This is such a beautiful message, and you’ve expressed it just as beautifully. I think I can say, without exaggeration, that Umineko has changed the way I look at life. Some of the ways it’s changed me have surprised me. I’ve always been interested in the search for truth, whether it’s in the guise of mystery or philosophy. But I’ve also looked unkindly on people who can’t say the truth outright, who obfuscate or embellish it. So it’s strange that Umineko – a story that started with the protagonist denying magic clinging to a single truth – made me realize the value of magic and magical thinking. Especially when it comes to the mysteries of other’s hearts.
Other people’s hearts are always mysteries, because you can’t see their contents for yourself. You only know what they tell you, and they can always lie or misrepresent themselves. So to trust someone – to believe you know them – you have to commit some act of magic. You choose whether or not to look at them with love.
For example … every character on Rokkenjima is dead. Their flaws and their virtues both died with them. It happens all the time in real life – we lose someone, before they can make amends for the bad things they did, or complete the good things they intended. But we still have to tell some story to ourselves. Would they make amends, if they could? Could they change their lives and their world for the better?
I’m remembering that moment at the end of Episode 2, when Rosa protects Maria from demons, and Maria recognizes that there’s no good mama, no bad mama – just her mama. It’s a moment where mother and daughter can finally understand, accept, and love each other. But of course nothing like this ever happened. There were no demons. There was no chance for Rosa to prove her motherly love as she fought bravely against them. While she was alive, Rosa abused and neglected Maria, even after the authorities came to their house.
To put it coldly, this moment is a pretty lie. To put it gently … it’s a possibility. If pressed to the point, would Rosa protect Maria? If they lived their whole lives together, could their relationship change? Rosa abused and neglected Maria, but she comforted her and played with her, too. Are those worth remembering?
If Rosa is dead, if Maria is dead, what should we choose to remember about them? Does it to do any good to speak ill of the dead? Sometimes, I’d argue, it does. It’s important to understand that Rokkenjima is a tragedy, and that the victims – while still being victims – all played some role in carrying it out. We need to understand their sins so we don’t repeat them in our own lives. One of those sins is the cycle of abuse that Rosa inherited from Kinzo. Ultimately, she broke Maria’s heart so thoroughly that Maria was willing to be a witch’s accomplice, and let everyone die for a chance at happiness in the Golden Land.
But there’s still some value in wondering what if Rosa could break the cycle? What if Maria understood her and forgave her? If we say it’s not possible, if we accept everything that happened as inevitable … that might be even worse. That’s almost the same as saying Maria has no right to expect better from Rosa.
And hey, while we’re speaking of possibilities – what if there were one miracle world, where Natsuhi could raise Beato’s child as her own and love them so thoroughly they never doubted they were family? Wouldn’t that change everything?
Unless, of course, it doesn’t. Speaking of hard truths – what do people make of the hard truth Bernkastel showed Lion and Ange? Do you believe it? I can, honestly. But when it comes to the question of ‘how do we remember the dead,’ Ange is the only one who really has to answer it for herself. I could see Kyrie being that calculating, that callous, and discarding her connection to Ange once Rudolf is dead. But that same Kyrie – like Natsuhi in Lion’s world – loved Ange so thoroughly that Ange could never doubt that love. So what should Ange believe? What will be Ange’s magic?