Umineko no Naku Koro ni, episode 17 – What it means to be human

How is it possible that my heart is breaking so much for someone who as recently as two episodes ago was reveling in her complete depravity and lack of compassion? Also, this is now the second time that I wished I’d saved last week’s title (Moetrice’s sadness) for this week… I bet I’m also going to wish I proofread this post in advance.

Eva finds HideyoshiBattler cries

The episode starts off on the game board, picking up right where it left off last week. with Battler, George, Jessica, Nanjo and Eva discovering the dead bodies of Rudolf, Kyrie and Hideyoshi. Eva is completely distraught, while Battler fails to hold back tears, all while exhorting George to stop holding his feelings in – now having lost both his parents and fiancée.

Sad MoetriceVirgilia explains

Cut to the tea room and we see a very forlorn looking Moetrice, who has no good response to Battler’s accusations of cruelty. Virgilia explains that because Endless Witches can revive and kill so easily, the concept of life and death, and the gravity of their actions is completely lost on them. When Battler asks why such magic exists, Virgilia answers by saying that all magic was created to bring happiness to the human world. The whole point of training is to bring blessings to humans. Which makes me wonder where Moetrice’s training went terribly off the hinges (and we see where EvaBeatrice’s lack of training, or learning by terrible example, continues this misery).

Moetrice in tearsMoetrice asks for time to think

Battler, sharp as ever, quickly picks up on Virgilia’s words, appropriately deducing that since Moetrice has failed to bring blessings and happiness to humans, she’s not even a real witch. And by that fact, unqualified to even play the game that pits the wits of a human versus the whims of a witch, to confirm Moetrice’s status as a true Endless Witch. Daisuke Ono was on top of his game here, his lines bursting with emotion and fire.

I was stunned to see Moetrice in tears. It’s not something I would’ve ever expected to see, at least not in this type of context. I feel like I’m fanboying every week, but Sayaka Ohara’s performance hit every note perfectly. Her delivery of her "I want some time to think" was heartbreakingly pathetic. If I could, I would’ve reached out to give her a hug.

It’s understandable if people have trouble grappling with Moeto’s sudden change of character, but to me it feels very plausible, very natural. I think back to the start of this arc when we see child Moetrice talking to Virgilia, and Virgilia explains that Endless Witches are "freed from the sadness of losing things and are promised eternal bliss." Hearing this, loli Moetrice wanted to become a witch to be happy forever. With that in mind, I believe that this game was never truly about curing Moeto’s boredom. Oh, I’m sure that may have had some part to play as well, but her goal was to achieve eternal bliss by becoming a true Endless Witch. Battler’s denial of her has thrown a tremendous wrench in those plans. What sort of maturation would you expect to see from a little girl who quickly gains the power to always get her way, to break and fix things at will? Thus, we see Moetrice reverting back to simple, childlike responses – scared and unsure of herself, desperate to prove herself. Luckily for her, Battler is willing to give her the opportunity to prove her witchhood and play as his opponent again. (Although my question from last week remains, what would happen if Battler withdrew from the game? Bad end for everyone?)

Moetrice makes George an offerEvaBeatrice senses something

Back on the game board, George, who’d been with Battler and Jessica, steps out of the room to get some coffee, and to spend some time alone. Here he runs into Moetrice who offers him a chance to revive Shannon from the dead. Although in Moeto’s weakened state, the results are not guaranteed. She then wisks the two out of the house. EvaBeatrice senses that people have left the house, but when she questions her minions, all of them deny sensing anything. I don’t know that the Siestas or the thrift store furniture lied to her when they said they did, but I’m fairly confident that Ronove’s allegiance still lies with our favorite teary-eyed witch.

Eva in freakout modeEva's alter ego

Elsewhere, we see Natushi, Krauss and Eva together in a room. Eva is going through an internal split-personality disorder however, as she argues with EvaBeatrice about her goals and dreams, and why EvaBeatrice killed Hideyoshi. Eva then banishes her alter-ego from her sight, which the second-class witch happily agrees to… likely with murderous consequences. I’m 99.9% sure that the background music they played during this psychological scene was music that was played in Higurashi. I don’t know if there’s any significance there, but it was a little nostalgic to hear.

Natushi and KraussNatsuhi and Krauss get strangled

When Krauss lights up a cigarette, snapping Eva out of her psychosis and sending her into a coughing fit, he apologizes and quickly quits, noting Eva’s sensitivity to cigarette smoke. Eva, however, claims that she’s ok, and steps out to catch some fresh air, promising to make some coffee when she gets back (is coffee a code word for something?). When Eva leaves, we get a quick scene between Natsuhi and Krauss that shows off a much more reasonable and caring side to him. For the supposed inheritor of the family estate, Krauss has had a woeful lack of development, but this short scene was nice to see. However, the heartwarming moments don’t last long, because the Siesta’s show that not only can they shoot you to bits, they can strangle you to death from a distance as well. It’s really not very fair if you can’t even see your opponents.

