Good goddamn that last chapter! You guys. What the hell.
So. The biggest revelation is probably that magic is actually fake. There is some ‘shabby’ reality behind Beatrice, witches and magic in general, and if it is revealed, it strips them of all their power and becomes the inescapable ‘truth’. But the game is going to be coy with it; we’ll have to accompany Battler as he tries to seize that truth for himself. Which, allegedly, Beatrice wanted alllll along.
The second huge revelation is that, in the reality that has now asserted itself, all this stuff about a magical alter attaining an independent life as a witch is… a lie! Actually, it’s not out of the question that Eva has a childlike alter, but it now seems the murders were at least done by Eva’s body, with Hideyoshi perhaps coerced into helping her. And yet, this lie seemed to have a certain independent existence, in the plastic, malleable reality of Rokkenjima that we’re working with here.
Like, there are two ways of viewing this, right? On the one hand, we can frame it like this: we say there is some underlying reality where (at least in this timeline) Ushiromiya Eva goes on a brutal killing spree of all her family, and then beside this an elaborate obfuscated fantasy layer in which we’re told a fanciful yarn about witch duels and people awakening to magic powers.
But that doesn’t really seem to explain everything. Because if it’s a lie, who’s fabricating it? Beato? Doubtful: she seemed to be genuinely taken by surprise by the events of the narrative. She’s not just a dungeon master making up a story to entertain and confuse Battler, but someone subject to the dictates of the ‘reality’ we’re given. Eva Beatrice was capable of interacting with others on both ‘planes’ as a person, not just a character that Beato made up.
So another interpretation is that the magic stuff is to reach for dialetheism: both the magic side and the ‘physical’ side are important facets to understanding whatever is going on on this fucked up little island. Perhaps they can be viewed as different perspectives on the same thing. Perhaps, if we are going to understand whatever is ‘physically’ going on, it will be crucial to understand why such an elaborate fantasy world would be created, and what effect it has on its adherents…
And then there is the interpretation that Rokkenjima is metaphysically unstable: all the stuff we’ve learned about magic is what we might call a ‘false vacuum’ state in quantum mechanics. That is, it is a metastable state, which is true, until something causes it to decay into a lower energy state. In this case, whatever Beatrice just declared is a lower energy state, and once that true vacuum bubble was unleashed, that was it for the magic world. But that doesn’t really seem to get at the claim that what she said was a ‘truth’.
Ultimately of course, it is a work of fiction. The whole point of it, at least at this point in the development, is to create a sense of ambiguity. There is no ultimate truth of events that happened on Rokkenjima, a place that doesn’t exist; it is a story composed by Ryuukishi07 which is carefuly designed to afford contradictory interpretations. Still, the story is now teasing us with the mystery of the ‘big picture’, so it’s worthwhile to speculate.
Anyway, I don’t expect we’ll get any real explanations until episode 5. So we have pleeeeeenty of time to speculate.
This chapter is called The Witch Illusion. We open in a black void. We have first person narration—I think most likely Battler—sensing Beato’s presence and calling out to her.
…You can exchange words with someone whether they’re a human or a witch.
……So even in a world where witches have been denied……I should be allowed to talk to her…
They speak, and Beatrice promises that she will definitely become a witch again, even a Golden Witch, and on that day she’ll return to be Battler’s opponent.
Battler replies: No, you were a witch.
Battler: …I…was watching. ………When you took that evil witch, ……and blew her away with that awesome magic, exposing her true form, …I was watching with my own eyes…
Beatrice: Th-…that wasn’t magic, ……but the red—
Battler: No, it was magic. ……..You were definitely…the Golden Witch. ………Even if you deny it yourself, ………I’ll accept it. …………‘You are definitely…the Golden Witch’.
I guess Virgilia was right all along: you really do catch more Battlers with honey than with vinegar.
Anyway, this belief causes a ‘small grain of gold, like a wheat seed’ to form in the dark. The talksprites come back into view, sitting back to back. The narration says they have been granted forms called bodies; Beato is briefly surprised by her appearance, even though it seems unchanged to us. (Another hint to the underlying meta story, I suppose. Whoever Beato ‘really’ is, she doesn’t look like this.)
