Episode III-VII of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, “swindles”, begins with a blind Jessica being scared out of her wits. This is when she hears Kanon’s voice: he’s still dead, but he was able to appear thanks to Beato, and he offers to be Jessica’s eyes. Kanon leads Jessica to the parlor where she should supposedly be safe, where they encounter Beato. While the whole mess is Beato’s fault, they still thank her for her good deed. Beato begins to lock the door to the parlor with its 07151129, not just by setting the lock but applying her magic as well, which is when she’s attacked by EvaBeatrice’s furniture.
EvaBeatrice is annoyed at her predecessor for acting against her behind her back, so she had decided to get rid of Beato, who just belittles EvaBeatrice that she would never be able to wield real magic. This does bother EvaBeatrice, but she decides to not worry about it and play with Jessica and Kanon instead. Since Beato is still applying her magic to the door to prevent it from being opened, EvaBeatrice has the Siesta sisters attack Beato again. But no matter how many times they attack Beato through the heart, she just does not die despite bleeding profusely.
This starts to frighten the Siesta sisters and EvaBeatrice, and the next step is to blow up Beato’s heart. Except the heart is left completely intact even when the rest of Beato’s body is gone, which scares the Siesta sisters so much that they run away. So EvaBeatrice is about to do something herself, but Ronove appears and tells her that she is powerless against Beatrice’s endless power. Kanon also emerges from the parlor and thanks Beatrice for her help. He’s thanking Beato, so obviously EvaBeatrice complains that Beatrice is her name.
EvaBeatrice gets so angry that she is about to step on Beatrice’s heart. Yes, I am going to start to call her Beatrice again instead of Beato. Time stops at this point, and meta-Battler approaches the still-beating heart of Beatrice, while time has stopped for EvaBeatrice. Beatrice laments how pitiful her state is, which a subdued meta-Battler readily agrees to. She even mentions how she is not worthy to be his opponent, although she obviously hopes that he would disagree after what she had done. To her surprise, he agrees even with this. In fact, meta-Battler exclaims that it is no good at all and the scene melts into the meta world with a surprised EvaBeatrice in it.
EvaBeatrice has no idea where she is, and the first thing she encounters is meta-Battler declaring that his opponent is actually her. EvaBeatrice summons the Siesta sisters to get rid of Battler, but their attack is repelled by a protective power, the same type that Shannon exhibited in episode II-VI and meta-Battler seemed to show in episode III-IV. In fact, meta-Battler’s barrier is nigh impenetrable, and the Siesta sisters disappear in terror. Turning to Beatrice, Meta-Battler rates her actions highly as being worthy of a witch, to which Beatrice actually sheds tears in response.
Meta-Battler summons Wergilia and resumes the game, except this time against EvaBeatrice. The murders of Rosa and Maria are assumed to have been committed by Eva, to which EvaBeatrice rebuts by summoning a temporary image of Hideyoshi, who claims that he had been nursing Eva and that she didn’t leave the room. While meta-Battler accepts that Hideyoshi could have stayed in the room, he denies Hideyoshi having continuously looked after Eva. Meta-Battler demands that if EvaBeatrice wants to deny his claim, she should confirm in red text that Eva had stayed in the room when Rosa and Maria were killed.
EvaBeatrice has no idea about the red text at first, but she gets the idea pretty quickly, and she has Ronove go over the fourth to sixth twilights, referring to the deaths of Rudolf, Kyrie, and Hideyoshi. She brings up how suspicious it was for Kyrie to suggest that they go out to get food when it was Kyrie’s idea in the first place to hole up in the guest house for safety. EvaBeatrice’s claim is that Kyrie’s inconsistent behavior is due to the influence of her magic, and meta-Battler doesn’t have an immediate rebuttal. EvaBeatrice seems to have gotten the hang of the game pretty quickly.
Meta-Battler might not have a good counterattack, but Beatrice suggests otherwise. Beatrice asks Wergilia to reconstruct the murder scene of Kyrie and the others, and she rummages through Kyrie’s personal effects. However, Beatrice is unable to think of anything more. But this is enough for meta-Battler, who notices a cigarette butt among the items. Meta-Battler knows that Kyrie does not smoke, and searching Hideyoshi yields an empty cigarette pack, and meta-Battler is able to conclude that the cigarette butt is a message from Kyrie.
