Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-4: Analysis, Thoughts and Random Comments

[Disclaimer]: This entry might contain MINOR spoilers. However, while the analysis might push you to these minor spoilers, NO foretelling spoiler is present. Therefore, please follow the same guideline, and understand that any spoiler can just ruin this critical part of the story for any reader. Good reading!

The climax is about to be reached, yet more and more absurd events are piling before us.

We will finally start everything related to the “detective” aspect of franchise!

Legend of the Golden Witch Analyses: [Episode 1-2], [Episode 1-3]

Be sure to have watched the episode before reading this !

This week, I will focus mainly on the following points :

  1. The second twilight
  2. The boiler room
  3. The study
  4. Random comment: Chessboard thinking



I. The second twilight

Eva and Hideyoshi were found dead in their room. What is so interesting with this case, in contrast with the first twilight is… it looks like a perfect closed room.

Let’s first summary what we know so far:
1) around 4:00PM, Eva decided to leave the parlor with Hideyoshi to a room.
2) around 7:00PM, the cousins and Natsuhi were still in the parlor. Meanwhile, Kumasawa and Kanon were preparing dinner in the kitchen while Genji and Nanjo were playing chess.
At this point, Eva and Hideyoshi are still alive. They have some little discussions (about what happened, the situation of the family, their plan to go to the Maldives after they are back). The chain was already set.
3) some time later, Genji announces to Natsuhi that dinner is ready. Even though she knows Eva will turn her down, she asks Genji to invite Eva and Hideyoshi for dinner. Thus Genji and Kanon go to their room but…
4) 3-5 minutes, Genji and Kanon realize something is wrong and they notice the letter. Without too much delay, Genji goes to Natsuhi while Kanon will go with Kumasawa to find a wire cutter
5) Kanon took only 5 minutes but is horrified to see another magic circle on the door of Eva’s room.
6) Approximately at 7:20PM, everyone is astonished to find Eva and Hideyoshi’s corpses.
7) At 7:28PM, they seal the room. We have confirmation that the door was locked, with the door chain set and all windows were closed from the inside.

It is unfortunate we don’t have a specific time frame when Eva and Hideyoshi were assaulted, but we can be certain the culprit was very swift.
First, we can see with Eva’s expression is that she was still quite surprised or in shock before she was killed.
Second, since the 7:00 mark was shown when they were still alive and discussing on the bed, we can speculate the culprit didn’t assault them before 7:05 – 7:10 (because Hideyoshi was found in the bathroom, he certainly didn’t take his shower right away considering the mood).
On the other end, it shouldn’t be that late: everyone should gather in the room (probably around 7:25), so Genji and Kanon already checked the room before cutting the chain around 7:18 – 7:20.

As you can see, the murderer has at most 15 minutes to:
– invade the room
– kill Eva
– kill Hideyoshi while he is still unaware what’s going on
– make sure the scene is like a closed room

And then:
– rushing on the door when both Kanon and Genji aren’t around, make the big circle.

That’s a pretty tight schedule, much worse than the first twilight. So, I believe it is easier to figure step by step how the culprit proceeded.

1) Getting through the door
Now that might be the trickiest part, but in the end, it isn’t so difficult.
Before anything, it is very unlikely for Eva to open the door to anyone, even among the survivors unless she has an absolute trust, which is probably George only, or perhaps the other kids.
Thus, Jessica’s theory isn’t really valid, because you can bet Eva would ask “who are you?! What do you want?!”
Thus, it is more realistic to expect the culprit discretely opening the door.

Now, the first problem is the lock. But is it really a problem? The culprit already killed Shannon and Gohda. So as Genji said in this episode, nothing prevents the culprit to have seized one of the master keys.

Second obstacle is the chain. However, the chain is only virtually safe. For starter, nothing prevents the culprit to cut the chain, kill Eva and Hideyoshi, then replacing quickly a new chain.
The other possibility is of course simple: unfasten the chain from the outside.
We know from the VN that the gap isn’t anything bigger than 10cm (3.9 inch). Although it might be difficult, anyone slim enough can simply sneak their arm through the gap and unfasten the chain (of course, the bigger they are the harder it is, since you need to reduce as much as possible the gap to be able to move the chain).
The other possibility to unfasten the chain from the outside is simply wrapping the end of the chain with something like a ribbon, then as you close the door, just pull the ribbon and the chain is unfastened (using a rubber band is possible as well).
Please watch this video: The rubber band part is absolutely possible if you use a small pin or thumbtack, but the ribbon require even less trick.

