Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, Episode 2-4: Skewer

The second twilight is now over. As Meta Battler is struggling to find out how it “really” happened, the story itself starts to turn more and more bizarre.
As Rosa is narrowing the possible suspects, an unexpected individual will make its entrance, shedding even more blood.


7:52 AM. The survivors are in the parlor and they realize they should check on Jessica and Kanon, considering the culprit is most likely still lurking around. Rosa wants everyone to stick together, claiming it is Wolf and Sheep puzzle.
As they arrive, they are shocked to see a big bloody painted figure on Jessica’s room. Worried, Gohda knocks loudly the door, but there is no answer. Without much choice, Gohda uses his master key and opens the door.

The survivors then finds Jessica’s corpse, but Kanon is nowhere to be seen. Shannon is worried that the culprit might have abducted Kanon, but Rosa stops everyone, calling for calm. As she checks the room, she notices a key and wonders which one it is. Genji explains it is Jessica ‘s room key that she had.
The servants then explain this room can only be opened by either this key or their master keys, which can open any room except Kinzo’s study and the chapel.

Meta world sequence: Meta Battler stops the progression of the story, puzzled how this information is pulled despite it was rather unsure in Episode 1. Beatrice thinks it would be at her disadvantage regarding the closed room murders. Therefore, she quickly states in red:
The only master keys, keys which can open any door, are the ones each servant holds, one per person. That means there are 5 in total!
Still, Meta Battler wonders what Rosa is trying to imply, but Beatrice is amused and will just leave the said person to unfold her thoughts.

Rosa states since Jessica’s key is in the room, that means only a servant’s master key could have locked the door, therefore, the culprit is one of them. Battler cuts short this statement, as the guest Beatrice was more or less claiming she was the murderer, but Rosa argues Beatrice doesn’t have a key, so it has to be a servant.
That said, Rosa knows Genji and Shannon were always with Kinzo in his study, and she can testify their alibi as well. However, Kumasawa was rather late in the morning, so she has no aliby. Likewise, there is no proof Gohda wasn’t the culprit, pretending Kanon was taking care of Jessica.
As both servants are bewildered by that kind of accusation, Rosa admits the most suspicious is Kanon, since he is nowhere to be seen. Even though there is a possibility that the culprit killed Kanon, took his master key and displaced his corpse, Rosa believes there is a high chance he is an accomplice.

Meta Battler doesn’t like this reasoning at all. Beatrice was expecting this reaction and insists Rosa’s reasoning is only logical, so she is wondering how Meta Battler will prove Kanon’s innocence since he doesn’t like it, but she also suggests there is always the “magic” option. Meta Battler doesn’t want to admit this, though he is torn by his belief that Kanon couldn’t do this.

Rosa then believes Kanon was probably bribed considering Kinzo’s huge inheritance. And so, she warns everyone that if Kanon reappears without any harm, they remain cautious, saying they should consider him guilty unless they can prove his innocence.

They were rather fast here and as far as I don’t see any problematic cut, I’m once again pretty annoyed by this poor execution of emotions here. The survivors arrived in the room, they see Jessica dead, Battler curses then… big deal.
I dunno… do DEEN have a problem with Jessica? People sure didn’t care when she has asthma, and now she is dead, it was “shock” then => “what happened to kanon?”. Time constraints, okay, but wouldn’t it be at least possible to see George and Shannon shedding tears or distorded by sadness? Aside of Battler who barely cursed, we have bunch of insensitive characters (although Rosa was originally acting like this, at least she was supposed to say “this is horrible, Doctor Nanjo!” then we got the “autopsy”).

As for the red truth, I thought it would be a way to see how it “affects” Battler, like restraining his moves, but since it also turns around Beatrice, it is just random. Personally, I’m not that bothered by it, but I mean: what “is” the point if the Japanese speaker would have barely the time to see how it is written? Sure it is possible here, but good luck to catch the red truth regarding Kanon.
Now, regarding Meta Battler, it is good to see him struggling like this, but now, I wonder if the first time watchers will understand if he “makes” sense: my problem is that since they cut so many things in Episode 1… how can they make it natural that Battler trusts Kanon? He wanted to be buddies with him but since it wasn’t shown, how the first watchers can understand that Battler trusts him? Likewise, why would Battler defend Gohda and Kumasawa? That is why I was complaining about the lack of characters interactions and presentation: now the bounds are supposed to be known, yet the anime didn’t portray these, so it just skip a fundamental part of characters having some bounds with others.