The reasoning is that Eva hates cigarette smoke, but Kyrie must have found cigarette butt and ash in the room Eva was staying in and concluded that Eva must have left the room. EvaBeatrice rebuts that this is just guesswork, but she does not comply when meta-Battler demands that she deny it in red text. The way that Kyrie asked Hideyoshi for help in retrieving food suggested that there was an ulterior motive for her to isolate Hideyoshi, and meta-Battler suggests the motive: Kyrie had wanted to interrogate Hideyoshi about the truth of whether Eva had left the room.
EvaBeatrice is unable to assail this conclusion, so she changes tack and reveals the following truths in red:
- After Jessica was injured, Eva was already under Battler’s surveillance.
- Thus, Eva has a perfect alibi for the killing of Nanjo.
- At the time of Nanjo’s murder, Battler, Eva, Jessica were alive.
- At the time of the murder, only Nanjo and Jessica were in the employee room.
- Ushiromiya Jessica has not committed murder.
- Eva and Battler were also not involved in the killing of Nanjo.
- There is not nineteen or more people on the island.
- Nanjo was murdered, and the perpetuator killed at a very close distance from the front without any traps.
- Red only tells the truth.
The red truths concerning Nanjo’s murder totally stumps meta-Battler. He even goes as far as accusing EvaBeatrice of lying, hence the last red truth, and Ronove confirms that they are indeed all true. Beatrice urges him not to give up, saying that if he stopped thinking it would automatically be his loss. However, meta-Battler sees no way he can counterattack. In his stead, Beatrice is determined to make her own counterattack, one that is only possible by a witch.
Beatrice’s strategy is to use the red that only a witch can use to deny the existence of witches. EvaBeatrice doesn’t worry much at first since Beatrice herself would not survive intact, but this changes quickly enough when Beatrice says that it’s fine with her. Just as EvaBeatrice is not quite a true witch, Beatrice is not one either, and she has no regrets if she were to simply disappear. Meta-Battler tries to stop her, saying that there is no need for her to sacrifice herself, but Beatrice simply asks him to block his ears when she denies the existence of witches, saying that she wants to remain a witch in the eyes of meta-Battler.
As a crying meta-Battler blocks his ears and closes his eyes, Beatrice faces EvaBeatrice, who is being restrained by Ronove, and Beatrice says her magic words. And the witches and Ronove disappear in a puff of golden butterflies with the meta world going white. The next thing we see is Battler facing Eva in the real world, being shocked that Eva was the killer. Eva belittles him for realizing it so late, and we hear a shot fired at 11:15PM.
After the break, Battler and Beatrice find themselves in the golden land, being applauded by Wergilia and others. This includes all of Beatrice’s furniture, the relatives of Battler, and the Rokkenjima servants. Even Eva is present, if you pay attention to the background behind Krauss, although no EvaBeatrice is seen. In the euphoric mood, Wergilia declares that only Battler needs to sign the invitation to the golden land, with which the Golden Witch Beatrice can be invited to the golden land along with the eighteen people of Rokkenjima.
Battler is quite ready to give his signature, but he finds something strange when he realizes that he is supposed to sign a contract that says “you will be recognized as a witch”. As soon as he senses that something is wrong, Beatrice and Wegilia forcefully urge him to sign with a humanoid goat grabbing his hand to force his signature. Before it can be forced, a surprise intruder breaks in (through the fourth wall? how many walls might Umineko no Naku Koro ni have?), exclaiming that Battler must not sign the contract.
This new intruder kicks goat butt (and Wergilia as well) and reaches Battler. She points out that Battler was about to embrace defeat out of his own will and urges him not to be deceived by a witch. An emotionally shocked Battler faces Beatrice and asks her if it was all a deception. While Beatrice briefly shows a complex set of expressions at first, she soon returns to laughing her maniacal laughter, sarcastically apologizing for her strategy which she claims was suggested by her teacher.
