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.
@Ushiromiya_Battler I will dispute your final claim by saying that if they were predicting murder, they would have been hoping to survive, and Kyrie would still have wanted Ange around to tie Rudolf to her. I don’t think that they were actually planning on killing on anyone, but they clearly prepared, and it would be a sensible precaution to make nonetheless.
@mimsy In episode 4 the number of safes that Nanjo’s son mentions is ‘at least twenty’, so in fact I think it is more likely that Sayo left behind money for everyone, and that the master card she offers to give up in the Tea Party might have unlocked all of them. As much as I’d love to poke holes in why Sayo sent out cards to people, I think the fact that Ange received one might actually indicate the opposite to what you suggested; that she was expected to be caught up in the crime. Why she didn’t appear in the gameboards remains a question but I think I will attribute that to the timing of when the message bottles were sent out, as I suggested in my last post. I think the bottles were sent out towards or after the end of the crime, and thus only ones that could be seen as valid to the truth could be sent out, to help create the cat box.
Good find! It makes sense, given Sayo’s whole approach and Clair’s emphasis on the ‘roulette of fate.’ She left it up to fate whether anyone solved the riddle and survived, and she left it up to fate whether anyone would receive the envelopes with the key to the Golden Land. Under that reading, Ange surviving was simply an accident of fate.
As for the bottle messages … Who do you imagine sent them? I ask mainly because we see Sayo die fairly early on in the murders depicted by the tea party. It’s possible she survived being shot, just like Eva survived, and she sent the bottle messages out as a final plea for someone to find the truth. But it’s also possible she sent them out that morning, or that Genji or another accomplice sent them on her behalf. I’m curious whether there’s evidence to decide it one way or the other. (Or maybe that’s for Episode 8 to answer. Always possible.)
I’ve had a lot of people tell me that Episode 7 was particularly divisive, and I can see why. Episode 7 gets rid of the gameboard, essentially. There are no mysteries presented to you that it asks you to solve. Of course, there are still mysteries and many, many questions that the episode raises, but the episode doesn’t really ask you to solve them. At this point, the premise of Umineko has been shattered yet again, and I’m sure this is just one amongst innumerable reasons that people may not have liked this episode. But I’m here to fight. I’m here to defend my boy Ryukishi
Let us begin.
I think the first thing I have to say about this episode, is that it didn’t surprise me.
Of course this oversimplifies things. I definitely was surprised that we were told certain things, but at no point in this story was I surprised at the content of said things. To the game!
The Diary of Jokrono
So first, let’s go over the Episode at face value. I’d really like to shout @Zosonte out for this one. I think Zosonte is a clear indicator of the type of reader Ange was in Episode 6; he didn’t spend the time to tear this story to bits like perhaps I have, but by god do I respect that he stuck with it, even through all of the issues he felt with it, particularly in earlier episodes. I think that the fantastic post he made on this thread really goes to show that even if you are not as active of a reader as someone like me, there is still value and great storytelling to be had with this story, and much as Featherine did in Episode 6, I extend my thanks to those of you like Zosonte who soldiered through some of the drier parts of the story for a payoff like this. I put in an absurd amount of effort in to unravelling this, and honestly if it did require this much work I’d call it a bad story. Your enjoyment validates, to me, how brilliantly executed I think this story is.
Will and Lion
I think that Vyse’s assertion at the end of the Ep6 thread was pretty spot on; Will is brought in so that Bern can hide the true nature of things. The first red truth that Will uses in this story is It is forbidden for a servant to be the culprit! …Van Dine’s Twenty Rules, Rule #11 could deny the culprit theory that Episode 6 and 7 go on to more or less confirm. This is why, I think, the culprit appears as Lion this episode; because it is not their role as a servant that makes them significant as a culprit. At the same time, I believe Will appears for the same reason. Will is a parallel for Battler, first and foremost because Battler is incompetent but at this point understands things and thus cannot appear as himself. Battler, one of our main characters appears for so few lines that he almost doesn’t play a role in the episode outside Clair’s diary flashbacks. In this claim, Will and Lion appear as both idealised versions of who their underlying characters wish they were; Lion is the idealised Sayo, who did not have a traumatic life and became the model child they dreamed of being, whilst Will is the idealised Battler, who is not incompetent, who was able to see the heart, and was able to find someone they cared for enough that he nearly threw himself away in the Tea Party. The interesting question I have is, though, where does the personality of Lion come from? Was this based off further writings Sayo left behind? Did the author (who I claim is Battler for this Episode) come up with it as a guise for what anonimity Sayo has left in this story?
