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. Krauss, Rudolf, Kyrie, Rosa, Shannon and Gohda have red skulls edited over their faces and their names crossed out, reflecting their deaths.

After many hours of scene-setting, a third of the cast has died overnight. And circumstances (or witchcraft) contrives so that…

Hideyoshi, Nanjo and Genji in shot. Hideyoshi is saying “H-how could this happen…?! Six people are dead!! The phones and radio aren’t working, and there’s no boat! So until the typhoon passes and the boat comes - until tomorrow morning - we just have to stay here on this island, unable to even contact the police!?”

How could it happen, Hideyoshi? How indeed? It’s almost like you’re all in a carefully constructed murder mystery scenario.

Obviously this was Beatrice the Witch, operating by magic. But in case it wasn’t, how could they have dunnit?

In some order, if the murderer is an external agent…

This doesn’t offer any kind of motive. It’s plausible, if not likely, that Eva or Hideyoshi is the murderer and very good at acting. The narration seems to suggest otherwise, and I didn’t get the impression either was quite that ruthless.

Natsuhi asks why they even have an emergency radio if it’s no use in an emergency. Genre conventions, Natsuhi!

Eva suggests semaphore. Brilliant idea.

And then… it’s revealed Kinzo has gone! Dun dun duunnnnn!

Eva saying “…That’s right. …Although I don’t want to think about it, …it’s possible that something has happened to him, isn’t it?”

Eva, at least try not to sound like you’re salivating over that inheritance right now!

The kids reminisce about Shannon while they wait for something to happen. It’s an effectively poignant scene. George gets survivor’s guilt, arguing that if Shannon hadn’t been embarassed and gone to the mansion, she’d have lived.

Battler’s grief has turned quickly to restlessness and anger. He ends up discussing with Eva whether the murder could be connected to the Beatrice letter.

And reaches an inevitable conclusion…

Battler saying “…If there is no 19th person, …then the culprit who killed Dad and the others is also one of the 18, right? …So, in other words, that would mean that someone in this very mansion is the one who killed them…!”

uh-oh.png

Eva argues the culprit must have known the keys well enough to know which one is the one for the storehouse, and the location of the storehouse. Conclusion: one of the servants dunnit.

That leaves Genji, Kanon and Kuwasawa as suspects. Kanon is unlikely to kill Shannon… Kuwasawa is an old woman who would struggle to murder people or lift bodies (plus it seems rather out of character)… so could Genji have dunnit?

Kuwasawa argues that there must have been multiple accomplices to have overpowered the four in the dining room and moved the bodies. Kanon and Kuwasawa don’t seem like they’d be much good as accomplices though.

Eva adds that they’re no more defensible now than the others were the night before, so to keep her suspicions quiet.

I think Eva is wrong tbh. Murdering Shannon would be completely implausible for Kanon or Kuwasawa given what we know about their relationships, and I don’t think Kanon could be such a good actor either. Genji we know less about, and it’s possible that Kinzo and Genji worked together. Kinzo has motive to perform the black magic ritual written in the riddle which starts with six ‘sacrifices’. But again, it’s unlikely. Kinzo is an old man dying of illness, surely not much of a fighter. And Kinzo seems to be expecting Beatrice to act, not carrying out murders himself. Genji, too, isn’t a total cipher, and it seems unlikely he’d go as far as to murder on Kinzo’s say-so.

So perhaps they aren’t alone on the island. Could someone have stowed away on a boat, or landed on a different part of the island? Perhaps aided by an off-shift member of staff?

…Because the reasoning we had arrived at was altogether too simple. Reasoning that anyone could arrive at. …And I just couldn’t accept that.

Battler adds some other counterarguments, observing that it would be an unlikely mistake for the servants to implicate themselves.

Battler also takes the opportunity to plug the previous VN in the When They Cry series…

…Just like the words of the main character’s mother in a novel I read recently called Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

@alchymistryandcoldsteel has told me that Umineko no Naku Koro ni, to use its full title, was in some ways a commentary on the way fans received Higurashi. Apparently Higurashi ends supernaturally, and a lot of people found this unsatisfying. This being 1986, it’s unlikely the version Battler read is a dōjin soft visual novel though :p

Battler, thinking from the perspectives of the various agents, concludes the discovery of the bodies must have been the point of the murder, not an accident. He notes that everyone but Eva and Hideyoshi lost someone close to them in the murders. And, as already noted, Eva had a motive.