The grain of gold gets sucked into Beato’s chest with a sizzling sound. Suddenly there’s a big blue ocean. Callback time to what Sayo said about the ocean? “Without love, it cannot be seen”.
And furthermore, Rokkenjima just births itself in front of them, as Terepy once said.
Naturally, the Ushiromiya mansion forms, depositing them in the large entrance hall where episode 2 ended. This time, though, it seems to be a much happier party, with nice fruit to eat and all the dead people back to clap and say congratulations.
Look, it’s too easy. You can make that joke.
So yeah, they’ve reached the Golden Land, and Virgilia takes a moment to confirm it. Apparently the Golden Land is just Rokkenjima. Bit of a letdown, but it does save the bg artists some work I suppose!
Kinzo shows up to say something cryptic…
‘Finally’, huh. ‘Finally’ in what sense, I suppose? Anyway, Kinzo’s elaboration is not much more helpful.
Kinzo: …My blood, which is…incompatible with magic, runs more deeply in your veins than any other. …Therefore you were the only one who could not reach the Golden Land, and Beatrice has been searching for you ever since. …She tried everything to bring you here.
I do not trust this one bit! I have not forgotten the ending credits to episode 1 where bits of bone washed up and Maria begs Battler to find out the truth. Or the ending to episode 2 where Beatrice revived and everyone got chewed by demons. So far the Golden Land has seemed like very bad news.
Gohda is cooking, and even the Seven Sisters show up, so it’s not just the human characters. Lucifer says something interesting…
Oh cool they’ve eliminated class.
George and Sayo arrive. George says he still suspects it’s a dream, but everyone is here and happy.
I don’t trust it!!!
Eva is there too, despite ostensibly being the murderer. She’s having a bit of a fit about George and Sayo getting together.
Oh rip they’ve not eliminated class at all.
Hideyoshi chides Eva, and Mammon pops in to say that there’s free love in the Golden Land. Nobody’s star-crossed around here. As if to underline her point, Jessica and Kanon show up, holding hands. Natsuhi has about the same reaction as Eva. And Krauss of all people is chiding her to let Jessica choose who she likes. Hideyoshi I could buy being reasonably chill about such things, but Krauss?
Kyrie and Rudolf joke about what will happen if Battler brings a girl home. Once again getting a feeling my family was like… repressed as much as it was open.
Maria is like, you finally made it with her long giggle. And Battler has to be like, damn, you were right all along.
I don’t trust it.
The Chiesters act like they’re working for Maria now, but apparently people (in this case, Genji) still hit Maria to shut her up in the Golden Land. I was reading a thread recently about Higurashi which said that that game used different sprites to show people reacting to like, comedy slapstick violence and serious trauma-inducing violence. I haven’t picked up on that here but maybe if I play more attention…
Kumasawa is there too, which is interesting because so was Virgilia, and when Virgilia was introduced she was like, in the shell of Kumasawa. But this is a curtain call, I suppose, and such rules no longer apply…
Despite what was said earlier about equality, the Seven Sisters still seem to have to work tables.
Having established all of this, Virgilia invites Battler and Beato to come upstairs with her and Kinzo. There’s some kind of guest book or magical contract with 17 names.
So here’s the deal…
Virgilia: The Golden Land is not a world supported by the power of magic alone. The cooperation and approval of all humans who receive happiness here is required. For that sake, we must gather the signatures of everyone here.
Kinzo: Last time, the door to the Golden Land was finally opened, but you refused to sign. ……Although you probably don’t remember it. Because you refused to sign, this world was once again sealed in darkness.
Of course there’s a fucking EULA. Battler, you’d better read the fine print. This is sus as hell.
Beato joins in the hard sell, explaining that miracles can’t be completed unless everyone believes. Once again, that’s awfully like, ontologically brittle.
This time, though, Battler is not defiant. He goes to sign but fumbles the quill pen, accidentally ‘shooting’ the ink. Not exactly sure what that means, but I assume more came off the pen than intended. Beatrice teases him, and he chides her in turn for writing her name in katakana rather than ‘cursive’ (筆記体) style. There’s actually a translation note here explaining that the witches seem to make a point of writing their names in katakana, which is represented in the translation by use of small caps. So that explains why it’s always Beatrice. And also, though I didn’t catch this, Maria, who seems to be a full-fledged witch in this world.
