Umineko no Naku Koro ni II-IV


Dead Jessica

It is 7:52AM at the beginning of episode II-IV of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, “skewer”. In the parlor, Rosa suggests that everyone head to Jessica’s room to check up on her and Kanon, making a reference to a puzzle with sheep and wolves. When they reach Jessica’s room, however, there is another bloody drawing on the locked door, which Maria recognizes to be the First Seal of the Moon that also appeared in episode I-IV. There is no answer from inside, so Gouda uses his master key to unlock the door and enter Jessica’s room, only to find Jessica lying dead on the floor.

Rosa quickly takes in the situation, confirming that Jessica had the only key to her room while each of the employees had a master key that can open any door except for the ones to the study and the chapel. This leads Rosa to conclude that one of the employees must be responsible, and with Shannon and Genji having been with Kinzou, her suspicions fall on Gouda, Kumasawa, and Kanon. Gouda and Kumasawa deny responsibility, of course, so Rosa tentatively concludes that it is most likely that Kanon killed Jessica.

Nanjo finds Kanon's key on Jessica

Others have a hard time believing this could be the case, and Battler even figures out a way to prove that Kanon is innocent. In the previous episode, we saw Jessica take Kanon’s master key to open the door to Beatrice’s room, which is confirmed by Gouda. If Jessica did not bother to return the key to Kanon, then it should still be somewhere on her body, and this is indeed the case. While the question still remains of where Kanon has disappeared to, this does substantially reduce the suspicion against him.

However, this just returns the most suspicion to the other suspects, namely Gouda and Kumasawa, and Rosa immediately points the gun in their direction. But Battler and George find it hard to believe that they could kill anyone, and especially implausible that they would be the sort to come back to the others acting like nothing had happened after killing someone. Battler also makes an impassioned speech that no one should be treated as a killer without certain proof, and this seems to be enough to defuse the high tension of Rosa. She actually looks somewhat relieved that she won’t have to immediately treat someone she knows as a killer, although her expression could also be interpreted as realizing that she may have gone too far or that things are not going according to plan. The time is now 8:04AM.

Beatrice

All the while during the discussions in the real world, meta-Beatrice and meta-Battler were listening in and arguing about the murder as well. Meta-Beatrice confirms the following facts:

  • Each servant has a master key that can open the door to almost every room, for a total of five master keys.
  • There are no hidden doors in the room.
  • The only way in and out of the room is through the door.
  • The only keys that could have locked the door is Jessica’s keys and the servants’ master keys.
  • The window is locked from the inside.
  • Kanon was killed inside the room.
  • When the door is locked, there is no way to go in or out of the room through the door.
  • The door cannot be locked from outside the room without using a key.

However, meta-Beatrice refuses to confirm or deny the following, which could be an attempt to avoid revealing a crucial hint or to misdirect meta-Battler into disbelieving the truth:

  • Kanon’s body is inside the room (her unverified claim is that she removed the body through her magic).
  • The door was last locked with one of the servants’ master keys.

Battler is not doing so good

Meta-Battler is adamant about maintaining the premise of no magic, but he is also unwilling to accuse anyone he knows of killing someone. Meta-Beatrice then belittles him, for he is by his own will excluding possibilities that could explain things without resorting to magic. She says that meta-Battler has just made it into a locked room murder mystery all by his own. This might just be her way of saying that he is painting himself into a corner, but I can’t shake the feeling that she means it literally: his beliefs might influence the truth of what actually happened.

At 1:00PM, it is time to eat lunch, but fears of poisoned food mean that they have to eat canned food instead of enjoying Gouda’s cooking skills. Maria then mentions a wolves and sheep puzzle in a children’s book, basically the missionaries and cannibals problem, which reminds Battler of how Rosa referenced it earlier. Rosa then has all the servants head to the kitchen together to wash the dishes, and also sends Nanjo away claiming to have something private to say to Ushiromiya family members.

George

Once only Rosa, Battler, George, and Maria are remaining in the parlor, Rosa reveals why she sent everyone else away. It is explained with an analogy to the wolves and sheep puzzle, where a sheep would be eaten if there are a larger number of wolves. While no concrete accusations can be made, it is still highly likely that a servant with a master key is involved, and the murders in the chapel make it unlikely that there is a lone killer. George takes the analogy a bit too literally, as he objects that they were fine even when there were five of the others against four family members, although Rosa does admit that some of those sent away may be innocent.

