A labelled image of the characters screen, showing Kinzo, Krauss and Natsuhi and their daughter Jessica, Eva and Hideyoshi and their son George, Rudolf and Kyrie and their son Battler, Rosa and her daughter Maria, Dr. Nanjo and the five servants Genji, Shannon, Kanon, Gohda and Kumasawa.

Gonna put this family tree at the top of every post now lol.

The story so far in brief: Kinzo has a lot of money but he’s dying and his kids want it bad. He left an incomprehensible black magic themed riddle that’s supposed to lead to the witch-granted gold that he used to start his financial empire. The middle generation is about ready to murder each other in the high stakes negotations, but nobody’s dead yet. The youngest generation were hanging out on the beach and looking after nine-year-old Maria, but as the weather worsened, her mum Rosa just took out her aggression by hitting and shouting at her and the rest of them convinced themselves not to intervene.

So!

Now we’re in Kinzo’s office. The typhoon is here and he’s expecting Beatrice to show up and murder everybody.

Kinzo saying “There are many fitting sacrifices for you. Four of my children. Three of their companions. Four of my grandchildren. Me and my guests and my servants! You may eat up as many as you please!” Kinzo continues “The key of fate will select the sacrifices in accordance with the Demon’s Roulette. If that roulette chooses me, even I will become your sacrifice. …However, because of that… because I will bet on that madness, …I will definitely create a grand miracle.”

Perhaps including himself.

As a first sacrifice, he throws his ring of head-of-housiness out the window.

Meanwhile the kids are discussing means of commuting to school. Taking the train to school seems to be very common in anime. I think in this country most people either walk or take a dedicated bus to school - going on the train would be wildly expensive. But maybe some people do take the train in cities? I don’t really know how people go to school around the world.

In any case, Jessica isn’t enjoying living on an island at all, one more reason for frustration with Natsuhi and Krauss. She wants to get to a city asap.

Maria hasn’t turned up. They assume she’s gone back to the mansion - but we know Rosa left her in the garden. (The game made excuses - that Rosa left because she knew she would have continued hitting Maria otherwise - but there was a storm coming!)

Oh shit. She’d better not be the first to die.

Rosa’s asleep, and Genji wakes her at six. So it’s been about… five hours since anyone saw Maria?

Dialogue from Rosa saying “…Maria… …That’s right, where’s Maria?!”

About time. Oh fuck oh fuck.

Everyone goes out to look for Maria, but she’s not there. And there’s no Totoro to help here.

Eventually they find her and thankfully she’s still alive. Someone has mysteriously brought her an umbrella - and Maria says it was Beatrice. Maybe this island has a Totoro after all…

(Thinking that Maria is very much coded as autistic in her mannerisms and behaviour.)

Inside, Kinzo is determined to finish beating Nanjo at chess at last, and won’t join his family for dinner. He’s gotten fatalistic, declaring he will only leave to be sacrificed or meet the resurrected Beatrice.

Rosa tries to work out who gave Maria her umbrella. Everyone denies it and it turns into a thing. Nobody, guest, host or servant can work out who did it.

The narration notes that Kanon has respect for Genji, which is interesting. So far we mostly know about his relationship with Kinzo.

Everyone leaves the room except Genji and Kanon, who know about Kinzo’s whole magic deal, and we learn they both apparently take Beatrice’s existence seriously. Genji may even have met her personally; he talks as if he knows something about her personality.

Genji saying to kanon “…Probably. However, that has nothing to do with furniture like us. …We must return the favor that we received from the Master… until our final moments.”

Genji says something very cryptic about the ‘favour’ from Kinzo. Wild theory: the furniture thing is literal, and they are all magically transformed furniture.

After dinner another weird thing happens:

A picture of an envelope with the One Winged Eagle printed in gold leaf outline. The text says “When they looked, they noticed that Maria was now holding a beautiful Western-style envelope.”

If that’s Western-style, I wonder what a Japanese-style envelope looks like? …huh, apparently they are tied with string.

Sure enough, she claims Beatrice gave it to her and told her to read it out. It’s Kinzo’s personal envelope sealed with Kinzo’s personal crest (which he threw out the window earlier). They immediately start arguing about whether this proves it’s from Kinzo, or if someone might have copied the design from a seal on a letter. Damnit guys, I want to hear the message!

At last, we get the letter. Beatrice introduces herself as the family’s ‘consulting alchemist’, and announces Kinzo terminated her contract. The music gets rather cool here.

She announces that she’s reclaiming the gold she loaned, and “everything of the Ushiromiya family” as interest. But there is an out, a ‘special clause’ by which they might preserve their ‘wealth and honour’. Beatrice loses all rights to her claims if anyone finds the hidden gold.

As a first claim, Beatrice took Kinzo’s ring. Well, he did throw it out the window.

They resolve to go and consult Kinzo. Eva speculates Beatrice might count as a legal consultant.

Natushi saying “W-we can’t possibly trust the kind of strange person who would entrust such a suspicious paper to a child!”

They come about to trusting the mysterious letter - originating from a rich dilettante, not a witch - is real, surprisingly quickly.

The parents go to confront Kinzo. He ignores them, eating in his study and cackling about the coming battle of wits with Beatrice.

(…couldn’t he have set an easier riddle? GPS coordinates? I guess that’s the whole ‘high stakes for miracles’ thing and also GPS took 17 years starting from 1978 to become fully operational lol)

The kids finally see the level of capitalist snake their parents are, and are shocked by the brazenness of it, if not that they’re all terrible people. George, in turn, gives them a condescending lecture on how getting money is ‘neither a simple nor a pretty thing’, but they’re not old enough to understand.

Kyrie shows up and Battler makes his feelings known.

