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That's it, next time I play chess I'm making up funny names for all my checkmate attempts.

Also Beatrice can be such a middle school bully. She's incredibly cruel, but she goes about it in a really childish way. I find that weirdly endearing.

Spoiler

So this episode just confirmed that the way I was looking at the first rule was more or less correct. Both versions of the story coexist, and since it can't be directly proven, the one who writes the most believable story gets the win. Nice as it is to have some confirmation, it feels weird. That rule has been implied a lot since the beginning, but Rika said at the end of Episode 1 that the challenge was in finding out what the rules are.

If we go by that, it means that you can imply the rule all you want, but you can't flat out confirm it. That's supposed to be up to the player. Having that cleared out doesn't solve the story alone by a long shot, but still, it feels weird to be handed a piece just like that on a silver platter, even if I was expecting it.

This new dynamic during the matches is really fun, two on each side, and Ronove accepts losses instead of dancing around them until Battler stops pursuing. It makes things more interesting. Furthermore, it's nice to see the dude get a win. A thorough one too. The one or two that came before were always by the skin of his teeth. It was about time the matches looked more equal.

Also, much as it pains me to say it, I found the magic battle between Beatrice and Virgilia kinda, bland. Brandon was right, a conflict relying entirely on soft magic is no fun. It was a fun read, and it was cool to see how Ryukishi turned all these legends and concepts into weapons. But each and every move was new info to me, and I had no way to measure which were more powerful. I also had no way to predict what could come next, or to tell if any given move was good news or bad news. As far as I was concerned any of them could suddenly yell "I order the universe to eat you" and win.

The discussion that happened right after was way more exciting and they were talking about keys.

I guess that's a huge point for Battler. I 100% believe there's magic in this world (I mean, it was proven in Higurashi) but it's neither that flashy nor almighty. Huh, if you think about it that way, I guess this must be really fun for Beatrice. She might be a witch but she probably can't do the stuff you see in fairy tales. But on this island she can do anything, as weird or cruel or fantastic as she wants, but only while the game continues. It's a golden opportunity to play around with powers she couldn't normally have.

 

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Yeah, giving the reader and Battler a way to actually look at the murders, and knowing that what we see is just what Beatrice chooses to show us, is a huge hint that Ryukishi gave us, presumably because of the issues people had with Episode 2. It gives people a way to actually theorize without just going "okay it's magic because we see that it's magic"

Ryukishi fight scenes are funny because things just. Happen. There's no rhyme or reason to any of it, they just happen. It literally is a schoolyard game where you just go "I shoot you", "I have a bulletproof vest", "I have armor piercing rounds", etc.

Also, the original character who was going to be in the original Episode 3 is named Virgilius. That's given a nod when Virgilia introduces herself, she calls herself "Virgilius" first and then goes to Virgilia. Virgilius was basically Virgilia but far more antagonistic (I said he was split in two, and Virgilia is obviously one of those two. The second comes later).

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Yeaaah exactly that. The kind of fight where in the end one of them just defaults to "My power is infinite" and the other replies "Well, my power is infinite plus one!". I hope we get that phrasing at some point.

Actually, I have determined that Beatrice is a chuuni, through and through. The Golden Witch is an oc she created that has lived a thousand years and has the 72 demons of Goetia at her disposal and next thing you know she'll be wearing an eye patch.

She's thoroughly adorable when she drops the act though.

So anyway, on the list of things I didn't see coming.

Spoiler

Ok, it was obvious something was up with Eva's child voice. I considered several things. Maybe she was an alter. Maybe she was an external influence put there to guide Eva to, idk, something bad. But this? Literally just her inner monologue, but now it has been given physical life of its own? Thanks to, well, Beato's sense of drama I guess. I don't think I could ever come up with that. At least the dress is cool.

Gotta say though, Lambdadelta recommending Eva for having a similar background is the single most meta thing in this story so far, hands down, and there are a lot of candidates here.

Now, for the more physical clues. I guess there's now confirmation that the epitaph is exactly what it looks like, a treasure map. No need to go on weird tangents looking for different interpretations, the gold is there. And not only that but he also revealed the format of the puzzle? I admit, I don't think I would have figured that one out but it still feels a bit, much.

I think Beatrice pouting was a bit of self-insert on Ryukishi's part. Dude didn't want to give away this much and the game is probably significantly less exciting for him now. Well, I have a lot to think about thanks to the hints so I'm at least grateful.

I need to ask though, can the epitaph be solved in English or will I need to pay attention to the kanjis? There were a lot of those today.

 

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It was cool, and strangely enough, a very happy scene.

And well, I guess I'll try to solve the thing still. Not much of a hope to actually do it but it should be fun. And the meat of the mystery is the incidents themselves I suppose.

Now, lots to unpack but mainly Beatrice because obviously.