Eva anticipates the suspicion, of course. She suggests that someone might be trying to frame her for the murder. She argues that this wouldn’t be a sensible way to go about murders for inheritance money, and Genji can provide an alibi.

The others consider the cross symbol. Battler hypothesises that it’s a message to Kinzo, the only member of the family (apart from Maria) to be into the occult.

Nanjo seems to know about the cross. He says it was a crest from a religious order of knights, protecting pilgrims. That would be the Teutonic Order, I suspect.

At this point Maria turns into the devil?

Two closeups of Maria in a bizarre fisheye camera view. In the second, her grin is supernaturally wide and her pupils have shrunk, and she is cast in shadow except for her eyes. In the second she is laughing: “Kihihihihihihihi…”

More precisely, the narration describes her as having an uncharacteristic knowing evil smile and laughing, and the jaunty occult theme kicks in. And that face happens.

Image of Sora from Kingdom Hearts with a similarly creepy smile.

Who wore it best?

Anyway, the obvious reading is that Maria is being possessed by Beatrice. She declares it’s the ‘seventh magic circle of the sun’ with Hebrew characters.

Those did not look like Hebrew characters in the illustration, just random smudges, but I guess blood isn’t an easy medium to write in.

Another view of the Seventh Pentacle of the Sun. Maria is explaining that “Written on the four arms of the cross are the names of the angels who preside over air, fire, water and earth. Chasan, Arel, Talihad and Phorlakh. And in the four diagonal directions are the names of the four great rulers. Ariel, Seraph, Tharsis, Cherup. …Do they match?”

Maria gives us a quick lecture on occultism. I have no idea if this is accurate to any occult tradition, but searching the names of those first four angels gets a handful of Google results that are lists of angels, e.g. here. And here, on the site of “ongoing adventures and insights of a magician’s attempts to accomplish the Great Work”, the second list of four names gives those names as rulers of elements.

The Seventh Magic Circle of the Sun, or at least Seventh Pentagram of the Sun, also appears to be a real thing, one of the Seals of Solomon. Here’s a cleaner version (from here):

Black-and-white image of the Seventh Pentacle of the Sun.

I can’t read Hebrew, but Maria’s description is echoed on sites listing the Seals. Maria explains the magical effect of this Seal, when engraved on a gold talisman, is to release people from bonds and gain freedom. This is also echoed on occult sites (which is to say, talisman shops.)

Maria explaining that “The word ‘bonds’ is not limited in its interpretation to some kind of physical object. …Therefore it does not only hold meaning for people locked up in an actual jail. It can also refer to the release from mental bonds such as ties of obligation and inescapable fate.”

Naturally, metaphorical bonds, including mental bonds also count. Perhaps the sacrifice is considered a ‘release’ from their obligations in life…

Maria continues to say creepy shit…

Maria, with a creepy expression, saying “It’s not like the magic circle was drawn for their sakes. The six of them were there for the sake of the magic circle. It is truly pitiable. …Kihihihihihi…hihi.”

So: the murders were committed not for a material motive, but a magical one. Or so the murderer wants everyone to think.

Battler muses on this a bit, acknowledging that in a sense since they received Beatrice’s letter they have been drawn into another, isolated world where normal rules don’t seem to.

…To hell with that shit, this is the human world. As if I give a crap about witches, demons, magic circles and sacrifices.

…and then, after a childhood flashback, he resolves to reject it and remain resolutely committed to rationality and the ‘human world’ and a cool theme kicks in that I think has a distorted steel drum? I think, given what Wren has told me, this here is a key part of Battler’s motivation later.

Battler takes another shot at - Kyrie’s recurring words - ‘flipping over the chessboard’ and analysing the situation from the murderer’s perspective.

He resolves to take on the ‘witch’ in a battle of wits and reveal her for ‘who [she] really [is]’. There’s a bit of a ‘trust no-one, not even yourself’ moment as the camera pans round the room and back to him.

Then Natsuhi shows up with a ‘rifle’ (though in the art it looks more like a sawn-off shotgun tbh). Apparently it’s inspired by Kinzo’s love of westerns.

I wonder what gun law is like in Japan? Not that it would really apply to someone as rich as Kinzo in practice. Wikipedia says “The weapons law begins by stating “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords”, and very few exceptions are allowed.[41] However, citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.[42]” They say Kinzo used it for sport shooting, so it’s probably legal… or not, since Genji asks them to keep it sceret.

One more time, Battler raises the question of ‘is there a 19th person’ in the narration. And the chapter ends.