Spoiler-free general discussion topic for Episode 7: Requiem of the Golden Witch of Umineko When They Cry. Episode 7 refers to volumes 16-18 of the manga, and was not adapted by the anime series.
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We’re finally at the answer arc of Umineko. But not really? Introducing the awesome Will who is invited to the world of Umineko by Bernkastel, who is unsatisfied with the lack of closure everyone but Battler has had regarding Beatrice’s tale, and grants Will theatregoing authority to investigate the back stories of all the central characters and reach the heart of Beatrice’s tale. Eventually we are introduced to Clair, a doll who embodies Beatrice’s tale and shares her past with Will, the story of a girl named Yasu. Details are obscured and the mystery is preserved, but enough information is provided to confirm Yasu, and Beatrice’s identity. Will performs Clair’s execution as he answers all of Beatrice’s mysteries through his own riddles, bringing the mystery to a close while maintaining enough ambiguity to keep from ripping the truth wide open. It’s like the difference between a painless, dignified death and a torturous humiliating murder. When it comes to preserving the heart, Will is your man.
But it’s not over yet. We also have the longest Tea Party ever, split into multiple chapters. I guess Bernkastel isn’t satisfied yet, as he throws Will and Ange in chairs and forces them to bare witness to the ‘truth’ of what happened on Rokkenjima, and it drives Ange to madness. I’m very interested to hear what new readers have to say about this tea party.
Finally started reading this one, who knows when I’ll finish with all my stalling, though. Anyhow, the early scenes are already shaping it to be my favourite episode of Umineko and I already like Lion a lot.
Ah, I’ve been reading this a lot lately and I’m currently at the part in which Yasu solves the epitaph and is taken to see Kinzo. At first, I very much liked the episode and until the part of Kinzo’s past recollections, I was liking it, but after that it felt… stagnant to me and somewhat tedious, up until the part in which Yasu starts to fall in love with Battler. Clair’s retelling of Yasu’s memories about living with the servants and becoming a witch were especially tedious for me, but after that, everything became better. I also don’t care too much about Lion at this point, different from what I thought of him at the beginning and have come to appreciate Will more instead. Anyhow, I am very very excited to read the remaining chapters, especially the tea party and the part in which Will and Clair fight.
Finally finished. Well, this was definitely a good episode and I love the twists and turns and all the revelations that were made, but frankly, I’m not as impressed as I thought I would be. I mean, showing Yasu’s backstory, Kinzo and Beatrice Castiglioni’s past and what really happened on 4 and 5 October in Rokkenjima was done well and it was pretty compelling, but I felt that something was… lacking, though I can’t quite put my finger on what that something is. Well, I don’t know, maybe I wasn’t as enthusiastic about reading it either. Anyhow, overall I did enjoy it, and it didn’t become my favourite as I presumed, but it probably will be somewhere among my top three favourites.
I really sped through this one, once I started it was hard to stop. So so much to think about with this one. I’m really starting to get into what Umineko is doing, what this story is. I’m so invested in these characters now, I want to see them happy. I want Lion to fight fate, I want this tale to have a happy ending. I find it interesting, and I’m assuming this is intentional, how my priorities in what I want from this story have completely changed. When I started reading Umineko, I wanted to know the culprit, I wanted to know how they did it. To be honest why didn’t really matter to me. These characters were fated to die, cause it was a murder mystery, so that’s to be expected. I wasn’t a kind reader. Now I want them to fight fate, I want them to break free of the chains of the genre. Umineko has completely made me rethink how I interact with fiction and I love it so much for that. I’ll probably write more once I think it over, cause my head is spinning from all my thoughts after reading.
Can’t wait to read Episode 8.
There’s a few issues I take with this episode. First of all, I kind of dislike that the answer is still given in a convoluted way, being only available to you if you actually think about the story. Why do I dislike that? It’s because I feel this is taunting the reader that doesn’t think. Said reader won’t be able to enjoy this story, as they will just feel belittled for choosing an approach that they themselves perhaps view as just as valid as the approach thinkers take. Basically, to me it feels a bit like it’s saying “Hey, you could know everything by now, but you don’t, so you suck.” And yet again, I also kinda like this kind of answering, simply because it sounds awesome.