After signing, they each need to recite an oath with their hand on this ‘covenant’. Have either of them like, read it? I guess Beato might have. This is what Beato has to swear…
I, Beatrice, as a good witch, swear to continue with my training for the sake of bringing happiness to the people.
Though a little embarassed, she complies. Now Battler. Twist incoming?
I, Ushiromiya Battler, as a member of the Golden Land, swear to serve for the sake of bringing happiness to myself and my neighbour.
‘Serve’ is awfully ambiguous in English; the word used in Japanese is 奉仕する. Jisho.org offers translations as:
service; ministry; attendance; church work
as well as reduced prices or doing things for free, and links the Wikipedia page on altruism. So I think this is actually just a generically prosocial oath, not some sort of gotcha.
The final stage of the ritual is to formally invite Beatrice to the Golden Land. Hmm, I wonder which Beatrice will show up? Is Eva Beatrice truly annihilated? Anyway, the way this works is apparently:
The Golden Land invites the Golden Witch through a consensus of those who have accepted it, and becomes complete.
Wizards love their contracts and legal documents, huh. Anyway, this is the declaration he now has to sign…
The 18 of us acknowledge the Golden Witch to be Beatrice, and welcome her to the Golden Land.
This part of the ceremony is supposedly unfamiliar even to Beato. What are you up to, Kinzo and Virgilia! I may sound like a stuck record here, but I don’t trust this one bit, and I think the amount of time we’re dwelling on these weird formalities is all the more reason to doubt their intentions.
Battler reads the written version, and realises it instead says ‘to be a witch’, not ‘to be Beatrice’
Abruptly, the music cuts out and both witches get creepy expressions. I think this is the first time we’ve had a creepy grin on Virgilia, so let me grab a screenshot…
You almost had him guys! I know the compulsion to gurn is sort of like, intrinsic predeliction for witches, but if you’d given it a few more seconds he’d have signed it.
At that moment, in through the window comes… whoever this is…
So, here’s a new character! Setup for next time I imagine. Here’s her talksprite:
Beato immediately sics the Seven Sisters on her, plus the goats and even the Chiesters who seem to be working for her now. She seems to have gotten her arrogant, commanding personality back. Assuming this is, in fact, really Beato. I’m not one hundred percent sure this isn’t an illusory dimension designed to trick Battler into throwing the game to Eva Beatrice or someone like that. On the other hand, maybe Beato was just faking her whole dere/face turn thing.
The girl ignores it all. She shouts to Battler:
You must not sign that!!! Are you going to accept your own defeat?! Don’t be tricked by the witch!!!
Virgilia meanwhile has him picked up by a goat servant and starts pushing him to sign some more.
Have you learned nothing about Battler over the course of the last episode, whoever’s running this little farce? He’s very much a tit for tat player in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. Try force, and he’ll push back, but he’ll turn around in a matter of hours if you show signs of listening to him and trying to improve.
Beato cycles through a series of the more vulnerable expressions she’s shown over the course of this episode, and then laughs at him again.
Well, guess we got rug pulled. All of that Beatrice deredere stuff was just an act?
What the fuck are we even supposed to believe at this point? Was there anything we can actually believe in the previous episode? Is redtext even trustworthy? Am I wrong about the mechanics, and it was all an elaborate dungeon master routine, with Beatrice (or Lambdadelta after all! maybe my first guess was right on the money!) puppetteering the character of ‘Eva Beatrice’ as a foil to set up her apparent face turn? Virgilia the kindly old master there to help provide some narrative justification for the big characterisation change?
As for this new girl, I think she might be Battler’s mysterious half-sister, Ange. Definitely not six years old, but I think time is rather squirly here. What if Ange escaped from one of the other Rokkenjima bubbles and has had time to grow up since?