Spoiler

What kind of 180 on her personality is this? I knew she was desensitized to cruelty and violence but I thought she was aware. Like she's lived 1000 years and is so powerful that she can't find entertainment in anything but cruelty you know? I thought it was the result of both living so long, and being so powerful that nothing was a challenge to her anymore, and that therefore, everything was boring. But this innocence. I've seen evil represented through kids sometimes, saying that if you never teach them morals, they won't just learn them by some miracle, and they'll be crueller than you can imagine with ease, as they won't see anything wrong with it. Beatrice seems to be that, but like, grown up. This is extremely unexpected and extremely interesting.

I feel guilty saying I'm now feeling a dangerous "I can fix her" impulse toward Beatrice. The Battler approach seems to work better though. I had never seen him so angry. But even though it's for the wrong reasons, she's actually changing something, so clap clap.

Tbh I feel called out here, in a way. Because I was enjoying the torture scene too, and for the exact same reason as Beatrice. I figured if you can fix her with magic, and if she'll be fine next episode anyway, there's no harm in enjoying this bizarre display of magic and cruelty. So I fell for this one. On the other hand it also speaks for Beatrice's state of mind in a way. It means she can meddle with real life and it's like fiction to her.

Also Kyrie, what the hell? She also has an extremely cruel side to her? I was expecting something because, well how come she's the only character without any flaws right? But wow, that's some really strong emotion she's hiding. Still, I have to respect her. She carries that level of contempt around with her everywhere and doesn't act on it. She does use it to push herself higher but in a surprisingly healthy way. Externally at least, internally living like that sounds tortuously draining.

You know, it was brief and sorta subtle, but I liked how different Rosa and Maria's interaction was this time around. Rosa did blow a fuse quite instantly, but she was a lot more patient in the end than she had been in the past, she settled for a healthier solution (if a dangerous one), and even though she thought there was no criminal, once in the garden her thoughts weren't on being annoyed with her daughter or hurrying her up. She focused on defending her, from the beginning of the scene to the end, and I think that's really sweet.

Now, for the crimes. I don't know, it's looking really hard to suspect anyone other than Eva and Hideyoshi. They can sneak away with the excuse of her fever, and no one can confirm she has a fever as she doesn't let anyone but Hideyoshi touch her. They had an empty board to commit Rosa and Maria's murder, and Hideyoshi was alone with Kyrie and Rudolf (haven't seen them die yet but can this end any other way?)

I think Battler was right about the first six, the last person probably died on an accident, and that's it, incident is over, but then Eva solved the epitaph and suddenly she has a motive. Unless Ryukishi pulls a fast one at the very end, this all adds up by itself so far.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ok, wow, there are things to discuss. Lots of things. That was.. a rollercoaster for sure.

The thing can be solved, right? What am I saying, of course it can. But I have the sneaking suspicion that I'll feel cheated once I find the solution. It has to be semantics, that's like, how red works.

Spoiler

Something like, person shot Nanjo 12 hours ago but he told no one to avoid making them worried and he only bled to death while tending Jessica's wound. Stupidly far fetched, but Eva is not leaving a lot of wiggle room here. Also leaves the issue that Nanjo obviously would know who the killer is and also told no one. Uhhhh my next best candidate is the "Nanjo is a collective hallucination" theory but let's scrap that one right out the gate. It can only be supported by devil's proof, but that's not useful when you want the actual solution. Long story short, I once again have no idea what happened. I have lots of clues, way more than on previous boards, but that ending was puzzling at best.

Speaking of the ending, I can't tell if we got a metric ton of character development for Beatrice, or none at all. I do think it would be a waste if it was faked, so I'll believe it wasn't for now. Furthermore, there's just a couple bits that support it. When Battler is looking betrayed and asking Beato if it's true, her sprite struggles for a few seconds, like she looks troubled or maybe guilty, before fading to black and going full evil laugh. Then we learn that Lambda is basically her boss, and if she upsets her game's over. So maybe probably hopefully she's being forced to play villain because she needs the power, and will lose it if she's anything but ruthless? Again, kinda far fetched, but Lambda did suggest that Beato might be trying to lose on purpose.

Well, faked or not, I liked the switch in focus here. Battler is willing to accept witches, if he likes what it means to be a witch. Cruel almighty beings whose only purpose is toy with the lives of humans? That's bs. Kindly beings whose purpose is to bring happiness to humans? Sure, prove to me that you're that and I'll believe in you.

Oh, speaking of Battler, something really weird was going on with him during the Golden Land scene. He was talking to Beatrice like his player self would. Knowing about her sacrifice and feeling betrayed when she denied it. But he also mentioned only eating canned food recently, and Kinzo said he'd likely forgotten about the previous Golden Land, which are things that could only be true about his board self. So what's the deal with this mixed version of Battler?

Anyway, back to witches, hard to tell if any of what Virgilia said is true, the definition of witch seems to change depending on the context. When the game is ongoing, it's whatever the players teach us. That's how the "being of magic who uses her powers to help humans" was established. But then when the game is over and only Beato, Rika, and Miyo are in the room, they seem to be just, people jumping from fragment to fragment, doing whatever they please as long as it fits with their title. The witch of miracles looks for a game with small odds to be won and retries it until the miracle of winning happens. The witch of certainty looks for a game that's very likely to be won, and turns high odds into certainty.