Then there’s the topic of what is presented to us as the truth, even in the red. The whole thing with Kyrie and Rudolf going around killing everyone, devolving Kyrie to a heartless beast; even more so than Rudolf. Here my opinion is that while this may be what actually happened, it is not what we were supposed to reach at the end of episode four. What we were supposed to reach there was Beatrice’s heart. Also, as an aside, notice how we didn’t actually see Battler outright dying, so the theory that Battler is the author from ep 3 onward still holds value.
And hey, I feel like answering some questions today.
Illusions to Illusions. The Illusion that was created simply disappeared again. Furthermore, another Illusion hides the truth.
Illusions to Illusions. An illusionary boy was created for the lonely girl.
Illusions to Illusions. The Illusion was proclaimed by several people to exist, thus someone must have acted on behalf of the Illusion, thus introducing it in the early part of the story.
Illusions to Illusions. An Illusion can’t exist in front of someone who can only perceive the truth.
On a personal level I was slightly annoyed at the parts of this episode that were vague despite being an answer. I totally get and appreciate why that is the case though. I thought back to the parts of Episode 6 where the relationship between author and reader were brought up and I think that part of what Ryukishi wants from the reader is to think a bit the story we’re reading.
Personally I never considered the answer vague, after episode 6 it was really obvious that Shannon=Kanon but it wasn’t clear why, episode 7 elaborates on why Shannon is Kanon. It’s also important to remember the original way Umineko was released, the story and the episodes were dissected and analyzed by countless people over the years, constantly, so it was hard to “Not think”.
I can definitely agree that the motive can be a bit hard to understand, even R07 himself admitted he could have made a lot of thing more clear and his writing wasn’t perfect, and there were a lot of cases that felt like “we just don’t know” that lead to a lot of frustration.
Never forget the heart, Will says. I say, is the mystery truly solved without it? Is the story finished without it? Here we come to that natural conclusion, the basis for the Rokkenjima massacre. The story of Lion and Clair intermingle as a snake winds around a rock to eat its own tail, just as the circles of mystery and fantasy slowly tighten around Rokkenjima. We are introduced to Will, member of the SSVD, who operates from Van Dine’s rules as opposed to Dlanor who follows Knox. A quite handsome and dashing Übermensch who seeks the ‘why dunnit’ - why did the culprit commit the crime? It is just as important as the who and how. Even as a mystery novice, I knew that coming in.
Our first stop is the story of Kinzo, during his time in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Here, we meet Beatrice Castiglioni, or as I call her, Beatrice Prime. The one who gave him not only the gold, but life itself. A reason to live, a reason to love. A purpose. Reminds me a lot of a certain visual novel company. Then, the story slowly unravels from there. The mansions are built, and Beatrice Prime dies giving birth to the new Beatrice, who Kinzo disturbingly treats as Beatrice reborn. From this incestuous union, Lion/Clair is born, and Natsuhi’s actions dictate Lion’s fate from there on. This episode was incredibly long, but unlike episode 6 I wasn’t losing interest because of something like the incomprehensible love trials (which are no longer so) having me wonder why I should care.
Then, we come to the culprit and their story. It’s almost spelled out who it is, but I see how Ryukishi cleverly tries to throw the reader off the trail by having the emergence of Clair and his usual use of what I believe is unreliable narrator. By splitting so many things, it becomes easier to piece them back together. We are introduced to Battler’s sin - he forgot his promise of coming back to save Shannon. This is the cause of the massacre, a love that was lost but reignited in 1986. I’m still having trouble figuring out why 1986 is so important, as Clair states if it were a year earlier or later it would have been different. Why?
