as it is not 100% necessary to have them be one person, I will continue to view them as two individual people.”
Okay, I just read through @Jokrono’s post and @Seraphitic’s episode 4 post and I am excited. (Thanks for linking that post, by the way! I must have forgotten about it in the long break between Questions and Answers.) I think this is it! I think this is the key to unlocking the Rokkenjima mysteries!
As much as I’d like to keep fighting for my theory that Battler is Beato’s child … I like the implications of the culprit being Beato’s child better. It makes them a Ushiromiya, and this story a tragedy of the Ushiromiya family. It’s even more tragic because of that single element ‘love.’ The culprit has many people they could give their love to, but they’re all people it’s forbidden to love … because they’re family. And their beloved doesn’t know they’re family. I could see how that would make the culprit desperate to make someone discover the truth of their tragic story, no matter what.
Well that was an incredible read, thanks for sharing.
Hey @Jokrono, hey @Jokrono, I just had a thought. I know you think your theory about how Ange survived 1998 is ‘flimsy,’ but if you look at at the ‘whydunnit’ … it might not be flimsy at all. Basically, we’re theorizing that one human can have multiple names, and the death of a name doesn’t mean the death of the human. So in 1998, who has more reason than Ange to discard her old name? She has no need for the Ushiromiya name – the Ushiromiya wealth has brought more suffering than fortune to her. As long as she’s Ushiromiya Ange, people like Kumadera will keep pursuing her and trying to control her. What if she decided she didn’t want to be Ushiromiya Ange anymore? What if she took advantage of the isolation of Rokkenjima, where there were no witnesses other than the Kumadera agents and Amakusa, and she faked her own death? That could even explain the magic scenes in her final moments. Magic and illusions appear wherever there’s darkness and confusion about what really happened, but you still have to have the willpower to carry it out yourself.
Of course … because there’s darkness and confusion around it, I can’t really prove anything. But I still think it makes sense for the character! And I wanted to give you a glimmer of hope.
I definitely agree with your points; that’s why I chose the theory in the first place, and your take on it is certainly interesting to hear, especially the idea of ‘darkness and confusion’. The main problem I have with my claim it is that it doesn’t justify 2 of the other significant things that happen to Ange in the story; her meeting with Battler but not being able to share her name, and her turning in to scraps of meat. I feel like both of these are meant to signify something in terms of her greater story so I don’t want to exclude them from my theory. I don’t know the story of Hansel and Gretel too well (I should probably actually look in to that), but I think there are likely some clues to be found in that comparison as well. I think if anything some combination of the three thoughts I have at the bottom of the Meta Theory will be the case.
I really look forward to (and hope) that we’ll get to see more of Ange as we go forwards, because that’s still one of the biggest questions in this series to me; even after all of the crimes and massacre, what are the consequences of the culprit’s actions? I really enjoyed episode 4 trying to explore that and I’m hoping we get to see more of it.
Actually, I think your theory explains those two things quite nicely. The ANGE that survived, survived by casting off her old name. Ushiromiya Ange ‘died’ and became unidentifiable scraps of meat. Perhaps the scraps of meat were necessary to fake her death, and her official cause of death was something that would have brutalized the corpse. So for ANGE to be alive and talking to Battler, she couldn’t go by the name ‘Ushiromiya Ange’ – or else she would turn back into meat scraps. I’m speaking somewhat metaphorically, but you get what I’m saying, right? It’s a sad situation where she can’t reveal her identity to anyone, because her identity belongs to a dead girl.
As for Hansel and Gretel … Hansel and Gretel were children abandoned to die in the wilderness. Even if they found their way out of the forest and went home, their family wouldn’t have enough food and they would starve to death. So for the children to live happily it would take a miracle. In the story, the miracle takes the form of the children defeating a witch and taking her riches. To put it another way, the witch is their salvation. I’m definitely speaking metaphorically here, but I think it’s meant to be a metaphor. Ange takes the name of a child who’s meant to die, and whose brother is meant to die with her, but she still hopes they can live happily together if she can solve the witch’s riddle and find the truth of that day.
So … I guess here’s really what I’m saying. If your Meta theory is correct, and Battler has become another person and forgotten that day, then Ange could meet him and not be able to tell him the truth. But he might still struggle to remember, and she might still hold out hope for a miracle.
I’m looking forward to seeing more, too! And I’m enjoying hearing everyone’s thoughts.
EDIT: Here’s an annotated version of Hansel and Gretel, for anyone who wants to read it.