Battler can’t help but disagree with this, quite confident that Rosa is wrong in this assumption.
Thinking he can prove Kanon’s innocence, Battler asks more details from Gohda: Jessica opened the honor guest room with Kanon’s key. Thus, if she didn’t give back the key, there is no way for him to lock Jessica’s room door.
Nanjo checks her pocket, and he indeed found Kanon’s master key.
Therefore, Battler can declare Kanon didn’t lock the door. Still, Rosa argues it doesn’t make Kanon less suspicious and the problem remains there: it is “either” Gohda or Kumasawa.
Even so, Battler stands before them, and even if he doesn’t know them too well, but he cannot imagine any of them as the culprit, which George wholeheartedly agrees with. Finally, Battler concludes that unless there is substantial evidence, one should remain innocent unless proved thoroughly otherwise.

Things are not really that good because now as I said, since they just skipped many interactions, it just fell flat and they just make the characters even MORE emotionless. First, the sense of relief was normally general, even Gohda wanted to defend Kanon’s honor, yet struggled to prove himself, but here, he was just a scarecrow, even when Battler defended him: both Gohda and Kumasawa were just startled and remained “huh” for the whole duration of Battler’s rant. He is defending them, and they are just like “huhu”. At least, I would expect them to be TOUCHED, especially Gohda.
Meanwhile, they made Battler’s victory rather trivial with again the lack of emotion, but the use of suspicion as the bgm. Okay, they can use something else than dread of the grave, but why would they use a slow and “thinking” BGM instead of a pumping one? Most people were despairing to prove Kanon’s innocence, and Battler lirally saved the day, yet it was… flat.

Beatrice applaudes lightly (Meta) Battler’s performance though she reminds him there is still that lock issue, so she is looking forwards to Meta Battler’s explanations.

As for the continuation of this argument, Beatrice takes the lead and uses more red:
There are absolutely no types of hidden doors in this room. This door is the only way in or out. The only way to lock this door is with Jessica’s key or the keys held by each servant, one per servant. The window is also locked from the inside.

Meta Battler is interested by this challenge, and in order to use his chessboard thinking, he needs more confirmation from Beatrice.
Beatrice confirms the following statement:
Kanon was killed in this room.
However, she refuses to confirm that his corpse is in the room. Furthermore, she doesn’t say in red that the door was locked by a servant’s master key.
Because of this vague attitude, Meta Battler has no idea if Beatrice “can’t” or just “doesn’t want” to repeat it in red.
Beatrice is amused by that and continues with unrequested red statements:
When the door is locked, it is impossible to enter or exit through it by any means. It is also impossible to lock the door from the outside without using a key.
Meta Battler is a bit lost considering the very few possibilities left, while Beatrice provokes him, claiming it was the work of Magic. Of course, Meta Battler keeps following his premise that magic doesn’t exist, though he can’t imagine any of them as the culprit. The witch just makes fun of him, as considering the number of suspects, he can blame any of them, yet since he doesn’t, the case becames a closed room murder as result. Dejected by such accurate statement, Meta Battler can only give up for the time being.

Which is also followed by the gameboard Battler, who resigns as well: even though he proved Kanon wasn’t the one who locked the room, he still couldn’t figure who was the culprit. Shannon still appreciates his efforts to have defended Kanon, but Battler cannot accept her thanks, because it means she is still a suspect. He then apologizes to Rosa, but she admits she was a bit rash as well, and they shake hands.

I’m pretty satisfied they nailed Meta Battler’s biggest weakness: his contradicting stance to prove the culprit is human, yet “none of his relatives can do that”. So his frustration was well portrayed here, either Meta Battler or Battler resigning.

