Episode IV-I of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, “end game”, begins with members of the Ushiromiya family having just arrived at the airport. Maria must have tormented Battler throughout the flight about the plane crashing, and she is still doing it to the amusement of the parents. This is when Battler accidentally collides with a girl before chasing after Maria again. The girl is actually Ange, and Bernkastel appears after the Ushiromiyas leave. The grown Ange does not actually exist in 1986, but she is still happy to see her family alive and well.
It is after this short scene that the opening credits start. There is no new portrait this time: the portraits from the previous arcs are shown in reverse order, ending with the original portrait of Beatrice. The other difference I noticed is that Maria is wearing a different dress. In fact, I think she is holding the staff of an Endless Witch. There is another thing I just noticed now, although it was the same in the previous arc: all the other butterflies during the opening credits are golden, but during Ronove’s appearance, the butterflies are white.
After the opening credits, Beatrice is rather worried whether meta-Battler would be depressed after the stunt she pulled in the previous arc. It doesn’t do her guilt any good when Ronove informs her that meta-Battler is so despondent as to be completely unresponsive. So she’s surprised when meta-Battler suddenly appears, cheerfully chasing after one of the stake sisters for Ronove’s baked goods. Ronove was pulling Beatrice’s chain, and meta-Battler is actually not depressed at all, although the previous round cemented that he and Beatrice are opponents and shouldn’t be on the same side.
Before the next round of the game begins, Beatrice introduces another person. It is Ange, who introduces herself as an antagonist against witches that would advise meta-Battler to his advantage. (I’m not going to bother calling her meta-Ange, since it would be exceedingly unlikely for a separate Ange to appear in the Rokkenjima of 1986.) Ange is pretty unhappy about meta-Battler’s lackluster performance, to which he tries to beg to differ. Ange hadn’t introduced herself properly before, but instead of revealing her given name, she tells meta-Battler that her name is Gretel. With this, the fourth round of the game is ready to begin.
Before we get to see the game resume, we get to see Ange’s past. Having lost her immediate family at the age of six, Ange was put in the custody of Eva, the sole survivor from Rokkenjima. Eva was very strict with Ange, supposedly to make sure that Ange grows up to be a fitting heir to the Ushiromiya dynasty, although Ange is pretty sure that Eva was just bullying her for being the heir instead of the late George.
Years later, Ange would attend Saint Lucia Academy as a high school student. It looks like she was quite socially isolated from the rest of her classmates, and one of Ange’s favorite pastimes was to read Maria’s diary. The diary entry we are shown is a happy moment for Maria when Rosa celebrates her birthday and gives her a Sakutaro doll that Rosa made herself as a present. On another day, Rosa would call Maria and tell her that she would be staying out the night because of work, although she was actually being with a man. Maria would then go out shopping with talking and moving Sakutaro.
I’m not sure if Maria knew that Rosa was staying the night with a man, or whether what we saw was shown for our benefit and not written down in Maria’s diary. What does Rosa do for a living, anyways, for her to be always returning home late? For that matter, I’m not sure how accurate the events shown were: they could be a rose-colored portrayal in the diary. It’s not hard to think of the living Sakutaro as part of an active imagination of a child, though.
As Ange closes Maria’s diary, she wonders if it was the power of magic that Maria often mentioned. With this, an ethereal Maria appears and tells Ange that knowing magic means realizing the presence of many friends that were previously unnoticed. Maria tells Ange that it would be possible for her as well, and that Ange has the potential to be a witch. As proof, she mentions how Ange revived a fragment of Maria’s soul to talk with. Ange wonders whether she could always talk with Maria if she had more power in magic, and Maria affirms this. But other students show up, and to them Ange was just being creepy by talking to someone that wasn’t there.