If only one definition is true then I'm betting on the meta one. If that one is true, it would mean that everything that happens during a game, including Player Battler's interactions with Beato and Ronove and Virgilia and the sisters, is an act. And that... would suck.

I don't know, the more I play, the more it seems that every single piece of information I get has another big piece that contradicts it. At first that only applied to the incidents (each death having a magical explanation and a logical one), but now it feels like I can't fully trust what happens outside of the board either.

Well, whatever, gonna wait until I finish Episode 4 before giving up on finding a solution.

For now, gotta say, Ange had one hell of an introduction, but it was a good one, I love her already. To be honest the ending to the Episode was a bit of an emotional turnaround thanks to the betrayal, and I... really couldn't feel much about it and was just trying to get it over with. But the very end where you meet Ange at the hospital, that really got me excited for what's coming next in record time. So yeah, bring it on. I can't wait.

 

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9 hours ago, Eluvianii said:

The thing can be solved, right? What am I saying, of course it can. But I have the sneaking suspicion that I'll feel cheated once I find the solution. It has to be semantics, that's like, how red works.

Yes, everything can be solved. There are semantics and tricky wording with the red, yes, but it's very possible. And very clever I would say.

Quote

Oh, speaking of Battler, something really weird was going on with him during the Golden Land scene. He was talking to Beatrice like his player self would. Knowing about her sacrifice and feeling betrayed when she denied it. But he also mentioned only eating canned food recently, and Kinzo said he'd likely forgotten about the previous Golden Land, which are things that could only be true about his board self. So what's the deal with this mixed version of Battler?

That's Meta Battler. Idk what the canned food thing is about but its supposed to be Meta Battler.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok so, about halfway through chapter 2.

Spoiler

Just the fact that the first two chapters don't happen in Rokkenjima, it feels like the scope of the story is growing quite a bit, which is unexpected but I'm liking it a lot.

That said, I can tell chapters about Maria aren't gonna get any easier to read. That girl is just one big ball of coping mechanisms. No matter how cheerful her whole story was, it just feels sad. I'm glad that she can keep smiling as she goes through all of that of course, but the fact that all those stories and spells she uses are not just a fun distraction but an actual necessity for her to smile, just makes me want to cry.

Chapter 2 is cool. It feels like the intrigue and adventure kind of story that was Matsuribayashi. I'm not gonna think too hard about Ange splitting into two when she jumped off that building, I guess Rika did a similar thing, and that's only if you take all the magic at face value. Which... I still don't know if I should. Anyway, glad Okonogi is doing okay. I'm gonna trust him cautiously, if only because we already know what kind of person he is. He knows working with Ange will be hard as nails and quite possibly very dangerous, and I'm sure he likes that. He likes the thrill. Besides, he seems to respect her, after that jump. Ange's aunt also made such a terrible first impression it's kind of impressive. I don't like the word "hate", you can find redeeming qualities in any well-written character but storms, this woman seemed to be making an effort to be hated within the first two sentences that came out of her mouth.

Also, Sakutaro gets his own music theme. That's amazing. He deserves it.

 

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Remind me not to make Kyrie mad...

Yeah, back in Higurashi it was confusing but here the separation between chapter and episode is clearer, so I'm more confident using the words.

Spoiler

So Kinzo might be dead. To be honest I feel that's the kind of thing that would be denied at the very end just to spite Battler, but it also makes quite a bit of sense. Only two times we've seen his corpse it was burned, and the third time he didn't appear at all. Well, except for the final chapter, but I was already disregarding that one, and Ange just solidified that. It also makes a lot of sense, the moment Battler stops struggling and just believes in witches, Beato can just go bonkers with the magic she shows, as it will be blindly accepted by Battler. Man, with perception holding that much power when it comes to magic, this is getting some Cosmerian tints.

Moving on, I know I say this often, but I keep having reasons to. Ryukishi is really good at predicting his readers' reactions. Or rather, he writes the story so that there's no other possible reaction, and then uses it against you. Of course I thought Maria's happiness was sad as hell, so when Ange brings it up and Maria gets mad, it feels like I'm the one being scolded. Maria is also really storming wise, even if it's some meta-memory version of her. That comment about there being both happiness and sadness to grab all around and that you need to have the ability to grab the happiness was good. I can't help but respect her for getting mad even. "I believe in my own happiness and you have no right to pity it" is a pretty badass outlook.

Rosa doesn't deserve Maria, but I think she needs her. If only she could set her priorities straight. I get that she grew up in a hostile environment and the fear of being judged or blamed still sticks with her, but it's ironic. It's exactly because of those unreasonable expectations she sets over Maria, and because of all the neglecting she does for the sake of her own image, that Maria had the need to develop all those traits Rosa hates so much in the first place.

sigh I think I understand Rosa, really, and I think she genuinely loves Maria, but it's hard to be forgiving when the child has to bear all the weight of the mother's mental health.

