Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 3-1: castling

The third game is about to start. As new actors are entering in the scene, Battler might have the upper hand for the moment. But…



In a nutshell:
In a distant past, a young princess broke her grandfather’s favorite vase and “Beatrice” appears to her plight. Even though she cannot fix the vase, she manages to shift the fault to a nearby cat instead. Of course, much to her surprise, even the great witch Beatrice isn’t able to “revive” the vase existence, but rather make it remember its shape for a short moment.
That said, it was possible for her master to use an eternal one, which is the proof of being an Endless witch, for the purpose of people’s happiness. Moved by this possibility, the princess wishes to learn magic from “Beatrice” for this purpose.
Another flashback: in her twenties, Eva still tries to show off her grades and efforts, in order to be a rightful successor, but much to her dismay, Kinzo remains quite chauvinist, keeping Krauss as his only heir and expecting Eva to marry a man who will be profitable to the family.
Frustrated by this, she is discussing with a distant past self, her young self that swore to be the head of the family during her school days. Even though the situation is though, if Eva believes in her magic, she will succeed someday.
As they finally arrived, the cousins are loitering with Shannon at the beach, revealing some embarassing antic Battler had in his childhood. As they are having fun, the charming scene is however shattered to pieces by Beatrice, from the Meta World. As she is mocking this happiness, Meta Battler can’t help but brace himself for the incoming third game.
As usual, Maria receives a letter from Beatrice later on the 4th october, but as she is about to recover Kinzo’s ring, a high class butler makes an apparition and presents the Ushiromiya family’s head ring to the witch. Beatrice’s head furniture, Ronove, the 27th  ranked noble of hell, is introduced to Meta Battler.
At the evening, Maria is reading Beatrice’s letter, however, this time,  Eva doesn’t brush the letter off, instead she uses the premise it is really from Kinzo and that it might be a test to all of them. After a winded argument, the adult decide to have answers from their father.
Later, they are however unable to have a word with him, so they are discussing in the dining room, speculating about the identity of “Beatrice”. Interestingly enough, the 4 siblings can’t help but agree that it might be related to the rumored mistress Kinzo had in the past.
From this point, determining her goal is the key, and Kyrie concludes “Beatrice” has definitely the gold, and the challenge was told to have a risk, spicing their game out of arrogance.
Back in the meta world, Meta Battler is satisfied that Beatrice might exist, but as a human, not as a witch. By this extension, if there is more than 18 persons on Rokkenjima, everything makes sense. Taking this lead, Meta Battler asks Beato to repeat in red that there isn’t more than 18 people on the island, which she can’t. As Meta Battler seems to have a leeway for a 19th person as the culprit, Beatrice cuts it short with a new twist to the present game:
As she is trembling, Rosa disagrees with the rest of the adults regarding Beatrice because… she killed her.

_______________________________________________________________

Overal Thoughts:

Humm… that was an interesting episode I would say. They definitely kept a lot of things right (especially the adult conversation which was very important at this stage of the story).
But for the progressive review:
1) I wasn’t… exactly satisfied with the way they handled Beatrice’s flashback. First, VN readers will probably guess what I mean, but “Beatrice” was doing something she would only do much later in Episode 3. Therefore, “that scene” will have a MUCH lower shock factor.
Furthermore, I must say that while I liked her design, young beatrice’s was, on the other hand, pretty average and extremely awkward in proportions in many instances (eyes having a variable size…)
2) I wasn’t expecting Eva, Krauss and Kinzo like that, but it sure was fitting, though for some reason, Krauss looked a bit too young (especially if you compare with George’s design). That said, while I like young eva design, Miki Itou failed miserably with the voice: it isn’t like her voice doesn’t match, but you can notice she is forcing a lot to sound young, especially when she said “‘heso kande shinjimaeba’”. I guess it is a bit outside of her usual voice range.
3) I’m surprised they kept the cousins antic scene here. However, the execution was kinda crappy: the humor etc was fine, but it is how they are stuck like bunch of stick on the empty beach for a while that ticked me off. Well it was much better afterwards when Battler and Jessica were sitting, but the animation and presentation were really stiff.
From that point, while I liked how they made Ohara breaking the little peace here, I must say that they could do better with Beatrice. I mean, she is taunting like nuts, but she is quite passive, remaining in her seat. I imagined her in front of Meta Battler, bending to him with an insane grin, while him totally helpless.
4) Ronove! I was a bit wondering how Sugita will perform for Ronove, and it was good. The only nitpick thing I would mention regarding Ronove is the fact that he uses magic to serve tea, instead of doing it himself (well, he was described as an high class/competent butler), but that’s kinda minor (but funnily enough, it would be less a hassle to animate that instead of floating cup and tea pot).
5) Recycled footage for the letter reading… well it is short and not invasive, though… why Maria’s gremlin face? *sigh*
6) Very nice to see the full discussion of the adults, as it is giving a lots of hint and backstory. Without the context, it would have been hell hard to gauge the possibility of a 19th or more culprits. The quality however is… again extremely unstable and can range to the very average to the very awkward proportions and pose. Kyrie was pretty much inconsistent regarding her design, especially… her bust size (how surprising…not).
7) Well, again it seems it is yet another animation team on Beato and Battler because the design is again very different compared to the rest of the episode so huh..

As you can see, the pace and the content were very good, no doubt. They kept the fundamental portion of this segment of the episode. However, I’m again not so impressed by the animation and presentation directions here.
That will be a 8/10 to my books.
With such a good start, I hope they will minimize the blunders, because this Episode might be the most critical one among all, so any missing information can be a giant issue later one.

As a little offtopic, as you can see, I changed the layout of my review. You will probably figure it out, but since I’m really late (like 5 episodes…), I must accelerate a bit the reviews, in order to have enough room for analyses (speaking of which, there will be one combining 3-1 and 3-2). I might revert to my original layout in the future, depending my time, unless you prefer a digest one like this.

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