Battler is despondent that it was all indeed a deception, to which the intruder tries to force him out of his funk. Beatrice then notices the Ushiromiya ring on the intruders finger and realizes that she is a piece sent by Bernkastel, and she declares she will utterly defeat the newcomer. In turn, the newcomer is adamant that she will reveal what happened in Rokkenjima in the year of 1986, using the mannerisms of Battler in his most confident moments.
Away from the golden land and in the meta tea room (at least it looks like the meta world where meta-Battler and Beatrice usually spend their time, although it might be someplace else entirely), Lambdadelta is questioning whether Beatrice is even trying to win. Lambdadelta wonders if Beatrice even cares if she wins or loses, and Beatrice tries to dismiss it as a ridiculous question. Lambdadelta then reveals important information: she expects Beatrice to be an absolute winner eternally, and as long as Beatrice is an absolute winner, Lambdadelta will let her continue to be a witch. Beatrice disappears after promising to do so, after which Lambdadelta talks to herself how she loves Bernkastel and wants Bernkastel to think as much as she wants with Beatrice’s birdcage.
It is now twelve years later on October 4, 1998. A very old-looking Eva has summoned Ange, the same person that intruded in the golden land earlier in the episode. Eva and Ange hate each other, and Eva summoned Ange just so she can inflict some way to make her suffer. What Eva does is to give Ange the Ushiromiya family headship and gold, which obviously must have been a great source of suffering for Eva after 1986. Ange doesn’t care about those, and instead demands to know what had happened to her brother and the others at Rokkenjima. At first Eva says something that Ange can’t quite hear, but the next thing she says is a taunt against Ange, and Eva dies.
Now wearing the Ushiromiya family ring, Ange stands on the roof of a tall building ready to jump off. I don’t know what sort of life Ange had to speculate why she cares for nothing else in life or why becoming the head of the Ushiromiya family is driving her to suicide, but she obviously has little attachment to life and non-chalantly steps off the roof. She barely stops herself when she is surprised by someone suddenly floating in front of her, however. It is Bernkastel, and she wants Ange’s help.
Bernkastel reveals that Ange’s family is trapped forever within the eventful couple of days of 1986. The enemy is the Golden Witch Beatrice, who is ultimately the reason for Ange’s loneliness with what had happened to her family. Bernkastel claims that the only one capable of facing Beatrice is the last Beatrice left, in other words, Ange, a.k.a. Ange Beatrice. Bernkastel cannot promise that defeating Beatrice would mean that Ange regains her family, but the possibility is good enough for Ange.
What are presumably Ushiromiya corporation lackeys have arrived at the roof by now and are frantically urging Ange to not be so rash. Ange merely tells them to prepare a limousine to greet her along with everyone else, and she jumps off the roof after casually promising to see them again. Presumably her fall stops at the golden land where she broke into earlier in the episode, although it was weird to see how Ange seemed to know exactly what to do despite the lack of instructions from Bernkastel.
My impression of this story arc is that it is … weird. Not what had happened in the real world, which seems to be mostly straightforward by now, but what had happened in the meta world. I’m pretty confused about how sincere the witches were: the end at the golden land suggests that Beatrice and Wergilia have been playing meta-Battler all along, but I’m not even sure if that can really be believed. Was EvaBeatrice really promoted to a witch, or was this just a ruse as well? And what role will Ange Beatrice play in the next story arc? Will she be replacing meta-Battler as Beatrice’s opponent? How many Beatrice’s are there going to be, anyways?
- There is no mystery as to who the culprit is this time: it’s Eva. Her being a too obvious suspect probably misled some people to think she was innocent: this includes me, but at least I covered my bases by speculating that the too-obviousness could be misleading. While what had happened seems straightforward for most cases with the knowledge that Eva has no solid alibi, there are still mysteries that remain: who was responsible for the initial six deaths and what happened, the door with the 07151129, what happened to Nanjo, and what happened to Jessica.
- Or maybe the culprit is still a mystery: if Eva planned to kill the other survivors, why didn’t she just shoot them?