@mimsy That’s a really interesting take on my theory, actually. It’s almost definitely the case that I was looking too far in to imagery to try draw meaning from it, and perhaps I should just step back and accept that a simpler interpretation is the case; just like how Beatrice in episode 2 was talking about how humans always come up with such fiddly solutions to simple questions, I’ve fallen right in to that trap.
After looking over the Hansel and Gretel story I’m definitely starting to understand that connection a bit further; I particularly find it interesting that the witch was ‘left to perish miserably’ for them to survive, it certainly suggests that Battler had to (or has to) make some choice between the life of his witch, Beato, or Ange, and that’s a really tragic implication.
Also @VyseGolbez it took a while for me to come around to this, but it suddenly hit me that if I am taking Episode 5 to be a commentary on the emotionless side of the mystery genre, I find it interesting that in your interpretation of Bern as the ‘reader perspective’ it would seem to directly line up with how readers like myself very willingly cast aside Natsuhi as an idiot in previous episodes, particularly regarding her actions in episode 1. It almost feels like Ryukishi is putting himself in Lambda’s place, trying to tell this epic, fun, tragic love story, whilst Bern is just ruthlessly solving it and tearing down one of the most emotionally shattered characters, Natsuhi, in the process. Ryukishi (Lambda), can’t deny that we’ve ‘won’ the game and proved it can be done without magic, but it’s also completely missed the truth and the point of the tale; love.
That is a very good point you made. I agree with you very much regarding this episode being a commentary on the emotionless side of the mystery genre, i.e. viewing this story without any love.
So, I finally finished Ep5.
Damn, what an emotional journey. I’m very excited to actually upload the footage of those last few chapters. Even if you are a heretic and aren’t watching the playthrough @MagusVerborum and I are doing, the end of episode 5 sure would be a great highlight to check out. I’m short on time so this won’t be anywhere near as detailed as the last main post I’ve made, but I certainly do have a bunch of things to cover.
I think first of all, my solution for the gameboard hasn’t really changed at all. If anything my confidence was merely redoubled. I did find it very strange that the case was settled on the first twilight alone, even though Erika completely ignored the letter/knock and only mentioned Hideyoshi’s ‘death’ in the notes that were submitted to the various locations we had listed there at the end. I thought it was particularly interesting which groups seemed to have taken which pieces of evidence in that sequence. I think there’s definitely some more fuel for @VyseGolbez’s reader/author theory for Bern/Lambda there. The only other additional note that I would make on my initial theory is that it is dubious if Battler was the one over the phone, seeing as we are told that [color=“red”][Krauss] was killed long ago, shortly after you heard his voice over the phone[/color]. I think it makes me pin the blame on the phone calls more on to Sayo. The reason I went with Battler originally was because the first call came from the ‘external line’, and I didn’t think this would be Sayo since I just kind of assumed they were still on the island. The other reason was that I thought Lambda would pick the most unexpected person of those few I thought were still off the island. It definitely worked in to my favour, since I went in to the game with the thought that Battler could be unreliable, since he would be an accomplice for this to work.
Other than this revision, the main question I’m left with is; why did the culprit kill in this game? The epitaph had been solved, so either it was not Beatrice, or the claim that ‘this game is without love’ indicates that the Beato of previous episodes is (as her Golden Land character would suggest) not the one that we see on the gameboard.
As for that ending; I dunno. It was still absolutely amazing but damn the foreshadowing was so intense it almost felt to me like it robbed itself of a cool surprise. Perhaps the Golden Truth was meant to be that surprise, even if Battler’s ascension was not, but the golden longsword being used over and over before that first gold truth definitely made it seem obvious to me (also for the record; I reckon Purple Truth up next, it’s the only colour of magic we haven’t covered yet with it’s own Truth ). As I said, the whole sequence was definitely amazing but it felt like it took too long to get to the point. That being said, what that screams to me, is that the ‘game master’ and ‘golden truth’, are then perhaps not meant to be the focal point, instead the obvious alternative being considering what Beatrice’s death meant, both in the mystery and as a character. I think I definitely stuck too hard to thinking about how this would apply to my Meta Theory, rather than looking at the in-the-moment character, but it definitely is interesting that it seems Beatrice was just clinging on through episode 5, just to know that Battler would succeed, even if it was too late for her.
