So. We’ve begun episode 2 with two flashbacks: one early in George and Shannon’s relationship from George’s POV, and a second earlier in Shannon’s life when she made a deal with Beatrice: she would smash a mirror in the torii on Rokkenjima, and in return, Beatrice would give her an alternative to life as ‘furniture’, including love.

The intro played again.

Speaking of intros, this is a good time to follow up @fates0end​ who kindly linked the intros from the original version of Umineko (we are playing the Umineko Project release, which combines an edited version of the The Witch Hunt fan translation with art assets from the PS3 version). Here’s the first:

and here is the second:

I find it interesting that while the faces of the characters are very simple and stylised in the original, the outfits of the characters were changed very little by the PS3 art team (just redrawn with better shading).

For good measure, here’s the first PS3 intro, which has appeared in both episodes 1 and 2:

Anyway, Shannon is talking about her childhood in Kinzo’s orphanage. The ‘furniture’ narrative is taught to these children at a very young age. They are told they’re less than human, and the education they’re getting is already “more than they deserve”. You know, an “education” that tells them they’re inhuman.

We are now on Rokkenjima, following Shannon during a visit of George’s family, seperate from the family conference that we watched in the first episode. It’s back to rich people small talk!

They’re talking about George and Jessica studying at school. It’s basically stuff we had before. Eva flatters Jessica in a way that, naturally, needles and undermines Krauss and Natsuhi. Natsuhi is, as before, unfair and harsh towards Shannon, causing her to get anxious, feedback loop, yeah. George defuses the situation a bit by getting Shannon to talk about tea.

It’s interesting though not surprising that Earl Grey and black tea in general, pretty common over here, is considered unusual knowledge. Like ofc green teas would be more popular. Not really sure the history of black vs. green tea blends.

George, it is mentioned, is apprenticed to the CEO of Okonogi Foods. There’s an extended discussion of Earl Grey.

A bit later, and Shannon and Jessica are hanging out in the rose garden chatting about George’s skill at smoothing over social situations and saving people embarassment.

Jessica talking to Shannon in the rose garden. Jessica is saying “He’s really good at reading between the lines in those kinds of situations. Well, maybe that’s George nii-san’s aesthetic take on things. That guy’s more of a show-off than he looks. Ahahahahahaha.”

Jessica cheerfully encourages Shannon to get with George. It’s sweet, but also, I wish this game had like, any good grounds for gay ships anywhere. Currently the best I’ve got is trans!Kanon/Jessica, but I don’t think there’s any way there could be an explicit trans lesbian character in this game lol.

Anyway, the reason Hideyoshi and Eva are here is to negotiate a loan from Kinzo. It’s long enough ago that he’s not yet a total hermit. George is kind of sad he can’t join in and learn to be properly bourgeois.

We hear how Kinzo continues to treat Krauss and Eva like they’re children, sometimes hitting them or forcing them to sit in seiza style, which gets our first cultural note for this ep.

Overall, we can sum this up: this is when Shannon first became attracted to George and maybe even asks him out? I suspect this may be before her magic deal with Beatrice in the previous scene? I think we may be working backwards through the timeline.

Anyway, Shannon hits on George about as hard as she can without making it explicit, but he’s still kinda oblivious. Jessica goes all out.

Jessica winking and saying “Then, George nii-san, as long as you’re okay with it, why not practice a bit with Shannon? Keep Shannon entertained all day long on a date! What do you think?!”

They very very awkwardly circle around to asking each other out.

At that point Eva shows up, and basically announce they intend to carry out a ‘marriage meeting’ to introduce George to someone suitably rich and advantageous to the family. You know. Standard Arranged Marriage Plot.

Eva, eyes slightly narrowed, standing next to a deeply embarassed-looking George. Eva is saying “Marriage isn’t something you do after you start liking someone. It’s something you get used to after you do it. If you marry just based on emotions, you’ll definitely regret it. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a person with a secure background as your partner in life, and then building up emotions of love.”

Eva expresses A Philosophy.

