I’ve been battling a cold for the past week and thus have been feeling pretty unmotivated. Which is unfortunate, because there’s been a bunch of posts I’ve been thinking of posting. The Haruhi recap, something on the Zetsubou sensei girls, something on Scribblenauts, my favorite list of seiyuus, a 3-part concerto on Nodame Cantabile that I’d been meaning to write for the past month… I wonder if any of these will ever get written… Anyway, onto the latest Umineko. It’s a new arc, and I’ve got super high hopes. Why? Because Battler’s finally decided to show up to the gunfight packing some heat.
The first couple scenes of this episode completely threw me off. Was this a little backstory on Beatrice? Or something altogether different? And who is this other Beatrice? At first glance, she seems to be pretty kind hearted witch. But why would she take on this little girl as a disciple? And if purple haired Beatrice is kind hearted, what would have turned a loli-Beatrice into such a bloodthirsty witch? Is this supposed to parallel the Beatrice x Maria relationship? Questions abound.
The other bizarre scene was some backstory on Eva. The way Kinzo treats her like a asset to be pawned, I almost felt a little bad for her. This was a short scene, but I can also begin to understand why Eva she’s so power hungry and hell bent on proving herself. But what exactly was that "other" Eva? ? A witch’s trick? Something real like the demon goat butlers? Or just an illusion in Eva’s mind? Or just a strange remnant dream from Eva’s past?
I really liked seeing this scene of the cousins just having a little bit of fun at the expense of Battler. The pace of this show has been so fast, and the action so oriented around the murders, that it’s been hard to appreciate, or heck, even recognize their personality quirks. I really think it was the slice of life moments in Higurashi that really accentuated the dramatic/horror scenes. Even though this scene only lasted about a minute, it was good to see.
So much kudos for Sayaka Ohara’s performance as Beatrice. The way she just gleefully tore into that scene to ruin Battler’s fun and joy was just perfect. Her cackling and taunting also continues to get better and better.
I’ve finally realized that there’s a few different games going on here. The main game we see is the Beatrice vs. meta-Battler. There’s also the Beatrice vs. game piece Battler game, in which he’s trying to figure out who the killer is and solve the epitaph. But then there’s also the game between Kinzo and Beatrice. I don’t know if there’s much significance behind or if we’ll ever get to see it in depth, but Kinzo’s been preparing for Beatrice’s return. He’s gathered his family members as pieces, and also created his own "furniture" to battle Beatrice’s "furniture." Now I’m just not sure what Kinzo’s playing for though. It seems like he wants to reach the Golden Land, so I wonder if he’s challenging Beatrice for sport, or whether he has other plans of his own.
We’re also introduced to a new character in this scene, Ronove, Beatrice’s butler, and apparently the 27th highest-ranked noble in Hell (what does that make Beatrice then?). Shounen A has some interesting speculations about Ronove and a possible connection with Genji, that I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on the mark.
Battler’s reaction to meeting Ronove is pretty classic. It’s also promising to see that Battler’s pretty comfortable with the whole meta-world sequence now, whereas in the previous arc, I got the sense that he felt outside of his comfort zone. I get a kick out of seeing Battler trade barbs with Beatrice, even if they’re meaningless at this point.
Similar to the first arc, we see Maria reading Beatrice’s letter to the family at the dinner table (with pointless freak face to boot. Honestly, I liked Maria’s freak faces back when I thought they had some ulterior meaning, but now that I know that she’s just a weird little girl, they seem totally out of place). However, what we didn’t see last time was the family working together to figure out what was going on. I haven’t gotten the impression that any of them have retained any of their previous memories, but in this case, they’re much more willing to consider Beatrice existing and being a possible suspect to setting this up. I also really liked seeing Kyrie take the lead. As the one who taught Battler the "turning over the chessboard" type of thinking, I wanted to see what she could offer to the show. I don’t know that many of the adults will ever be very well-developed, but Kyrie is one person I hope plays a major part in this arc.
What I’m a little confused about is the distinction between the Ushiromiya family inheritance and Beatrice’s gold. I thought they were one and the same. And from Rudolph’s reaction, Beatrice’s gold is no chump change. But if the two are different, what then does the Ushiromiya family inheritance offer besides pride?
Damn, it’s good to see Beatrice sweat for a bit. I also like the way her mouth curls up, that and the occasional fang-tan make for a very cute albeit psychotic, killer witch.
Battler quickly corners Beatrice by telling her to repeat the statement, "There are no more than 18 people on the island." Beatrice refuses.
He then tells her to repeat the statement, "There are at least 19 people on the island." Again, Beatrice refuses.
This allows Battler to absolve the 18 from blame and conclude that there may be a 19th, 20th or x number of other people on the island. She then regroups and reveals to Battler why she refused to repeat Battler’s previous statements.
Rosa lays out a shocker. Beatrice is no longer alive, because she killed her. Up to this point, you can say Umineko’s been a variety things: perplexing, gruesome, magical, but this is the first time I’d add chilling to that list. Rosa’s confession was totally unexpected, and the mood for the confession was set up perfectly, IMO.
Still, this is a minor setback for Battler, because it doesn’t change that he can still assume that there’s extra people on the island. Heck, he can make a case that the Yamainu and Banken are hiding out somewhere in the forest waiting to kill everyone. I’m a little surprised that Beatrice felt pressured by Battler’s questioning. All along, he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to suspect any of the 18 family members and servants. Beatrice had to know that he’d ask her to red text that fact at some point. Perhaps she had simply become overconfident. Round 1 goes to Battler, but the fight is just getting started.