So, let’s pick this up! I’m in America now, but I’ll endeavour to keep feeding you Umineko posts.
Last time, we got introduced to the Ange side of the narrative, and set up what I can only assume will be the major themes of this episode. Namely, the idea of multiple ‘truths’ existing at once, the need to consider multiple sides to get a full picture, and of course ‘without love, the truth cannot be seen’: you mustn’t pre-judge it. At the same time, we’ve set the stage for a dramatic 90s chase story with Ange running from the Sumaderas while attempting to unearth what happened on Rokkenjima.
It does feel like… these guys ought to be chasing Carmen Sandiego or Speed Racer or someone like that lol. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Action scenes are tough to narrate in visual novel prose. So far Umineko’s done pretty well, by injecting high emotional drama into the magical action scenes. Might be tougher for a mundane Ange…
Anyway! So far we’ve almost entirely avoided any happenings on Rokkenjima, but at last, we’re on our way back…
We open in, where else, the drawing room. Eva is discussing Kinzo’s short remaining lifetime with Nanjo, and the various adult Ushiromiyas. They’re being aggressive with the questioning this time, basically calling Nanjo’s entire judgement into doubt, Natsuhi declaring the whole thing unspeakably disrespectful. Basically speedrunning the arguments in previous episodes.
This time, we move in a direction where the siblings demand to speak to Kinzo, no matter if he’s willing to see them or not. The Rudolf-Rosa-Eva united front plays the sympathy angle—Kinzo could die at any moment, and they just want to see him one last time.
Krauss and Natsuhi counter by saying, oh you all just want to ask him for money because you’re all in financial binds, etc. etc. Let’s skim forwards… actually the narration itself does this, passing over the whole rest of the argument in one text box.
However, this time, rather than cut to the kids at the beach, Kyrie interjects with a ‘proposition’. She asks everyone to acknowledge Krauss’s efforts as a caretaker, even thank him. Eva bristles immediately at this ‘outsider’ interjecting, but Rudolf is smart enough to immediately leap to backing up Kyrie lol. After a moment, the others divine where she’s going, and follow suit.
So where is she going? She proposes that, with a few conditions, they’ll stop pestering him to see Kinzo, even clear out of the funeral. These are essentially that Krauss should be recognised as successor on the basis that he is acting as Kinzo’s caretaker… but if Kinzo dies anything other than a natural death, Krauss will be deemed to be neglectful, and his status as successor will pass to Eva.
Krauss immediately questions like, how exactly is this ‘natural’ death to be determined—e.g., what if Kinzo choked on his food due to senility? Kyrie’s answer is that she’s thinking instead of scenarios like his unexpected disappearance, perhaps because he just loses it one day and wanders into the forest or suffers an accident.
Where’s she going with this? Does she have a suspicion that this has already happened?
Indeed, this is what she’s trying to say: that Krauss has covered up Kinzo’s death.
At this point, meta!Battler interrupts, saying that this theory could solve the Eva Beatrice checkmate. His idea is to slip in an unknown living person by declaring that someone—most likely Kinzo—was dead before the beginning of the game and, furthermore, not present on Rokkenjima at all. This would meet both Kinzo is dead and There are no more than 18 humans on this island. Basically an extreme version of my ‘pedantry about time of death’ proposal, mixed with a 19th actor. Or as Battler puts it:
Very clever, Battler. Discarding the visual narration and focusing purely on what’s stated in the red axioms. Nevermind that we saw Kinzo (or someone else): maybe he wasn’t really there.
Ange steps in, essentially to check Battler’s work. She says the name used to hide the name of the culprit must fulfil these conditions…
- someone who’s not on the island, and yet we have reason to believe to be on the island
- preferably already dead, so they have a perfect alibi—so unlikely one of the handful of people alive at the time of Nanjo’s murder
Kinzo is the best candidate for this, in Battler’s view. Just as Kyrie argued, he’s probably already dead. Who can say otherwise? This does suggest that at least Nanjo and Genji are in on the conspiracy, possibly also Sayo and Kanon. And Krauss, who does not want any division of the inheritance, has plentiful motive.
He throws this at Beato and we are transported to the tea room. She negs him a bit for taking so long to come up with this, but praises him for figuring it out. In a sense.
Beatrice: ……You could say that you’ve finally taken a step forward from the crying creature that you were before, just licking my shoes and grinding your teeth. *cackle*cackle*!