Close crop of George’s pained expression in the previous picture. He does not look happy about this philosophy at all.

George’s expression says it all, really.

So yeah, the traditional “marry who your parents want” vs. “marry who you love against the prejudice of your bourgeois family”/demanding controlling parent plot. We caught a bit of it in episode 1, and it’s much more explicit here.

Text box from Eva saying “I’m sure you’ll find a perfect match for a lowly servant like yourself. ……have you forgotten to be grateful for your schooling? Know your place.”
Eva saying “To answer that expectation, he has studied tirelessy, entered a wonderful college, and is getting wonderful grades. Do you reeeally think you’re in his league, you incompetent, unqualified, uncultured seeerrrrvant?”
Picture of a Google search bar with ‘guillotine emoji typed in’

Shannon goes inside and internalises her abuse.

Log of several lines from Shannon. “…I felt deep remorse for my brief moment of conceit. I had forgotten. I am furniture. Furniture isn’t human. So I am a being who must feel gratitude for even being treated like human, and I am not permitted to wish for anything more.

Even if people develop affection for furniture that they’re used to using, that is an emotion on the human’s side, and the furniture has no right to hope for that. …They should just serve with simple honestly every day.”

This is about abuse and labour and service work, but I do feel like it’s worth noting how many trans women I know have this exact sort of thoughts.

Natsuhi arrives to rub it in.

I guess, given that we might have been feeling some sympathy for the adult Urishomiyas after watching them all get violently murdered, this first chapter is (as well as developing George and Shannon) here to remind us just how much they’re cruel rich fucks.

Natsuhi facing a crestfallen Shannon in the hallway. She is saying “Yes, I know. So I had Runon do it. While you were plodding around cleaning the hallway, she finished cleaning the study and the staircase.”

Shannon tries to explain herself, and as a punishment for not perfectly meekly accepting her abuse, Natsuhi orders her to clean a large room without food or rest until she’s done.

Natsuhi saying “That is good. Servants should endeavor to use only those words. The next time you talk back, I will give you an even more severe punishment, so keep that in mind. Engrave these words in your heart.”

No wonder Kinzo likes her.

Kanon saying to Shannon “Madam and Runon can go to hell. She knows where Madam checks, and only cleans those areas. Her cleaning just now was like that. I know because I was watching.”

The good end is the one where the servants seize the house, kick out all the Ushiromiyas, and establish a commune.

This situation appears to be the one where Shannon reaches out to Beatrice. She silently appeals to the witch in the portrait…

and ahaha.wav plays and Beatrice answers.

Someone saying “……I see. To have given a heart to furniture. Amusing games that one plays sometimes… *cackle*cackle*…!”

She gives a short (and ahistorical and Eurocentric) parable about the history of humans trying to explain the world “since before the Christian Era” using increasing numbers of elements beginning with the Greeks’ four, but not knowing the “one element” until someone arrived, guided by a star, to reveal it. Given how much of Beatrice’s stuff revolves around Christian imagery (and Jewish-by-way-of-Christian mysticism such as the Key of Solomon), I suspect she means Jesus. And the element is probably ‘love’ given Christian doctrine.

Beatrice standing in front of her own portrait. The narration reads ‘Right there, ……she “existed”.’

Ooh, she’s gone from single-quote ‘existing’ to double-quote “existing”.

The element is indeed love.

Beatrice lecturing “That man explained everything in the world with live. That is the single element. With the smallest possible number, that man fully explained how the world was constructed.”

She and I have rather different views of ‘explanation’. “That man” of course turns out to be Jesus.

Beatrice saying with a somewhat bored/sardonic expression to Shannon “Understand? What Adam and Eve learned when they put the fruit of knowledge to their lips was love. …Because of that, humans were chased out of Paradise and became ‘human’. Which means that what makes one human is knowing love, and suffering.”

Beatrice would not like Foucalt.

Beatrice in centre screen. “I am offering to bring you and the one you love together. ……Normally, I would demand something of equal value in return.”

