Umineko no Naku Koro ni, episode 14 – Battler’s assistant

To be honest, I didn’t really find Moetrice’s and Beatrice’s battle to be that interesting. But things took a much more interesting turn once that battle was over.

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So I’m not exactly sure how to explain the battle. According to Ronove, Moetrice killed Beatrice from the very beginning when she called forth the attack towers, then used her Endless powers to revive Beatrice the moment after she died to keep the game going. So does that mean the stakes that struck Moetrice were an optical illusion? More interesting than the battle itself was original Beatrice – who revealed her name to be Virgilia – chiding Moetrice for using the Endless power to torture people, and vowing to take her position back. With poor results, of course.

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Moetrice’s increasing arrogance is so… disturbingly endearing and cute. Like the way she picked up her dress to stomp towards Virgilia’s dying body to gloat or her inelegant laugh when she seemingly has the upper hand on Battler. Meanwhile, Battler is completely flummoxed at how to explain the ridiculous scene between Moetrice and Virgilia. And disappears from the tea room in a frustrated huff.

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There’s a lot of things going on this episode. Moetrice’s fight with Virgilia. Battler’s meta-battle with Moetrice. And, of course, the actual game on the chessboard itself. My first inkling that there was something strange with Moetrice and Virgilia’s fight scene as that no one in the house reacted as if they’d heard or seen anything strange. It’s very possible that they could’ve been tucked away in a far corner of the house, but I believe there is no possible way that anyone can raise mountains from the ground without someone from the house hearing something. Meanwhile, after a night of wracking their brains trying to solve Moetrice’s riddle, the adults leave the room to get breakfast, when they notice a sickly smell, and strange blood pentacles on locked doors. While they’re relieved to find the kids are safe, they eventually notice Shannon from a window, and break in to find her murdered.

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Cut then to a sulking Battler, who wonders if he’s stuck in a game where all he can do is lose. And now things get interesting. Because at this point, I was also thinking that the story had seemingly gone far astray. The witch fight was my breaking point. I wondered what happened to solving the mystery? What happened to the battle between Battler and Moetrice? How in the world did this spectacular magic light show become the primary focus of this game? And I imagine Battler was feeling the same. But when Virgilia appears offering Battler some help, suddenly things started falling into place.

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Virgilia explains that when you don’t know how something actually functions, two versions of the truth are equally plausible. Are TVs a function of electrical and mechanical engineering, or the result of magical cathode ray gnomes? Without opening the TV to see for yourself, how would you know? Virgilia also mentions the Schrödinger’s cat experiment to further illustrate her point. The interesting point here is that each event can be considered to have at least two separate truths. If you find a dead person, was he killed, did he kill himself, or did he die accidentally? All are potential truths until proven false. This puts Moetrice’s red truths in a new light, and puts everything she says under a greater microscope.

It’s also interesting to note that Battler’s goal and his game has changed. It’s no longer about proving that witches don’t exist, it’s about beating Beatrice and solving the mystery: the murders in Rokkenjima occurred through non-supernatural means. This opens a world of possibilities for him – the most prominent being that he can acknowledge Virgilia’s existence and accept her help.

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With his confidence back, Battler returns to the tea room and immediately challenges Moetrice’s "battle." What battle? he replies. A perfectly logical argument, considering that there’s no evidence of a battle in the rose garden. Moetrice’s arrogance comes back to haunt her, because when you pull mountains from the ground, that’s going to leave a mark. A more subtle killing method, like a gun, for example, could’ve left Battler’s enthusiasm a little more stunted.

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When Moetrice tries to pin down Battler using the closed room method from the last game, Battler is able to deduce that there is a way to create a perception of a closed room murder – just because everyone’s dead, doesn’t mean that all of them were killed by other people, one of them could’ve killed the others, locked themselves in their room and killed themselves, giving off that illusion. To that effect, Battler tells Moetrice to repeat that "all six were killed by other people."

