Episode IV-III of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, “prophylaxis”, begins while Ange is still in high school, where at the moment she is trying to study in her dormitory room. The keyword being “trying”: the stake sisters are goofing off loudly in the background, although Ange doesn’t mind at all. In fact, it seems the stake sisters are more concerned about Ange’s academic studies than she herself is. And when Maria and Sakutaro show up, the latter to the delight of the stake sisters, Ange starts goofing off as well.
Slacking off with her magical friends instead of devoting enough time to her studies does end up with her grades suffering a lot as a result. Some of her classmates condemn her ostensibly because her grades are dragging down the average of the class. It’s actually more of an excuse to bully Ange, since they don’t really seem to be particularly concerned about the grades and more like having fun belittling Ange. If this was 1998, I have a feeling that Ange would have given her classmates a richly deserved verbal smackdown, but Ange is still very meek at this point of time.
Ange’s magical friends try to give her moral support, but it’s not helping very much. Ange’s emotions reaches a breaking point when a girl grabs her hair, resulting with a precious hair ornament from her brother falling off, and another girl wondering why Ange even lives when she’s such a bother to everyone. If staying to oneself is such trouble to everyone, I would really like the girls to know what a truly bothersome person can be like when one girl’s head is gouged, another girl’s chest is gouged, yet another’s belly is gouged, …
Ahem, I’m getting rather carried away with bloodlust. So is Ange. Time stops for everyone except Ange and her magical friends, and Ange orders the Seven Stakes of Purgatory to kill everyone in the classroom. The stake sisters try to calm Ange down, but Ange is just angry that they won’t do as she tells them to. It’s probably safe to say that Ange would have been even more annoyed if she knew how the stake sisters gleefully killed people without hesitation on Beatrice’s orders in the second arc …
The steam goes out of Ange momentarily, and she reveals that she knows how futile magic is. With her disbelief, the stake sisters are frozen and shattered one by one, despite the excuse that they can’t do anything because of the strong anti-magic. The last one to go is Mammon, who would have been willing to help Ange if Ange had the will to bloody her own hands. Except it was precisely that Ange lacked the will to do so that she demanded it from the stake sisters.
Ange reveals that she knew all the magic stuff was a delusion, and Mammon deals a verbal blow by basically agreeing and saying that Ange was a friendless person who made up delusions to deal with her problems, who then dispels them when they don’t work out, provoking Ange to dispel her first and last friend. Whether they really were a delusion or not, it’s a nice way to throw back Ange’s words at her. And with that, the stake sisters are gone.
Ange’s disbelief in magic is still raging, and her attention turns to Sakutaro, who really is a doll. Ange’s belief that Sakutaro is nothing more than a doll is affecting him, and Maria pleas with Ange not to hurt Sakutaro with her anti-magic. These words bring up a memory in Ange from when she was still a child, where she teased Maria about believing that Sakutaro was more than a doll, and Maria responding by declaring that Ange is now expelled from the Mariage Sorcière. Back in the present, Ange gets severely depressed and collapses in front of her classmates.
At this point, the episode changes focus to much further into the past before the Rokkenjima incident of 1986. We see Maria stopping by a convenience store in her neighborhood because her mother is supposedly working late. She takes Sakutaro everywhere and shows off a new set of friends in the form of four small rabbit statues, which are supposed to be the forest’s music band. But when she returns home, it turns out she lost her keys. After an unsuccessful search for them, she ends up at the local police station.
The policeman on duty calls the fashion company Anti-Rosa to contact Maria’s mother, but Rosa is revealed to be on vacation, and the employees do not know how to contact the company president, although they think she’s in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The policeman pities Maria for being left alone like that, and Maria gets second thoughts about herself being happy, even if Sakutaro tries to argue otherwise. By the way, the policeman looks and sounds awfully like Oishi from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: no doubt his name would be Oishi if he were named. Poor Oishi, being demoted from detective and not even meriting a name …
After the break, Rosa is being pestered by a social worker for leaving Maria alone so much. When Rosa tries to deny it, the social worker brings up how everyone in the neighborhood knows how Maria goes out to buy stuff and eat at night. When Rosa tries to make the excuse that as a working single mother she hardly has any free time, the social worker brings up how Rosa had went on a three-day trip to Hokkaido with her boyfriend, leaving Maria behind. Rosa just gets angry and tries to forcefully eject the social worker from her home, denying that she even has a boyfriend.
Rosa then takes out her anger on Maria, being outraged that Maria takes her Sakutaro doll outside when Rosa told her not to. Rosa’s treatment of Maria is alarming and the social worker tries to stop it, but this just ends up with Rosa successfully ejecting the social worker from their home this time. Maria tries to protect herself by pretending that Sakutaro speaks for her, but this just enrages Rosa, who goes on a rant on how creepy Maria is and destroying one of the rabbit statues.
Rosa is also enraged by Maria’s “uu~, uu~”s, and Maria tries to remind Rosa about a happier moment in the past, whether Rosa forgot the magic spell that can make one happy. Rosa has no idea what Maria is talking about, and Maria’s repeat attempt to have Sakutaro defend her only ends up with Rosa further enraged. Feeling sorry that she ever gave Maria the Sakutaro doll, Rosa tears apart Sakutaro with her bare hands.