Ok, anyway, next thing. I still can't tell what the deal is with Beatrice. This last scene where I had to pause, when she's being so kind to Maria, can I take that at face value? It's true, she survived episodes 1 and 2, and even though she died and was horribly tortured in episode 3, that was technically Eva, so you could make the argument that Beato is giving her special treatment. But then again, The "plot" itself was written by Beatrice. The twists and gimmicks were her idea and she was enjoying the torture scene like a kid. Not to mention that time she used her as a tool to torture Rosa (though I guess that could be interpreted as some twisted gift to Maria). So what am I supposed to take away from this? It's like I'm watching two different people. The kind witch that wants to ease Maria's burden and wouldn't touch a hair on her head, and the cruel witch who sees Maria as nothing more than a pawn in her game against Battler. Virgilia is the same and even Maria is the same. She's here right now, in the meta world, but that was supposed to be just a manifestation Ange could see, she was the real thing then?

This story can be so easy to read if you don't mind the details, but once I start looking, my head hurts.

Well, whatever. Happy takeaway from the night, there's a clause saying no one has a right to hurt Sakutaro. Good for him, hope it's respected.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Free at last! Uni is out of the way so I can sink into this (I need to. I'm pretty sure once I have Reverie in my hands, I'll forget any and all other forms of entertainment for a few months).

Oh yeah. I spotted Kinzo in Shokugeki no Soma

Spoiler

kinzo.thumb.png.81bf6da879e7f1e067f865a26b3d1d8c.png

So that was funny. Anyway, plot, yeah.

It's interesting that if I were to make a compilation of good quotes, like half of them would be Maria's. Tonight's favorite is "Becoming happy isn't the same thing as accepting your current misfortune. It means creating a new happiness within your current misfortune".

Speaking of her
 

Spoiler

Crap, I forgot to double check before closing the game. But iirc all of the Ushiromiya's names are western name pronunciations written in kanji, but Maria's witch name is written in katakana. So it's a bit like as a daughter of the Ushiromiya family she gets an imitation of a western name, while as a witch she gets the real thing. Cool detail.

Also her witch dress is so freaking adorable what the hell, but it also strangely commands respect. Like if she started yelling orders I'd feel compelled to obey.

Now, this might be me overthinking the wrong things again (my speciality, what can I say?), but I feel like with each episode this nonsensical magic system makes a little more sense. Like the magic battle in episode 3 is still absolutely bonkers and calling it a system would feel weird, but after seeing a beginner's training session it does feel plausible that that battle might be the ultimate result of such a process.

Meaning that the closer we are to a human explanation, the more sense a magical explanation makes. Don't you love paradoxes?

Ok, time for my main takeaway from tonight. What the hell is time? Well there's no such a thing, clearly.

So, in Ange's future there's a piece of evidence for each of the three arcs that have happened, a letter for each of the first two, and Eva for the third (though I'm just assuming there. We know the letters exist but not the exact contents. For all I know they could be an entirely different story). So Beatrice isn't jumping from fragment to fragment but is mashing them into place until nothing makes sense. So did all the boards happen at the same time slamming into each other and bleeding ripples into the outside world? Or are the letters fake? Though of course, if they are, it still means there's someone out there who knows what happened during both games, so... what.

Furthermore, Mammon has memories from the future. She is living the fourth game, yet knows she will be summoned by Ange years later, and already greets her as a friend, like it has already happened. And she seems to feel physical pain if she tries to, I guess spoil the story? Is this getting even more meta? It's incredibly interesting but there just seems to be no limit to how weird this can get.

Even furthermore (does that sentence make sense?), Ange walked away from the board during the fourth game, was scolded by Maria, and was shown how she got her witch dress and how Sakutaro got his human form. And then we go back to Ange's school days to see she already knew both the dress and Sakutaro's human form. The whole scene is shown like a very natural process for Ange to accept magic. Except it progresses backwards in time. In the present she doesn't accept it, then we get a flashback where she accepts it, then we go back to the present and she still accepts it.

It's, idk, I'm sleepy and literally writing words as I think them. To summarize, my takeaway from tonight is that a timeline of the story doesn't seem possible anymore. Ange's character arc seems to progress in all directions like that makes any sense. Am I overthinking again? Absolutely but I really can't help it.

This is starting to feel like one of those stories where thinking of time as linear will just slam you from one wall to the other.

sigh random extra thought, it's nice to see Ryukishi makes a distinction between Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Even if it was just a small reference, most stories seem to pretend they're both the same book for some reason.

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Yeah, in English the katakana thing is shown by having their names be written in all caps. At least for the characters who are also humans with the same name, like EVA. 

Yeah Maria's outfit is very cute. To be fair Maria's everything is very cute. Her casual costume is the cutest thing ever

The timeline for this Episode is very weird, yeah, with the Ange and Mammon stuff. I still don't really understand it. 

The timeline for the overall story of Umineko does make sense, though. Every episode is sequential. As for what truly happened on the island, that's the mystery isn't it?