As if to confirm that, Beato calls down a magic thunderbolt, and Ange nosells it just like Battler. It looks like she has that same immense magic resistance. She demands the new arrivals name, but ???? declines, and instead rounds on Battler:
……You idiot!!! How long are you going to be tricked?!! Stop being so naive and trusting!! Figure it out already!! All this, all of this is the witch’s trap!!
Battler asks Beato to deny this, and reassure that she has reformed. But it seems she’s truly tired of that game.
Beatrice: ……Sorry, Battleer. It was pretty interesting.
…Still, I was just trying to do what Master told me, but it really did work very well!
And then she outright lampshades the tsundere thing.
Beatrice: I hear, after acting bad-tempered and exploring the depths of cruelty, if you act properly incompetent and soft, you can get a massive rise on that goodwill meter thing, riiight?
So yeah, this whole episode is just a very extended version of that one cutscene from Drakengard 3…
Beato goes on to joke about yanderes as well…
I’ve heard that villains who go soft and then crazy are pretty popular these daaaays…! Despite how I look, I’ve studied a lot of manga, anime and galge that have been popular recently, you seeee?
Galge gets a little cultural note expanding it for ‘gal games’ for the unfamliar—a slightly broader category than dating sims. For a story set in the 80s, these fandom terms are a little anachronistic, since this story predates the rise of bishōjo games in the 90s, and the development of the term moe and related concepts (see Watzky). But I’m pretty sure Beatrice of all people is not stuck in the 1980s! She’s probably playing all the latest dōjin games from (checks) 2008.
And I tried it out, and just as expected, it was ‘tears please’, and you’re down!!
Hihhyahhahhahahahahahahahahahaha, idioooot, what a truly simple person!! They call this the ‘North Wind and the Sun Strategy’. *cackle*cackle*cackle*!!
So just how much of the events were staged to get Battler horny for moe tsundere Beatrice? Was the whole act setting up Battler to play dramatic rescuer when Beato was going to get her heart stomped on just a little stage show with both sides colluding? Beato claims that she did get the idea of pursuing this ‘North Wind and the Sun Strategy’ from Virgilia, so assuming she’s in ‘coming clean’ mode now, we can at least trust that Virgilia is probably real.
Too baaad, wiiiitches…don’t reforrrm☆
The voice actor does not attempt to read out U+2606 WHITE STAR.
Virgilia meanwhile is… completely entirely unlike her appearance in the episode so far. She sounds euphoric as she says…
Come, you can no longer refuse to sign. ……Now, come on. Sign it and offer your body, your mind, and your soul…!!
This episode went to enormous efforts establishing the parameters and rules of magic. It then undercut that by suggesting that, through secret arguments, one can prove that everything was mundane after all.
Now it’s repeating the same trick on its character arcs. Moreover, Beato laughs at Battler for believing her tsundere act could possibly have been real.
As a reader, I suppose I feel a little nonplussed. I have done my best to meet this story halfway, offer it my willing suspension of disbelief and accept the turns it chooses. I enjoyed the enthusiasm with which it dove into wild swerves. Which I guess is the point: all of the ‘you know this stuff is cool, right’. But now it seems like the game is saying, haha you idiot, you enjoyed my story! You should have encountered all of this with an affect of mild disdain!
Like, when Beato started going deredere, I was skeptical. It seemed like a very abrupt change in her characterisation. But the story seemed to go to some considerable lengths to commit to the bit, so eventually I became convinced that sure, OK, Beato’s a tsundere now. I suppose it follows the natural desire in readers to see conflict resolved and the entertaining characters grow closer together.
On the other hand, the original Beato characterisation is a lot more fun than the watery deredere Beato. But it also just… completely negates her entire character arc and leaves her as a totally static character. And I thought ‘learning about Beato’ was the thrust of this arc. How much can we even trust? Was any of the Kuwadorian stuff ‘real’? With her big redtext self-sacrifice act at the end, did she actually say anything of consequence at all, or did she just dismiss her puppet Eva Beatrice? In the chess metaphor, offering a seemingly massive sacrifice (giving Battler the satisfaction of debunking a witch) to position herself to win?
And then giving it all up at the last minute to gloat?
