And, without wasting any time, let’s drive straight on to the next episode! What fiendish scheme has Beatrice got in store for us this time around?

It’s been a while since we last flipped a chessboard, hasn’t it? In any case, the menu screen for this episode is simply the big portrait of Beatrice.

A screenshot of the main menu of the game, with the title Umineko no Naku Koru Ni: Rondo of the Witch and Reasoning, various menu items, and the portrait of Beatrice behind.

Here’s Beatrice’s little letter to us:

Episode 4: Alliance of the Golden Witch

Good morning.

I could never have imagined that you would not have surrendered by now. At this point, even I must expect great things from you.

The game is played not only on the board.
Perhaps this time, you should take a small peek beyond its borders? As they say, if you know your enemy, you need not fight a hundred battles.

The difficulty level depends on you.
How you have chosen to battle up until now will influence the difficulty.

Curious. That’s Sun Tzu, of course. We know a bit more about our enemy, but I don’t think we really know our ‘self’ in this story!

I guess that’s just how it is with witches.

The title of this episode is Alliance of the Golden Witch, following previously Legend, Turn and Banquet. So, episode 1 introduced us to the legend of the Golden Witch, which was the big mystery: is she real? Episode 2… well, both Beatrice and Battler took quite a number of turns, but in a sense it was her ‘turn’ to get the upper hand over Battler. Episode 3… well, honestly there was more banqueting in episode 2, I don’t really get this title. Perhaps it refers to the sheer variety of ‘courses’ that Beatrice served to us in that episode? Anyway, that could mean anything for this episode.

Anyway, I’m going to be a little more explicit with the chapter organising this time around. Much like the final parts of episode 3, each part of this liveblog will correspond to a chapter of the game.

Chapter 0: Prologue

We open with the usual ‘this is just a fantasy’ disclaimer, and a brief montage of now-familiar scenes of riding the aeroplane. In moments, we are on the ground in the airport, with Hideyoshi ribbing Battler about travelsickness.

The big question here is, how are they going to introduce Ange to the game? First, though, everyone’s got to ‘gently’ rib Battler…

Rudolf: Man, you're pathetic. A grown-ass man like you still can't handle vehicles?

Kyrie and Rudolf suggest that Battler must have inherited his trouble with vehicles from Asumu.

Rudolf: Whenever we tried to take a trip somewhere far away, that woman was so annoying with the ‘no not this, no not that, I’m scared I’m scared, I’m going to fall I’m going to fall, scream scream’.

‘No not this, no not that’ is あれは駄目だ (are wa dame da)これは駄目だ (kore wa dame da), echoing the catchphrase. Guess that’s where Battler got it!

The conversation quickly turns to Asumu, but Rudolf cuts it off. To Kyrie: ‘right now, the one here is you’. For his own sake, or for hers? Perhaps both. I imagine these two may be at the centre of this episode the way Eva was in the first.

This time, the route seems a little different. Perhaps they’re not en route to Rokkenjima this time? We get a rather pretty mountain scene as everyone piles into taxis.

A scene of beautiful forested hills against a bright blue sky, with a car park and powerlines in the foreground. Maria: Uu-uu!! Taxiii, taxiii!! I'm gonna be first iiiiin! *giggle*!!

After planes and trains in previous episodes, it’s only fitting that we finally have some automobiles.

Say, when did everyone start *giggle*ing so much?

It turns out they’re going to answer my questions abouto how the ‘fragments’ work almost immediately. As the family dries off, the world ‘grows dull and grinds to a halt’ (signified by desaturating the bg). This world is a set for Ushiromiya drama to play out on.

A greyscale version of the previous background. Narration: Voices, the wind, and even sound---absolutely everything ceased, and as if they had been frozen in the instant a photo was taken, everything moving or about to move......stopped.

Into this frozen world comes just who we’d expect: Ange. And who else? Bernkastel! It turns out she can turn into a cat!!!! Neko Bernkastel!!!!!! Fuck yeah I support this development!!!!!

Ange: I can’t stop them going to Rokkenjima, can I?

Bernkastel: You cannot. On October 4th, 1986, you are not here.

If she had, Bernkastel acknowledges, despite being only six years old, she might just have been able to intervene and stop them going to Rokkenjima with nonzero probability. But she was sick at the time, and her sickness started on October 3rd, before the cutoff of the gameboard. Everything up to that point, it seems, is not subject to change. So, she emphasises, Ange is not allowed to appear on the game board proper…

Ange: Thanks for being so patronizing.