Also, hold me closer, that scene in the ‘sea’ of fragments at the end of the Tea Party, hot damn if that doesn’t fit nicely with the claims I made during Episode 5 about what happened to Battler, causing the trauma I claim happened. More on that later though.
What a fantastic way to do this. I don’t think we learned anything new in broad strokes that @Seraphitic and I hadn’t found in previous episodes, but hot damn if it didn’t fill in the details on those broad strokes beautifully. It let us see the significance of all of the things that have been hinted at in previous games and finally answered the one question (for me) that Seraphitic kept raising; were our proposed reasons really enough to kill over? We finally got to see the intricacies of the twisted life that Sayo led, and the cruel timing of the ‘hell of fate’. The build-up of the character of the witch, the blending of the mythology that Sayo made to portray these aspects of herself. I particularly enjoyed how Ryukishi toyed with the identities that the culprit paired themselves with; Shannon starting as the ‘idea’ imaginary friend that Yasu should live up to, then abandoning that and taking Shannon as herself whilst she still hid behind the guise of this new Beatrice. The other thing that nearly surprised me here was the appearances of the Fukuin house servants. I wasn’t surprised that they were in fact, the counterparts for the Seven Stakes, but I was surprised that we were shown this. It was the first time in the diary that I realised quite how much we were going to be shown. I also particularly enjoyed the image of Beatrice drawing the visuals for all of these friendly magic characters. It’s such a beautiful scene to picture Sayo and Maria sitting there and dreaming up these big things with Genji, Kumasawa and Nanjo. I don’t think Nanjo is the ‘whole’ vessel for Gaap quite like Genji is for Ronove, but I do find the idea particularly beaufitul that Sayo made the rotund, old man, in to the most visually ridiculous character in the diary. Another beautiful part of this was that I have just been editing in Episode 4 where Sakutaro first appears (which is actually the same video I first thoroughly ironed out this magical/servant connection, funnily enough) and it suddenly makes a heap of sense that Sayo, Ange and Maria were playing together and that when Beatrice ‘signed’ that Sakutaro was real, it was really just Sayo drawing his magical image. Aside from the positive side of Sayo using magic to cope with the circumstance of their life, there’s also the twisted side, the Epitaph, the way they were treated, and Kinzo’s final repentance. Something felt off about how calm Beatrice was in those final moments of Kinzo’s life, and it was tragic to see that this hunch was right, as we saw the agonised words of Sayo screaming at the room further towards the end of the episode. What a horrid, twisted moment that must have been. Despite Genji, Nanjo and Kumasawa’s best intentions and loyalty, they arguably just made many things worse by putting Sayo in the role of the servant, and the moment Sayo realised how much of a charade their whole life had been, that must have been devestating.
Also Battler my boy. What the fuck bro?
It’s part of the critically perfect tragedy of Sayo that she fell for the man whose words were dramatic for the sake of it. Despite Battler being a protagonist for most of the series, we finally see the extent to which he has adopted the womanising ways of Rudolf. We are even told that Battler’s return in 1986 was the reason things had to go the way they did, what a tragic line that was. To an extent I think that we see a heavy focus on Battler in Episode 7 because he is one of the main characters of the story, not because he is actually as responsible as the aforementioned line might make it seem. Not to downplay his role, of course, but I think the implication of what we see between Sayo and Battler is actually that Sayo had managed to cope, by giving Shannon’s love to Beatrice, but the unfortunate timing of his return, when Sayo had resolved to escape the fate they had been dealt, meant that Sayo suddenly felt the need to take drastic action, as their cruel fate had closed in on them even further. In my theory that Battler is the one writing this episode, I think it’s actually something of a brilliant touch that his role in the crime is overplayed, because it implies guilt that he deservedly feels.