Battler raises the more substantial objection that if the employees were responsible, then it would be strange that they would lock the door, which would only raise suspicion against them. Rosa had considered the possibility that Beatrice may have killed by herself and is framing the employees, but she sees no way around the fact that the servants had the only keys that could lock Jessica’s room. George is most worried about Shannon’s safety with the other employees, but Rosa thinks she should be fine as there was a similar situation when she was alone with Genji, when they were reporting the situation to Kinzou. And while they may both be guilty or both be innocent, Rosa is not willing to risk the possibility that they are both killers.

Rosa making a point

With the way Rosa has been suspecting the employees, Battler raises the possibility that Rosa herself is one of the killers. Rosa has a convincing argument that she is innocent: as the one with the gun, once the others left she could easily have shot Battler and George so that she would be the sole remaining inheritor of Kinzou’s wealth, and she could just blame the shootings on Beatrice. The fact that she didn’t strongly suggests that Rosa is not among those responsible for the murders.

In the employee room, the employees are looking forward to some great food, since Gouda is cooking a meal out of sealed ingredients that would preclude the possibility of poison. If Rosa could have trusted Gouda, the others could have also had a much better lunch than that of canned food. But things get tense when they hear someone bump the door to the outside, and Genji picks up a knife just in case. When Gouda opens the door, a profusely bleeding Kanon collapses. But when Gouda starts for the parlor to report this to Rosa, Kanon stops him and gasps that Rosa is the killer.

Fake Kanon

Nanjo patches Kanon up the best he can, while Kanon blames Rosa for what happened to himself and Jessica. If true, this could mean Battler and George are in grave danger. Hearing this, Shannon heads to the basement to pick something up. Meanwhile back in the employee room, Kanon suddenly seems to be fine, saying that a certain person stated the intention to kill everyone, just like he himself had already been killed. This Kanon has red eyes and gouges his wound to the terror of everyone else in the room.

Fake Kanon kills Nanjo and Kumasawa

Shannon then returns, accusing Kanon of being a fake. She had brought spider webs from the basement, and while they would have no affect on the real Kanon, they would if the Kanon in front of them was a certain something else. The fake Kanon then slashes at Shannon with the same blue light blades used by the humanoid goats from the previous episode, in contrast to the red light blade that Kanon had used. Shannon manages to jump to safety, but Nanjo and Kumasawa are not so fortunate, and they are fatally injured by slashes to the neck.

The others manage to overwhelm the fake Kanon, with Gouda restraining the fake Kanon, Genji throwing the knife he had stashed to immobilize the fake Kanon’s blade arm, and Shannon giving the spider webs to Genji, who promptly uses it to dispel the fake Kanon. This is not quite what I expected to happen: with how Shannon is also referred to as furniture, I had expected her to use a light blade just like Kanon did several hours ago. At least we did see her make a very impressive jump. Gouda is completely shocked at the close brush with death and the impossible thing that had just happened, but Genji and Shannon look like they have a clue of what had just transpired.

Immediate aftermath

I’m surprised that there are three survivors from an attack of obvious magical nature: will their claims convince everyone else that magic is involved, or will it look like they are co-conspirators that have come up with a contrived story of how Nanjo and Kumasawa were killed?

Speculations

  • We can believe everything we see on screen to be the truth. However, there is also another truth not shown where none of the events involve magic. In fact, there are many truths about the events on Rokkenjima, among which a single truth will emerge to be the “true” truth when everyone believes the same things about what happened.
  • The fake Kanon was supposed to kill everyone in the employee room, but its failure completely messes up Beatrice’s plans. Things should have happened such that Battler could still conceivably deny the existence of magic, but the surviving eyewitnesses will ruin Beatrice’s game. At which point other witches will change the game …
  • Or the crazy story by Gouda, Genji, and Shannon will make Rosa think they have concocted an obvious cockamamy story to lower the others’ guards and kill them, so Rosa will preemptively deal with them.
  • The deaths in this round really are due to Beatrice’s magic, while those in the first round are completely mundane, just because mixing things up makes it more fun for Beatrice.
  • The deaths of Nanjo and Kumasawa are not according to the twilights in the inscription (unless one considers the neck to be the head, which is a huge stretch, especially when a distinction is made between the knee and the leg). The deaths in this arc might not be for the purpose of finding the golden land …
  • Maria is being oddly quiet this round, with no adamant claims about Beatrice killing everyone with her magic. This despite Battler and Rosa not considering any possibilities with magic even if Beatrice is suspected. Maybe Maria knows the killings this round are not for the purpose of finding the golden land, so there is no point in her trying to convince Battler that magic is involved.

A quiet Maria

  1. #1 by RP on September 2, 2009 - 12:27 pm

    Hmm, good point about Nanjo and Kumasawa’s death not fitting the inscription. I’d agree, I don’t think Kanon getting spidered was something Beatrice expected.

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