「episode III-VII – swindles」
Okay, totally random out of the blue post here, meant entirely for those watching this series. After watching this episode, I felt compelled to talk about a promising turn of events.
First off, let me start by saying that Umineko’s bothered me up until now with their continual use of locked room mysteries, paradoxical roundabout arguments, and acknowledgement/denial of the existence of witches. However, I didn’t mind those nearly as much as the inclusion of demons and blatant use of magic, which were really getting out of hand as of late. My main complaint about the whole Golden Witch bit is that it comes off nothing like the horror seen in Higurashi, where there was a real sense of suspense given the plausible nature of things. Aside from slaughtering all the characters and having them revived to “play again”, these two 07th Expansion series didn’t seem to have a whole lot in common. In short, Umineko felt like an anime about Clue, except with witches and magic. Pretty blah if you ask me.
Even with the end of this third arc, the witches and magic still seem to be getting out of hand, but they put a really good twist on things this time around. For that, we have to thank the introduction of Battler’s half-sister Ange Ushiromiya (Satou Rina!). Fast forward to twelve years later, where Eva (Itou Miki, a.k.a. Takano Miyo) is looking all sickly on her deathbed and Ange is demanding to know how everyone was killed on Rokkenjima. Add in the purple-haired Furude Rika lookalike witch Bernkastel (who’s also voiced by Tamura Yukari) trying to free the Ushiromiyas from reliving their final days for the past twelve years and we have the makings of Higurashi all over again, including the cast!
The whole, being locked in a hellish game for the past twelve years really put things into a similar perspective. It enlarges the scope of the problem by breaking out of the Rokkenjima/Purgatory worlds we’ve grown accustomed to. I would say it’s akin to when Higurashi revealed that they aren’t actually dealing with an Oyashiro curse, but a huge conspiracy behind the Hinamizawa disease. The lens is zoomed out so we can see the bigger picture now. We’re no longer following Battler alone in his battle against Beatrice, but Ange as well. She’s the Hanyuu of Umineko! Now this is an interesting turn of events. I’ve been quietly following this series in hopes of being pleasantly surprised and they’ve finally done that.
Speaking of twists, I was totally suckered by Virgilia (Inoue Kikuko) and Beatrice’s (Oohara Sayaka) “good witch” act to trick Battler into acknowledging the existence of witches. Despite being fooled, I still hated seeing Beatrice join the good side, especially when she started crying like I was supposed to feel sorry for her. After a few episodes of this, I just reconciled that this was the ending they were going for and went with it. Much to my shocking relief though, it turns out both Virgilia and Beatrice are still total bitches and now we can see them get beat down in their own twisted game. I take it all back, it’s way better for me to hate Beatrice! Die stupid witch, die!
The next episode marks the beginning of the fourth (and likely final) arc where the Rokkenjima cursed cycle should be broken. It looks like it’s finally time for Umineko no Naku Koro ni Kai (solution). (I’m just playing with title names if you don’t get it.)