As I said earlier, for Beatrice of the previous episodes to be the culprit, it would mean that we are breaking the truth [color=“red”]I keep my promises[/color], since the murders carry on after the epitaph has been solved. I don’t know why this is. As I said, it could be that the game is played without love (perhaps in my claim that Battler is writing this; he did not understand the promise?), but that seems flimsy to me, and I’d like to avoid breaking reds where I can. I’m honestly going to leave this one a bit open, but I will point out a few things;
- The red truth [color=“red”]I keep my promises[/color] was never stated to apply to all games, nor to only one. Perhaps the red truth only applies to the Human Beatrice, who dies in Episode 5, thus her promise is no longer valid?
- The only sub-family unaffected by the murders is Rudolf, Kyrie and Battler.
- Maria was killed, which seems to go against how Maria has been in previous games (she has died second least, after Battler, and normally late in the game, via indirect and/or relatively humane ways).
- Genji, who I have stapled as a key accomplice, was taken out in the first twilight. (Perhaps this was to tie up loose ends if it was Sayo?)
I also received a few questions from people, mainly @Aspirety about my previous post, so I’ll try cover those;
The reason I claimed the Stakes were the other Fukuin house servants was because I was trying to match Beatrice’s furniture to the theme that they were based off servants. Kumasawa and Virgilia were pretty obvious, and I then basically decided that the amorphous blob of absurd, similar characters should be paired with the as-yet unseen other amorphous blob of servants; the other servants of Fukuin house. We definitely have received names for a few of them, so I thought it sensible that there might be enough to fill out that roster for the Stakes. Gaap has definitely thrown a spanner in the works in terms of deciding what Beatrice’s furniture represents, if assuming the servant theme, but I find it amusing enough to assume that Gaap is Gohda to leave that one be whilst I look for a better solution (Aspi also told me that Gaap = Nanjo is something of a popular claim too, which is equally as hilarious).
A few people pointed out that my claim that Battler wrote episodes 3 onwards is pretty short on reasoning, and I absolutely agree. There is no necessity for it to be a different author, but there are definitely moments of foreshadowing.
- Battler narrates in purgatory for the first time at the beginning of Episode 3. I think his agency in Purgatory could definitely be taken to be significant. Also the willingness of magical characters to help Battler was an interesting change.
- The fact that we see outside the gameboard after the game for the first time in Episode 3, and then also see 1998 in Episode 4, would seem to me like the person writing about the story is alive after the incident. It would be absurd for message bottles made in 1986, like the two originals spoken about in Ep4, to make such wild claims about the future. Of course we don’t know for certain that the 1998 events that we are shown are true; but if they didn’t hold some element, of truth, why are we shown them?
- As I said in the original posts; if it is not a character we know about who is writing, why are we being shown it at all? Why were we told that only two message bottles were verified to be the truth if we are shown more stories? Why not just leave this detail out. Ryukishi has very much stuck with the idea of
Natsuhi’s Big Fucking RifleChekov’s gun thus far, in that every moment is relevant in some way (RIP Kinzo’s official wife, officially the most irrelevant character).
- Certain story aspects like the red and blue truths (OMG AND GOLD NOW TOO AAAAAAAAAAH) could only exist in a written story, and combined with the ‘only two message bottles’ thing, I think we can assume that the latter episodes, are at least ‘written’ somehow, if I am trying to scrounge up evidence for this theory.
I’d have to go back and screenshot some other things that I noticed but there certainly does seem to be a lot of focus on Umineko as a written work, which I feel plays in to this to an extent. I’ve been looking in to Van Dine’s rules a little bit because of his mention in the tips for Eiserne Jungfrau, and one of his notes is “if the reader, after learning the explanation for the crime, should reread the book, he would see that the solution had, in a sense, been staring him in the face”. Perhaps this is confirmation bias, but I think this theory definitely does justify some story beats that seem utterly tangential within the current scope, the 2 message bottles being the main one thus far. Yes, you might read that and think “so it’s still just a hunch then”, and you’d be absolutely right. It’s very much a hunch, and very much in opposition to Knox’s rule of intuition, but I have to start somewhere, right? And I think as I reread episodes 1-4, I certainly feel the way that Van Dine suggests about this theory. Much the same way that I did in rewatching the opening of Episode 2 after coming up with the Sayo culprit theory; it’s almost like it had been there the whole time.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Episode 5 Tea Party will be recording this Saturday (9 Dec '17), 15:00 UTC
If you can it’d be awesome to have you tune in live to hear @Aspirety guide @Seraphitic, @VyseGolbez and myself through a discussion on Episode 5, as I try my utmost to mediate the fight between Seraph and Vyse whilst Aspi pulls his hair out over how lost we all are.