2) Modus operandi
Now the problem with all this stuff is: what about Eva here? Well first, the TV was moderately loud, so if the culprit was very cautious, it is possible to unlock the door without being noticed. Of course, the other issue is unfastening the chain without being noticed. And here comes my conclusion: why do you need to be discrete?
As I mentioned above, it seems Eva was very surprised by “something”. Let’s imagine the situation: Eva is leisurely watching TV while Hideyoshi is having a shower. All of a sudden, she hears a metallic sound. Since she cannot see the door from where she is, it is obvious she would first stand up a bit, turn her head, wondering what is going on and stand up completely to go to the door. At this point, it is very possible for the culprit to suddenly open the door and gouge her head without her being unable to do anything.
The other possibility is that Eva is actually sleeping and she was overpowered right when the culprit managed to get in the room. The fact the TV is on doesn’t mean she was watching it, she might have fell in slumber due to the fatigue. Also, no one can testify it was her that turned the TV on: maybe the culprit did that so people will believe she was watching TV when she was killed.

As for Hideyoshi, it isn’t really difficult considering how trapped he is.
But like I demonstrated above, there is also no proof Hideyoshi was “originally” taking a shower: if he was sleeping with Eva, it is also possible that he was killed during his sleep as well.

The modus operandi becomes more interesting though: the culprit managed to pierce Eva and Hideyoshi’s cranium with an ice-pick type of weapon. Its total length, handle included, is 25 cm (9.8 inch). Also, what the anime screwed here is that the stake isn’t like a dagger or so: its shape is to pierce, not to cut and its cone has a spiral “drill-like” shape.
Therefore, it is extremely difficult for any human to pierce a skull with only their strength. Considering aspect of the wounds, the stakes pierced cleanly Eva and Hideyoshi’s cranium.
That said, it is possible the culprit had a “stake launcher” or something that hurls the stake at a very high speed, thus gouging the head without much trouble.
If we consider the possibility of both being asleep when the culprit(s) barged it, it is also possible to think that they used a hammer and a nail or something of that kind, in order to kill them and leaving a hole, then afterwards, they stab the hole with the stake.

3) Locking the door
After killing Eva and Hideyoshi, the culprit had to recreate the scene as if it was indeed a closed room situation. However, considering the very small time frame, it is obvious the culprit was still lurking in the room when Genji and Kanon knocked at the door.
Therefore, they had to wait for Kanon to look for the wire cutter so they can leave the room, seal it again and paint the second sigil.

However, wouldn’t it be too much a hassle to fix back the chain to its slot once outside?
Actually, because of the shock, what are the chances that the survivors did a proper inspection of the room? There is no guarantee the culprit isn’t hiding in the room. Since they certainly have a master key, they can easily get away of the room once everyone left.
However, I must remind you a big change: originally everyone except Kanon and Kumasawa were still around the room before the later hear the door slam.
Therefore, either the culprit really set the chain back from the outside (difficult but seems reasonably possible) or they have an accomplice who lured Kanon in the boiler room.

4) Second sigil
Considering how intricate that sigil was, it is very unlikely the culprit had the time to thoroughly paint it within a mere timeframe of 5 minutes. Thus, it is possible that the culprit prepared something like a stencil: they could just have a big template with removed sections that shape the sigil already, so they would just have to hold the stencil on the door, and then quickly go through it with a paint brush.
The problem is the culprit might have some trouble to avoid leaving any pain trail, but that is not impossible at all.
Note that since the sigil was done AFTER Eva and Hideyoshi were killed, it is yet another proof the magical circle doesn’t make any sense, since the “witch” would need it before killing them. Therefore, a reversed order just make that point even more unlikely.