So good to have someone who talks back to witches lmao. I have high hopes for Girl Battler.

Even so, she’d tried to get in the way. But she couldn’t. Even seeing them was a miracle. And she walks back the sarcasm and promises not to waste the chance.

Time starts moving, the witches are ‘sucked into a gale’, and we begin the PS3 intro. Paying close attention this time, I notice a few faces that I wouldn’t have before: the Seven Sisters, Virgilia, the Chiesters. And one glimpsed very briefly I don’t recognise still…

Chapter 1: The New Guest

We return to the narrative in the gold room, with chamber music of some kind playing (I don’t really know my periodisation lol). Ronove is saluting Beatrice. She’s in a very chipper mood.

'Pleasant awakening'...! I was so excited, I couldn't sleep a wink. After all, the curtain is rising on the oh-so-fun fourth game...!

Maybe the deredere thing wasn’t entirely an act.

Beatrice: I really ran that Battler into the ground last time! Ah, that look of ‘you tricked meee’ all over his face! He looked so pathetic! In any case, I do hope he’s not still feeling down?

He is, she says, a bit too sincere for his age. Aw. That’s a mood though ><

They talk about how thoroughly they tricked Battler the last time around…

Ronove: Oh yes, completely and splendidly. …His pure, rosebud-like innocence, arising from never once having been tricked by another since birth, you unreserved violated.

…………Even the joy of running around a field covered with beautiful new snow on a winter morning and trampling it utterly wouldn’t even begin to compare.

You took Battler-sama’s innocent heart, Milady, and thrillingly, splendidly, atrociously mercilessly, and in quite the uncultured manner, enough to make one thing ‘maybe I went a teensy little bit overboard…?’, you most assuredly perpetrated the very worst of atrocities against it.

I am quite sure most people would start to feel down. Pukkukukuku, so much so, that I doubt they would ever want to see your face again.

Mm, yes. That’s most certainly a way to describe the events of that episode. Beatrice’s expression gradually changes from the upbeat one to the upset, anxious one over the course of this little speech. She throws up a mean expression and says, stumbling a little…

Beatrice, smirking but with a sweat drop on her face: S-so you understand...!

It’s interesting how much subtlety you can draw out of these standard expression components. Beatrice’s evil smirk is familiar, but that little sweatdrop carried over from the perturbed expression, making you think, oh, this isn’t quite sincere.

Covering her ass, she attempts to explain in a long-winded way that she was just trying to check that he would be ready for the next game. Otherwise, she’ll need to deploy a ‘countermeasure’.

So we finally find out where Battler has been through the tea parties…

Ronove: ……In truth, he has been curled into a ball clutching his knees for some time now. I called out to him several times, but he did not answer. I also carried him something to eat, but he does not appear to have touched it.

Also know that feel. Beatrice, come on, don’t you know about aftercare?

Anyway, Ronove’s point seems to be—in his usual elliptic sarcastic way—that Beatrice had better show Battler a little kindness if she wants to keep playing games with him. ‘Comp-re-hensively destroyed him’ indeed. He tries to coach Beatrice to develop some modicum of people skills.

Beatrice, blushing a little like she's just made a great discovery and wants approval: Consideration! Consideration you say?! How should I show that...?! He is feeling down, so, ...h-how about...I cheer him up, or something?!

That little blush lmao. OK, so, I think this scene is perhaps helping to clarify what the deal was with the last episode. It isn’t like, Beatrice is a master manipulator able to effortlessly step into a role regardless of her real emotions… she just doesn’t really take things seriously. It is, quite literally, a game to her. I wonder how old she is really. She appears to be an adult, but she definitely doesn’t act like it a lot of the time…

Back in Purgatorio, we have a jazzy soundtrack and Beelzebub is teasing Battler by playing keep-away with a croissant.

Beelzebub, with an evil grin: What, are you gona eat me instea~ad?! Kyaha! Try it if you think you can! I'll bet I'd be as sweet as honey pancakes.

It shades into a bit of the older murderflirting.

Battler deploys the Rudolf ear grab move. He doesn’t really seem like someone who’s curled up in a ball crying. The way they depict this is pretty funny actually. Battler’s pointing talksprite is layered behind Beelzebub’s sprite, so that his hand is in about the right place.