This one got me. This one got me good. I think this was the first big ‘here are the answers’ moment of this episode, and I was not prepared. It was amazing to see the true backstory of the orignal Golden Witch and Kinzo. One thing that became apparent on a quick re-read of this episode was that even in Kinzo’s tale there are contradictions that really go to demonstrate that even this truth of the past is marred by lies and half-truths, as is demonstrated in the final line revealing that Kinzo was the one behind the plan to steal the gold. Much as Episode 7 portrays Sayo and Battler through the idealised characters of Lion and Will, we also get to see the idealised personality of Kinzo from his past. Of course, we learn of how much he hated his life, but the moment that Beatrice appears to him, suddenly these things are forgotten. When he goes to take her back to Nijiima, there is no off mention of his responsibilities to the family; he sees only the ideal world of him and Beatrice. Perhaps this is the real nature of Kinzo’s madness and magic; he could cast aside reality to focus wholly on what he desired. I find it also fitting that Episode 7 is conducted in the chapel that Kinzo built; a place to remember his love for Beatrice. For all the purposes that it could serve; the epitaph, marriage, funerals, really it is there to signify his entire love, and is also so fitting that it is left alone, because perhaps, Kinzo knows it is something he could never really have. This story might be the tragedy of the culprit, but as the past episodes have shown us, everyone has a story, and I think this episode did a beautiful job of showing just how broken Kinzo was too. He might have been dead before the games began, but he was the origin of all this mess. Kinzo might be an absolute meme of a man , but all of this started from Kinzo being a broken man, and I think it’s fitting that he had his moment to show where his heart truly lay.
I think it’s fair to say that I nailed this. There were definitely some details in my epitaph theory that were questionable, especially regarding the four gifts, but I don’t think anything was outright wrong. The one I was most surprised at was actually the souls of the dead. I wasn’t wrong; there were corpses and ghosts below the island, representing what happened there, but I don’t think this was Kinzo’s intention in writing. Perhaps it was meant to be a double meaning, but I take more weight to the four gifts being Kinzo’s repentance to Sayo and her mother.
A while after I made mine, I saw a couple of other attempts from Newt and CrazyFoxx, two other LPers over on YouTube, and seeing their similar answers from different methods redoubled my confidence. It was really interesting to see which details we did and didn’t pick up on, and yet mostly came to the same point. Shoutout to Newt3012, 1CrazyFoxx1, Narnith, Sobata and TimeAxis, by the way. I’m sure there are others but these are the guys I’ve interacted with. I also really have to give top props to @midsummer for making the real solution seem even more doubtful just before we recorded it. Speaking of which, I really skipped a lot of the official solution? Who needs Japanese when you can just artistically allude your way to victory? Of course I could sit here and talk about the tragedy of Kinzo and the culprit for another few paragraphs, what with him planning the epitaph for years, but I do find the idea amusing that Kinzo came up with this nonsense so that he could just remember how to get to his gold. As was pointed out by @VyseGolbez way back on my original epitaph thread during Episode 3;
And it could be totally right; Kinzo might have come up with this immense game in his madness, and it was just child’s play to give gravity to the absurd creation he had lying below the island.
The other thing I realised whilst playing, was that I came up with my solution and then became confused how nobody had solved it before 1986, when I had done it in a week, and I really had to step back and remind myself that I was using a veritable gold-mine (pun intended) of hints that Ryukishi had given out, founded off the knowledge that everyone had come up with in those two years. On that note, I also find Genji’s hint to Sayo a really cool touch. Much like Okonogi said way back in Episode 4; it’s probable that Kinzo left it up so that he could give the headship to the person he want, and by god the man was right (Okonogi really is a wealth of red-herring type understanding in this story); it was Genji giving a hint to Sayo that really gave the headship to who Kinzo desired.