II. The boiler room

Let’s summary what we know regarding Kanon’s death:
1) at 7:28, Eva and Hideyohi’s room has been sealed. Shortly after Kanon and Kumasawa are going to the kitchen, while the rest is still around the room. Then Kanon and Kumasawa hear a door slam.
2) Kanon gives it the chase, and Kumasawa started to run only briefly after, with obviously a crippled speed (she is scared and she is in her eighties after all).
3) Kanon confronts the culprit but got badly injured as result: a stake gouged his chest. Kanon collapses, but as a last ditch effort to resist against “Beatrice”, he pulls out the stake.
4) Kumasawa arrives and screams. Everyone barge in the boiler room.
5) Battler notices the back door of the boiler room, leading to the inner courtyard, is still open, so the culprit ran away quickly.
6) Soon after, George and Nanjo transports Kanon to the servants’ room while Jessica follow them. At 8:00PM, Kanon is confirmed dead.

Kanon was pretty quick to act and chase after the culprit, but met his demise. Now the trick is to consider: who might it be?
If we consider the 19th human theory, there is nothing difficult in there: the culprit made his way after painting the sigil (or an accomplice) and lured someone (here Kanon) to stab them.

Now if it is one of the 18, there are only 3 possibilities:
-One of the dead killed him.
-Kumasawa killed him
-Kanon stabbed himself

For the first speculation, we know that 4 of the first 6 had their face fully crushed. Therefore, nothing prevents one (or several of them) to use the corpse of someone else who has a similar body frame, then committing the murders from the shadows.

For the second speculation, it is only applicable for the VN of course: if there is a contraption or device that “shoots” the stakes, even an old woman like her can do that.

Finally, Kanon stabbing himself is sort of interesting if you ask me: to begin with, I don’t think any of you believe one bit about the golden butterflies if you don’t believe that it is the witch.
Of course, nothing confirms it doesn’t exist, but it might be a hallucination: toxic powder and the like, even from butterflies can be pretty nasty, and nothing proves the stench doesn’t cover a hallucinogen.
Anyway, in this case, why would Kanon stab himself? Maybe because he became unstable due to the drug/hallucinogen etc… But what if it was planned?
Think about it: we speculated that some dead could have used a body double trick, but what would prevent anyone to feign their death in such fashion?
My point is: Kanon might have used fake blood, or maybe stabbed in a way he knew he wouldn’t die. Then, if he was working with Nanjo, everything makes sense:  he is declared dead (Jessica being emotionally unstable due the situation could be fooled easily), then he can act in the shadows.
But what if Nanjo is innocent? How about this then: what if Kanon wanted to feign death, but gave an excuse to Nanjo? What if he said this to Nanjo “I know who is the culprit, but I need to be “dead” so I can corner them. Help me, Doctor Nanjo!” with perhaps more arguments following this request.

Now the only problem is the door slam for the two last speculations. However, it is also possible to make some kind of contraption to keep the door open (a rope attached to the door, and below there is a candle of something like this), then after a certain time, the contraption “snaps” and the door closes, leading to a slam.

There are a lot of speculations possible regarding Kanon, but as you can see, there is enough room to speculate it was the doing of a 19th person or within the 18. Again, it is kind of difficult to have a precise idea: to begin with, there is as much chance that Kanon is either alive or dead. But a witch? Hardly convincing.

Now there is something else that is interesting in the boiler room:

So, the survivors found a charred corpse in the incinerator, and it is believed to be Kinzo, because of the 6 toes.
As you can see, something is wrong: why would the culprit burn Kinzo’s body? The first thing that pop in one’s mind is: the culprit wants to hide something.
Of course, there is no confirmation it is indeed Kinzo, and any corpse with polydactyly would do the trick.

But there might be another reason for that: Kinzo was the fourth twilight, while Kanon was the fifth. And conveniently enough, Kanon was isolated.
But why was he isolated to begin with? Because he heard that door slam. But what originally triggered this event? The stench.
The stench was itself the fire starter: otherwise it would be very likely that none would notice the door slam or maybe several of them, which isn’t what the culprit was hoping for (or if you like the theory that Kanon feigned his death, he probably needed a reason to go to the boiler room, so the stench. If it was Kumasawa, she couldn’t have much trouble to have someone with her due to her age, and take advantage of it).