Moetrice tries to revive ShannonMoetrice in awe

Meanwhile, Moetrice brings George to Shannon, and while Moeto can open the window of opportunity, it’s George’s love for Shannon that brings her back to life, which Moeto marvels at. Now, while the change in her character is something I find to be very genuine, I felt that her "goody goody" acts were less genuine. Again, I think it goes back to her childlikeness. You tell a child to do something, in order to get a prize, they’ll do it with no questions asked, and without really understanding the underlying reasons. For them, it doesn’t matter, as long as they get what the want. I see the same with Moetrice here. I don’t believe that she understood why she was doing what she was doing, except that she knew she had to bring happiness to humans, and this was an easy way to do so. Moeto seems to start to get a hint of why Shannon’s death and revival means so much to George, but having been conditioned to be able to give and take at will, it’s probably unrealistic to expect that she’d understand the depths of George’s feelings so easily.

Goodbye George and Shannon againAngry Moetrice

That is until EvaBeatrice cuts Shannon and George’s reunion very short. We see an angry Moetrice, who quickly vanishes in a puff of butterflies. This is the sort of event that can put character development on hyperdrive, because George and Shannon are now Moetrice’s losses. Whether or not she had any personal affection for the two of them is irrelevant, because their reunion was something she made possible. It was a personal accomplishment at the very least. But EvaBeatrice took that away. And in Moetrice’s weakened state, this is probably the first time in a very long time that she experiences a loss she can’t regain.

Battler and EvaAnge, Battler's sister

Back on the game board, Jessica, Nanjo, Battler and Eva realize that George, Krauss and Natsuhi are missing. Jessica finds her dead parents in the rose garden, and later, Battler and Eva come across a door with the typical strange symbols except this has numbers. Four of the numbers correspond to Battler’s birthday, but the meaning of the other four numbers are unknown. Here they find the dead bodies of George and Shannon. Battler recognizes that the deaths up to the 8th twilight have been achieved. He wonders if he’ll share the same fate, but then realizes that if he dies, no one would be left to look after his younger sister, Ange… Interesting time for a character introduction. Is Ange going to be the Hanyuu of this show?

Eva almost kills JessicaJessica and Nanjo

Jessica then comes raging in accusing Eva of murdering her parents (a pretty good guess, I’d say), and as she charges Eva (stupidly), Eva accidentally fires the gun, temporarily blinding Jessica with the blast of the shot. Nanjo then takes her to another room to treat her. While Eva falls deeper into a crazy state.

Nanjo begs for his lifeJessica cries for help

Some strange behavior from Nanjo in the next scene. When Jessica realizes that Battler may be in danger, and that they need to find him, Nanjo agrees that splitting up would be suicide… then proceeds to leave Jessica alone. And who would you guess he meets as soon as he leaves the room? The second-rate witch herself. Again, Nanjo, like all the other characters, reacts to EvaBeatrice like he knows her, but we don’t see whether he sees her as Eva or as Beatrice. We do find out that he could have a motive for the gold, what with a sick grandchild to take care of. We are then led to believe that EvaBeatrice likely stabbed him through the face to death. She then taunts Jessica, telling her she’ll come back for her, while Jessica cries for help.

Ronove serving teaMoeto's resolve

So Moetrice seems to have a thing against love (even against the Beato x Battler club?), but it seems like in the next episode, she’ll go down guns blazing trying to play the role of the reformed villain.

Ever since EvaBeatrice took over, the mystery of the killings have become very, very sloppy. In fact, every death after the first twilight could be easily explained.

  • Rosa is stabbed to death in the head, left in the open. Possibly similar to how Nanjo was stabbed. And then to ensure death, her head could’ve been slammed down onto the fencing.
  • Maria, strangled in the open.
  • Kyrie, Hideyoshi and Rudolf, gun shots. Possibly in a closed room though
  • Natsuhi and Krauss, strangled, left in the open.
  • George, suicide.
  • Nanjo, stabbed in the head, not in a closed room (assuming that happened)

The question of the culprit is the more difficult one to answer. Eva’s almost too easy to suspect as one of the killers, but she is a prime suspect, I do think she’s suffering from a split personality disorder this arc. So I think she’s the most likely one to have killed Rosa, Kyrie, Hideyoshi and Rudolf, since all of them recognized EvaBeatrice as Eva.

Now Maria was the only one who didn’t recognize EvaBeatrice as Eva, which makes me think that while Eva was talking up Rosa, the accomplice, this "Beatrice," caught Maria’s eye.

