It is the year 1986, and a teen named Ushiromiya Battler arrives on an island owned by his family for an annual gathering. With him are his cousins George and Maria, his aunts Rosa and Eva, his uncle Hideyoshi, and his parents Rudolf and Kyrie, and Battler is soon reunited with his other cousin Jessica. At the dock, George notices that there oddly aren’t any seagulls around, and Maria further notices that a shrine that was once on some nearby rocks is now gone, which she treats as an ominous sign. The group then moves toward the main mansion, but they stop in the rose garden outside of it, and Maria finds a single sickly-looking rose. George decides to tie a ribbon around it so that Maria can take care of it until they have to leave. Battler then meets some of the servants around the house, including the quiet Kanon and the pretty Shannon. He also notices a large painting of a woman that apparently his grandfather had commissioned, and Maria identifies the woman as the witch Beatrice.
It turns out that Battler’s grandfather Kinzou was the one who revived the family’s fortunes after the devastating 1923 earthquake, and he supposedly got the capital to do so – 10 tons of gold – from the Golden Witch Beatrice in exchange for his soul. Kinzou now has only three months left to live, and his children – Battler’s parents, aunts, and uncles – have gathered to discuss the family fortune and their suspicions about the eldest son Krauss’s investments using the money. When an argument breaks out between Krauss’s wife Natsuhi and Eva, with Eva insulting Natsuhi because she married into the family, Krauss makes her leave. With Natsuhi out of the way, the rest of the siblings make a bunch of demands to Krauss to ensure what they see as a fair split of the fortune. Krauss, however, knows that each of them has their own financial problems, and he claims not to have any of their father’s hidden gold right now. Finding it would involve solving a mysterious inscription that was placed beside Beatrice’s painting.
Although the others might not believe in the witch Beatrice, Maria certainly does, and she gives Battler and Jessica a pair of charms to protect them. Later, they try to find the sickly rose again, but they’re unable to. Maria insists on staying out to look for it, even during a storm and after her mother Rosa hits her and then abandons her outside. Battler and the others, including Rosa, eventually get concerned and go back outside to look for Maria, and they find her with an umbrella standing quietly. Maria wasn’t able to find the rose, but what surprises everyone is how she explains that she borrowed the umbrella from Beatrice.
I didn’t like the opening song very much when I first heard it (reminded me of ALI PROJECT for whatever reason), but it grew on me after listening to it a few more times. It’s certainly fitting for the series in that haunting sort of way. The ending song, on the other hand, I just can’t seem to appreciate no matter how much I listen to it.
So I’ve been told by a lot of people how good this title is, and I was curious to say the least on what the fuss was all about. Well, I’m still not quite sure after having watched this first episode, but I can see some promise in the creepy mystery story. A lot of this episode was introduction, and the middle of it was kind of boring with all of the plotting going on (save for the Eva vs Natsuhi argument), but the whole Beatrice thing was intriguing, especially after she showed up in front of Maria. Speaking of which, Maria may be one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen/heard in a long time. It’s probably intentional, but the way Horie Yui voices her just gets on my nerves to the point where I want to turn off the sound whenever she opens her mouth. Her eyes also make her really creepy too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up killing someone. The rest of the cast was great though, and it’s worth mentioning again how star-studded the list is with Inoue Marina, Koshimizu Ami, Kugimiya Rie, and Ono Daisuke, all of whom I enjoyed listening to. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t get Wakamoto Norio to voice Kinzou since it would have been the perfect role for him, though Mugihito still did a pretty good job.
I’m still trying to sort out what I want to watch on Wednesdays this season, but this first episode was promising enough to get me to watch a few more. Hopefully the story will really start to pick up speed now that all the background and introductions are out of the way.