Within her own world, Maria is lamenting the loss of Sakutaro when Beatrice shows up. However, Beatrice cannot bring Sakutaro back to life: Rosa was the one to create Sakutaro, and Rosa was the one to deny his existence. Maria ends up wanting to avenge Sakutaro, swearing that she would do to her mother what was done to him. She wants to kill her mother, which she later amended to be an evil witch possessing her mother, and Beatrice agrees to grant Maria the power to do so.
Before going back to either present (1986 or 1998), we get to see what the happy moment Maria mentioned was about. It was Maria and Rosa having a nice walk hand in hand, with Maria singing along as they walked. After a certain point, Maria forgot the lyrics, so she substituted them with “uu~, uu~”s. Quite a cute thing to do, and Rosa complimented Maria’s singing, which may have started the whole streak of Maria’s “uu~, uu~”s.
Now we’re back in the present of 1998 when the seagulls cry. Presumably the previous scenes with Maria were all part of her diary. Ange must have been reading these portions while on the boat “Hanyuu-maru” as she makes her way to Rokkenjima with Amakusa. Ange doesn’t expect much to result from her investigations, thinking that it may just be for her own self-satisfaction. Amakusa says that “self-satisfaction” might not sound so good, but thinks that it’s life. When Ange asks if it’s an attitude Amakusa learned from being a mercenary, Amakusa clarifies that self-satisfaction is quite sufficient as a justification.
Ange thinks about what Amakusa said about self-satisfaction being the best reason for doing something. This makes her realize that whether magic exists is not decided by someone else, but something one decides for oneself. What Maria thought was hers to decide, and Ange feels sorry about what she said to Maria all those years ago. This gives Ange another reason for her travels: not only to find out what happened on Rokkenjima, but to atone for what she said to Maria.
As a first step, she summons the Seven Stakes of Purgatory in the name of Ange Beatrice, even as an apprentice witch expelled from the Mariage Sorcière, and they appear as requested. At their confusion, where they think they had been rejected by Ange, she reveals that she now knows that the Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Lucifer, Leviathan, Satan, Belphegor, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, and Mammon, really do exist. Ange also summons Sakutaro, although this time the stake sisters don’t fawn over him given the serious mood.
This does bring up the sticky point of whether it’s OK for Ange to accept the furnitures’ existence when she is supposed to deny the existence of magic as an opponent of Beatrice. In response to the contradiction, Ange says that she accepts magic existing for people who believe in it, so she can deal with the furniture existing. This goes for Sakutaro as well, who now exists in Ange’s world, but who is also sad that he is no longer part of Maria’s world. Ange thinks that she will be able to see Maria again on Rokkenjima, and she will try to revive the Sakutaro within Maria to let them reunite. Ange does not quite know what will happen, but she is certain that the end point of her travels will be at Rokkenjima.
Meawhile at the local airport on the mainland, Sumadera Kasumi has just arrived with her lackeys. She is quite sure that Ange must be heading to Rokkenjima, and she finds it quite convenient for her plans that it’s an abandoned island. It’s not too difficult to guess what the plans entail when part of the preparations include specially branded guns. With Ange still not having come of age, Sumadera Kasumi would presumably be her legal custodian and hence in control of the Ushiromiya wealth and power, and she might be interested in ensuring that Ange never comes of age …
I thought there would be a few more episodes before we would be shown what happened to cut Ange off from magic, something briefly flashbacked in the previous episode, so I was surprised that it was shown in this episode. Then we get shown a messed up Rosa and Maria. And now with the last scene, it looks like Rokkenjima will not be free of spilt blood even in 1998. Will the events on Rokkenjima in 1998 be like magic as well, so that Battler and Gretel have to try to deny magic for events twelve years apart at the same time? And will Battler ever learn that Gretel is his little sister Ange? At least Ange seems to have made an emotional breakthrough this episode.
- Rosa has some serious anger management issues. From Maria’s reactions, I get the feeling that Rosa’s abusive behavior towards Maria started recently in 1986, or at least got much worse than previously. Did something happen recently? (Probably the huge amount of debt that Rosa got saddled with as the guarantor of failed loans …)
- I’ve said tongue-in-cheek that Maria is the culprit in a few places, but Maria’s wrath in this episode now makes me think it a serious possibility. Not that Maria killed anyone herself, but that she’s helping whoever is killing everyone off. I’m guessing that killing Rosa was part of the deal in the first arc (Rosa having been among the first victims and Maria not showing much reaction to it), while the second arc was about Maria getting her loving mother back.
- Cause and effect doesn’t seem to follow linear time, given how Ange supposedly became an apprentice witch as a teenager and then was expelled from the Mariage Sorcière when she was a child. At least with a magical interpretation of events: the realistic interpretation is that Ange recalled it as a symbolic memory that represents the rejection of her delusions.
- The stake sisters not killing anyone this episode while they killed quite merrily in previous arcs makes me think that “magic” can only provide another facade to an event, it can’t change the results of an event. The whole thing about anti-magic being strong and the witch not having the will is just an excuse for magic not being able to do anything, it can only affect how an event is perceived. Admittedly, that’s how Maria uses it, and something like that was said in the beginning of episode III-I.