Virgilia (still referred to as Master by Beatrice) attempts to force Battler to sign, but abruptly the new girl summons a protection barrier to dispel the goats around him. He drops down onto the stairs beside her, and she’s like,
How long do you plan to keep playing in a place like this…? Enough already. I’m jealous of you.
Mystery girl, incidentally, has exactly Battler’s hair colour when you place them side by side. So she is 100% Ange right?
Beatrice won’t give him back.
Beatrice: Kuhhahahahaahahahah!! Who would do that, you fool!! Battler is my toy. My favorite toy, the best toy in the world…!!
I won’t get tired of him, I won’t throw him away, I won’t hand him over to anyone!! Even Battler is enjoying this to the fullest. Together with me, he is having so much fun playing. No matter who you are, I won’t let you interfere…!!
Ange goes back to addressing Battler.
Surrounded by lots of eye-candy witches and being pampered all the time, I’m sure you’re having so much fun, you don’t even want to come back!!
And when Battler says she doesn’t know a thing about his troubles…
What troubles?!!! You get to have fun living with Mom and Dad, you get to play around happily with all of the cousins, you get to play with pleasant witches as long as you want for all eternity!
So yeah, Ange now confirmed for certain. What the hell is going on ‘outside’ the small area of Purgatorio and the three bubbles we’ve seen so far? Anyway, Ange says she’d really like to be part of the games. But when Beato says she has enough toys, she says thanks for bringing everyone together, and…
Beato (or should I go back to Beatrice at this point?) figures out that this is Ange, and drops a new piece of info:
Beatrice: ……I see, so that’s it… ………Yes, I get it, I know who you are! …I see, so you are the piece Lady Bernkastel threw in. I like it!!
So if the main contributions of Lambdadelta and Bernkastel are adding pieces to the game, who then act of their own accord, I think it follows that Eva Beatrice could be someone that Lambdadelta added to the game, but acted of her own accord since then. Like Lambdadelta, she’s crude, sadistic, overly direct and kind of overpowered in magic.
I’m feeling so embarassed about acting like I had the grand revelation that like, witches are DID alters or whatever. Of course it’s more complicated than that.
Ah, hard vore once again.
Ange goes ahead and says the line. It’s a little different to how Battler says it in Japanese:
……….Ohhhh, that’s no good, no good at all! You’ll never be able to do that! Rokkenjima, in the year 1986. …I will expose everything that happened then to the light of day!
I’ll teach you that you’re no more than needle ice, scared of the spring of thruth! Prepare yourself, Golden Witch! Beatrice!!!
And then the credits roll! Well, I say the credits; it’s a list of characters and if relevant, when they died rather than like, voice actor credit or anything. In fact, why don’t I grab the images out of the game files and scale them down for you.
Credits scroll for Episode 3
And a text version:
- Ushiromiya Battler (Died, on the ninth twilight)
- Eva Beatrice
- Ushiromiya Ange
- Ushiromiya Kinzo (Died, on the first twilight)
- Ushiromiya Krauss (Died, on the seventh twilight)
- Ushiromiya Natsuhi (Died, on the eighth twilight)
- Ushiromiya Jessica (Died, on the tenth twilight)
- Ushiromiya Eva (Returned alive)
- Ushiromiya Hideyoshi (Died, on the fifth twilight)
- Ushiromiya George (Died, on the ninth twilight)
- Ushiromiya Rudolf (Died, on the fourth twilight)
- Ushiromiya Kyrie (Died, on the sixth twilight)
- Ushiromiya Rosa (Died, on the second twilight)
- Ushiromiya Maria (Died, on the second twilight)
- Nanjo Terumsa (Died, on the ninth twilight)
- Ronue Genji (Died, on the first twilight)
- Shannon (Died, on the first twilight)
- Kanon (Died, on the first twilight)
- Gohda Toshiro (Died, on the first twilight)
- Kumasawa Chiyo (Died, on the first twilight)
- All the goats
3rd game, “Banquet of the Golden Witch” Result
And the Golden Land once again crumbled away into the darkness…
However, a winner finally emerged in the Golden Witch’s game.
The winner is the new Golden Witch, Eva Beatrice.