1:00PM. Everyone is eating some canned food, to much Nanjo’s dismay. Even though Battler agrees, they can’t lower their guard, as it is possible the culprit poisoned food.
Then, Maria changes the mood and shows a book of wolf and sheep puzzles. Battler remembers Rosa mentioned it, and after reading the book a bit, he realized something.

Yeah I know canned food isn’t anything to put detail on, but would they just avoid making a full pan of it then? Because it is so atrciously designed that you can notice the gradient for the fake perspective and 3D of the cans. Amateurish, that’s for sure.
As for the Wolf and Sheep puzzle, simple but effective explanations. They didn’t drag though they could make it a bit faster.

Then, Rosa asks the servants to follow Gohda just in case, as he will wash the dishes. George is concerned about Shannon but Rosa wants to have a talk with him in the meantime. As the servants are leaving, Rosa also asks Nanjo to leave, since she has something to say to her family.
As Rosa closes the door of the parlor, she declares only the ushiromiya family members are in the room, which startles a bit George. Battler figures out quickly that Rosa consider the rest as “wolves”.

Rosa praises him to be quick minded though George is still confused about what they are talking about. Battler explains it is related to Maria’s book, involving Sheep and Wolves, the former being attacked only when they are fewer than the latter.  Rosa confirms, claiming since Jessica’s room was locked, it was definitely one who was carrying a master key. Furthermore, Rosa believes the culprit isn’t alone considering 6 persons were killed.
As she cannot claim all of them are in cahoots, she thinks they should assume all of them are involved just in case.
However, Battler stops her reasoning and something is wrong: why would they lock the door? It would narrow the suspicions on people with keys, therefore only 5 possible suspects.
Rosa admits she thought the same, but since there is no duplicate there is no way someone else could do that.

George is anxious since it means Shannon is in danger, surrounded by “wolves”, but Rosa argues Shannon was already in this kind of situation: she was alone with Genji, yet she wasn’t killed.
Annoyed, George claims they are both sheep, but Rosa claims they are both wolves and nothing can prove otherwise.

Battler takes this opportunity and questions Rosa if she can prove she isn’t a wolf. She is fine with this and points her gun: considering her situation, she claims she would have no trouble killing both Battler and George, framing Beatrice, but she didn’t do that.

A bit “downplayed”, but at least they have shown Battler’s sarcastic behavior regarding Rosa kicking away the “wolves” though it sounds a bit weird (show off to say it bluntly).
Meanwhile, AGAIN an obsession on sideways… Why would they use such a FAR camera pan when Rosa is explaining about the possible reason for her to kill Battler and George?

In the kitchen, the servants are taking their time. Gohda believes it is a waste the guests aren’t enjoying a proper meal considering he is using the finest ingredients.
Kumasawa is however looking forwards to this, and Gohda assures everyone he only uses sealed ingredients and will taste the soup himself. Suddenly, a weird noise is heard from the back door.
All servants know it cannot be any of the family members, so the atmosphere is pretty eerie. Genji picks up a knife just in case, while Gohda manages to gather his courage to open the door.
To much everyone’s shock, someone is collapsing as soon as the door is opened, and it is Kanon, bleeding a lot.
Nanjo checks him up and asks help to move him to the servants room. Considering the situation, Genji asks Gohda to report this to Rosa, but in a ragged breath, Kanon asks them not to, stating painfully that Rosa is the culprit.

Once in the servants room, Nanjo realizes how grave Kanon’s wound is and puts priority on stopping the bleeding. Kanon manages to say that Rosa killed both he and Jessica. Shocken upon hearing this confirmation, Gohda is worried about George and Battler’s safety. That said, something is wrong for Shannon and she quickly makes her way out to the basement.

I’m surprised they didn’t use a cheap “horror” BGM when the servants heard the noise from the back door, silence works good here I think. That said, it finally starts to be quite good regarding the presentation: people were quite shocked to see Kanon, especially like this.
With Kobayashi’s wheezing voice, it sure gives a good mood regarding the current situation. The only thing they changed which is dampening what is going was actually how Kanon behaved. When Kanon was struggling to tell things to the servants, he was also so angry that he cursed Rosa, with some hateful remarks “How dare you kill Milady !!” without even using the “sama”. This is actually what made Shannon suspects the fact that Kanon was a fake. Accusing Rosa wasn’t the issue, but Kanon being so hateful and screaming “I will kill you!!” just sparked this high probability to Shannon. Thus, it looks a bit random or a “big hunch” that Shannon needed to check “Kanon”‘s identity.