Beezlebub, with Battler grabbing her ear: Ugugugugu!! No way, no way, I won't give it to yo~u!! Even the croissant wants me to eat i~~t!!!

I like inventive use of assets like that!

Anyway, we don’t get to see who’d eat the croissant, because Beatrice shows up, and you guys, it is the funniest shit…

Beatrice: Y-yaa~y, yoo-hooooooooo, g'moooooorning Battleeee~r!! Get a load of this guy, first thing in the morning and he's back to moping already~?!?! It's the beginning of a new day, and an ew game, you know, so get your spirits up and let's get this party starteeeeeeeeeeeddd!!

Sometimes I really wish I had a way to let you hear the voice lines. I know they’re all in the game files somewhere, but they’re not organised in any comprehensible way.

There’s a joke comparing her to the Glico caramel box, which earns us a cultural note…

The Japanese confectionary company Glico, also famous for producing Pocky, began its business in 1922 with boxes of Glico caramels, which featured art of a running man, triumphantly smiling with his arms raised. The marketing was that a single caramel gives you the energy to run 300m.

The Glico running man became an iconic trademark and mascot that the company still uses today.

The Glico running man features on a famous billboard in Osaka; I found a little history of the design here.

She goes in throwing around flags and confetti trying to start a party, leaving the others speechless. Beelzebub stuffs the croissant in Battler’s mouth and flees. Battler is still calling her Beato, incidentally. Turns out Ronove told a few fibs…

Ronove: Pukkukukukukuku!! No, no, he certainly was clutching his knees, under the blanket as he slept like a baby. I informed him that it was time for him to wake up, but he just wouldn’t get out of bed. As for his food, it seems that he was rather too preoccupied with the naughty cat that had wandered in. Pu ku ku, puu ku ku ku ku!

Oh, those naughty demons!

Anyway, turns out Battler’s in perfectly fine spirits, and doesn’t have any real hard feelings about the last episode. He’s like, oh, you got me a bit, but it’s not gonna work again ya hear.

So it’s interesting despite ruling out the goofy tsundere/rescuer dynamic from last time the game is still pushing these two together hard. Still, despite being so relaxed, Battler gets serious pretty suddenly.

Battler: But, Beato.

Beato: Mm, what is it?

Battler: Never do it again.

By which he means, never do anything as unpleasant as try and confuse whether they’re enemies. And he’s very firm about that, repeating it until she stops goofing and takes the point, and agrees they are absolutely 100% always enemies.

I wonder…

The subject of Nanjo’s murder comes up; Battler says he’s still holding off on an answer for that one. Guess he has time after all?

And then, Beato says, time for a new guest. Ange’s just got in, I suppose. This time with an official invitation. But, she almost says, how can I be invited when…

Lord English flashing text: When I am already here?

Beatrice challenges her on not making an introduction. Ange says, I don’t greet people before I punch them, only after. And then I say (in English):

Ange, in English: Good night, have a nice dream.

Battler immediately gets to whistling at his sister lmao. Ange however is not impressed.

Ange: I don’t need gratitude. The way you were acting was just flaccid. I only told you to get a clue.

Listening to the VA, I can hear something that sounds like ‘ぶたるんだ’ which I think might be 弛んだ (past tense of to slacken, loosen, droop or sag) although I’m not sure what the bu- prefix is, maybe 侮 which my dictionary says means something despised? Unfortunately I think I’m not at a high enough level to parse this sentence by listening.

Ange accuses Battler of not being serious, if he’s going to go along with that farce for so long.

Ange: Serious? ………Don’t make me laugh. You keep on drinking tea and chatting with a witch for all eternity and call that fighting seriously? Keep the jokes to just your hairstyle.

Oooooooooohhhhhh.

Battler tries to justify himself: he wasn’t used to the game, he was just learning the knack of it. All entirely fair things to say but I don’t think that’s what Ange has in mind. (He does not attempt to defend his hairstyle.) He says he’ll close the distance until he can grab Beatrice by the collar and checkmate her, even if it takes a thousand years…

Ange retorts with the same thing that Lambadadelta said to Beatrice: is he really trying to win?

