@alchymistryandcoldsteel had an interesting discussion with me about where we’re at. I’ll quote the key part.
- me: magic seems to have been conclusively demonstrated at this point
- Wren: We-lllll
- me: like short of denying just about everything we saw
- Wren: so I mean, this is it. Is this a fantasy story or a mystery story? And I think wrestling with what you are shown and what it means is sort of ‘the thing’. Right now, anyway.
- me: if it’s a mystery story it’s one that’s trying very hard to look like a fantasy story
yes, indeed it is.
i think in some sense you have to consider the fantasy a possible explanation. And if you want to deny magic, you’d have to work out a mundane explanation.
me: i mean the rather flimsy rosa accomplice key-stealing theory is the best i’ve got. and it’s pretty unlikely, and you basically have to deny half the plot to justify it, e.g. the whole scene where the servants witnessed 'kanon’ attacking
you can’t neatly divide 'magic’ and 'mundane’ scenes because the servants described a 'magic’ scene in a 'mundane’ scene
The magic of the golden witch is pretty powerful clearly!
- me: i feel like if it was as simple as 'magic is real’ you wouldn’t be pressing me on that question so much
Iiiiii - well. Hmm.
I think in some sense what the author is doing is going 'do you think I’m just messing you around, giving you impossible nonsense that you can’t solve? Or do you think there’s a mystery that obeys rules at the heart of all this?’
- me: if there are rules, they seem like fantasy rules?
- Wren: Higurashi, the previous WYC game, seemed like a mystery, similar time loop setting but there was an explanation that came out of nowhere.
- me: right
Wren: And Umineko is a response to that in many ways.
But, like, I’ll say it in red: there is a mystery at the heart of all of this, and it is fair
me: haha, that’s a suitably cryptic red statement
i get the sense that the mystery isn’t “how did a mundane person commit these murders that seem supernatural” though
Wren: I mean clearly that would be good to know… but you’re perceptive.
However, to say more would pre-empt EP3 and 4. I think it is safe to say that by the end of 4 you will mostly have all of the questions.
So. That’s cryptic. Thanks Wren :p
The final part of Episode 2 is the ‘????’ scene - the tea party of the unhuman.
Beatrice asks Bernkastel if she enjoyed the game. Bernkastel says it was so one-sided that it was boring.
Beatrice suggests Bernkastel is the last person who should be saying there’s no way to win. Bernkastel plays ignorant. Beatrice accuses her of interfering.
Bernkastel decides to just be like ‘yeah, so?’. Beatrice is like, oh good, I get a chance to fight you and you’re super OP. Bernkastel is like, cool, I only came here to see that smug grin wiped off your face.
Beatrice says she called someone to observe the battle. Bernie calls this person ‘that child’.
And at last we meet the earlier-mentioned Lambdadelta (Λδ), who Bernkastel apparently defeated.
She looks about as old as Bernkastel, but she has a more childlike voice. They call each other children. Do witches not age from when they become witches? Could Maria end up as a witch as well?
Bernkastel says Lambdadelta is going to make Beatrice’s game a ‘preposterous farce’.
Beatrice says Lambdadelta is not neutral, but betting against Bernkastel to regain her title as strongest witch.
Bernkastel’s like, whatever, I can take you fuckers.
They all agree, however, that this game has significance beyond who wins or loses. After all, it will stave off boredom?
Bernie displays a surprising amount of respect for her opponents.
After Beato and Lambz leave to talk strategy, Bernkastel addresses the camera again.
She acknowledges how gruesome things have gotten. She says she understands wanting to ‘hug your knees and close your heart’, but this will kill our heart within a hundred years.
She says this is a comparable situation to when she 'trapped inside Lambda’s world’. She is a witch who was ‘born from’ this ‘labyrinth’. She calls herself an ‘older sister’ to us. Who is she addressing?
Anyway, she’s going to lend us her power. She says we must not submit, even though our fate is more horrible than hers.
I’m pretty sure Lambdadelta’s board is the previous When They Cry game.
Bernie says Beatrice - who she also calls ‘that child’ - does not always make the best move, which makes her a different sort of opponent to Lambdadelta, who ‘always uses an overpowering number of pieces and makes the best possible move’. Beatrice, by contrast, sometimes deliberately eases up, making it harder to work out her strategy.