Gohda believes they should to something in order to incapacitate Rosa, but Kumasawa wonders if they shouldn’t anger her. All of a sudden, Kanon starts talking very clearly, stating bluntly that Rosa said she will kill them all. Shocked, the servants can help but be startled even more by Kanon’s weird behavior and his sudden standing up despite his deep wound. As he is repeating numerous time everyone will be killed, Nanjo is dumbfounded if Kanon really feel pain of his wound. Kanon isn’t concerned about it and unwrap his bandages, even nudging his wound, horrifying his fellow colleagues.
Shannon comes back and questions if he is “really” Kanon. Everyone else can’t exactly comprehend what’s going on and Shannon shows a handkerchief with some spiderweb. “Kanon” is startled to see Shannon with this and the young maid declares that if he is really Kanon, it shouldn’t do anything against him, but should it be his natural enemy, that is a different story. As Shannon approaches with it, a purple locus is drawn. Shannon leaped backwards, avoiding “Kanon”‘s slash, but neither Nanjo nor Kumasawa were able to figure what was going on and their necks are slashed.
“Kanon” leaps towards Shannon, but Genji manages to grabs her, dodging “Kanon”‘s sword plant.

Aside of this lol censorship, they did a good job showing how “Kanon” was creeping everyone by nudging his wound, though they should have made Nanjo saying “what the hell are you doing?! don’t undo your bandage!” instead of giving a blank look, though it works as well considering the shock.

That said… some people need to know that carotid doesn’t become a blood fountain… I mean, it is the usual cliché that blood splash forcefully, but isn’t it too much? It isn’t like the artery tension transforms you into a blood geyser once your neck is slashed…
I would say the same for Nanjo dramatically falling SLOWLY, as if the gravity has 1/10 effect on him.

Genji orders Gohda to act quickly, and without much afterthought, Gohda charges “Kanon”, slamming him against the wall. “Kanon”, annoyed by this restraining move, tries to finish off Gohda but Genji manages to throw the knife, and it stabs “Kanon”‘s arm against the wall. As “Kanon” is incapacitated, Shannon gives her handkerchief to Genji, who quickly dashes with it towards “Kanon”.
The effect is instant: “Kanon” is screaming in pain, and after few seconds, he becomes motionless then scatters into a burst of golden butterflies.

Exhausted by this horrifying crisis, both male servants try to regain their breath. Gohda is still under the shock, still feeling he “did” touch “that”.

Probably the best scene they animated so far: Gohda rushing like a madman, thinking they are dead if he doesn’t do that otherwise. The seiyuu provided a good panicked voice as he is restraining dark kanon to the wall.
Then we have assassin Genji with his leet kitchen knife throw.
Finally, Gohda utmost shock from this. A good ending momentum indeed.


Overal Thoughts:

Again, I was really unimpressed by yet the lack of emotions for the characters. And as I expected, since they didn’t bother with Episode 1 fundamental characterization, this episode sounds off for Battler and some characters, having misplaced or unexplained worries and the like. Once again the content and pace are right, but that don’t make everything acceptable as a general sense for the plot.
Good episode with 7/10, but that’s it: so far, we are being presented things without really any opportunity to feel sympathy. Rather, it seems they just want to show the facts and scenes so anime watchers just can speculate without having much attachment to any characters.

3 Responses to “Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, Episode 2-4: Skewer”

  1. 1 Roll September 14, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Would someone kindly explain the thing about the cobweb and “Kanon”??? I’m a rad confused here.:/

  2. 2 Consumer Unit 5012 September 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    It’s not really explained, except that Beatrice and her magic have a bad reaction to spiders. (Butterflies and spiders don’t get along, after all.)

  1. 1 Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Episode 2-4: Analysis, Thoughts and Random Comments « When Anime Past Meets Present Trackback on September 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

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