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but this was brilliant. I think that Will’s solutions perfectly capture the spirit of the story; they are not a direct, in your face answer, but they give you enough to work with. On top of that, it brings back one simple concept; the goal is not to prove exactly how it was done, but to prove it was possible for humans. For all of the exacting solutions that I’m told the manga contains, I don’t think I care. Episode 7 is the solution I think this story deserved. None of my answers I gave in the Episode 5 thread have changed, and I think they fit Will’s solutions pretty nicely, but at the same time I don’t really need to find out. I think it is good that the ‘real’ solutions are out there, to give those who seek it the satisfaction they crave, but Will’s solution definitely marked me as someone who doesn’t. I should clarify, I definitely do think that in the convention of the genre, the ‘true’ montage of how the crime is done is an important part, but I think in the scope of Umineko, where characters like Knox and Willard come in to poke at the conventions of the genre, it is completely fair and deserved that Ryukishi could write his answers like this. I know that as someone who likes to write things, it sometimes can be satisfying to leave your stories open ended, to leave some details unsaid, because you want them to be that way. Normally as a writer I love this but as a reader I hate it, but I think for once Ryukishi has made satisfied with leaving those details unsaid, and letting any truth be possible.
This is by far the detail I would love to discuss the most; how do you feel about leaving the solutions unsaid? For those of you that have seen the Manga’s solutions, how do you feel it altered your view of the story? Which way would you prefer it be?
The Tea Party
I believe it. As Bern said This is all the truth-. For all of the similarly colored herrings that this red, incomplete sentence might open up, I don’t see why Ryukishi would share this with us if it didn’t contain some aspect of the truth. As we’ve discussed in earlier posts in this thread; it totally reframes who Eva is in Episode 3 and 4. Much as our champion, Okonogi, said, you just have to view Eva with love. I also find the idea that Eva wrote the details that the Tea Party was based off a solid one. Not only does the Tea Party’s board open with the laughter of EVA, we also see a perspective that very much reflects Eva. The details of the scuffle that launched the massacre are marred, just as Eva tries to make them seem. When Eva is not there, the criminals are portrayed at the utter peak of their cruelty, such as the murderer’s slow walk through the guest house and the vicious beating Jessica received. The final verbal assault that Kyrie unveils before Eva to me is just too perfectly evil; as much as I am willing to believe that those words were really said, I also think the way that they are said was brought out even further in Eva’s memories. Not only that, but with the shot that fells Kyrie, Eva is the victor despite us seeing Kyrie move first. Given how skilled Kyrie was made to seem with these weapons, I think that Eva has blurred the truth to make it seem like she did not shoot first (insert your Han shot first memes here).
Aside from my tirade of trying to further pick apart the authorship of the story, I think there is one key detail here. Regardless of who wrote it, or what is the truth, the fact remains that the cat box did shut, the island did explode, and the forgeries were made. For all of the terrible things that could have happened during the family conference of 1986, the tragedy remains that it happened. For all of the beautiful, broken backstories Ryukishi has given this astounding cast of characters, the premise is that they all died. Truth be told I think I let this story down because I accepted that so easily at the beginning of Episode 2. I stopped caring about the characters because I merely accepted they were gone. Ange in Episode 4 brought me back around to caring, and for all of the offputting pacing of Episode 4, I am so thankful for that episode because it made me care again.
The other thing about this Tea Party, is that I don’t think the truth ends once we return to the theatre; I think Will and Lion’s escape from the theatre actually shows part of the truth. As I mentioned earlier in my segment on Will and Lion, I think that the end of this Tea Party reflects very, very clearly what I think happened to Battler after the gameboard, and to mix that in with all of the other components I suggested, such as Lambda’s window-leaping rescue in Episode 5, I think we have a pretty compelling image of what really happened to Battler. It does raise the question of what happened to Sayo, if this end of the Tea Party does reflect the truth of Layer X, but I’m confident in saying that this is why that particular scene is there.
But I suppose little of this has answered why I believe this is the truth, beyond a red truth. As much as I could go in to the reasons it makes sense, I will live you with one, simple reason; Battler didn’t die.
Let’s see if I choke on that.
So then we have The Cat Box. I think I might have tried to do too much in too little time here; to really capture the essence of what I’m saying here, really you should just sit down with a notepad and reread the story, but I’ve tried my utmost nonetheless.
The Cat Box of Jokrono
You should trust Ryukishi. His game is fair.
But this is just an opinion.
Whilst it was something that I believed right from the start, I never really took a look at how Ryukishi was trying to show us the answers. Even as I’m right in the middle of editing Episode 4, when Ryukishi is telling the audience outright the nature of magic, I was there trying to figure out what riddles he was playing to trick me. I believed that the game was solved, and I trusted Ryukishi that far, but I didn’t realise until much more recently, how fair Ryukishi had been writing his own game.
