Episode III-I, “castling”, is the first episode for the third arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. As was the case for the second arc, the portrait that appears in the beginning of the opening credits is different, except this time I have no idea who it is. In fact, there are a lot of changes in the opening credits, with bunny girls, furniture, witches, butlers, etc., some of whom we have seen but others who have yet to appear. The second arc was crazy enough with only a single portrait changed in the opening credits; with all the changes in the opening credits for the third arc, how much crazier will things get?
Some things remain the same in the opening credits, and among them is the appearance of a Beatrice who looks genuinely sad. Towards the end of the second arc, I was wondering about that: I cannot imagine Beatrice having an expression like that from what we have seen of her so far. It’s easy to imagine humor, cruelty, annoyance, etc. from Beatrice, but a heartfelt sadness? No. I wonder if the third arc will be the one to show a side of Beatrice that can express genuine sadness, or if we have to wait even longer. Or is this part of the opening credits just a red herring?
The episode itself begins in some unknown place at an unknown point of time. A young girl breaks a vase, and Beatrice appears and restores the vase, although a cat ends up breaking it again. Except the Beatrice that appeared looks nothing like the Beatrice we have come to known, while the young girl looks awfully like a younger version of the Beatrice we are familiar with. Beatrice says that magic comes from the power to believe, and while her magic lasts only temporarily, her teacher is capable of magic that is endless. A witch that can reach this level is called an Endless Witch, who can avoid losing anything and gain eternal happiness. The young girl wonders if she can become such a witch, so she becomes the student of Beatrice.
At some other time over a couple of decades before 1986, Eva complains to her father why he won’t even consider her to be a candidate to become the next head of the Ushiromiya dynasty, when in her opinion she has nothing lacking compared to the smug Klaus. But Kinzou is just too misogynistic, expecting her to merely find a husband that would be of benefit to the family. Outside, Eva is frustrated about the matter and wonders if she should just find a man that would hugely impress her father.
This is when a teenage girl appears before Eva and insists that she must not do so. It is a younger version of Eva, and from all appearances she is a hallucination of Eva’s. She reminds Eva that they had promised to themselves that they would become the head of the Ushimiya family and belittles Eva for thinking about abandoning the dream. It doesn’t sit well with Eva, either, so the teenage Eva tells the older Eva to trust in magic that comes from the power of believing. But the teenage Eva may not really be a hallucination, as she recites the inscription that would not be engraved until decades later.
We are now back at the present, where Eva is just waking up from a dream consisting of the previous scene. The Ushiromiya relatives have just reached Rokkenjima by boat. Some time later, the young ones of George, Battler, Jessica, Maria, and Shannon are on the beach having a nice time. Poor Battler is extremely embarrassed by his cheesy self from six years ago as remembered by Shannon with her excellent memory, and he remembers himself having some feelings for her at the time. With the fun they are having among the cousins, Maria mentions that a witch she knew told her that happiness comes only when everyone believes, and the cousins and Shannon cheerfully vow to believe that they will always be on good terms with each other.
As meta-Beatrice watches the cousins in another place, the room where witches chat, she makes fun of their vow and can’t wait to crush it. Meta-Battler appears and frustratingly demands that she not intervene, but meta-Beatrice is obviously not going to stay out of the new game. She is probably thinking a lot about how to make the end results at Rokkenjima even more twisted than before, and as always, she is enjoying the game way too much, while there is not much that meta-Battler can say or do at the moment.
Things soon happen in ways similar to the first arc. Beatrice appears in front of Maria during the rain as in episode I-I where she gives Maria a letter and an umbrella. Except this time we are shown Beatrice restoring the sickly rose that caught Maria’s notice in the same episode, in an exchange similar to the one between the young girl and the other Beatrice at the beginning of this episode. There is no talk about Maria becoming a student of Beatrice, though.
After Maria leaves happily, Beatrice declares that she had shown up to participate in Kinzou’s game, and apparently it is not the first time she had done so. Inside the mansion, Kinzou throws his ring into the sky like he did in episode I-I, and this time we see where it went. It flies right towards Beatrice, who is ready to catch it, but the ring is intercepted by someone who appears in a flash of golden butterflies.
It is Ronove (the ‘v’ is silent), whom meta-Beatrice introduces as a nobility from Hell, a major devil that is 27th in ranking. The scene has switched to meta-Beatrice’s bright little room, and meta-Ronove explains that he serves as furniture of the great witch Beatrice while he slips the ring on meta-Beatrice’s finger. Meta-Beatrice rates his service highly, although she is annoyed by his attitude at times. Meta-Battler is exasperated with the weird characters that keep on popping up.
Back in the real world, Maria reads the letter after dinner like she did in episode I-II. This time the reactions from the parents are slightly different, as Eva speculates that the letter is a test to determine who would be the next head of the Ushiromiya family. As Eva says this, a ghostly teenage Eva appears to her giddy about their magic coming true, and her appearance shocks the real Eva. An argument ensues about whether Eva’s speculation is true, and most of the parents go to Kinzou for confirmation.
