Hi, everyone. I’m back. It’s been a hot minute since I have been able to liveblog Umineko. This is what I’ve been up to in the meantime.
Last time, Kinzo killed everybody. The next chapter is titled The Sweet World of Witches.
We open from the POV of Rosa, slowly regaining consciousness on a cold floor. She has woken up in a strange dark world, where nothing can be seen—I’m imagining the room where you fight the Four Kings in Dark Souls. This is fun, since we just saw Rosa get killed in the last chapter. Somehow, Sakutarō is there, though Rosa does not recognise him. Even if she’s inexplicably painted at every ‘uryu’.
The backgrounds here include the Tea Party room, and a stained glass window, all with this purple filter. None of that is mentioned in the narration though. Sakutarō being here is interesting—humans and ‘furniture’ arriving in the same afterlife. Despite the fact that Rosa killed him, he doesn’t seem to bear a grudge, rushing her somewhere else…
She demands Sakutarō stop saying ‘uryu’. To which he immediately replies ‘uryu’. Bless him lmao. He spills the beans that Rosa created him, but she still can’t figure it out, demanding to see Maria.
Sakutarō: …Maria is here, ……but she’s not Maria right now. It’s better if you don’t see her at the minute. THat will be better for you, and Maria as well. ………For Maria’s sake as well, run away.
Well that’s ominous. Last we saw Maria, she was safely with the Ushiromiya cousins.
With more prompting, Rosa finally figures out who this strange child is. The memory immediately punches a hole in her hand! Funky. She starts in on one of her Rosa freakouts:
Rosa: Go away……!! I don’t know you…! Sakutarō was just a disgusting, crappy stuffed animal, right…?!!!
For fuck’s sake Rosa.
Under whatever strange rules of this psychic plane, saying this causes Sakutarō’s head to get ripped off in a mirror of what Rosa did before. Rosa flashes back to that day. We get to see the immediate aftermath from Rosa’s view. She tries to apologise—because that’s gonna work—and then when rejected:
I mean, she won’t come around even when I apologise, and there’s nothing I can do now anyway, and it’s all Maria’s fault in the first place…!!
This bitch. Then, as if to underline in huge letters that ‘abuse is cyclic’:
Even I had lots of toys and treasures stolen, broken, made fun of, and thrown away by my brothers and sister and father and mother…!!
But though I might have cried about that, ……though I might have shed a few tears……not once did I sob like this and trouble my parents, throw a tantrum, get in a terrible mood, pound and kick the floor and make a horrible racket…!!
As she thinks all this she beats the shit out of Maria. Of course.
Definitely draws a line under the analysis that the way Rosa treats Maria is in part about resentment, that Maria is able to express herself in ways Rosa wouldn’t let herself. They even do some funky alternating case stuff:
It’s because I held it in ThAT i wAS ablE TO beCoMe THe WOnDerFuL aDULT i aM NOw!!!
Here, she’s alternating between standard Japanese orthography (kanji, hiragana) and katakana. In more standard orthography, I believe it would be
And a clumsy effort to break it down… 我慢してきたから - Because I was enduring/exercising self-control こんなに - in this way 立派な - splendid, praiseworthy 大人になる - to grow up; here it’s なれる instead which might instead be 熟れる, to mature (as in wine) or 慣れる, to get used to or even to become domesticated! のに - in order to
We snap back to the psychic dimension where Rosa has smashed her hand off. She’s gone ceramic mode. Who did that? Guess…
Yeaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! ngl this is cathartic. Intentionally so, I’d imagine.
Kinda seems like here on Rokkenjima all the sins of ‘being rich evil bastards’ are returning to haunt the Ushiromiyas in classic ghost story fashion. Maria finally gets to exercise magic that works. The balance of power has completely reversed: instead of being able to take out her trauma and frustrations on a helpless child, now Rosa gets a taste of it.
Beatrice is also there. I’m not surprised. This seems like a ‘Beatrice dimension’ sort of joint. But why is Maria there?
Anyway, Maria lays it all out, lays into Rosa, outlining all the ways that Sakutarō was a better parent.