- The way it was shown is that Eva was agonized with guilt while EvaBeatrice gleefully killed, but the reality might be the opposite. EvaBeatrice might represent Eva herself that killed people, while the on-screen Eva might have represented Eva’s conscience that railed against her actions.
- There seems to be a small discrepancy with the portrayal of Nanjo’s murder and the red text. Even if it was not shown directly, the on-screen portrayal implied that Nanjo was right outside the employee room in the corridor when he was killed, while the red text says that he was in the room at the time of the murder. I might just be splitting too fine a hair. At least the red text makes it quite clear that Nanjo was murdered and not lurking around alive.
- What happened to Jessica? She might be dead, but I have a suspicion that her fate might tie into another question I have: how did Eva get away with multiple murders despite being the prime suspect as the sole survivor? Jessica may have survived as well but had gone insane, ending up with a delusion that Kanon is always with her. Eva may have taken advantage of the insanity to make the case that it could have been Jessica that was responsible for at least some of the deaths, sufficiently weakening any case against herself.
- Things must have been truly messed up for the Ushiromiya family in the subsequent years. Ange has grown up to have very little attachment to life, while Eva has aged very badly in just twelve years. Or maybe it’s whatever sickness that killed Eva that made her look much older.
- Despite all the bodies and physical evidence, it’s apparent that no one outside of Eva is quite sure what happened on Rokkenjima. Perhaps Eva got rid of all the bodies, so it became a missing persons case (where they could have gone missing anywhere), instead of a multiple murder case (which occurred on Rokkenjima).
- It’s odd how the witches said in red that there is not nineteen or more people on the island, instead of saying there were exactly eighteen people (in the case of Beatrice) or four people (in the case of EvaBeatrice). Obviously meant to lead to the conclusion that there is no unknown person on the island, it’s odd the way they say it. It keeps making me think that it’s a misleading conclusion. Even with one or more unknown person on the island, the red statement would have been true if the six initial victims were killed early enough, and it would have been trivially true after fourteen people have been killed. Heck, EvaBeatrice even winked when she was saying this in red. However, the way that everyone treats the statement as so obviously meaning that there is no unknown person makes me wonder if I’m thinking too much, and whether I should just interpret it as meaning there only being eighteen people on the island at the beginning.
- A nineteenth person hypothesis would easily explain Nanjo’s death. Otherwise, I’m stumped as much as meta-Battler on how to explain it in a way consistent with the red text. Unless one of the dead people was not really dead yet, such as George, whose death does not correspond to any of the first eight twilights in the inscription.
- I’m pretty sure whatever “special red text” that Beatrice told EvaBeatrice was not “witches do not exist”, which would be the real reason meta-Battler wasn’t supposed to hear it. I guess it was something like “everything that happened was make-believe to deceive Battler” or “the human Eva really did kill everyone else” (taking advantage of the alternative non-magical truth) or “you are not really Beatrice”.
- I was surprised at Lambdadelta’s revelation that Beatrice is a witch only at her whim. It had looked like Lambdadelta had only been drawn to Beatrice’s game because of Bernkastel, but it now looks like it was all Lambdadelta’s scheme to draw in Bernkastel. Lambdadelta definitely has an unhealthy obsession with Bernkastel.
- The straightforward interpretation of the scene in the golden land is that the entire story arc was an act to deceive Battler into recognizing Beatrice as a witch. I have my doubts. Just before Beatrice returned to her maniacal self, she had a brief moment of complex emotions. It could have been annoyance at the interference, guilt for trying to deceive Battler, or even anger at how Battler seems to completely distrust her suddenly. It’s even consistent with my “others’ beliefs affects Beatrice’s character” theory: having become an empathetic character previously, Battler’s sudden suspicion turned her back into the psychopath of the second arc. Whatever the case may be, I don’t think Beatrice is quite the singularly cruel person she tries to make herself out to be.
- On the same token, I suspect almost everything that happened in this arc within the meta world was real and sincere. There is no doubt that Beatrice tried to pull a fast one on Battler in the end, but I’m not so sure that everything else was a deception. I even suspect that the Wergilia at the end was a fake, or at least controlled by Beatrice, unlike what I think was a real, independent Wergilia earlier.