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Ryukishi, when I die I'm going to hell just so I can drag you there with me.

sigh I think I've reached a point where I can safely say this dude has made me suffer more than any other writer. At this point I'm more attached to Satoko and Maria than most other fictional characters, so of course he goes and treats them like that.

Before I go into that, I mean, you're right. I'm dangerously close to the point where I'm supposed to have all the info I need to crack the plot open, it's just that this new possibility is both unexpected and scary. I had been assuming that every game was a different fragment, but if it turns out it's all one fragment, that kinda messes with my dream of an "everyone lives" ending.

(spoiler tags are probably pointless at this point but what the heck. If I leave my walls of text out in the open this page will be unscrollable.)

Spoiler

Ok, seriously. I saw that scene at the end of episode 2. I know there's a part of Rosa, buried somewhere deep, that actually loves Maria. I desperately need to know how to get her out because I'm just about ready to give up on her character. This woman wants a doll. She wants a kid to take to parties so she can show off what a cute daughter she has and what a caring mother she is, but she also wants her to stop existing when there's no such occasion. That would be considered abuse when talking about pets, let alone your own child.

And I mean, she even shows care on her own sometimes. Sakutaro is proof. But she also wants her to react in a very specific way. Like she has this perfectly calculated idea of what a daughter should be like, and if she deviates from it by the smallest degree she's a failure. I still think the way Maria can transform a hostile environment into a happy one is admirable, and a skill any human being should have, but it shouldn't be necessary.

Now on that note, that was nice. So even Maria had a breaking point. I had the pleasure of reading two mental breakdowns in a row for the price of one tonight. Man I feel drained.

After said breakdown the story is dangerously close to suggesting all the murders happened for Maria's sake. I guess that would explain all the creepy moments. The strange disconnect between the meanings of magic for Maria. How she explains it as the most innocent happiness imaginable one moment, and starts talking about sacrifices the next. Going by the "human explanation" side of things, magic went from a coping mechanism to pretend others weren't hurting her, to a coping mechanism to pretend she could hurt others back.

And, well, going by the "magic explanation" side of things we have the Umineko plot.

It's even more tragic to think the trigger was a careless comment from a toddler.

This also raises the question even higher about who Beatrice actually is. Well, this isn't about Maria alone obviously, next chapter seems to be exclusively about Kinzo, but now I apparently know that she was more connected than a simple victim.

Now, going to the 1998 plot. I find it interesting that Maria is a character there, both in Ange's school days and in the 1998 present, even going as far as actively helping her when she summoned Mammon in the hotel room. But when the next scene (from that plotline) came, and Ange started talking about Maria as a dead person, she is no longer a character, and both the Stakes and Sakutarou speak like she hasn't been around since 1986. It's weird.

Now, apparent inconsistencies aside, I quite like this. The Ange on the board may be despairing about how a happy future is impossible if she doesn't get her family back, but her more grounded counterpart's journey has been proving the opposite. She has the Stakes and Sakutarou (I mean, their existence is debatable but who cares. She accepted them), she has Amakusa, she has Okonogi, and I'm sure she will continue to meet good people. Sure, the media and the Sumideras will try to make her life hell, but fact is, a happy, if troubled, life is within her grasp.

This story is opening enough stages that more than one ending will probably be necessary, and I think human 1998 Ange can have a happy one, assuming the Sumideras don't kill her in Rokkenjima.

Also what the hell, Amakusa has pants under his pants. That's peak chuuni and I love it.

 

Anyway, on to chapter 11. 11. That would be the beginning of the third act in previous episodes, but this time around, as far as I know, nothing has happened yet inside the board. I'm curious how that will wrap up. Will they speedrun the thing or will this episode be unusually long? Looking forward to finding out.

Also, I wonder if Ryukishi has a bad experience with boarding schools or something similar. They seem to be a theme of his and he always portraits them as absolute hell.

Edit: Oh yeah, forgot to add. I'm starting to really like the Stakes. Sure, I liked their chaotic energy before, and their strange dynamic with Battler, but, playful or not, it was hard to call their behavior anything other than evil. But now. With Ange and without Beatrice, they seem so... caring. The way they condemn the very sins they represent when displayed with ill intentions, while wearing them as badges of pride when applying them to their own ideals. Like there's a right way and a wrong way to be greedy. I think it's really cool and makes them look more like their own characters than ever before. 

Edited by Eluvianii
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Oh. Well that makes sense, Japan isn't exactly huge, how many schools for rich girls and an iron grip can there be? I was kinda sorta counting the orphanage too though. Not a school but kids lived and learned there. And that one truly was hell.
 

Spoiler

Ok so, is every magical actor aware? Looking at it that way, I guess that last scene in Episode 3 could have been acted too. Screw it, I still like Virgilia. She seems to be rooting for Battler too.

As for Shannon and Kanon, looking at them reminds me of Rika. Why bother having hope if we're just gonna be eternally tortured, right? They even seem to know about the game but didn't even entertain the possibility of it being won. Or lost for that matter. They just look resigned for eternal torture.