In 1998, presumably soon after Eva’s death, Ange is in a building talking with someone called Okonogi. You might remember an Okonogi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni … Ange had jumped off the top of a building, but she knew that there was a safety net. Ange’s recklessness reminds Okonogi of Kinzo, but Ange wants to talk about the Rokkenjima incident. She wants to know why Eva was alone two kilometers away from the mansion during a storm. Okonogi’s speculation is that Kinzo had decided that Eva would inherit the family headship instead of Krauss and had her stay at the Quadorian as a result, which allowed her to avoid whatever had happened to the others.
Ange herself thinks that Eva killed everyone out of greed. Okonogi disagrees, bringing up the strongest point that Eva would not have killed either Hideyoshi or George. Unsurprisingly, the Rokkenjima incident must have been a sensation at its time: it’s mentioned that the inscription has even appeared on variety shows. Okonogi then receives a call that the “old lady” wants Ange in custody, and while he seems to work for this old lady, he let’s Ange escape. Looks like Ange was hiding out at his office from this old lady.
Chased by a bunch of lackeys, Ange makes a valiant attempt to escape but is still nearly caught, only eluding capture with the help of a white-haired guy. The guy’s name is Amakusa, and he was asked by the boss, Okonogi, to help protect Ange after the death of the chairman, who was almost certainly Eva. Amakusa has no special destination to take Ange, so she wants to go and try figure out what happened on Rokkenjima. Back at the office building, the old lady seems quite annoyed that Ange has eluded her.
Back on October 4, 1986, the parents demand to see Kinzo, but Krauss continues to refuse. Kyrie then makes a surprising suggestion: they should be grateful to Krauss for taking care of Kinzo as would be expected of the heir to the family headship. She then suggests that she and the others would no longer demand to see Kinzo until he dies if Krauss agrees to only a few conditions.
- The caregiver is responsible for taking care of Ushiromiya Kinzo.
- If the caregiver fails to fulfill their duty to supervise the care properly every day, the rights as a caregiver will be revoked.
- If Kinzo were to die for reasons other than natural causes, the rights as a caregiver will be revoked, which also means the loss of the right to be the heir to the family headship.
- When Kinzo dies, there must be an autopsy which can confirm he had died from natural causes.
This is not an attempt by Kyrie to make it so that Krauss loses the heirship at the slightest excuse. It is actually to revoke Krauss’ heirship using a huge excuse. With the way that almost no one ever gets to see Kinzo, not only Kyrie but also others must be suspecting that Kinzo had already died the previous year, and that Krauss was hiding the fact to control the family and wealth. Meanwhile in the meta world, meta-Battler uses this speculation to explain how there could be an unknown person on the island: if Kinzo was already dead, then there still won’t be more than eighteen people with an unknown person.
Beatrice is quite satisfied that meta-Battler seems to be getting back into form, but she refuses to answer him in red. It is not because she is unable to do so, but because it’s boring by now. Gretel also points out to meta-Battler that he had implicitly agreed to Beatrice’s rules concerning red. The rules were just so stacked in Beatrice’s favor that Gretel doesn’t think much of meta-Battler not protesting them so much, and she also considers the whole thing unworthy of being called a game. This last statement seems to anger Beatrice.
In response, Beatrice will now allow meta-Battler to use blue. If he were to explain Beatrice’s magic killings in terms of purely human tricks, then he can declare it in blue. Blue statements must be able to deny the existence of witches by themselves. As an example, “there are five master keys” would not be a valid blue statement, but “there are actually more than five master keys, and the killer entered and exited a locked room with a leftover master key” would be, and the witch would have to counter this declaration.
This is fairer to meta-Battler than the red system, where instead of meta-Battler having to guess at red text that Beatrice is free to refuse to repeat for any reason, he can put forward theories that Beatrice would have to counter in their entirety, putting Beatrice on the defensive. I’m not entirely sure how Beatrice is supposed to counter blue declarations: if it’s done in terms of what we’re shown, then it would be entirely worthless since we can’t believe what we see. I guess it would be done by Beatrice having to say rebuttals in red.