Battler puts it to her with a repetition request. Beato is not daunted, but still weighs up whether to immediately shoot this down.
Beatrice: No, no, it might also be good to hold back for now and let you get all excited. If I’m going to push you off a cliff anyway, it would be much more interesting to lure you to a higher place first. *cackle*!
Battler gets ticked off by this trash talk, while Ange quietly observes: Beatrice too is ‘learning and growing’ just like Battler. She says Beato won’t be so quick to reach for the red truth when Battler is using it against her.
How is it to her advantage to hold back? Well, if the expectation is established that she’ll use the red to deny Battler whenever she can, refusing the red is tantamount to admitting Battler is right. So Battler can probe around with his ‘repetition requests’ and gradually get more of a picture. However, if she refuses to use the red on request, Battler has no axioms and has to blindly speculate, until Beato can shoot down the whole grand narrative in one go without letting slip too much information.
Back to the 24/7 D/s relationship then. But, hey, maybe Battler can figure out how to fake emotions as well. …hmm, ok, this is Battler we’re talking about.
Ange makes a further observation. Beatrice does have a responsibility to use the red if she can… iff Battler’s claim would ‘destroy the witch theory’.
Because in this court without a judge, that which is not refuted becomes the ‘truth’.
But since truths ‘further in the future’ supersede previous truths, Beato could make her case… at her discretion. But she must deploy her counter before the game ends—or she gives up her right to make a counterargument in red, and Battler wins.
That’s pretty interesting, though. We can now have a basis for self-contradictory narration… later narration supersedes earlier. Presumably, if Beato doesn’t crush Battler’s claims, then the story will procede in a ‘mundane’ way, or at least, a way that follows Battler’s stipulations..? No, that can’t be right, because we’ve previously seen the narrative take turns that refute Battler’s claims, as when we introduced Kuwadorian.
Ange and Beato hash this out into a more precise limit. The witch side must make their case by at 24:00 on October 5th 1986, Rokkenjima time, plus one minute to make a closing argument. At the same time, the human side gets one minute to make their own closing arguments, in which they must counter every ‘mystery’ (すべての謎) proposed by the witch side or lose the game. Beatrice is full of praise for Ange’s sharpness.
And then Beatrice adds this…
Fun fact: the kanji 青, which means ‘blue’, has on’yomi readings セイ and ショウ. The kanji 正, which means ‘correct’, has the same readings. Coincidence? I think not! (Though in this case 青 uses the reading あお.)
Anyway, the blue ‘truth’ works like this: any blue statement is a claim that Beatrice is obliged to counter with red by the end of the game. A bookkeeping measure, essentially. A blue statement must ‘deny witches on its own’, so it can’t be used for trivial things; it’s more restrictive than a repetition request. So instead of ‘repetition request: there are five master keys’, Battler has to say something like The actual number of master keys was greater than five. The culprit used one of those extra keys to get in and out of the room!.
It is very funny to hear these characters speaking aloud about ‘speaking in blue’ in voiced lines. I wonder how this translated into the manga version of this story?
Battler doesn’t like this: if Beatrice waits until the end to shoot him down, he doesn’t have time to formulate a counter. Ange reminds him there’s nothing stopping him formulating a suite of multiple blue theories—in Battler’s metaphor, a shotgun approach.
Battler: …………Blue, huh… ……I get it. If your red truth is a razor-sharp katana, then it looks like my blue is a shotgun. No, ……a machine-gun with firepower enough to honeycomb witches.
This chuuni bitch lmao.
Anyway, he’s going to stop trying to take the elegant detective approach and just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks.
So, Battler takes it for a spin immediately… here it is, the first blue statements of the game!!
- Ushiromiya Kinzo is already dead.
- Therefore, the true number of people on the island is 17!
- By adding an unknown person X to that, it becomes 18 people.
- By supposing that this person X exists, the crime is possible even if all 17 people have alibis!!!
I split this on sentence ending punctuation since this is not blue, although I’m not sure any of these individual steps in the argument are sufficient to deny witches on their own. Also this is far from a shotgun approach! But I guess this is just a trial run.
Back on Rokkenjima, Kyrie forks Krauss thus: Krauss must either take them to see Kinzo, or else be accused of having covered up his death. Possibly with a third party involved to check, such as the police.