I think at this point in the story, after reading it, editing it, hunting it down for answers and coming up with crackpot theories that I thought were unlikely, I now stand here at the helm of a smooth sailing ship that I was sure would hit an iceberg. I went in to writing these massive posts and my musings on the playthrough, with the goal of being entertaining and having fun. I would pick details and run with them to the edge of their life to try just have fun with theorycrafting, because I enjoy it. I did not expect that so many of those things would be demonstrated to be true, and after we didn’t see Battler die in the ‘Truth’, I was left with the realisation that the only reason I’d come to this conclusion was because I had actually spent the time trying to back everything up with evidence. Of course, I think the evidence could be thoroughly misconstrued, but it also made me realise that if Ryukishi hadn’t left valid hints to get me to this point, I wouldn’t have been able to. I am sure there are people who doubt that I really came to these conclusions I’ve reached of my own volition, but really I hope that these people simply look at it with love; Ryukishi did leave these hints, enough that I was able to come to these conclusions, and that is the really impressive part. So here, I stand before you to show you the terrifying brilliance with which this novel was constructed.
But after all this, how do I define ‘fair’? Let’s take a look at this through the story’s internal judge of fairness; Knox. If we analyse the whole story through Knox, is it possible to say that these rules are met. As we covered they definitely don’t follow Van Dine’s rules; but as @Karifean pointed out at the time, Van Dine takes more focus on originality and what makes a story ‘good’ than he does on the fairness of the fight against the witch. The trouble I found, as I went to write this all up, was that there really is no perfect answer. In the original decalogue, the rules are all ‘none of this, unless foreshadowing’. Even in the tips for the Decalogue in the games, it says; “The debate over the interpretation of these laws continues to this very day, and it has become the source of countless unfair controversies.” So have I backed myself and my beautiful smiling Ryukishi in to a corner? To an extent, yes; I have. The only way I can fundamentally prove that Ryukishi has foreshadowed everything, would be to go through every hidden beat of the story and show you how all of them have been foreshadowed. As much fun as that would be, I think that if you take everything you learn and do a slow, notepad-equipped readthrough, you will find, as I have in editing, that there is plenty of evidence and foreshadowing hiding everywhere.
But that doesn’t make for a very interesting post; so let’s go look at some foreshadowing!
First of all; the culprit. I’m sure that the evidence towards the culprit’s identity in earlier episodes has been utterly beaten to death on this, and many forums, but none, to me, were more blatant in editing, than one detail in Episode 1.
In the most subtly blatant move ever, Ryukishi outright tells you who the culprit is. There is only one person who has been grabbed by the collar in the story thus far, and they were the culprit. Of course, none of this could have revealed the true extent of Sayo’s game, but even me, with bugger all experience in mysteries, immediately noticed this detail. Of course I passed it off as a joke at the time, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this details is there. This isn’t Ryukishi trying to hide the culprit; this is him taking a roundabout route to just tell you who it is.
Of course, in accordance with Van Dine’s rules, the answer is staring you in the fact the whole story. From Shannon’s breasts literally staring you in the face in the opening chapters of Episode 1, to the opening dialogues of the Culprit in Episode 2, to the ghosts of Sayo’s personalities in Episode 3, to Kanon’s mysteriously absent corpse in Episode 4, this story is utterly packed with details that demonstrate to you what the truth is. As much as other truths could be constructed from the Red Truth, if you read the story with Sayo in mind, you will see every facet of what was revealed about them in Episode 7, all the way back to the very, very beginning when Kanon spills some fertiliser because he freaked out at seeing Battler for the first time in 6 years. On the playthrough, we’ve spoken at pretty great length about people who see all of the love scenes and wonder why we spend so much time away from the murder mystery to look at them, and there is simply one reason; that is why this all happened. The reason these flawed characters do all of these terrible things is for love, in one way or another. The reason Ryukishi shows them to us is because they matter, because they make the story what it is.