Rosa’s retort is straight up 仕方ないでしょ—“It can’t be helped, right?” (For those unfamiliar, 仕方がない, it can’t be helped, is a very stereotypical Japanese phrase. Once you start noticing it, it’s everywhere.) She repeats all her excuses about how she was busy with work and so on.
Beatrice fucking goes for the throat…
Maria deems Rosa ‘guilty’, and tears her apart. Damn, I guess she’s double-dead now. I still am not sure in what context this is happening! Instead of blood, some kind of black tar comes out of Rosa. The narration says “It was probably what a bloodless, tearless human kept inside their body instead.” She prompts Maria about whether to go for another round, and Maria isn’t stopping, so it’s time for the Endless Magic to come out and bring Rosa back.
So. On the one hand, yeah, Rosa, has it coming. On the other hand, it definitely feels like Beatrice is manipulating Maria too, encouraging her to indulge in sadistic impulses for… at this point, I don’t know what end.
More flashbacks ensue. This time, when Rosa lied about being overwhelmed with work when she was actually on holiday. Maria reveals that she’d found out the truth. We see the other side; Rosa tells her date…
The date (no talksprite, but he is voiced) is sceptical, and says that he regrets straining Rosa’s relationship with Maria. Rosa of course gets defensive, since that is the only thing Rosa knows how to do. She jumps to accusations—turns out date has a wife, although they’re splitting up. Rosa comes up with this…
Rosa: ………Whenever someone finds out I have a child, they desert me. ……Even when I tell them they don’t need to worry about the cost of raising her, they all desert me… ……I…thought you understood about my daughter, ………but it looks like you really don’t like women with children……
Seems likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy! Once again, when faced with the realisation that she’s an incredibly neglectful mother and everyone can see it, Rosa will come up with any possible alternative rationalisation.
Of course, this situation could be improved if Rosa reached for any support whatsoever—even something as bare minimum as hiring a carer for Maria with her stacks of money. We’re right at the fault lines of the nuclear family here. Rosa as the parent has all the power in this situation, and she’s got too much shit going on in her own head to really face up to the situation. She wants to dote on Maria when it’s convenient but otherwise to pretty much put Maria on a shelf, and she can’t acknowledge this is her real attitude because of the thought-terminating cliché that she is definitely a good mother doing her best. Probably a strategy that made sense when she was at the bottom of the Ushiromiya ladder being bullied by literally everyone!
One thing that’s gone rather unaddressed in all this is like. Just who is Maria’s dad? It seems that Rosa separated from him when Maria was very young, and he doesn’t seem to have any presence in her life at all. Caring for a human being alone is a hell of a thing to bear for anyone. Not that it can’t be done, obviously single parents are doing their thing all over the world, and raising a child as a couple or an extended family or some kind of communal arrangement isn’t like, easy mode either. Pick your poison: you have to do literally everything and never get a day off, or, all interpersonal problems in your group have dire consequences for the person who’s dependent on you. This isn’t like, a solved problem. But it’s not unreasonable for Rosa to want to take a holiday occasionally—she’s just done absolutely nothing to make sure Maria’s needs are taken care of when she does. Why not take Maria to the hot springs resort?
Well, we’re seeing why in this scene. Rosa would just rather not think of Maria at all.
Back in the psychic torture dimension, Rosa draws entirely the wrong conclusions from this flashback.
Rosa: ……If not for you, ……I would have been able to grasp my happiness as a woman long ago…… Your existence……constantly gets in the way of my happiness……
I guess she’s figured she’s going to be killed either way so, she’s just gonna say this shit now?
Well speaking of Maria’s dad, he comes up in this narration right now.
Rosa: ………Even I didn’t want to give birth to you… No, that’s wrong. ……I did think it’d be nice to build a happy family together with you… ……But he disappeared right before you were born. He said he’d build a warm family with me…he tricked me…and disappeared from my sight for all eternity…!!
Only you were left. No love or memories or anything remained!! Where is that man now? He probably just turned my days with him into a warm memory, and found a new love. And maybe that time he managed to build up a happy family…!! And me?! I have you!! I can’t even look for love!!