Now I want to get into the affect Umineko has had on me. Coming into this story I had plenty of expectations of it being the best thing ever made, and that no story afterwards will ever compare. Of course, this is nobody’s fault but my own for letting such notions pierce my skull. I wasn’t expecting it to change me; this is what Key novels were for after all. Now though, as the above lines were uttered, it dawned on me. Is not every story a mystery? Every person? Life itself? Everything is an enigma waiting to be unwrapped, even if there are no detectives or murders. That is the very nature of the world, and one I believed I didn’t understand, but I really did. I suppose I should rephrase it like this: this theoretical engine of mine always ran, but Umineko opened my eyes to its existence. I suppose that I have ‘love’, now. I remember going into Umineko not really interested in mystery, and now I’m listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks in the gym. I guess Ryukishi succeeded.
As the tale of the culprit wraps up, we get to the meat of what I love about Umineko, which is the gameboard, hiding in the tea party of all places. Admittedly, this ran the gamut of my emotions. I was ecstatic to see the adults actually solve the epitaph together, only to see them predictably turn on each other. I remember both loving and hating it one moment after the next. Kyrie and Rudolf coldly killing their family members for money was but another test from Ryukishi to see if I could keep my emotions in check, and after the inital disgust and shock all I felt were pity for these pieces.
So as I reach the end, I swallow the same bitter pill that I always do at the end of a long and winding story. I know the void awaits me, that longs and screams for another story to fill it. I’m still debating on whether Umineko will beat Higurashi. As various other stories have taught me though, I know that a single part of a story can make up for all its other parts. Ryukishi loves being so roundabout and dragging out scenes that I did lose interest at some points, mostly in episodes 5 and 6. I am grateful to Umineko though, and it’s hard to believe it’s almost over. As Will states above, the threads of fate are ours to weave, and intend to carve out my future with my own hands. I have learned many things from Umineko. I thank it.
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?
I’m not here with one of my usual “@technololigycan you raise the character limit pls?” posts today. I’ll try have that in a week. I just wanted to come here and espouse how amazing I thought this episode was. I didn’t think we’d get any concrete answers, and at the face value of the words, I was right, but we also got way more than I was expecting. As I said a heap to @MagusVerborum during the playthrough, we didn’t get concrete answers, but you can see the shape of the wet cement. Despite how clear our answers seemed to be, even in the tea party it was revealed that there were yet more half-truths abound here and I think that this is perhaps the most fitting way that Ryukishi could have given us the information we needed.
I also don’t want to get in to it too much but that final tea party pretty much broke me. Perhaps I’ll prepare a clip for this podcast.
Hopefully I can reasonably word this all out in Episode 3 of ‘Jokrono floundersabout in Umineko’. I don’t know if I have anything quite as crazy as the Meta Theory or the Hachijo-romance theory to throw out there this time, but I’ll try my best. I can’t leave the theatregoing witches unamused, after all
So I wanna go more into detail as to how Kyrie and Rudolf might have been the ones to actually kill most of the family in reality, or how I called it in the last episode, layer X. There’s certainly some sense to this. If we look at Eva with love, it gives both another reason why she refuses to ever tell the truth (protecting Ange’s image of her parents), while also explaining very well why Eva is the lone survivor, as she really would never kill or leave behind George and Hideyoshi if she’d plan the explosion to hide stuff. You could even go one step further and suppose that once the relationship between Ange and Eva broke for good she was still protecting Kyrie and Rudolf by at least implicitly painting herself as the big villain.
I think you’re right. I think the relationship between Eva and Ange grew more twisted and bitter with time, and Eva’s motives grew more and more distorted as she resented Ange for not living up to George’s memory … but Eva started from a place of wanting to protect Ange from the truth. Ange was a grieving child who didn’t understand the weight of her words, but it must have been particularly painful to hear Ange say she didn’t want Eva, she wanted her mom and dad. Eva must have wanted to lash out, to tell Ange mom and dad were murderers, but she never did. That truth must have simmered inside her, and led to her lashing out in other, unhealthy ways. Even at her deathbed she couldn’t tell Ange the truth, instead mocking her with it, inviting Ange to hate her.
Umineko is really tragic, guys.