According to Genji in the VN, the intensity of the flames was rather low, so it means Kinzo’s corpse was burning for a long time (several hours) and at some point, the smell probably filled the boiler room before spreading in the mansion.

Now, something is again weird: it just defies the purpose of the “existence of the witch”: fourth twilight? Unlikely, since Kinzo probably was killed after being abducted, and since his corpse was burning for hours, he is certainly killed before Eva and Hideyoshi.
Again, another epitaph inconsistency (along with the fact they don’t follow really the “twilight” timeframe) that just deny more or so the existence of the witch.

III. The study

8 persons were together in the study, yet another enigmatic letter was shown up all of a sudden.
As Natsuhi said, it couldn’t be anyone among: Battler, George, Jessica and herself.

Thus, we have only 4 possible culprits: Maria, Nanjo, Genji and Kumasawa.
Let’s forget a bit what happened afterwards and let’s use again the chessboard thinking: isn’t it a bit strange?

The problem is like this: 8 persons are secluded in the same room, everyone knows perfectly there cannot be anyone else (and the VN states pretty well they didn’t find any hidden passage etc). Therefore, putting the letter is absolutely suicide.
Why? Because it would cast instant suspicion on those who weren’t within the sight of most people. Therefore, it is absolutely moot and unrealistic that the culprit would have done this.

To the contrary, if it was any of the 3, why didn’t they pretend that the letter was slipped beneath the door of the study instead?
That’s actually why I think we should remove the possibility that it could be Nanjo, Genji or Kumasawa.
They have nothing to win in doing so, and if the plan was to stir discord, what could guarantee them that Natsuhi wouldn’t shoot all of them to death? I can understand that the culprit would have planned them to be kicked off, but “what if” ? That would ruin their plan because they would be killed in the process.
On the other hand, if the culprit wasn’t any of them, them being kicked out or not would change anything: they would be killed regardless, and nothing prevents them to claim the twilight order afterwards (gouging the knee and the leg is absolutely not lethal, thus it is obvious the stake is planted in the corpse after the murder).

Thus, we can only suspect 2 things:
1) Maria did that, on the behalf of the culprit/Beatrice
2) The letter “managed” to get there.

Let’s see the first possibility: If it was Maria, how would she start to be convincing here?
As probably shown for quite some time, Maria doesn’t care about the dead, and she even doesn’t care if she dies. Therefore, her being considered as the culprit doesn’t bother, except if Beatrice is considered human in such case.
Now, one important thing: there is no proof the person who let that letter was the same person who wrote it (or even is the culprit to begin with). Therefore, it is still acceptable to think Maria didn’t lie it is from “Beatrice”, but yet let that letter on the table.
What is even more suspicious with her is the fact she is the only one who noticed the letter.

For the second possibility, nothing proves there isn’t some kind of mechanism that can let slide the letter out of the open (nothing like a camouflage, but a small crack or anything of this kind).
Since the culprit managed to get Kinzo out of his study, there is nothing that testify the culprit didn’t use Kinzo’s key, put the letter in the said mechanism, then put the key back in Kinzo’s pocket (that would assume the culprit expected the survivors to shelter in Kinzo’s study without fail, but the culprit can also make another letter and slip beneath the door of the room where the survivors decide to go instead).

With so many flaws and possibilities, it is again possible to deny the witch. Regardless if the culprit is one of the 18 or a 19th person (or more), it is still within the spectrum of human doing.

IV. Chessboard thinking

Kyrie’s theory is rather interesting and as shown by herself and Battler, this game thinking is pretty handy to have a thorough reading of your opponent’s next moves.
Putting yourself in your opponent’s shoes allow you to predict what they are doing and what they will do next, giving you the ability to anticipate and counter them with the best course of actions.

However, there are a lot of limits for this thinking, and the biggest problem with this one is “noise”.
Indeed, the chessboard thinking works only when both players are on even footing: both are using the same pieces and are attaining the same victory conditions.