Who even are you, says Battler. Ange just looks him in the eyes. Surely not Ange the six-year-old child, Battler says. (Dude, you’re on your fourth loop through the same two-day period, you can’t be surprised by a little time travel.)

Ange uses this as an opportunity for another… lecture? And she called Bernkastel the patronising one!

Ange: I’ll put it another way. If I said ‘I am on your side, so trust me’, would you believe me? Would you unconditionally trust some unknown woman you’re meeting for the first time just because she looks a little like someone you know?

……It’s because you’re so trusting that you were tricked so easily in the last game and cried so bitterly.

Battler takes the point, and says, oh, so this is what you mean by not being serious?

Ange: Yes. You may think you’re fighting against the witch, but all you’re doing is making friends with her and having fun. ……You’re just competing in a friendly game of chess.

That may be a serious contest for you two, but looking at it from far away, I only see you two playing around like you’re good friends, protected by the rules.

Except, aren’t the rules the only thing preventing Beatrice from just mashing Battler into paste whenever she feels like it? Nevertheless, Ange says her intent is to bring the game to a conclusion, and stop Battler from running in his little hamster wheel.

She sure doesn’t mince words.

And once again echoing Lambdadelta, she says it’s not a game but a cage.

Ange drops a mathematical analogy for Beato’s ‘infinity’…

Ange: Something that’s infinite in a certain dimension tends not to be infinite in a higher one. A Menger sponge may have infinite surface area, but that only applies in a world of less than three dimensions. IN the three-dimensional world of reality, it has zero mass. Not only is it not infinite, it can’t even exist.

This is… a little garbled.

A quick guide to fractal dimensions

A Menger sponge is an iterative construction involving cubes. Imagine splitting a cube into 27 smaller cubes, and removing the centre cube of each face, and the centre of the cube as a whole, leaving a frame of 20 cubes. That’s the first Menger sponge (a bare cube is the zeroth). Do the same thing to each subcube of the first Menger sponge, and you get the second.

So, in the limit of infinite iterations, the volume of the cube asymptotes towards zero, while the surface area of the cube goes towards infinity. This has nothing to do with the number of dimensions of the space, and in fact the Menger sponge construction only makes sense in three dimensions, as a generalisation of 2D constructions like the Sierpinski carpet. So I have no idea what Ange is getting at by saying it only has infinite surface area in less than two dimensions!

When we talk about fractals, we can give them a quantity called a ‘dimension’. This is a generalisation of the more familiar idea of dimension of a point, line, plane or volume for handling fractals. To explain this, let’s consider the ‘coastline problem’. If you try to measure the length of a coastline with a kilometre-long ruler, you’ll skip right over all the little bays and inlets and bumps. As you use a shorter ruler, you’ll capture more of the coastline and it will appear to be longer.

The idea of ‘fractal dimension’ draws an analogy between scaling something up and down, and reducing the size of your unit measuring stick. Say you’re measuring the size of a big square. As you scale down your length measurement unit, the length of the outline of the square will increase linearly (dimension 1). The area of the square will grow quadratically (dimension 2). But the coastline scales somewhere in between: not linear or quadratic. So we give it a ‘dimension’ that is fractional, describing its ‘scaling’ behaviour as we approximate it more and more precisely.

OK, you still with me? So, let’s say you have a ball, and you scale it up. The 2D surface area of the ball increases quadratically as \(l^2\) while the 3D volume of the ball increases cubically as \(l^3\). But as you make your Menger sponge bigger compared to your minimum-length measurement stick, you start detecting more details on the surface, so the surface area you measure increases approximately as \(l^{2.27}\). It’s faster than quadratic like a surface, but slower than cubic like a volume.

However, the Menger sponge still exists in 3D space, and not any other.

Anyway, so, in our physical world, fractals like Menger sponges can only be approximated, since at some point you start reaching the level of individual atoms. So Ange is correct that a Menger sponge is purely a mathematical construction, whose infinite surface area can’t be physically instantiated. It just doesn’t have anything to do with the dimension of the space.

Moving on….

Ange declares herself to be Battler’s ally, and an enemy of witches. But she says Battler should stay on his guard all the same. Man, Eva’s school really did a number on this poor girl.

“I’m done with getting tricked” says Battler, guaranteeing he will be tricked again.