Krauss, of course, answers with his trademark ばかばかしい (‘ridiculous’).
But Krauss can avoid this dilemma by agreeing to Kyrie’s rules. Of course, if Kinzo is dead, this just sets them up to close the trap later. And if Kinzo is alive… it still gives them an out if they can make a case that he’s dead for unnatural reasons when he finally pops his clogs, but it’s definitely ceding their advantage. So Kyrie must be pretty sure he really is dead.
The fact the narration is focusing on this idea that Kinzo is already dead suggests it is perhaps responding to Battler’s claims. We’ll see…
Anyway, this all leads into a demand for ‘security money’ to avoid having to sign the weird contract she’s proposing. 3 billion yen to each of Eva, Rudolf and Rosa, with a 10% deposit before the end of the year. As the argument gets even more heated, Hideyoshi intervenes to try and get everyone to cool off. He even tries to dismiss the whole argument, framing it as unreasonable bitterness from not getting to see Kinzo. Bless him, he’s really trying.
Krauss takes the offered peace, and promises to have another go at convincing Kinzo to come out and see everyone. Eva immediately proposes a one day time limit, after which the sibling pack will break down the door if necessary to confirm his status.
Krauss and Natsuhi retreat, and the camera follows him into Kinzo’s office. They are indeed entreating Kinzo. He’s saying his own version of the catchphrase…
The main difference from the Battler standard issue is the addition of the particle な, which can be used for emphasis or seeking conformation. His eyes have gotten really big and staring.
So, he sure is right there, but does this ‘count’ if it’s not backed up with a statement in red?
He’s being very showy, knocking Krauss down with pure charismatic force, then lifting him up by the collar with just one finger. We get an unusual Krauss face:
Kinzo declares that he might have one regret, even if he meets Beatrice: the Ushiromiya name is not a gift of the wish and so it still falls on him to decide who gets it. He declares his intent to appear in the conference after dinner to make an ‘important announcement’ about the succession.
This, all told, seems like a very lively Kinzo. He’s not screaming Beatrice’s name at all, but instead striding about, performing feats of strength, and generally being trouble. It seems like this is a general trend actually: Kinzo’s been quietly powerlevelling in the background to each loop of the game, and seems stronger in every iteration.
And that’s it, the end of the chapter! Next one is Ange’s Recollection. We’ll see what Ange recalls next time.
So, the long-awaited blue truth. Much weaker than I expected, really, but I suppose giving Battler declarative power would be against the spirit of things. The human side’s job is now much more explicit: during the game, they must produce blue hypotheses to shoot down every ‘mystery’ (謎), with enough options for redundancy against possible red axioms advanced by the witch. The word nazo means riddle, puzzle, or enigma in addition to mystery according to my dictionary, but it’s pretty clear what it means: every claim that an incident could not have happened except by magic.
So now questions of efficiency enters the picture. The blue claims need to be diverse: following Battler’s master-key example, you could claim there are six, seven, eight, nine… master keys for every natural number above five. However, that entire infinity can be shot down with one line of red, so it’s a waste of time. In essence, the humans must play several moves in advance, considering lines of attack by the witch, and setting up their counters. Something I have been doing to a degree in my own attempts in this liveblog! But to truly play in ‘deferred mode’ like this, we need to go even further than I have been.
Maybe I should come up with a colour for my own hypotheses… green? Hot pink? I don’t know how many more colours we’ll find in narration….
A truly ideal human move would be to advance a set of hypotheses which fully cover both a potential redtext and its negation. So Beatrice could not shoot down one without exposing herself to the other. Hard to imagine what this would be in theory, but I’m excited to see what they come up with.
Now, the narration evidently sees no need to conform to blue truths, unlike red ones. Battler proposing that Kinzo is dead does not stop him appearing. But that doesn’t mean we must accept he’s alive. The narration provides raw material, but we saw in the last episode that we can’t trust anything dubious until Beatrice forces the issue in red.
That said, Battler has treated certain characters—particularly, narrative!Battler himself—as more reliable witnesses without needing to get everything stated in red. If a scene is proceding with no magical elements, it seems like we have to give it more credence. So is Kinzo actually confirmed alive and present, at least in this run? Not sure yet, but the minute he appears in front of the adults after dinner, I think we will have to accept that as if it’s redtexted.
With that, I think all the key elements of this episode are in play, so let the games begin…