Kirie stayed behind, wanting to make sure who really gave Maria the letter. Maria tells her that it was Beatrice and also talks about what else had happened, and Kirie asks Maria to talk about it in detail. The time is now 8:00PM.
Later that night when Maria has gone to sleep, Battler, Jessica, and George wonder about what Maria talked about. Battler thinks that it was Kinzou creating conflict among the family members, but Jessica wonders if there might really be a nineteenth person on the island. She had heard rumors of an unknown person living on Rokkenjima since a long time ago. George had heard of it as well, that there is a rumor that someone is living in the forests of the island.
The parents are talking about it as well, with Kirie not having gained much information about the supposed Beatrice from Maria. It didn’t help that Kinzou simply ignored them and their requests for information. Natsuhi suspects the servants, but in a reversal from the second arc, Rosa defends them by citing their claims that they were busy making the beds. With all known eighteen people claiming to not be the one that gave Maria the letter while pretending to be Beatrice, one has to consider the possibility that there might be someone else on the island.
While no one believes that there is a Beatrice the witch, there is the possibility that there really is a Beatrice the human as portrayed in the portrait, who may have been Kinzou’s lover. Even their late mother wondered if there was a blonde woman living discretely in the forests of Rokkenjima. These rumors started thirty years ago when the family moved to the island. While the existence of Beatrice and her involvement is pure speculation at this point, it could mean that she is going to make the inheritance of the wealth and leadership position more messy if true.
If the letter is to be believed, it could be inferred that Beatrice is already in possession of the gold, so solving the inscription would be about gaining the family headship. But the question comes up of why Beatrice would practically announce her possession of the gold when she could just spend it discretely. Kirie suggests that it might not be all that unlikely for Beatrice to be in possession of the gold by pointing out that they would not just yield the family headship because someone solved the inscription.
Unless there was some way for Beatrice to enforce her terms. This leads Kirie to conclude that Beatrice knows where the gold is and intends to dangle it as a prize for the others to give up the family headship. Some consider the idea preposterous while others consider the worth of the gold. Eva is among those who would never give up the headship for gold, but Hideyoshi is against her, pointing out that she is excluded from becoming the head of the family and would quite happily take possession of the gold. The comment rankles Eva, all the more so because it’s true.
Kirie also deduces one other thing: the game suggested by Beatrice really is a game for her. While she might think that they would be unable to solve the inscription, there is the slim possibility that it might happen. But there is nothing for Beatrice to gain from the game, so the conclusion is that Beatrice is playing a game for her own amusement to enjoy and boast her absolutely superior position. Becoming the head of the family has been a life-long dream for Eva, however, so she is quite willing to play along. And her determination only strengthens as her alter ego says that it is her last chance to achieve her dream.
The time is now 9:00PM. Meta-Battler has been listening in, and the rumors of a Beatrice living on the island is great for breaking down the line of thought that magic is responsible because it could not be done by the eighteen known people. Meta-Beatrice points out that meta-Battler’s new line of thought would be derailed if she were to confirm that there are only eighteen people on the island with her red text, but meta-Battler dares her to do so. Meta-Beatrice can’t or won’t confirm it, and meta-Battler goes one step further by demanding that she confirm there are only nineteen people on the island, and meta-Beatrice refuses an answer to this as well. She is actually sweating.
Meta-Battler is on a roll, thinking that magic as an explanation is unnecessary and none of the known eighteen people are responsible, as there may be a nineteenth person in the form of Beatrice the human, and most emphatically not Beatrice the witch. Meta-Battler is not finished yet, and he demands a confirmation that there are more than nineteen people on the island, which meta-Beatrice refuses to answer, too. This gives meta-Battler a lot of legroom as he could postulate the existence of a twentieth person or even more people. Meta-Beatrice is still confident, however, declaring that she will show him why she refused to answer, while meta-Battler shows his own confidence in turn.
This episode threw us a bombshell in the form of another Beatrice. It was confusing enough when we were not sure if there were more than one of the same Beatrice, but an entirely different Beatrice is even more so. And I have no idea what it means. As for the Ushiromiya family, Rosa was a major character in the previous arc, but it looks like it is Eva’s turn to shine in this arc. But it doesn’t look like Rosa is out of the running, since at 9:04PM, she makes the shocking confession that she killed Beatrice.
- The name Ronove is pronounced like the surname in Ronoue Genji. And they are both butlers. In fact, they are both furniture. Is Genji a double agent, or are they just counterparts?
- Sadly, I don’t think a gun-wielding and awesome Rosa will be making an appearance in this arc. Hopefully, Eva will be the awesome gun-wielder.
- Eva’s alter ego is actually a projection by a witch. I’m betting on Lambdadelta.
- As soon as Ronove caught the ring, meta-Ronove appeared and put the ring on meta-Beatrice. This suggests that they can freely go between the other place and the real world, or maybe they exist in both places simultaneously with the capability to bring over physical objects any time they want.
- The Beatrice of the past and the Beatrice of the present really are two different people, and the young girl in the beginning of the episode is the Beatrice of the present. Who is the teacher of the old Beatrice? Is it yet another Beatrice?