Ange has more lectures:

Ange: People don’t just get tricked out of the blue. They neglect to check things for themselves, and entrust that to other people—and that’s when they get tricked. ……Saying that you thought the light had turned green just because you saw other people start crossing is no excuse for getting into an accident. Get it…?

Battler says, yeah, he’d just started uncritically accepting displays of magic. Ange says she’ll give useful advice, but he should still have an attitude of Доверяй, но проверяй. (Not in so many words). Battler is reminded of Virgilia, who turned out to be on the witch’s side after all.

Yeah, about that, anyway. Virgilia definitely did give Battler useful counsel in the early rounds, explaining some of the properties of the island. Was that big showdown with Beatrice only for effect? But the idea that Beatrice is puppeting every character in the narrative for rhetorical effect just seems so boring compared to the chaos unfolding naturally.

Anyway, if not a puppet, Virgilia was the one to propose the ‘North Wind and the Sun’ strategy in the first place, she provided rhetorical support for Eva Beatrice’s oh-so-amazing checkmate as well as refereeing in a distinctly biased way that didn’t give Battler time to think, even before she was definitely gloating and pressuring Battler to sign at the end. (Ironically, that proved to be Beatrice’s downfall.) So possibly she was always truly on the side of her apprentice, and the early good advice to Battler was just to get an in and prime him to the idea that a witch could be sympathetic…

What a gracious and helpful teacher! To Beatrice.

Ange explains what she has in mind instead of simply officially joining Team Battler… some kind of weird Mexican standoff arrangement ig??

Ange: No, I'm not an outsider. Beatrice, Ushiromiya Battler, ...and me with my bird's-eye perspective over you... will fight in a formation almost like a triangle. At a glance it might not seem to be a united front, but fighting together is not the only way to form a united front.

Not exactly lol. What she seems to mean is, her and Battler each form their own independent assessments of what’s really going on. Phew, OK, as if two competing narratives wasn’t enough to keep track of. But sure, let’s go, this way both Battler and Ange will get moments to shine!

Battler asks her name again. Ange hesitates for a while and then goes for ‘Gretel’, which Battler immediately mishears as ‘girdle’. He jokes about calling himself Hansel, but seems to accept it…

Ange’s final advice is:

Ange: Battler. ……Think deeply about why you must win against this witch. ……You can’t stop with something abstract, like ‘She annoys me so she’s going down’. ……Have a deep conviction that you’ll definitely defeat the witch and escape from this world.

………Because there is definitely……..someone waiting for you to come back. ……For her sake as well, you…………………………

That is a 30 dot long ellipsis there, if you’re wondering. I counted.

Beatrice interrupts to declare the opening of festivities.

Beatrice: Good, that should be enough of an introduction for Gretel or whoever! Come, try to remember, what happened on October 4th! Kuhhihihihihihihihi, the curtain opens on the fourth game!!

I was going to joke about a speedrun clock starting, like “clock starts when Beatrice says ahaha”, but literally the next narration box is about the clock…

In unison with her voice, the clock, which had been turned back to October 4th, 1986, ……started to move, as though blown by a suddenly raging storm.

So, here we go, ‘Rokkenjima 1986’ any% WR attempt number 4, starting… now!

There’s a little description of how the characters perceive the game world, which is perhaps noteworthy.

While we remained in the witch’s tea room, the blue-gray sea and hte green Rokkenjima spread out beneath us, ……and we could see the boat heading there, trailing a wake behind it.

So, this confirms there is a definite ‘camera position’ I guess.

This time, we completely skip the boat ride, and join the Ushiromiyas as they disembark at the dock. Ange watches as all of her family are ‘swallowed up’ by the forest.

We close out the chapter with her words…

You idiot.

How long are you going to joke around and play with a witch in a placel ike this……

Come back quickly, ……Onii-chan……!
Don’t leave me all alone…!

And realise.

Realise what a cruel and lonely world I end up isolated in…


And, it seems the next chapter is going to take place off the island, and show us just that—it seems to be set after the incident, in Ange’s school. So, looking forward to that. This makes me wonder whether this episode is part of the ‘game’ narrative displayed by the witch’s tea room, or Umineko no Naku Koru Ni is showing us something that Beatrice’s Extreme Rokkenjima Murder Simulator 1986 is not. I guess we’ll see if Battler ever chimes in there. In any case, we’ll see what that has in store for us next time~

Welcome to Episode 4, everyone! It’s definitely looking promising…

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