All through this, Maria is listening with this expression…
(Random language note: Here, Rosa is using the word あなた. In Japanese, in contrast to English, you almost never use generic pronouns (‘you’) to address someone. You would use their name, or if their name is not known, e.g. if you’re a shopkeeper addressing a customer, you might use a phrase like お客さん. You use the word ‘anata’, which literally means ‘you’ in two contexts: one is an old-fashioned way to address a romantic partner (similar to ‘dear’); the other is to be very rude and distant. So this adds an extra dimension of harshness to this speech.)
This led me on a tangent to investigate under what circumstances a parent can formally abandon their child to the care of the state. The answer seems to be ‘not many’, especially for a child of Maria’s age. (Of course, it goes without saying that this would be miserable and traumatic for Maria.) It basically seems like this is what Rosa, if she were willing to admit it, would want to do. She says she’s hated Maria since before she was born.
Another interesting dimension of this is that Rosa distinguishes being ‘mother’ and a ‘woman’. Here ‘woman’ is meant in the sense of participating in romantic relationships, doing the stuff that other women her age would be doing, instead of raising a kid. But it’s interesting that they are presented as separate ontological categories entirely.
As Rosa rants on and on, the howling-wind ‘bad magic is happening’ noise increases in volume over the sound of the EDM that started when Maria appeared. Each of Rosa’s statements is punctuated by a glass-breaking sound. She demands credit for not scolding Maria for existing[dubious - discuss], and claims that Maria, no, the population of the world, couldn’t possibly understand such emotions “second-hand embarassment of seeing children laugh at your daughter after you had a breakup”. Truly, no worse emotion has ever been felt by anyone.
Beatrice tells Maria to kill Rosa once again and free herself from the chains of parent and child to stand on her own. I kind of feel like this isn’t going to happen… seems like I’m wrong, we get a big CG of Maria’s distraight face.
Rosa retorts with an ahaha.wav and a few last verbal shots. Maria pulls the trigger. There’s a very funny description:
As Rosa howled, her upper body was crushed in a way that can only be decribed by the word “splat”, and in an instant, was turned into something similar to a wrung, blood-stained towel.
ぐしゃりという表現で: described with ‘gushari’. Lol.
But she regenerates instantly. Endless magic? Seems like it. Beatrice wants Maria to drag it out: perhaps by pushing her further and further into this mindset she becomes more suitably witchy. The gory descriptions start going into the symbolism of each death!
Rosa really seems to be bearing this whole ‘being tortured to death repeatedly’ thing rather well, considering. Of course these are only kind of metaphorical deaths in this dimension. Anyway, she brings up the whole thing about Maria’s witchy interests after Maria suggests this is just a witch inhabiting her mother’s body.
Because of you, even I get treated like a weirdo!
Rosa’s ambition is truly to be as normie as possible. Unbelievably cringe.
The narration pulls back from the blow by blow, and we get some interesting lines…
Despite all this, she really did love her mama, ……and wanted to return to the days when she could still believe that her mama loved her too……
So she howled…
She brought everything to nothing. She would not accept it. She denied it.
She denied the black witch making her mother say such things, and………the part of herself that couldn’t forgive that mother……!!!
But she couldn’t deny it!
This was reality, fact, truth, the answer.
Here we’re being invited to recognise a ‘reality’, a ‘truth’. But it’s an emotional ‘truth’ rather than a ‘whodunnit’ sort of ‘truth’. Also a ‘truth’ in specific contrast to the ‘truth’ that Ange was pushed to accept, of Maria being happy.
And hey, here comes another CG.
Turns out guroing people is fun. “But if the toys could be fixed, I’d want to break them over and over again!!” says Maria.
We’ve gone from directly confronting a very concretely portrayed, plausible violence to playing around with cartoonish gran guignol splatter. This is the sort of escape that witchcraft offers: this world where there are no constraints whatsoever. And we seem to be saying, if offered such a world, you’d get into sadistically dicking about. That’s what Eva Beatrice did in the previous episode. It seems to be the state that Beatrice values, and she’s encouraging Maria to go down that road too. Will Maria just be standing there splattering her mum, forever?