The exception to his, is somewhat in Episode 6. Episode 6 shows the summary of all of the trials of love of the various women around the island, rather than just Sayo. At face value, this might seem like a pretty sizeable deviation from the main love story of Umineko; these stories don’t help you solve the culprit’s identity, right? I don’t think so. Not only do these trials of Eva, Kyrie, Natsuhi and Rosa serve to justify their own motives across the games, it also serves as a mask for what the culprit feels. Once again; you have to ask yourself why Ryukishi would write this if it didn’t matter. I already went far in to my reasons over on the Episode 6 Thread about what the significance of the Love Trials could be to the author, but I also think it’s important to look and see that much as all of the wives on Rokkenjima came to their particular ideals through love and because their love broke them in one way or another, this too is what happened to Sayo. I also think that it is quite appropriate that of the wives in the Ushiromiya family that did manage to cope with their circumstance, Natsuhi seemed to be the strongest. Sure she might have done some questionable things in loyalty to her husband, and she might be very bad at handling herself in certain stressful situations, but she is the least morally twisted, and also is the only one that we see using ‘magic’ to cope. This is exactly like Sayo; they used magic to cope and despite being a klutz, and not always handling things well, they managed to live through an absolute hell of a life before they were finally broken by the cruelty of their fate.
Even beyond identifying the culprit and the significance of love to this tale, there is also very easily apparent writing that tells you outright the goal of the gameboard. The witch wants Battler to see her. It remains somewhat shrouded through Episode 1, but once you reach the end of Episode 1, a look in to Battler’s tips will reveal “Hopefully even this fool will be able to see you before too long”. Despite all of the words of endless torture and suffering (which is in itself reframed the further you go in), Ryukishi leaves in plain terms after the first game the true goal; this is all for Battler to see the witch.
So let’s go look at all of the other stuff; all of the other nonsense that I somehow managed to predict. I think if you’ve been paying attention to the playthrough, you’ve probably noticed some things that were slightly spoiled for me, such as the existence of Kawabata. Erika was also the same, I’d seen her name and sprite around, and whilst I had no direct context for who she was going to be, it was pretty simple to guess. The things I’m concerned about are the little surprises and hints that Ryukishi drops on the way that feel utterly innocuous as you go through the first time; the bits that are staring you in the face once you’ve seen it all.
Let’s start off with the Chiester Sisters. Once the relationship between Vessels and magical characters is established, it’s pretty easy to connect the Chiester Sisters with Rifles and the Rabbit Band that Maria has in Episode 4. Even without your understanding of the rules, though, the detail is there for you to figure it out long, long before. At the end of Episode 2, as Rosa runs away from the goats and butterflies that mask the truth of the Rokkenjima Explosion Incident, it is described that she loads a 45 Long Colt round in to her rifle.
If you picture this scene without the magical guise of the goats and butterflies, Rosa really had no one to shoot at in this scene. For all of the allusions that Ryukishi is likely making in this scene, I think it is very blatantly apparent that he chose to mention the specifics of the weapon Caliber with the direct intention of unveiling the Chiester Sisters soon after. There is, also, of course, the description of the Winchester rifle from the Episode 1 tips, even earlier. In this way, even if you aren’t brushed up on your firearms knowledge, you’ve had a very recent exposure to the true origin of the name for Chiester 45.
The Chiester Sisters also give advanced notice of their relationship to the story at the end of Episode 3, when 45 uses Maria’s witch name for the first time in the novel, not only showing the Chiester’s direct tie to Maria, but also establishing the nature of that relationship as the furniture address their master.
In this way, when the ceramic Rabbit band is first introduced in Episode 4, Ryukishi has already demonstrated this connection, long before you get to the unveiling of Sayo drawing them in Episode 7. To take this even further; Ryukishi shows us Sayo drawing a magical character in Episode 4. When Sakutaro is first acknowledged by Beatrice as a living creature and she ‘signs’ his existence to be real; she even describes the artistic choices she made in his design as she draws him in her book. Not only that, but Sakutaro even asks what she is drawing.