Not sure that passes the ethics board, Beatrice. There’s big consent issues. Also, I’m afraid they’ve rejected your ‘how upset do people get if you spend two days murdering their family and friends’ proposal.

Beatrice declares “With my magic, it is no trouble at all to arrange for a pair of people with feelings for each other to be joined.”

So she’s not proposing making George fall in love with Shannon at least.

Shannon thinks like “I must not be tempted by Beatrice” and Beatrice shows she can very easily read those feelings.

Beatrice tells Shannon that having love means she’s no longer furniture, and that as a reward for her diligent cleaning of Beatrice’s portrait and general respectfulness, she’ll do the thing. She asks for nothing in return… except not really.

Beatrice declaring “Calm yourself. I ask for nothing in return. I am generous. ………however, though I ask for nothing in return, I do have a reqest.”

She wants Shannon to break the mirror in the shrine for demonological purposes. It’s causing Beatrice trouble - she analogises it to a fork against her power’s soup.

Beatrice dialogue: “If only the imposition of that mirror were gone, I could prepare a spoon perfect for drinking soup. ……If only I had that, I could drink soup, or even dig my way out of a rocky prison. …I could even scoop eyeballs out, ……is that what it was? *cackle*cackle*!”

Beatrice, I don’t want to be overly critical, but a fork would be about as effective at digging and eyeball scooping as a soup spoon.

“It comes to this. If yo uspare the effort to break that most vexing of mirrors for me, as a reward, I will grant you your wish.”

…hold on, it was ‘nothing in return’ like a minute ago.

Beatrice casually says she’s in a good enough mood that Shannon could change her wish to Kinzo’s secret gold. (Wouldn’t that prematurely break her contract?)

Shannon says she declines, because she believes breaking the mirror will end the good days on the island. Beatrice confirms this. Indeed she promises the same ‘unbreakable days’ will continue if Shannon doesn’t break the mirror.

Beatrice declaring: “Upon my name of Beatrice, I say to you: The same unbreakable days that have passed until today will continue into tomorrow, and the day after. And so forever, in perpetuity.”

Implication: she’ll remain in her serving position and George will never love her.

Beatrice says Shannon need not decide right now, but she can wake her up if she breaks the mirror. And she adds that if George falls in love with someone else, she won’t be able to break them apart, so there’s an implicit time limit.

She then proclaims that the woman George is about to meet is the “most suitable for him in the entire world”. I’m, uh, not sure what metric you’re measuring that by. But way to stack up the pressure. She then repeats Eva’s insults, and says Shannon is the ‘most unsuitable’. That seems especially unlikely.

She repeats “Have you forgotten to be grateful for your schooling? Know your place.” etc. with her voice overlaid with Eva’s.

There’s a curious moment where ahaha.wav is overlaid with Beatrice’s actual voice actress doing a long evil laugh.

And then Kanon interrupts to defend Shannon from Beatrice’s bullying <3

Beatrice backs off, presumably to try a different tactic. Breaking this mirror is clearly much more important to her than she’s letting on.

Kanon furiously saying “Beat it…!! I don't know who you are, but you’re threatening Shannon! Don’t ever show yourself again!!”

Kanon tells her to get fucked. That’s right! Put Cthulhu in her place!

Beatrice is not so easily cowed. She brings a scary magic presence, with a similar sound effect to ones we heard when Kanon confronted her in ep. 1. At Shannon’s pleading, she doesn’t murder Kanon on the spot.

Beatrice smiling beatifically. Narration says ‘Beatrice grinned broadly, and snapped her fingers, whereupon their left hands stretched out in front of them, and their palms opened, against their will.’

She has powers to control peoples’ bodies. She summons butterflies which burn tiny butterfly symbol bruises onto Kanon and Shannon’s palms, to prove it wasn’t a dream later.

After getting in a last word, she turns into butterflies and leaves.

The narration finishes: “from that day on, Shannon was tormented by days of suffering and conflict”.

hey beatrice? ……………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………pee your pants