Figuring out Sayo’s motive for murdering in this game is tricky … but I feel like muddling through it might cast light on Sayo’s motive overall. Ronove explains to Battler that there’s a difference between ‘could’ and ‘would’ – there are things that you could do in chess game, but wouldn’t, because it disrespects the game of chess. You could scribble rude words on the chess board without breaking any of the rules, but you wouldn’t if you truly love chess.
One of Sayo’s rules seems to be ‘if someone solves the epitaph, then Beatrice will stop the epitaph murders.’ That’s the promise she’s made and that she refers to in red. In episode 3, Eva solves the epitaph, but she keeps committing murders in Beatrice’s name. That’s represented in the fantasy scenes by Beatrice stepping down and EVA Beatrice taking over. So that’s one possibility already in the game – after the epitaph is solved, even if Sayo-Beatrice stops the murders, someone else can continue them.
Now, I’m pretty sure (and it seems like you agee, @Jokrono) that the first epitaph murder was faked due to a plot to put pressure on Natsuhi and Krauss and expose their fraud. Hence the insistence that Kinzo has to know, we have to tell him right now, why won’t you let us see the Head, Natsuhi. So Sayo-Beatrice didn’t commit those murders – in the purest sense, she kept her promise. The trouble is those people still end up dead, and Sayo is the most likely person to have killed them. But here’s the thing I think Sayo-Beatrice could do, but she wouldn’t do. Beatrice’s promise is a promise to stop the epitaph murders. It’s not a promise to stop the murders altogether. And true enough, once they’ve been killed, the bodies aren’t presented in accordance with the epitaph. They disappear altogether. It’s like scribbling rude words on the chess board after she’s already lost.
But if the threatening phone calls really happened, and if Sayo made them … then Sayo’s motive in this game seems to be different. No longer is she leaving mysterious letters taunting the survivors and challenging them to solve the epitaph. She doesn’t have to play the witch and maintain the illusion of Beatrice. She simply wants to frame Natsuhi for murder, and pressure her to confess the murder she committed 19 years ago. That’s why, the more I think about it, the more I think Sayo has to be the child from 19 years ago. If Battler is the child from 19 years ago, she could be doing it for Battler’s sake – she could be forcing him to hear Natsuhi’s confession and think about what it means – but I’m going to put that theory aside for now.
The thing I want to talk about right now is what that means for Sayo’s motive in the other games. In the other games, she is willing to stop the murders after the epitaph has been solved. And in the other games, she encourages and provokes everyone to try and solve the epitaph. It could be a taunt, a way of saying ‘catch me if you can’ … but I think it’s a way of saying ‘please stop me.’
Let’s assume Beatrice and Sayo-Beatrice alike have nothing to gain from the murders. They have nothing to gain from the epitaph … except, if the epitaph is solved, the murders will stop. People might still die due to the flaws of the family and their greed and distrust for each other, but Sayo-Beatrice doesn’t have to be the murderer. In fact, she’ll probably die with them.
In every game, whether she succeeds or fails, Sayo most likely dies with the rest of the Ushiromiyas. To me … it seems like she’s been driven into a dark corner by learning the truth of her heritage. If Battler kept his promise six years ago, he could’ve taken her away from all of that, but he didn’t. That’s how she can say Battler’s sin led to all this.
Something I’ve been wondering for a while now is if these threatening phone calls or something similar only happened in this episode. We still don’t know what was actually written in the final letter in the first episode, the one that prompted Natsuhi to go to the portrait. I feel like a message from the mysterious person from 19 years ago (or someone claiming to be that) could actually be a valid possibility. And if this is a thing that happened before, how does that change our thoughts?
Seeing as I have not posted anything to this thread yet and I’m about to do a podcast in a few hours I figured I would write up a little something-something before getting some sleep. This is mostly going to be my reactions and some muddled thoughts since I feel like most people have already said everything that I would say regarding theory. Also, in response to this episode’s message in particular I’m not going to focus quite so much on theorycrafting.
So first of all I’d like to say how much I love to hate Erika. Seriously, she’s Umbridge levels of hateable. I get what she’s meant to represent and that if you were only viewing the story as a mystery to be solved so far you’re meant to see yourself in her and yadda yadda yadda. I get it. However, the contradiction is that we are supposed to find out the answer to what is going on. Beatrice wants Battler to figure things out. The main thing about Erika is that she cares only about the figuring out whereas Battler cares about Beatrice. I think at this point most readers are in the camp of sympathizing with Beatrice. I don’t know what I’m getting at here precisely but it seems like Ryukishi is criticizing his readers attitudes even though most people probably have an attitude closer to Battler’s than Erika’s.