Because she solved the riddle of the gold in time.
The seventeen all died. When the seagulls cried, just one person was left alive.
Some interesting tidbits here:
- Jessica was killed on the rarely-seen tenth twilight—the one that stipulates no killing but says the journey ends and you will reach the home of the gold. Which suggests her “hide in the curtains” strat actually worked to avoid Eva, but then it’s not entirely clear what killed her. Probably she got munched by demons when the door to the Golden Land opened.
- Eva ‘returned alive’. Returned where? That’s not clear. Perhaps simply returned from Rokkenjima!
- There’s a line in the credits for ‘all the goats’. Bless.
- If there was any doubt whatsoever, Ange receives high billing in the credits.
- Eva Beatrice is credited distinct from Eva. She’s also described as the winner of the game. However, ‘just one person’ was left alive. Does this mean just one body, or are we to conclude that Eva Beatrice perished when Beato did the thing, or alternatively that Eva was entirely subsumed into her?
- When the seagulls cried, just one person was left alive. So that’s a step up! Keep up this pace and we’ll preserve the whole cast by episode 20!
Right. I still have the tea party to go, but briefly, my thougths on Banquet of the Golden Witch.
That was a significant escalation in just about every dimension. If the first act felt quite dry, and the second had some incredible moments of humour like “you are incompetent!”” but was ultimately gore and tragedy, this one tries the ‘north wind and the sun’ strategy on the reader as much as Battler. It’s packed full of dramatic spectacles and character arcs paying off, humans getting their own back on witches, tantalising hints about how magic works and what Battler’s options are, not to mention all the left-field plot twists like Eva Beatrice finding the gold or Beatrice/Beato performing in the role of tsundere. The character designs are getting more and more out there in fun ways like the Chiesters, and despite all the new characters introduced in this episode, they all established themselves well—it’s hard to imagine the game without Virgilia and Ronove standing by at this point. If this is the direction Umineko is going, I’m excited to see it escalate further.
I’m looking forward to the return of the adversarial dynamic between Beato and Battler. Eva Beatrice just didn’t have the same style as a villain. Which I think is the point, she’s supposed to be annoying! But she doesn’t have enough conflict going on to be more than a miniboss. The fact that she wasn’t there in the final chapter suggests she’s probably been eliminated. The tea party will probably explain just how she relates to Lambdadelta and Bernkastel, and I expect that will be enlightening. Since we know Bernkastel emerged from a similar game to this one, it doesn’t seem out of the question that a game piece could also be a genuine witch. Assuming witches are even real, anyway.
The Beato tsundere arc… goddamn, she really committed to that bit. I suppose the question is “was it all just an act”—she’d say so, and try to make you feel like a rube for thinking otherwise. If so, this is considerably more acting ability that we’ve ever seen displayed by Beato in her previous appearances—she’s tended to be a character whose emotions run close to the surface.
The real question is I guess, how much of anything we saw can we trust. We know now that the narrator in the ‘game board’ scenes is extremely unreliable, and yet I feel like these scenes of magic aren’t just empty spectacle-chaff to cover for a mundane series of murders, but are telling us something about how this story works. Still, at some point your suspension of disbelief becomes so corroded that it’s hard to piece together a story.
So let me try and put together a working theory of the meta-setting. We’re going to have to engage with certain supernatural concepts to not just completely cop out. For example, ‘we are watching someone’s fever dream’ is a trivial mundane theory and engages with nothing at all substantial in the work itself. Something like “it’s a roleplaying game” fares slightly better, but the characters don’t act like people who working together to make up a story. Revealing the ‘truth’ that you’re in a roleplaying game wouldn’t be much of a revelation in that circumstance.
Anyway, we have these bubbles. Let’s entertain for the time being that they’re ‘real’, and not just a story someone’s made up within the fiction. Each one instantiates a version of Rokkenjima in 1986. These worlds have every appearance of evolving according to natural causality within the fiction, but this is a story, so they tend to form plot structures and dramatic arcs.