George, I think was a suicide. EvaBeatrice stabbed both him and Shannon in the chest. I don’t know if we’ll get the details, but I’d guess that Shannon is not going to have a new wound. So I’d believe that she wasn’t actually revived.

Krauss and Natsuhi’s deaths are a little harder to explain. The question is if we believe both were killed simultaneously. If so, I suppose Eva or her "Beatrice" partner could’ve strangled Natsuhi, but a stronger partner is probably needed to strangle Krauss, who’s a pretty big guy. Could that be Nanjo? I hate to suspect him, but his actions were suspicious. And he instantly recognized that EvaBeatrice was going to kill him.

And later Nanjo is killed, but he doesn’t state a name, meaning it could be Eva or "Beatrice."

Speculations aside, this was another excellent episode, moving the mystery along, while providing some really good character development. The first two arcs felt rushed and all over the place, but DEEN has done a very good job pacing this arc. I can’t wait to see Moetrice’s redemption.

10 Replies to “Umineko no Naku Koro ni, episode 17 – What it means to be human”

  1. Haha, thrift store furniture. Excellent. I think Lucifer clearly follows Ronove’s lead and lies to Evatrice, although I am not sure whether the Siestas lie. Maybe it is just an honest mistake on their parts, since they don’t have any particular allegiance with Beatrice. Then again, who knows how strong their allegiance to Evatrice really is. They could have lied just to have a bit of fun.

    Speaking of Higurashi, have you watched the Higurashi Rei OVA yet? There is a throwaway reference in the main story that could possibly be a connection to Umineko, but I don’t want to say anything more on that.

    I too am surprised at how sympathetic Beatrice is in this arc. For me, it is definitely because she has been so childish the whole series. Isn’t it weird to think that Umineko could be a coming-of-age story of sorts for Beatrice? Haha.

    1. I have seen Rei, are you referring to Bernkastel? I’m really eager to see how she plays into this story, so far she seems like she’s been hanging back watching as things unfold. But I can’t imagine that they introduced her for her to just play a bit part.

  2. “George, I think was a suicide. EvaBeatrice stabbed both him and Shannon in the chest. I don’t know if we’ll get the details, but I’d guess that Shannon is not going to have a new wound. So I’d believe that she wasn’t actually revived.”

    I doubt they’ll give us the details. Sigh, I’ve been waiting for them but they never came. Many things could be explained if they would show the exact locations of the wounds (not the stakes) and what caused them. Nanjo doesn’t say a thing about Hideyoshi being shot at all (by Eva Beatrice). I’d like to think that a doctor could tell if somebody was shot or not. The bullet should still be inside him, right? There shouldn’t be reason to remove it. The same case is for Shannon who we’d be able to tell if the wound is the same she had before or not. Also by the way that George was stabbed we might be able to tell if he was stabbed from behind or not. Obviously he couldn’t have committed suicide if he was stabbed from behind, right?

    Even in the game they refer to the wounds in the game description as caused by something like a knife or a gunshot wound or something ambiguous like that. I guess that’s how they keep us guessing. :p

    So how many culprits do you think there are in this arc? I’d say two to three.

    1. Heh, they need to get the CSI team in to solve this mystery. It’s interesting that Battler hasn’t asked those kinds of questions either in the past. I guess that would kill the fun. :clown:

      I’d say there’s a very good chance that there’s at least two. But you could make a case for one. It’s very possible for one person to have killed Maria and Rosa, Natsuhi and Krauss are a little more difficult to explain. But they may have been poisoned, and the choke marks on their necks placed after the death. For George, suicide makes the most sense, but again, one person could have killed him. But all that’s probably easier to do if you had an accomplice.

  3. EvaBeatrice’s killings indeed seem pretty sloppy with no pretense of even trying to make them look unexplainable. Apparently others believing her to be a witch is not an issue for her. Which makes me wonder: what is the risk for EvaBeatrice? It’s been emphasized repeatedly that great magic requires great risk, which in the case of Beatrice might be others not believing in her (and presumably everyone disbelieving will erase her from existence), but the risk for EvaBeatrice is not so apparent.
    .-= Shounen A´s last blog ..Umineko no Naku Koro ni III-VI =-.

    1. What I don’t know yet about EvaBeatrice is whether she’s just a witch on the game board for this arc, or a real witch in the class of Moetrice, Bernkastel and Lambda. If the latter, why hasn’t she made an appearance in the meta world? She doesn’t even seem to know about it. Is that a skill that needs to be taught? And if she doesn’t know about it, will she continue to be stuck just on the game board in future arcs without knowing what’s going on? Also, regarding the resurrection, does that now refer to EvaBeatrice? And would that be the step she needs to take to reach Moetrice, Berkastel, Lambda level? I still have way more questions than answers.

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