With simple things like these, Ryukishi is simply putting the answers in plain sight. If you still didn’t get it by the time you’ve reached episode 7, he comes forward with the answers, and even though they are still under the guise of a magical meeting between Beatrice and her furniture, so that you have had your chance to spot the clues by yourself, but also will not be left out of understanding what has been going on. The obvious counterpoint to this is Will’s solutions in this Episode, but as I wrote in the Diary section of this post, it is because Ryukishi is showing you the importance of each mystery. If you go back and look at each of the crimes committed with Will’s answer in mind; you have been shown the detail that lets the crime work, and you have long since been given the clues to work out the intricacies. To understand the story, you do not need to know that Kanon and Genji’s actions in the second twilight contradicted the very things that they said they were going to do minutes before they enter the room, but you do know that the chain was ‘of illusions’, and thus you can resolve that the culprit entered the room and killed them without worrying about the chain.
The question then comes to the mysteries that Ryukishi seems to give no answer to. What of Natsuhi’s death in Episode 1, which receives no truth from Will? I think even for me, this is the ones that strikes a point of contention. Whilst I think it is simple to reason out that Natsuhi died from a shot by Sayo, whilst her own gun held blanks, is there really an answer here? Is there a foreshadowing in Episode 1 to demonstrate a truth? I think this one definitely comes close to a no; but we are told that Kinzo has a collection of guns, and also; if Natsuhi did die to a gunshot wound, but the person she shot at was unharmed; what other answer could there be? Even if you hadn’t managed to draw this conclusion, by Episode 3 it is revealed that there are more guns on the island, and this also becomes a key (I believe) to unravelling the murders for all of the previous murders. Could the gunshot wounds apparent through Episodes 1 and 2 be considered enough foreshadowing to solve those crimes on their own without the reveal in Episode 3 that there are more? I think it is fair; after all, if the mysteries were so easy to begin with, there wouldn’t be as much point reading forwards. Even in the crimes and actions that Ryukishi does not give a spoken answer to at this point; we still have enough to work with to figure out how it could be possible, and as I said earlier regarding Will’s answers; this is what matters, not necessarily the perfect solution.
Speaking of the perfect solution; despite my earlier joke, let’s actually talk about why Bernkastel’s truth is believeable. I think the main reason you can believe the ‘truth’ of the Episode 7 Tea Party, is Bern and Lambda. There are a lot of things that Bern and Lambda say in earlier episodes that pretty well tell you that Battler might be coming back, and that they have been warning of the truth through the whole story. There is a moment that I have brought up time and time again in the playthrough, in podcasts and in these theory posts. Bern offers to bring Ange the ideal fragment, but cannot promise that it will bring everyone back.
Soon after, in Episode 4, Lambda also comes and warns Ange that it is impossible for her to have her brother come back in 1986. And I think neither of them lied. Bern is going to bring Ange the happiest fragment, where her brother comes back, and Lambda didn’t lie; he won’t come back in 1986, nor will he come back the whole time up to 1998.
I’ve already gone in to detail during Episode 5 about other evidence that Battler might be coming back, and also in my section on Will and Lion and The Truth above.
The other thing I want to address here is Kyrie and Rudolf being established as culprits through the whole game. I think that this is a tricky one; not because there is a lack of evidence, but because there is a multitude of evidence that I do not want to misconstrue. There are a lot of things in the previous Episodes that establish Kyrie and Rudolf as cunning and suspicious characters. Even at this point in the story, we do not know what the thing that Rudolf wanted to talk with Battler about in the first game was. Beyond that, we have Kyrie’s actions in Episode 3 and 6, in the two main magic fights we see her participate in. We spend a lot of time covering Kyrie’s envy. We also pretty well establish that she and Rudolf have experience with weapons, and do, in a tough spot (such as Twilights 4-6 in Episode 3), they act just like shown in Episode 7’s Tea Party.
Then there is my opening statement to this post; that Episode 7 didn’t surprise me. I think you’ve gotten the jist of things by this point; it was all foreshadowed that I knew what to expect. Thanks to the man from 19 years ago, and the peculiar timing of the death of Beatrice in 1967, we could reason out that there were multiple Beatrices, and that our culprit was the last of those, an illegitimate child, as had been suggested right through the Question Arcs. Thanks to the setup of the tunnels below the island, Kinzo’s association with war as presented all the way back in Episode 1, and the words of Kawabata about the hidden dock, it was possible to work out that there was a submarine base below the island. Thanks to the pattern of the servant theme for Beatrice’s furniture, the name of BRonove, and the unveiling of Virgilia in Episode 3, it was possible to work out that the stakes might follow the same motif. Thanks to the internal monologue of Battler in Episode 1, right through to his challenge of mystery knowledge against Erika in Episode 5, you could work out that Battler’s relation to the story had something to do with mystery fiction itself. This level of reasoning was possible. I don’t sit here trying to tout my own intelligence at being able to figure all of this out. I want to stand here and scream to the mountains that this was all here. Ryukishi set me a challenge and he played his game fair so that anyone who was crazy enough to re-read past chapters as many times as I have, could figure it out, even with my minimal understanding of the genre. What an astounding piece of work it is.