Next thing is my new best girl Dlanor. Not a whole lot to say here other than I love the fact that she actually has a personality and isn’t just a ‘murder doll’. She’s such a sweetheart in that conversation with Battler and Virgilia. The fact that she basically just uses a small amount of reds to blow theories to smithereens feels so cool to me. I think where she won my heart was when she said that she didn’t like Erika either. No further convincing needed at that point.
Just a short section on theories. I haven’t changed from ep 4. I still think that Sayo is behind most things. This episode added this ‘mystery man’ weirdness to the mix. Battler suggested that the mystery man is him though of course it could be Sayo. It would make sense for it to be Sayo as well since Shannon knows about autumn being Natsuhi’s favorite season. Of course that whole thing could be something which didn’t really happen but who knows. Interesting to me is why Sayo would pick something which is so identifiable. Surely s/he would know that Shannon (and thus him/her) would become suspect. It would only seem logical, then, that Sayo wants to be found out. Of course, this was part of our theorizing from the beginning. Sayo wants the truth to come out.
The specifics of this episode aren’t so important to me. It seems likely that, as above, the ‘first twilight’ was staged. The rest is up for debate. Again I’m not going to get into theories. However, it is notable that others have already pointed out that Battler’s perspective is no longer completely trustworthy. Erika’s is presumably but we never got her perspective this episode. Oops. Also I’d like to point out that this episode having Battler interact so much with Kanon and Shannon only serves to highlight how strange it was that it never happened before now! In other words. The fact that Battler spent most of this episode with Kanon and Shannon means that it is even weirder that Battler never did so until now.
As for music, man I loved it. It’s so nice to finally have some new tracks. I love the question arc tracks but eventually even those get a bit stale. New tracks were definitely needed. Also, not as much as the music but having new backgrounds really made things more interesting and fun to read. Overall I just really was glad that this episode wasn’t just more of the same. It actually gave me something interesting. Not that the previous stuff wasn’t interesting. I just really needed something else to get me back into it.
Finally I want to bring up a concern. Now, this could just be me but I feel like Umineko is getting, well a little big for itself. I feel like Umineko is trying to make it seem like it is tackling some deep, immense subject that no one else on earth can possibly comprehend. Now, maybe I’m just reading into it too much or I’m getting carried away. It may also be that I expect such great things from it. However, I just get this terrible feeling in my stomach that I’m going to get the answers to everything and go “…Is that all?.. I’m a little disappointed that that is all this scene meant.” It could be these fears are groundless but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m getting a No Man’s Sky kind of promise about what lies in store for me.
Also, that Ura Tea Party was freaking one of the greatest things I’ve ever read in all my life. Damn.
So recently there was another tidbit brought to my attention regarding the whole Sayo vs Shannon or Kanon debate, and sadly we forgot to cover that in the podcast over all the many other topics, so I’ll post it here instead. The idea that I was told could actually lead the argument in the other direction, making my theory impossible. I’ll write it in blue I guess:
[color=blue]The red truth[/color] [color=red]“Furudo Erika only increases it by one person. Besides her, the number of people on this island is exactly the same as it was in the previous games.”[/color] [color=blue] applies to the amount of people actually on the island, not to the maximum of people that could exist on the island. Therefore, for it being possible for Erika to even enter the game, the maximum given for all games back in the fourth game in the red truth[/color] [color=red]“No more than 17 humans exist on this island!! That excludes any 18th person. In short, this 18th person X does not exist!! This applies to all games!!!”[/color] [color=blue]needs to be at least one higher than the actual amount of people seen so far. In conclusion, Kanon and Shannon have to be the same person, as they are the only ones where proper foreshadowing was presented for this being possible.[/color]
And yeah, there isn’t much room for me to counter this. The only move I have in my repertoire is questioning whether the second red truth I quoted was already applying to future games or not. Or rather, if that red truth was a condition of the gameboard that Lambda couldn’t have changed, or if it is only a move that Beatrice did, with Lambda being able to change that under the argument that Beatrice never expected someone to add another human piece, basically not knowing how future games might look like. And that’s why I don’t like my counter. For my theory to work, it is pretty damn close to accusing Lambda of foul play.
Hey now don’t mistake statements of truth with rules of the game. That red truth was certainly the truth at the time it was said. Doesn’t mean it stays true forever.