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Moetrice refuses to repeat that statement, which leads Battler to declare that he has checkmate, instantly putting Moetrice on the defensive. A very nice counterattack indeed. However, Moetrice then says in red that no one committed suicide. Battler frets at this, thinking that his theory had been busted again, but Virgilia keenly points out that Moetrice changed the statement she said in red. Battler might have been thinking about suicide, but that’s not what he asked. Moetrice takes the bait and begins to say something in red, but Ronove gags her mid-sentence and asks for more time to strategize before disappearing with her.

It’s great to see Battler get a little help, because I think I forget that meta-battles aside, Battler’s still just a kid. He’s not a professional detective. So while I think he should be picking up on those little shifts in wording, it’s easier said than done. Battler’s actually just a stubborn guy with a bright mind who stumbled into a bizarre game, and is now under a lot of stress and not thinking straight. Give some credit to Moetrice, because she’s led Battler around on a string, and he hasn’t been able to gain enough little victories of his own to have any confidence in his theories. But Virgilia changes all that and really levels the playing field. I’m still waiting to see what role Bernkastel will play though. Can we be totally sure that the Virgilia here is Virgilia? Could it be that the Bernkastel saw Virgilia get defeated and decided to use her image to throw a wrench in Moetrice’s plans?

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Meanwhile, Eva and her ghostly apparition solve the riddle and find the gold that Kinzo claimed is actually real. The adults had been showing some pretty good camaraderie working together so far. Actually felt a little like the gang in Higurashi working together to defeat their fate. But I wonder how this treasure is going to change Eva’s behavior?

All in all, I thought this was a great episode. I haven’t played the VN, but I felt the pace was very good, and I just love the meta-battle scenes. I feel like the stuff that’s happening on the actual chessboard is incidental. The things that are fated to happen will happen, but only by being able to rationalize them can Battler reverse all of their fates.

7 Replies to “Umineko no Naku Koro ni, episode 14 – Battler’s assistant”

  1. Glad you enjoyed this episode! The concept of fantasy juxtaposed alongside mystery is one of the most fascinating parts of Umineko, imo, so things should only get better from here.

    Also, I am slightly more amused than I should be by your referring to Beatrice as Moetrice >.> Beato kawaii wwwwww

    1. I wish I could take the credit for “Moetrice” but I saw it on the MAL forums first. Needless to say, I also find it extremely amusing. :p

  2. Beatrice can do no wrong in my eyes. Everything she does is so damn awesome. I love that she has two different laughs. <3

    The bit with the red truths is the most interesting part of the episode for me. I'm torn between whether Ronove shuts Beatrice up because he is afraid Battler will eventually chip away at the statements and make Beatrice reveal something she does not want to reveal, or if there is something fundamentally wrong with the red truth statements themselves. Right now I am leaning toward the latter — I'm thinking the red truth statements could be similar to Beatrice's magic, in that they are the "truth" only because Battler can see no way to combat the statements. Beatrice engineers the rules so that Battler accepts the statements at face value, which dissuades him from prying deeper into them like Virgilia is encouraging him to do now.

    1. Good question. I was actually thinking the former, that in this case Ronove shut Beatrice up to prevent her from painting herself into a corner, but I can definitely see there being something fundamentally wrong with the red truth statements. The whole multiple truths issue is something that’s going to create some big issues for her, because as long as Battler can think of an alternate truth, she won’t be able to checkmate him (although to be fair, he wouldn’t be able to checkmate her completely either).

      I do really like that Battler is prying deeper now. I thought he gave Moetrice way too much credit in the previous arcs by letting her get away with not explaining the truths, or choosing to not use repeat what Battler asked her to say whenever she felt like it.

  3. So Eva found the gold. Is the game over then? Obviously not but wasn’t that the point of the prophecy?

    Lol Moetrice… I’m not sure what part of her is moe though.
    .-= TJ´s last blog ..Naruto 466 =-.

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