EDIT: Oh! Pontificating about tragedy aside, there’s still a little mystery I’d like to address. ‘The key to the Golden Land’ — the envelopes sent in a roundabout way to Nanjo’s family, Kumasawa’s family, and Ange, that contained the card and the PIN to an outrageous amount of money.
In this episode, Sayo-Beatrice explains how she set that money aside, and she offers a card and the PIN to the adults. Which all makes sense, and it makes sense that Sayo-Beatrice would be the one to send out those envelopes. But why? Initially, I thought it might be consolation money for those who would leave family behind. (No one else got it because they took their family to Rokkenjima.)
That doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny, though. Or at least it wobbles under scrutiny. Sayo could expect Nanjo’s family and Kumasawa’s family to survive, because they had no reason to come to Rokkenjima. But Ange was supposed to come. She got sick at the last minute. Didn’t she?
Which leads to the larger question — why isn’t Ange in any of the witch’s gameboards? It could be that Ange was sick often enough that Sayo planned a few gameboards without Ange, and those just so happen to be the gameboards we see. But then why send the envelope, which was postmarked before the Rokkenjima conference? She must have been sure Ange wasn’t coming.
Did Rudolf and Kyrie keep her home on purpose? Were they already the witch’s accomplices? Perhaps the money wasn’t consolation money — perhaps it was bribe money. And perhaps that’s why Nanjo and Kumasawa, who are her accomplices in every gameboard, would receive money, too.
What do you think, everyone?
A further thought … In Episode 4, Ange felt sure she played a part in the tragedy of Rokkenjima, because years ago she told Maria that Sakatarou was nothing but a stuffed toy. (Because Ange’s mom told her so, funnily enough.) That’s when the Mariage Sorciere was reduced to just Maria and Sayo, and likely when they started to turn to ‘black magic’ and revenge fantasies. That helped make the murder possible. So maybe Sayo left Ange out on purpose. Maybe this was her way of rejecting Ange from the Golden Land, just as Ange rejected magic. Or maybe she needed a survivor, someone to wonder what happened, to make the Golden Land more real. The Golden Land is, after all, a place where all things are possible because everyone in it is dead, where furniture and humans are equal. But it still takes two to make a world: a person to tell the story, and a person to read it. Sayo wrote the stories in the bottle-messages as Maria, perhaps expecting Maria’s friend Ange to one day read them.
I totally agree regarding Eva. To throw it back to Ep4 where Okonogi says to view Eva with love, he’s totally right; Eva became broken because she was trying to help Ange but the lack of reciprocation and the actions of the media twisted her, just like how Sayo’s comforting magical fantasies turned to her murderous end.
The question regarding Ange and the money card is definitely tricky. I do think it is possible that all of the families had money sent to them, but we only saw the survivors accounts. I’ll have to go check to see in ep4 if it specifies how many safes there were. I’m sure there is some way to resolve it but it definitely is a peculiar problem. One idea I had is that maybe Sayo survived the scenario in the gold room just like Eva did and wrote them later on, which is hinted at by the tense of Bern’s words regarding the sealing of the cat box in the tea party, but there are still holes there.
I also do somewhat agree with the claim that Ange might have been left behind on purpose. It certainly seems that Kyrie and Rudolf were prepared to kill from the start. More digging to do.
As for Ange’s responsibility in the crimes, I think it certainly would have played a factor but as episode 7 goes to show, there were many other twisted occurrences that led to the crime so it would be foolish for Ange (or us) to believe she was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I do like the idea that the stories were left behind for Ange, but I think I’d attribute that to the author of episodes 3 onwards more than Sayo. More on that once I’m done besting myself silly over a mega post
I definitely agree that Rudolf and Kyrie were prepared for the worst possible outcome of the family conference (and that could certainly be one of the reasons they left Ange behind), but I do not think they initially planned to kill anyone until Krauss and Natsuhi died.
However, if we take Kyrie’s words to Eva at face value, then Kyrie really did not care about Ange and therefore she would be perfectly okay with taking Ange to Rokkenjima. That would mean that either Rudolf pushed for Ange to stay home or Ange really was sick and unable to go.