But then, the EDM stops. Maria observes that if Rosa won’t accept him, Sakutaro won’t be fixed.
Maria: I’m not accepted by Mama either, am I… ………So the broken Maria can’t be fixed anymore either. ……………………
She says she’s having so much fun she could even consider forgiving Rosa. This, Beatrice declares, is an enlightened state…
Remember what I said just now about Rosa wanting to keep Maria on a shelf?
Must there always be one with absolute power, one who exists at the other’s convenience? Is that the necessary order of the world? I don’t think it is.
We leave the scene with Maria deciding to crunch up Rosa just a few times more. Beatrice must be very satisfied.
We join Battler and the others in the guest house, blissfully unaware of all the killing that has just been done. Maria wakes up, suggesting that within the mundane narrative, this whole business we just witnessed was something like… a dream she just had?
Battler encourages Maria to go back to sleep, and they have a playful argument about whether Maria is half-asleep or not. It’s not so playful to Maria, who has a quick tantrum about it. George actually does a pretty good job and calming down the situation. Guess that whole maturity act is good for something lol.
She says ‘hihihihihi…’ while looking creepily at Battler—the implication seeming to be that she’s imagining torturing him in her head, I guess.
At that point, Gohda and Kumasawa show up, panicked and soaking wet. Presumably after legging it from the massacre inside. Assuming that massacre actually happened! Gohda stumbles out something approximating an explanation, mentioning ‘the Master’ and ‘Krauss’ and… cut. So we have at least (I presume) Battler-POV survivor testimony about to drop that Kinzo dunnit and Krauss died? But we’ll see.
The next chapter is titled Dungeon. So that’s exciting.
Comments on this episode: That was a pretty short one! It’s interesting that before the chapter was out, it moved to position the magical events as a dream.
This all does rather put the lie to the thought that Maria was ‘happy’ as she wrote in her diary, somehow able to weather all of Rosa’s abuses. It’s all compartmentalisation, baby! And now she’s discovered a new lifehack: imagining people dying violently.
Except, “it’s all in Maria’s imagination” seems like a pretty shallow reading of what we saw. It seems hard to imagine Maria, even in a dream, would construct such specific facets of Rosa’s psychology, or the hotel-room conversation. This all also seemed like a significant point in Rosa’s arc, and we assumed her POV for a good chunk of it. She stopped pretending to view Maria with anything other than contempt.
Of course, Rosa’s also dead right now. So perhaps we can say that what this represents is not any sort of character development of Rosa, but of Maria, coming to acknowledge the petty, vicious side of Rosa instead of making excuses for her. But prompted by what? It’s a natural culmination of the dramatic arc we’ve explored so far in this chapter, but that chapter jumps around wildly in time. What would have prompted this here on Rokkenjima?
Mind you, we’ve never had nearly so much Maria-POV before. So it would make plenty of sense to say that after the scene in the rose garden, and her meeting with ‘Beatrice’ (if that happened), Maria had an ephiphany with regard to what sort of person her mother is and how she might process that knowledge. And this happened in all four ‘runs’ so far, which might by why Maria was affecting that kind of witch-persona during the murders, especially after Rosa died in the first episode. The Rosa-POV scenes, like the hotel room, are an embellishment by the storyteller?
Or, you know, Beatrice the witch picked up Rosa’s soul after she was killed by Kinzo and brought her to Maria the witch to be tortured in the world of magic. Could be that instead.
It really doesn’t seem like the emphasis of this episode will be on ‘whodunnit’ or ‘howdunnit’. We’re more than halfway through and there has not been a single locked room mystery. Indeed, the game has barely been played at all… unless this whole tale that’s been spun so far about Ange and Maria has been another rhetorical device in its entirety, another presentation to bring us around to the idea of magic like what was pulled in episode 3. If so, it’s quite a subtle argument! It’s given us many situations where magic failed, and the would-be magician has to come to terms with it.
I guess we’ll see. See you rather sooner than last time.