This is very very abstract. I’m still not actually sure what role meta!Beatrice has in shaping the events on Rokkenjima.
She says this game was also like that, there actually were weak points. She encourages us - whoever the viewpoint is - to stand back up and fight, and that since accepting Beatrice is a victory condition, we must not accept her no matter what.
Then Lambdadelta shows up to talk to us too. She talks metaphorically about how Bernkastel beat her. She says Bernkastel always uses shitty pieces, as if she had all pawns, but…
Reminds me of a certain pair of cherubs in a way.
But she’s pleased to see us, whoever we are, in ‘this state’ as Bernkastel’s piece.
She is not impressed that whoever’s behind the camera is still ‘hugging their knees’ just because Beatrice got ‘a little serious’. We’re so pathetic, she’ll give us a handicap.
Her witchly epithet is the Witch of Certainty.
Lambdadelta claims Beatrice is ‘soft’ because she will ‘make the board’ so she can finish us off with just a few moves, but won’t do it. She will take worthless pieces, or put extra pieces in to make it more one-sided. Lambdadelta calls this ‘playing around’. She says that a lot of Beatrice’s attacks look to her like ‘total overkill’.
This is very abstract, but OK.
- Bernkastel likes to predict her opponents’ moves, effective against her ‘simple and honest’ methods, but not good against Beatrice.
- Her own ‘super-firepower’ type can easily defeat Beatrice’s ‘wide-range barrage’ tactics.
So, she says, it’s basically RPS.
She makes an extended metaphor on this, and ends up calling herself ‘super-thick’ [as in, paper that’s resistant to scissors]. Probably a deliberate writing choice there.
Lambda mentions how Beatrice is torturing ‘some piece’ called Rosa. Lambda says this isn’t a ‘nasty hobby’, just a way to kill time until the person behind the camera - who I think we can now say is Battler - comes back. She’s torturing Rosa precisely to piss us off and get us to fight her.
So we’re going to have to feed the troll.
She finishes off by doing a tsundere thing - specifically highlighted at her introduction - and being like ‘I’m not really helping you, I just want to be the one to defeat Bernkastel’ and also ‘don’t make Bernkastel cry’ so both of these two are pretty gay lol.
We get a couple of pieces of extra info. In particular, the powers of the ‘Golden Butterfly Brooch’ are spelled out:
This is needlessly heterosexual. I’m also not entirely sure what ‘fate numbers’ are exactly.
There’s also now a considerable amount of information on the ‘witch side’ of the characters screen. I won’t try to summarise every single thing, but I’ll try to get the key points.
Genji, Shannon (using her ‘as furniture’ name here bc context) and Kanon are described as ‘furniture’ created by Kinzo using ‘the power of demons’. Genji and Shannon’s ‘initial specs’ were flawed, but refined when Kanon was made. Kinzo gave Shannon a heart, which was unusual, and Kanon a smaller heart. Kanon has ‘flawless specs’ including the ‘rare power to fight and protect’, but ‘hasn’t yet matured very far’.
We also learn there is some kind of hierarchy of classes of mage. Shannon has a ‘mage-class’ ability but only in the realm of barriers. Maria, an inheritor of Kinzo’s ‘black blood’ who has a talent for rather than resistance to magic, is a ‘Meister-level’ creator of magic items.
Kinzo, as we know, had no talent for magic, but his ‘when insane powers of dedication and concentration were transformed into magic power, he awakened as a great mage’. Because he specialised so much in ‘summoning and barriers’, he might specifically be called a ‘summoner’.
The Seven Stakes of Purgatory are described as ‘advanced-level furniture’ created by Beatrice. Each one suffers from a Deadly Sin, of course. It is noted that each one ‘can move of her own accord, but cannot disobey her summoner’s orders’. They’re most powerful in stake form.
And Battler inherited Kinzo’s ‘massive resistance to magic’, which is still growing. The text suggests this is why Beatrice wants to destroy him.
I really ought to focus on other things for a while, but we’ll begin Episode 3 before too long. I really hope you’ve all enjoyed following along with me so far!