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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

Umineko: A Reflection on Episode 8

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This post contains heavy spoilers for the eighth episode of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. If you have not read Umineko, beware.

(SPOILER)

Most people who have read Twilight of the Golden Witch probably aren't surprised at this, but it's my least favorite of the Umineko episodes. For the simple reason that most of the main plot has already ended by that point; Battler and Beatrice's game was resolved back in Episode 6, and Episode 7 tied up pretty much all the loose ends of the mystery and backstories. There's still a lot you have to reason out yourself, but Episode 8 isn't gonna be of much help there.

Twilight of the Golden Witch mainly centers around how the Rokkenjima incident has affected the world, how the world treats it, and how Ange and Tohya Hachijo fit into all of that. And it has fanservice, oh my god does it have fanservice. But to put it in a nutshell, it has none of the awesome colored truth battles or mind-boggling mysteries the previous episodes featured, and the character in focus is Ange while the other mains, Battler and Beatrice, keep to the sidelines for most of the time.

Overall it almost feels like a lackluster ending to the Umineko saga, doesn't it? We end with basically nothing of what we started with and have grown to love over the past seven episodes.

Put simply, I just went in with the wrong expectations. You see back when I first read Umineko, when I reached the final two episodes I was expecting a grand resolution where everything gets solved without a trace of a question being left open. ...I can already hear some of you laughing. But, well, for that reason I actually stopped reasoning for the most part, because I was just so into the story that I wanted to keep going and not take the time to reflect on what I read. Not a good choice as I know in retrospect.

Now that I know Umineko a lot better I can also appreciate its final episode a lot more. The shift in focus doesn't really bother me anymore, in fact I like how it suddenly thrusts you into a totally peaceful 1986 Rokkenjima. Fun-Grampa-Kinzo is both funny and creepy at the same time. The quiz minigame was pointless but kinda nice, and the moments with the characters you get after the questions are just wonderful. I didn't even notice Shannon and Kanon's scene the first time I read it. And of course we have the resolution to the "Who is Battler's Mother" question back from Episode 4, and it still kills me every time. Kyrie

Then Bern shows up and the episode takes a turn for the YES PLEASE. And as if she's implicitly saying "you don't want those boring quiz games, do you?" she presents you with a genuine thoroughly logical mystery challenge, and the solution is so Bern. Took me a couple tries to get the solution the first time I read it, but once you see through the first two twilights everything falls into place. This is the birth of Black Battler, I suppose?

Then the episode simultaneously gets amazing and does something it never ever should have. Yeah honestly, I really wish Erika wouldn't have come back. Her final duel and death in Episode 6 is still my absolute favorite scene from Umineko and to just have her brought back after that amazing sendoff feels wrong. Same with Will actually. His talk of drawing his sword for the last time loses its impact a bit with him just casually being here alive and well.

But of course this episode is full of fanservice. And I mean the good kind of fanservice, the "row row fight the power!" kind. The next few hours of the episode are spent watching Erika and Battler have another logic battle, watching Dlanor and Will team up against people not taking mystery seriously and just generally being awesome, watching the Ushiromiyas and fantasy characters collectively bunch up against the outsiders forcing them into a tragedy. And of course, Bernkastel and Lambdadelta's fight and BATTLER PUNCHING BERN IN THE FACE. It's delightful on so many levels, although it still would've sit better with me if at least Erika and Will had been gone.

And then there's Ange's journey, of course. Bern gets her to reject Battler's gentle self-woven truth and it all goes downhill for her from there. She gets to read the book of a single truth. Hooray, you've learned the truth at the cost of your own hope. We get to witness her last moments falling to the ground from the skyscraper as Bern sits above and sneers at the futility of even thinking it's possible to survive that fall.

To this day I'm not quite sure how to interpret the last third of the story. You could argue it's both Ange and Tohya having internal conflicts about whether or not to learn/reveal the truth, and ultimately both reaching the answer that ignorance is preferable. And after the most hilarious roflstomp that is Featherine killing Lambdadelta (don't worry 34, you're in my Top 5 characters <3), Battler and Ange face off against Bernkastel one final time, and the gold truth's overwhelming power defeats her red.

And by this point, you and me, we all know the answer to the final question. I don't think there's anyone who could go through all of Umineko and not want to choose Magic by the end of it. The Trick ending is such a sick bad end though. The mental image of Ange and Erika high-fiving each other will never leave me.

But it's not over yet, no, you still have to go through what makes Episode 8 such a great episode; the ending. First we get a glimpse of what happened on Rokkenjima Prime, in the same world the 1998 Rokkenjima is set in. Battler and Beatrice escape the island on a boat, and Beatrice drowns herself . My heart clenches up when Ricordando il Passato starts playing and we get the narrated bit of Battler jumping after her as she sinks into the depths. And even though you've known since the Episode 3 ???? sequence that all but one of the people on Rokkenjima died in the 1986 incident it still really hurts to watch Beato commit suicide like that.

Then we get a bit of Bern and Lambda going meta-meta and commenting on Umineko as an entry in the When They Cry series. Goddamn it you two will never stop being amazing, will you? I'll be seeing you again when something else cries, I trust.

And then that ???? part... I love it. I love it so much. The reveal of the identity of Tohya was so well-handled and the amnesia trope utilized so well that I really can't empathize with the people complaining about it. The reunion of the siblings was so touching, and it perfectly illustrates why Ange's gold truth was able to beat Bernkastel's red truth. Because even with a red confirmation of Battler's death, "Battler" still returned to her. And then Tohya's reaction to seeing the mansion's hall... and then Battler leaving Tohya behind and joining the others in the golden land... and then the final dialogue between Battler and Beato... I can't even begin to describe how it made me feel. "I dedicate this tale to my beloved witch, Beatrice." Amen, Tohya, Battler and Ryukishi07.

Twilight of the Golden Witch is good. Most certainly, it is. When put side by side with the other Chiru episodes it falls short, naturally, because Episode 5, 6 and 7 are all JUST SO DAMN AMAZING. But ever since rereading it, I find that Twilight gives Umineko a very fitting and proper ending. It ties up some loose ends and leaves others open, but mostly it focuses on what Ange, and in extension the reader, takes away from Umineko. Umineko is irreplaceable to me and I deeply believe in much of what is portrayed in Episode 8.

And to anyone who's only just finished Umineko and is still confused... the 'third layer' is something I wish for people to find on their own. If you're still in the dark about Beatrice, and the truth that hides in plain sight throughout all of Umineko, I implore you to not stop here. Keep looking, and keep thinking. Good luck.

Updated 04-29-2015 at 12:35 AM by Karifean

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