Therefore, what happens if the opponent is abusing of a rule that you don’t know?
When you see a bishop, you know they can only be used diagonally. However, what if you have a bishop, but your opponent has a different bishop? What if they can move 3 square diagonally then 3 square horizontally? It makes the whole speculation void as the pieces, and thus, the means are totally different.
Let’s illustrate with another example: in chess, your goal is to put the opponent’s king in check without any possibility to get away, so checkmate.
But what if your opponent just needs to take out a certain number of your pieces? That is a totally different victory condition, which makes the idea of “even footing” nonsensical.

Finally, the intent is also a problem: you always expect your opponent to make the best moves, and let’s say, in the current situation, you expect the opponent to move their knight to protect some more valuable pieces. However, what would happen if you advance your pieces, but your opponent sacrifice them and use irrelevant pieces to go through your frontline?

That is the “noise”: the chessboard thinking doesn’t work because of 2 main problems. If your opponent either doesn’t have the same rules and objectives (or the one you imagine) or doesn’t follow the “best” pattern as you do expect, flipping the chessboard doesn’t work at all.
Because your opponent isn’t a textbook, there is noise: applying a game theory on a real situation can only be reliable if a set of rules and conditions are acknowledged and thoroughly followed by both/all sides.  Emotions, trickery, different means etc: all of these can sway the judgment and decisions of an individual. Thus, you can only expect the full use of the chessboard thinking only if your opponent has to act like you do, or if you understand perfectly your opponent, including the possibility of whimsical actions or even simple mistakes.

Therefore, misreading your opponent makes the speculations and assumptions totally void and useless to some extent. Also, with events such like bad luck, mistakes, carelessness or the opponent’s own anticipation, it include a lion share for a random aspect in a given situation.
Therefore, in the case of Umineko, should the culprit act on a whim, it would make the motives and the modus operandi even less predictable.


Another analysis done!
For this week, I preferred to adopt a clear stance of “human culprit theory” as it makes the plot even more interesting since I think trying to give an answer to the bizarre events is more productive than expecting Beatrice to simply use her magic to do whatever she wants.

Well then, we are about to reach the climax of Legend of the golden witch. I hope you will sharpen your ideas as the end will certainly give you more interrogations than answers.


8 Responses to “Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-4: Analysis, Thoughts and Random Comments”

  1. 1 rev July 29, 2009 at 2:52 am

    There were certainly loopholes here and there (charred corpse, closed room murder, disfigured faces) which can explain human as culprit.

  2. 2 shirora August 13, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I’m wondering if the burned corpse (who is supposed to be Kinzo) was actually used twice?
    If the person used Kinzo as one of the six sacrifices then burned the body in the furnace wouldn’t that allow for the culprit to move freely around the mansion?

  3. 3 klashikari August 14, 2009 at 1:06 am

    That is absolutely not possible: the first 6 had their faces crushed, which means: the cranium and jaw were badly damaged. Burning a corpse will not change that fact, so the charred corpse would be obvious if it was one of the first 6 or not.

  4. 4 Balder June 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Personally, I thought that Natsuhi placed the letter, when she put that can. I think she was tricked, like she was in the VN, however, i like the Maria-theory too, never thought of that.

  5. 5 Gyaaaah March 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    First I apologise if my comment won’t make any sense. It’s late and my brain is only working for so much.

    I cannot provide who the culprit could possibly be. But what if the culprit had been hiding in Eva and Hideyoshi’s room all these time? Perhaps culprit was hidden in the bathroom and killed Hideyoshi first. Upon hearing strange noise, Eva went to check up on her husband and was immediately assaulted right after. Then their bodies are placed in the various of places.

    Now, I’ve only seen the anime so I’m not sure about the details in the visual novel. The bathtub looked rather clean to have Hideyoshi killed while he’s bathing.

    What intrigues me is the fact that their wound seemed rather clean with little blood shed.

    Ahh I’m sorry I seem to be rambling. There are too many possibilities and details left out, thus I’m not really fan of analysis these stuff.. :/

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  1. 1 Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 1-5: Analysis, Thoughts and Random Comments « When Anime Past Meets Present Trackback on August 3, 2009 at 12:16 am
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