So, uh, it seems Rosa finally hit rock bottom. Worse yet, Maria too. I mean, it's the last question arc, I fully expect for things to end thoroughly and utterly hopeless. Still, Mama is not winning any points this episode. Surely things can only go up from here. Surely...

Ok, if this isn't narrative misdirection (and that's a big if), Maria's attitude post-torturing her mother is extremely similar to her creepy episodes in other, uh, episodes. So now I have to wonder if this mental breakdown/catharsis has been happening in all of them. Curiously enough, the one episode where it can't happen, which is the second, had the best ending for the pair. I'm really loving Beatrice at the moment because all of this seems to be driven by genuine concern for Maria, but I just don't think her methods work. Good as her intentions are, she's way too desensitized, and maybe that shock therapy that comes from surviving together actually had a better effect.

Huh, now I have to wonder if Maria counts as a magical actor. Does she remember?

Oh yeah, it was kinda weird tone-wise, but I liked how Gaap seems to be Virgilia's weakness. Idk, it was cute.

On that note, I'm also surprised at Kyrie's aggressiveness. Sure, I get that she's extremely mad, but I'd think she'd be the first to suggest not to aggravate Kinzo, instead of being the first to do it, and with the most strength.

Seeing Mammon and Sakutaro left speechless at seeing magic was funny, makes you wonder if they're actually figments of Ange's imagination. I'd almost laugh at the scene if they hadn't left me hanging. I need to know what she saw!

Well, that's what I covered for now. Looking forward to this "test" of Kinzo's. Looks like things on the board might not be as static as before.

Edit: Hold it! There's another thing. The pin for the vault was written in a magic circle in episode 3. That had no business being there. Even if we go along with the idea that Beatrice the witch was managing Kinzo's finances using the latest security measures, there's no reason for her to paint the thing on the wall. So my guess is that Eva didn't find gold, she found a pin. George was among the ones to find the circle, right? Maybe she saw herself losing this and wanted George to work it out and use the money?

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How did the arc with the darkest bits so far turn into this? Well, who cares? This has been amazing. One of the things that made Higurashi hard to read for me was that once things got bad, they just kept getting worse until the end of the episode, so keeping motivation up was an issue (though that changed in the last three episodes thankfully). This back and forth is a lot easier.

The joke about the rabbits dealing with menus and calling IT, and the one about loser flags, they win. They just win. Pack up, boys, those two are clearly not gonna be topped, might as well stop here. I hereby declare the deus ex machina based on rpg multipliers and villain clichés is completely valid. Moving on.

I do hope Virgilia is not only comic relief from now on but, I just couldn't stop laughing the whole sequence. She's good at this.

George is being stupid cool right now, and I think I just fell in love with Jessica. I think I'll just bask in the feeling of the characters I love winning before it all falls apart. Though best case scenario, we have another Minagoroshi in our hands and even though everyone will die, they may do so in a hopeful note. A guy can dream.

Also, it is now my headcanon that Beatrice was personally playing the 'bing-bong' sound with every loser flag and you can't convince me otherwise.

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I shall wait then.

Meanwhile, I want to start by facepalming. I was about to go on my usual "I have no real basis for this but I think..." and propose that all the furniture was imagined by Maria. I was even going to compare it to Toy Story. It was then, and only then, that I realized I had been given the evidence for it, fitting with that exact comparison, days ago, during the first half of the episode. And I had just not noticed. So instead of taking the hint and shaping the theory around it, I had to randomly come up with the theory to even realize I had the hint, which is really stupid and way too lucky.

It does explain that one scene where Kinzo is verbally abusing the rabbits. When they talked about how one of them died and then she appeared in the character list, both the scene and her description kinda suggested we were supposed to know what they were talking about. So of course we were, we saw Rosa slamming her into the wall.

Anyway, to the main point.

Spoiler

Episode is over. These keep getting longer and feeling shorter. 29 hours. And I didn't even do the Higurashi thing where I would sometimes leave the game open for an hour or so and avoid reading because the scene was too much. This was all reading, save for maybe an hour total's worth of bathroom breaks and snack-fetching. At this rate Episode 8 will be a full length jrpg.

Dude, Beatrice is acting. She has to be. Isn't this the first time we get her pov? Whatever Lambda says, back there she sounded like she just got back to being serious because Battler told her to. Even her insults after that felt over the top and unprompted, like they were said just to fire Battler up. Will the garden just vanish and will Battler just reappear magically on his seat, with Beato grinning on the other side, saying something like "You fell for it again"? Or hell, maybe even Beatrice was serious about wanting to die, but Battler can't win these episodes because they're already over? And now she has to continue, playing with serious moves because she's forced to, cackling cruelly because she's expected to, until Battler finally gets the best of her?

Now, to the "what is happening" side of the matter. If all demons and furniture are literal toys, that leaves Beato. Is Maria the only person who can see her, Rika style? Now, I didn't fully understand what Hanyuu was, but she seemed to be a ghost, turned deity by the emotions she carried to the grave, and possibly by the emotions of those who believed in an Oyashiro-sama.