Battler saying to Kyrie “Well, all I can say is, I hope you enjoy playing vultures to Grandfather’s property to your heart’s content. …It’s disgusting.”

Kyrie agrees and Battler feels like a bit of a git.

They end up discussing, what else, the identity of Beatrice.

Battler saying “Who knows? It’s probably just a false name, right? Like she’s Grandfather’s representative, so she was permitted to take the name of the witch from his delusions?”

Kyrie points out that “Beatrice”, if not one of the 18 known people, must still be on the island somewhere. And since that’s unlikely, she must be one of the others. Battler makes the “you can’t prove nonexistence” argument about a 19th person.

Kyrie argues that the hypothetical 19th person’s actions - travelling to the island just to hand her letter to Maria -  don’t make sense. She’s convinced one of the 18 is playing games.

One guess would be Kurasawa? She’d be the most convincingly able to play a witch to Maria in the rain, and given her earlier lamentations, she has some cause to stir things up - though what her specific motive could be is unclear. But, Shannon and Kanon were with her all afternoon, and Shannon seems unlikely to be a good liar to conspire with her.

Natsuhi is another possibility. She was alone all afternoon, could play a witch, and might have a reason to disrupt the negotiations after her earlier humiliation?

Kyrie seems nicer than the other adults. I like her. For now.

Rudolf shows up, and says he wants a family discussion later. No doubt about his court case.

Line from Rudolf saying “…I’m probably…gonna get…murdered tonight.”

…or not.

He leaves, and Kyrie concludes he wants to be followed despite saying otherwise.

Kyrie saying “Heheheh, can great detectives deduce the emotions and feelings between men and women? They can’t right? Figuring out the feelings of the opposite sex is an even more advanced art than exposing the tricks in difficult crime cases. If you ask me, romance novels have much deeper mysteries than masterpiece mystery novels.”

If you say so, Kyrie.

Natsuhi, in turn, is completely certain Kinzo wrote the letter as a way to communicate that the inheritance rule has changed. And she’s been trying to convince Krauss not to compromise because the gold isn’t real.

Krauss takes this chance to show her a hidden room with one incredibly pure gold bar, stamped with the One Winged Eagle.

Picture of a gold bar with the One Winged Eagle and 99.99 stamped on it. Krauss is saying “That’s right. This is the legendary ingot that Dad said he received from the witch, that the president of Marusoo witnessed and was allowed to select at random to take back with him, that gained the trust of the fixers in the business world. I had to use all possible means to find it.”

Natsuhi is, understandably, appalled Krauss wouldn’t tell her about this. In response Krauss doesn’t just put his foot in his mouth, but most of his leg.

The narration suddenly takes Natsuhi’s POV, writing in first-person as someone other than Battler for once. She’s completely crestfallen, and Jessica finds her. And manages to find some solidarity. There’s actually a very sweet scene between them!

The kids resolve to go back and sleep in the guesthouse. The tension is resolving a bit.

Just as I’m feeling like Battler is redeeming himself a bit, he makes a sexually harassing comment at Shannon. :|

Shannon goes to check the schedule in the guest house. That means Natsuhi and Shannon are definitely alone right now, and the murders seem very overdue…

But not yet. Krauss has changed the schedule, and now Kanon and Shannon are in the guest house while Gohda deals with the mansion, and the off-shift-servants are all to stay in the guest house. Krauss… or Beatrice?

The narration argues Krauss probably wanted to keep Kinzo’s personal servants Kanon, Shannon and Genji away from the conference, suspecting them of interference.

In any case, Kanon enforces the night shift because furniture rules, so Shannon doesn’t get to play cards. Genji encourages them to go anyway.

Dialogue from Kanon saying “…No, that’s not something that I need to do. …A human child may have a need to play. …But we…are furniture.” Kanon continues “…Nee-san is also… furniture. …Even if she pretends to be a person, …it will only hurt her later. …I understand that, so I try not to get too close to people.”

Oh Kanon… :( The level of abuse in this household, and that service workers face in general.

George suddenly heads back to the mansion, guided by Shannon. Battler and Jessica immediately assume a romantic tryst.

They turn out to be hanging out in a gazebo, because there weren’t enough fearsome magical creatures on this island. George shares some of his dad’s favourite stories about the generals of the Sengoku period.

We learn Shannon is an orphan who grew up in a ‘welfare institute’ owned by Kinzo (and the same is true for Kanon). This is where they were indoctrinated into this ‘serving Kinzo is the highest honour’ attitude. There’s a thing about naming conventions for these orphans.

Servants from the Gospel (福音 fukuin) house all took names with the character ‘音’ (in/on/non) in them while they served.

So ‘Shannon’ (紗音) wasn’t her real name. The same goes for ‘Kanon’ (嘉音).

And while only Shannon and kanon were working today in the mansion, there were other servants who worked in the shift rotation, named Manon (眞音) and Renon (恋音), who also inherited the ‘音’ character in their names.

Training orphaned children into obedient servants who see themselves as inhuman furniture, fucking hell. The narrator says these children usually quit after three years with enough pay to “enter mainstream society”, but that doesn’t exactly absolve Kinzo of this systematic abuse. A man who won’t trust someone unless they’ve been abused to the point of absolute obedience.

George, at least, tries to encourage her to consider getting out. He uses her real name, Sayo. Shannon can’t escape so easily from the “furniture” narrative :( But she does seem to be making progress with George… and now George proposes marriage. There’s this somewhat uncomfortable framing around ‘orders’ but George pushes to dispense with that. There’s still kind of a massive power differential here? Hmm.

Anyway. That takes us to the chapter break. Tune in next time for… finally an actual murder? Maybe? (Hopefully? :p )