And then there’s one final thing I’d like to do. I mentioned way back in Episode 5 that I thought we will be getting Purple Truth next. As I said, it’s the only colour of magic we have left to get. So I went digging, and here I am with a prediction, in the hope that this will demonstrate as a final blow, how fair this story is (can’t wait for it to backfire ). The Purple Truth will be usable by humans on the gameboard, as it stands between the witch side and the human side. It will be a claim and a truth mixed together, as it stands between the power of Red and Blue. Its goal will be to make the puzzle even more fair, but also torture. How do we figure this one out? First of all, I think the fact that all other colours of magic have their own truth thus far is a fairly clear indicator to begin with. It was unclear that this would be the case when the Red Truth came around, then became a solid possibility when the Blue Truth appeared, and with the Gold Truth’s appearance in Episode 6, I am nearly certain. There are a heap of interesting questions to raise about purple magic. We’ve seen such a lively ensemble cast of characters use it, and it should be fun to pick through and see what each of those moments represent. I think the most noticeable ones to me are Virgilia and Kyrie in Episode 3. The final thing that sold me, though, was this line from Episode 3.
One last thing I want to mention in this thread is my thoughts on this episode’s Hidden Tea Party. I can’t think of a better way to get me excited for episode 8. The contrast of what Bernkastel promises to present and Battler’s story feels very Umineko to me. More than anything else I think it gets me excited cause it tells me things aren’t going to be simple. I want to read Battler’s story, but I can’t say I’m uninterested in seeing what Bern has in store.
Also very very curious as to how Rudolf and Kyrie will be presented in episode 8. The Hidden Tea Party seems to start addressing this in Battler and Ange’s conversation, and knowing Umineko, I assume there’s something more to their actions. Bring on the Tea Party and can’t wait to finish reading this tale.
So in regards to stuff being foreshadowed, when I finished episode 7, I talked to someone else about it, and we talked about how Chiru is complementary material and that all main revelations can be gathered from the first four episodes and if there’s something that could not be gathered from that, then it’s not a main revelation. Back then we agreed that the existence of a child from 19 years ago is part of the latter. But in recent thinking, I think there’s enough foreshadowing for that in the first four episodes.
My main piece of evidence here is Kyrie seeing Beatrice and noticing that she looks just like the woman in the portrait. We know that the portrait shows Kinzo’s mistress. Therefore we can gather that the Beatrice Kyrie saw must be related to that mistress. Then we can gather from episode 3 that Kinzo and the mistress must have had a child, as that’s the Beatrice we see in the flashback. However, we see that Beatrice die in the very same episode. But we have made the connection in ep 2 (or could have made it) that there’s someone related to the first Beatrice. Therefore we can assume that the second Beatrice must have had a child as well. And once we understand that Sayo must be the culprit, it’s only a small step that they are that very same child. And since a year is given, we know that this child must have been conceived at least 19 years ago.
If that is true could you say that the tea party scene where Will is saving Lion from Bernkastel could be interpreted as a battle of his conscious. With one part of his consciousness being shown as Bernkastel saying that even if Natsuhi accepted Lion, things would have still ended in tragedy for her and the other part of his consciousness being Will, who still has hope that Lion could have had or in another realty, may have had a happy ending?
I think that would be a pretty reasonable conclusion to draw; it plays nicely in to the implications of how magic is used in the story. The author may well know that the island blew up and knows the true history of the family, thus they feel it futile to imagine what might have happened because they know it didn’t happen the ways they fantasise. On the other hand is it worth them imagining an alternative reality if it brings them solace? I think that’s a question that is pretty clearly posed by the dialogue there, and considering it to be two sides of the same person’s opinion is a valuable take, I think.