Is that it? Is Beatrice some poor girl led to her death by Rosa, kept in this world by Kinzo's madness, who later got to meet Maria? Her personality is certainly weird, she seems to be a reflection of Maria's emotions. At her best, she has Maria's innocence from the time she could turn all her problems into happiness. At her worst, she has Maria's cruelty while coming up with punishing spells, post-Ange.

Speaking of Ange, credits sequence. What do you mean "Died in 1998"? So her miraculous fall didn't actually happen? She just fell to her death from that skyscraper? Talk about tragic. Even more tragic, I know she had to leave the game, after essentially reaching enlightenment she would be an extremely unfair advantage for Battler. But come on, did they have to do her dirty like this? Not only does she leave the game but she gets one of the most gruesome deaths so far, and doesn't even get to voice her pain? Badass, but tragic.

Oh yeah, I talked about furniture being Maria's toys, but that doesn't apply to the Rokkenjima trio, I do wonder what's up with them. Do they actually believe in the whole thing or is it just script? Ok, you know what? Demons and stuff being Maria's toys actually brings down most of Beatrice's supposed backstory, and by association Kinzo's. If Beatrice isn't a thousand-year-old witch, then Kinzo can't be a gifted summoner. Which makes Genji and his loyalty to his master's beliefs all the more curious.

Btw, if Ronove is standing for Genji and Virgilia for Kumasawa, I choose to believe Gaap is there for Gohda. Yep.

I know I'm supposed to solve the individual mysteries, not the big one. But I always hit a wall very quickly with those, while it's really fun to come up with one theory after another, blue truth style, for whatever is going on behind the scenes.

Which also leads me to the rules. First rule is Kinzo is always burned. You know, I'm actually sad about that. This story is clearly leading into the ginormous task of making the family members understand one another, and I thought that was going to include Kinzo. Make him the main and hardest person to understand even. But now I'm told not only that won't happen, but also since he's been dead since before the game even started, I don't actually know anything about the character since it's all Beatrice's writing. Sad.

I guess the epitaph could be considered a basis for a second rule. The number isn't always respected, but 13 people is at least the minimum amount of deaths per game. Kinzo is doing everyone a favor here by always being a part of it by default. So the amount of deaths can be any number, but no less than 13. So in short, the epitaph is always followed. The perpetrators are different but the number of killings per incident always matches the current twilight. There have been some odd ones that could be argued to break the cycle but just the fact that the first incident is always six deaths is plenty suspicious.

A rule number 3 would be that the culprits are always different. Not 100% sure on that but if Eva really was the culprit in Episode 3, and wasn't in any of the others, the rule, and therefore the question, stands.

About the future, seriously hoping Bernkastel isn't a villain here but, well, I really should remind myself that she is not exactly Rika. Values could be different. For the time being I'm intrigued by both of them being so against Beato winning. Why? What would her victory mean that would be so bad for them? You're gonna make me root for Beato, guys, even if I don't know her real goal yet.

Speaking of that, what the hell did you do, Battler? That bit was so confusing. "If you were the real Battler you would remember, but if you were the real Battler you wouldn't have committed a sin in the first place". So was it not Battler who committed it then? Is current Battler the one to commit the sin but since he's not the original he forgot? That made little sense but I hope you get what I mean.

Well, mysteries about his birth aside, my current guess is this. Battler got mad and focused on making Beato repeat that his coming to the island caused the deaths. She never said that, she said they were caused for what he did 6 years ago. Before following the wrong branch, Battler argued against this by saying he couldn't possibly exert any influence over anyone since he was away. I think that was exactly the issue, it was the influence he wasn't exerting that caused it all. If I were to get more specific, I think by leaving, he wasn't there to influence Ange when she hurt Maria. If he had been there maybe he would have smoothed things out between the two. Therefore Maria woudn't have brought those toys to school and the store to deal with loneliness. Therefore Rosa wouldn't have been notified about it. Therefore she wouldn't have blamed the police incident on her toys. Therefore she wouldn't have destroyed Sakutarou. Therefore Maria wouldn't have had a mental breakdown over it resulting in ill intentions towards anyone who isn't a toy. What a storming butterfly effect we have here, it's so on brand.

I think that's all I have for now. Though I did read a lot since my previous post so I'm surely forgetting stuff.

At the moment I'm fighting a boss called "Stop reading". I still have time to read for two or three hours but I want to have a clear line between the first and second halves of the story, and leave at least tonight to think about it and maybe come up with something new. I did just randomly realize the thing about Maria's toys while washing dishes like half an hour ago so it could happen, who knows.

Looking forward to tomorrow. The game promises a new "Game Master", excited to see who's the new writer. Possibly Battler (wait, that doesn't make sense).

Edited by Eluvianii
I was just mentally spitting and deleting words while writing the rules, which led to accidentally deleting one and repeating another. Fixed that.
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End of Ep 4 is really good. Love the Tea Party. 

I'm very happy you noticed the "Died in 1998" bit. It's always very funny seeing people get thrown off by that. 