Why Rokkenjima in 1986? At first I thought it was just because this is when the resurrection ritual happened to take place the first time, and so Beatrice was using a familiar setting for repeats of her game with Battler. But now—if the scenes we saw are to be believed—I think there’s more to it than that. I suspect whatever the entity ‘Beatrice’ is, she came into being in the first place as a result of some kind of ‘prime’ version of the Rokkenjima incident. I don’t think we’ve actually seen this ‘original’ version. Through some sort of, idk, spacetime trauma process, she got stuck reliving this same period of history. The state of the bubble reflects the balance of power, so in some runs she’ll have a lot of magical power, such as the one we just had, and the narration will skew towards supernatural depictions of events. In others, like the first game, she’ll have little power, and the bubble will be fairly grounded. I don’t think most of the Ushiromiyas are aware of the loop, but I think Kinzo might be. This might start to change after the events of episode 3?
There is clearly an outside to these bubbles—wherever Ange was, and wherever Bernkastel and Lambdadelta come from. I imagine the setting of Higurashi involves a similar configuration, though it will be a while until I can dig in and find out.
Anyway, within these bubbles, the characters are kind of semi-fictional. I think there is, somewhere in the world of Umineko, perhaps a ‘real’ world with a ‘real’ Battler et al. I don’t think we’ve ever seen it. The bubble, I’m hypothesising is some kind of psychic reflection of whatever traumatic events took place on Rokkenjima Prime. We could compare it to the dream bubbles in Homestuck, or the… dream bubbles again in Harrow the Ninth (by popular Homestuck fanfic writer turned wildy successful novelist Tamsyn Muir). The major feature is that in these sub-worlds, narrative logic applies over physical logic. Having a good, dramatic reason driving your will to fight is much, much more important than any question of technique.
The axioms of each bubble may be different. In the second game, there were 19 people, but in the third game, there were 18. Each bubble must permit a superposition of a ‘mundane’ version of events and a ‘magical’ version of events. Each of these distinct accounts must follow their own internal logic. Within each game, the goal of each player is to build a compelling narrative of events and undermine the other player’s attempt. I think as Battler starts to gain ground on Beatrice, it may be possible to force the bubble to show the ‘mundane’ version of events rather than the ‘magical’ one—as in the ending scene where Eva shot Battler.
The witches, I suspect, are required to leave some kind of plausible physical version of events in the realm of possibility. Their job is to obfuscate and mislead the human player so they can’t figure out what that plausible physical account might be. They also can’t declare anything that would contradict their own magical account. But it may be that the shoe could end up on the other foot, and the witches could end up defending the plausibility of magic.
So. The upshot of all this is: in this scenario I’m imagining, proving the murders were accomplished by a human within any particular bubble is a red herring. In fact, the real goal of Battler is to figure out the scenario that gave rise to the ‘bubble’ in the first place, and thus escape from the never-ending cycle of life and death.
As we’ve seen, finding the gold changes very little. Indeed, allowing a ‘game piece’ to find the gold proved to be to Beatrice’s advantage. The real goal of the human players is to awaken their self-awareness (creating ‘meta’ characters like meta-Battler) and work out a way to escape from the dream bubbles altogether. The real goal of the witches is to maintain their control over the humans’ worldview so they can rule their petty fiefs. Disbelief and magic resistance are closely correlated.
That’s my working theory, anyway. It preserves a certain sense in which magic is ‘real’, but only in the bubbles. Moreover, the events in the bubbles will presumably be distant echoes of what ‘really’ happened, so if we cross-reference common elements from each one, we may be able to infer something about Rokkenjima Prime. I think most of the Ushiromiyas and servants are ‘real’ people, with likely similar personalities. Beatrice, though… the moment when she woke up and was surprised to look different seems like a hint that she might be a projection from a different character. Of course, in the Prime world, the ‘furniture’ servants are not magical homunculi, and Kinzo is just an old man and not secretly a wizard.
Eva probably isn’t the murderer in the Prime world, since she died relatively early in the previous games - but it seems likely there was a murderer, perhaps multiple. I guess we’ll figure out more as we continue to get information.
All right. All that remains is the tea party, and the post tea party coda. Definitely didn’t expect so many final act twists. Can’t wait to see Ange in action. For now… see you soon~