It’s weird, this arc feels like it’s being paced at a fairly leisurely level, especially any Ange or Maria background scene, but then the whole George & Jessica "Head of the Ushiromiyas" game felt a little rushed and compressed. Which is which? Also, this was the first episode without Beatrice throughout the whole episode. And we only got a couple lines from Battler too. George and Jessica are all well and fine, and George especially surprised me in this episode, but the game is a lot less interesting without the Battler vs. Beatrice back and forth. They’re the two main characters, why is the final arc of the season minimizing them so much?
Again, the chronology of the scenes with Ange are a little hard to grasp at first.
If you remember, a couple episodes ago Ange was heading to Rokkenjima, ostensibly with a bounty on her head. We haven’t moved forward since then. The initial scene appears to take place sometime after her meeting with the Rokkenjima otaku, and before her boat trip to Death Island. Correction: These scenes take place after Ange’s magical boat ride to Niijima, not Rokkenjima as I first thought. Ange meets with Nanjo’s son and learns of the mysterious letter that was intentionally sent back to the sender (Nanjo’s son). Apparently the contents of that letter contained items that led Nanjo’s son to a briefcase full of money locked away in a highly secure area of a bank. Nanjo’s son decides leave the money, not wanting to be associated with it. Probably a smart decision. Ange then compares the writing on the envelope with the writing on the Grimoire and appears to notice something interesting. I can’t tell if she reacted because the writing on the envelope was similar or dissimilar to the writing in the grimoire. In my eyes, they looked like different handwriting, although it’s hard to say since the envelope had only Kanji characters and numbers, while the writing in the grimoire was cursive English.
Ange then continues her investigation meeting with Kumasawa’s son, and finds that he received the same thing that Nanjo’s son did as well. Kumasawa’s son didn’t even bother to follow the trail, because of its creepiness. Ange becomes sure that the envelope she had received as a child and lost during the move in with Eva, contained the same keys and info the security deposit box. More interestingly, she finds a picture amidst Kumasawa’s returned belongings that is very similar to the witch’s epitaph, but with completely different words. "This door is opened at a probability of a quadrillion to one. You will be blessed only at a probability of a quadrillion to one." Kumasawa’s son suggests that it might’ve been used to try to solve the Witch’s epitaph, something Kumasawa was apparently fond of doing.
Finally, Ange’s investigation take her to the man who captained the ship to sail the Ushiromiya family members over to the island. He agrees to take her as well, but not before she notices what looks like Sakutaro stuffed in a bag. At least that’s my best guess based on what I saw. The image seems to put the fear of magic back in Ange – perhaps it was a spark that led to her magic forgiveness of sorts while on the boat.
Now cut to the second part of the episode where Kinzo apparently is testing all of the kids to see who’s worthy of succeeding his mantle. His first two choices? George and Jessica. Even though Kinzo is a wacky man, apparently even he subscribes to traditional lineal thinking.
The game for George and Jessica are the same. Three choices: themselves, their most loved one, and everyone else. Kill one to save the other two. Gaap takes the role of moderator for George, while Ronove moderates Jessica’s game. The moment where Jessica encounters Ronove in the dark room is the moment I started thinking that the Ushiromiya family members may be seeing different things from what the servants see. When Jessica asks Ronove who he is, she asks because he’s enshrouded in darkness. When Ronove replies with his name, Jessica responds to Genji – since Ronove is his middle name. Ronove’s answer doesn’t deny that he is Genji, and when Jessica gets a better look at him, there’s nothing in her reactions or the way she talks to him that suggests that she sees him as anyone else besides Genji. But if Jessica sees Ronove as Genji, who does George see Gaap as? A 19th person? Rosa perhaps? I’ll come back to this thought later.
Both Jessica and George make their decisions quickly. I expected Jessica to answer that she would choose to kill herself, in order to give Kanon a chance to live his life out as a real person. George surprised me by choosing to kill everyone else, rationalizing it by saying that by choosing to marry Shannon, he chose to take the road that placed him and her above others.
Now this is where things get interesting from George’s standpoint. His first decision as executioner was to kill Gaap, since the order of the deaths was up to him. I was really impressed by George’s cool and calculating demeanor throughout this whole game. He doesn’t get flustered and he doesn’t hesitate. Gaap commends his decision-making as being Kinzo-esque, even crowning him the Demon King. I was less impressed by the fight scene, but mostly because it looked like Gaap was just twirling her leg in circles. When she realizes she doesn’t have the strength to defeat George, she calls forth Virgilia’s demon goat butlers. However, when George decides to get srsfknbiz, Gaap notices a magical shield forming around George and asks how he’s able to do that. George dismisses her as trying to trick him, at which point Gaap realizes that it’s not magic, but strength of will that has created this barrier. If it wasn’t clear from the previous arcs that we shouldn’t believe what we see, simply because there’s a fancy light effect, this should seal the deal.
Meanwhile, Jessica pulls a bait and switch on Ronove, claiming that her self-sacrifice was her answer as a girl. Her answer as the head of the Ushiromiya family is to fight back… An answer which is all well and good, but not exactly one of the available choices. But that’s fine, my guess is that had Battler been tested he would’ve chosen that non-existent option as well. So with her magical strength of will brass knuckles, she pounds on Genji’s shield until she finally breaks through. Exeunt.
But going back to my previous thought, I wonder if the furniture are see things differently from what the Ushiromiyas see – specifically the full-time furniture, Genji, Shannon and Kanon. It’s clear they have a different level of understanding compared to the Ushiromiyas, or even Gohda, Nanjo or Kumasawa. If I were to go back and question the details of every major event these three experienced, how would that change the timbre of this game?
So as I mentioned above, based on the conversation between Jessica and Ronove, I started to think that perhaps Genji wasn’t dead. We saw six people die – but we’ve learned that we can’t trust our eyes. Can we believe that 6 actually died? Could it be 5? 4? Some other number? And can we believe that the people who are believed to have died: Genji, Rosa, Eva, Rudolf, Hideyoshi, Natsuhi are really dead? Without the red text confirming it, I have to consider the possibility that any one of them may still be alive.
Which brings me to my other thought, could Rosa be alive too? If Kinzo ever believed that Battler or Maria would have a chance to play the game, it seems like she should be. Who would Maria’s most loved person be? I can’t imagine it’s anyone besides Rosa. Would Kinzo give her a trick question, knowing that Rosa is already dead? I know he’s a nut, but I think he’s playing this game straight and true. Besides, if Rosa’s dead, that would make Maria’s decision for her. The question is difficult for George and Jessica, because Shannon and Kanon are still alive. It’s meaningless, if they’d been asked that, knowing that they were dead. So I’m thinking there’s a good chance Rosa is not dead.
At this point with no red text to set any boundaries, anything I think of would simply be wild guesses. But at the very least, I think this episode served as concrete evidence that magic is not the explanation (I believed this before, but didn’t feel like I had solid, non-hearsay evidence). And now I’m questioning every event that Shannon, Kanon and Genji have been part of, every special ability they have, and every claim they make. I don’t believe they’re the culprits, or even willing pawns in Kinzo’s and Beatrice’s game. But as Okonogi said, "without love, it cannot be seen." I think their views of the events have been tainted by their loyalty to Kinzo, and faith in Beatrice, and thus, can’t be trusted.
Finally, if I don’t see a healthy dose of Beatrice, Battler and Ange in the meta world next week, throwing tons of colored words around, I’m going to start getting pissy.