You do know things about Kinzo. The stories that all the characters tell are of Kinzo. We don't truly see him, but that doesn't mean his depiction is necessarily inaccurate. Of course by the same token, that doesn't mean it's necessarily accurate (and that's something a lot of people do, assume that Kinzo is just exactly as we see him, but I think it's more complex than that)

About the sin. Battler's sin already happened six years ago. By Beato's logic, if he was the real Battler, he would remember the sin. I'm not sure what you mean by "if you were the real Battler, you wouldn't have committed the sin in the first place". I don't think that's ever said. It doesn't make much sense. The sin already happened six years ago, and Beato is suggesting that Battler was replaced in the six years he was missing. 

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I mean sure, it wouldn't make sense to include Kinzo if he was thoroughly inaccurate to the person he was. But also, we know people's memories of him are overblown. You can say the craziest thing and everyone thinks he would be capable of doing it. "I wouldn't put it past Kinzo" is the key to the greatest character exaggeration you could come up with.

About Battler and his sin, I'm doubting myself now, but that is what I remember reading. Beato was criticising Battler, saying how the real one would remember, and immediately after she says something like "No, the real one wouldn't have done it in the first place". I'm curious now, might look it up on a video or something.

Anyway, read the prologue and a bit of chapter 1. Man, Battler's promise to never feel sympathy for Beato again lasted a whole 5 minutes. Not that I'm complaining. I like their dynamic when they're on good terms. If only she was awake so I could see it...

Natsuhi was already pretty much at the top of my favorite character list along with Maria, but she seems to want to climb higher. I can tell I'm gonna like this episode, she was sorely lacking screen time. Also, this look into her dynamic with Krauss is cool. So far I had the impression that the relationship leaned too far into Krauss being in control, but now it just seems that Natsuhi restrains herself, but is ruthless when action is required. They're a good match.

And we go back into discussing who Kinzo was as a person. Who's this kind and reasonable Kinzo? Was he actually this kind to Natsuhi when he was alive? I don't know who this man is but I like him a lot.

Couple details I forgot to mention last time. So Battler doesn't actually remember his meetings with Bern and Lambda, even though they pretty much reignited his fighting spirit more than once. Weird.

Also, Happy Maria is a banger. I did take the risk to look up the lyrics though, and they don't seem to make any sort of sense. I wonder if it's a particularly strong case of of bad English comprehension on the side of the lyricist, or a particular strong case of mistransliteration on the side of the person posting the lyrics online. Or maybe they just deliberately wrote them with a Lewis Carrol philosophy of nonsense in mind, that would be cool.

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Quote

But also, we know people's memories of him are overblown. You can say the craziest thing and everyone thinks he would be capable of doing it.

Yeah I think this is the genius of Kinzo's character. The ambiguity of just what kind of person he truly was in light of all of the different stories of him. 

I just looked it up to check Beato's exact words. "No, the true Ushiromiya Battler would not have committed a sin. But a sin did occur in the end, that span of six years became a blank space, and a man who knew nothing of that time took on the name Ushiromiya Battler and appeared on Rokkenjima." She does say that "the true Ushiromiya Battler wouldn't have committed a sin", but I think this could mean the sin of forgetting, which she says earlier is a sin that she would forgive him if he would just remember. If it's not referring to that, I don't know what she means by that. 

Also relevant to Beato, what are your thoughts on the conversation she has with herself in that scene?

Episode 5 is my favorite episode in the manga. I think it's so good. It's not my favorite in the VN, but it's still pretty good. And I am eagerly anticipating the introduction of Best Girl (Forma De Rat).

Happy Maria's lyrics are entirely nonsensical. The regular lyrics make no sense, and then there are the lyrics that you can hear which isn't the actual lyrics, which are just hysterical. Magical Gohda Chef indeed.

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You know, I would absolutely believe the "you're not the real Battler" thing just means that he stopped being himself by missing six years, if they hadn't gone the extra mile by saying he's a literal body double. 

20 hours ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

Also relevant to Beato, what are your thoughts on the conversation she has with herself in that scene?

Well, first thought was that this might be the first instance of a separation between Beatrice the witch and Beatrice the girl. If she used that as an excuse, saying that the sin committed wasn't against her still holds. But even though I would love to know more about Beato as a person, this has one too many holes.

Second thought was that this wasn't actually Beatrice but Maria in disguise. I do think the sin was mainly against her (in case I'm right about what the sin is), and after Battler disappointed her, Witch Beato told her to go rest. And we do see Maria later dead, quite close by, in what seems to be just a peaceful dream. It also seems that Beato is doing all of this for Maria specifically, so her anger and disappointment would make sense. If this was it though, it does feel weird that later it's Maria who's consoling Beato and not the other way around so I'm absolutely not sure about this.

20 hours ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

Happy Maria's lyrics are entirely nonsensical. The regular lyrics make no sense, and then there are the lyrics that you can hear which isn't the actual lyrics, which are just hysterical. Magical Gohda Chef indeed.

Oh god I can hear it. So there's double lyrics here. Carrol would be proud. 

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