While meta-Battler first thinks the new rules are just bothersome, Gretel points out that he doesn’t have to be so concerned with specific mysteries. Meta-Battler realizes that he can include many conjectures in a blue declaration, and even if almost all of them are wrong, just one that Beatrice could not counter would be to his advantage. Meta-Battler has become too used to the old rules if he needed Gretel’s advice to realize how he could use a shotgun strategy …
Given the new rules, meta-Battler puts forward his first blue declaration:
Ushiromiya Kinzo is already dead. Thus there are really 17 people on the island. With the addition of an unknown person X, the number of people on the island becomes 18. Assuming the existence of this person, the crime is still possible even if all 17 people have alibis.
Back in the real world, Kyrie summarizes the theory that Kinzo is already dead and that Krauss was hiding the fact to avoid having to split the inheritance. Krauss and Natsuhi are outraged at the accusation, so Kyrie suggests the suspicions would immediately evaporate if he only let others see him. Krauss says that he will try to convince Kinzo to see others and leaves the room with Natsuhi, but Kyrie is quite certain he is just pretending and that Kinzo really is no longer of this world.
It’s not so good for Kyrie and meta-Battler’s theory that Kinzo is dead when we see him telling Krauss and Natsuhi that he will participate in the meeting of the Ushiromiya relatives. He is also going to make an important declaration concerning the inheritance of the family headship, that he will put an end to the petty family squabbles himself. It’s possible that this entire scene didn’t happen, especially with how an old man with terminal cancer picked up and threw Krauss with contemptuous ease. Then again, Nanjo did say that Kinzo was as lively as ever despite the cancer in a previous episode, and Kinzo being dead would make things too easy.
- I would think that Maria’s new attire in the opening credits implies that she could be the primary witch in this story arc, but if that were the case, I would expect the opening portrait to be that of Maria’s.
- White butterflies for Ronove might suggest that he uses his own source of magic even if he is Beatrice’s furniture. Or maybe he isn’t really furniture.
- What do they do in the meta world off-screen? Does meta-Battler really goof off so much with the stake sisters as the battle over baked goods suggests?
- An animated Sakutaro might just be a manifestation of Maria’s loneliness, whether imagined or real. And it seems that Ange is a cynical version of Maria with a belief in magic (and a prettier version of Kinzo).
- It looks like jumping off high places is another hobby of Ange’s. It’s now clear that the jump in the previous episode was not a suicide attempt.
- Maybe there was a fire that burned down the main grounds on Rokkenjima. This would have destroyed most evidence for foul play while still leaving behind bodies for confirming deaths. Why have a funeral when they’re missing and there’s hope that they might still be alive? It would also make it easier to argue that the Rokkenjima incident was due to an accident.
- The end of the previous arc made it look obvious that Eva was a primary killer, especially with how Eva shot Battler. But then I remembered how we can’t trust what we see on screen: I’m not even sure if Eva killed Battler and am again not quite certain about one of the culprits in the previous arc.
- I get the feeling that I should recognize the old lady from 1998, but I can’t quite place her. And I’m not quite sure if she is an older woman that is just called an old lady derogatorily, or is really Ange’s aunt, because they’re both pronounced the same in Japanese. If I had to make a guess, maybe the “old lady” is Ange’s aunt on her mother’s side, in other words, Kyrie’s sister.
- I think this story arc will unfold in parallel: one going on in 1986, and the other in 1998 where Ange tries to investigate what happened at Rokkenjima. And hopefully we will also get a whole lot more details about the situation in Rokkenjima on October 6. What puzzles me is the relationship of Ange in the meta world and the Ange of 1998.
- I’m skeptical that Kinzo is dead, but if this were the case, then this might be the issue which Krauss and Natsuhi gained the cooperation of Genji and Nanjo in episode II-II. Gaining the cooperation of Genji would also entail cooperation from Shannon and Kanon, and then there would be no one else who is supposed to see Kinzo that would contradict him being alive. Except this would not be consistent with Rosa seeing Kinzo in episode II-III when she got the gun, unless she was coopted by the servants to participate in the charade. This would make her aggressive behavior against the employees rather strange, though.