I’m sure that most of you would have been following Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I was pretty excited about it when I first heard that it was going to be animated, and with a brilliant cast to boot, featuring the likes of Daisuke Ono, Yui Horie and Kugimiya Rie. Having played the sound novel and having thoroughly enjoyed the game, I eagerly anticipated its coming animation.
I however, was disappointed at how the entire thing was done. With so many things going for it, like a strong background story and a great cast, the way Chiaki Kon portrayed the characters just rubs me the wrong way. Far from the headstrong, stubborn but strong young man that he was in the novels, Battler became more like a stubborn, whiny kid in the animation, going around with his hands over his ears and yelling “Lalalala I can’t hear you~~!!!” whenever Beatrice does one of her “magical” murders.
But that’s not the topic for this post. If you have been watching the anime, you would notice that the title of the episodes come from certain moves in chess. The grisly “game” between Battler and Beatrice can, likewise, be modeled after a game. Like, for example, have you noticed how Kinzo always dies in fire? There’s got to be something there. So I shall be looking at how the episode title can related to what’s happening in said episode.
Well then! Lets get right into the heart of things! First up, we have Act 1-I, “Opening”, right after the jump.
Act I – I “Opening”. As the title suggests, this is just the opening act. Characters are introduced, and events are set up for later plot progression. We also get treated to an annoying tirade of Maria’s “Uuuuu!! Uuuuu!!” I swear, if she wasn’t so cute and yandere, I would have slapped her. I guess I can forgive Rosa for slapping her like that. Yes, I do support corporeal punishment, that I do.
Coming on to Act I – II, “First Move”. Now this is pretty simple. Beatrice took the first move in this game, having Maria deliver the letter to the family. Oh, and she bumped off a few unlucky characters whose fate was simply to die. The question that she lays down is probably this: a) How did Maria get the letter, and b) How was the murder in the shed committed? Of course, at this point in time, our hero Battler is totally unaware of Beatrice’s existence, so he’s stumbling around in the dark. Got to love how Maria’s watching Higurashi on the TV. Self referencing for the win.
Act I – III , “Dubious Move”. In chess, this would probably refer to a move that you made with no proper reason behind it. God knows how many times I’ve done something like this, just move a pawn upwards or a bishop because I had no idea what move would be good, and so just wanted to disturb the board in the hope that things can somehow be turned to my advantage. Beatrice was probably bored, and so decided to knock off a certain couple while they were behind locked doors. Well, if that’s her aim, she did achieve what she set out to do. Of course, this could also refer to Battler’s attempts are trying to reason out what is going on. He still has no idea what’s going on, so whatever arguments he came up with is dubious at best, no pun intended. Ahaha.
Act I – IV “Blunder”. Yup, you guys made a huge blunder alright. Sending away Genji, Nanjo, Kumasawa and Maria was probably the worst move you could have made. After all, you got to “save the loli”. What were you thinking Natsuhi, sending Maria away like that? Sure, she was going all Dark Side and yandere and creepy on you, but still, you got to save the loli. After all, you are the one with the gun, much good it would do for you in the end.
Act I – V, “Fool’s Mate”. In chess, a Fool’s Mate is the fastest possible way one can win the game. This very rarely happens, even in games against a total newbie. Well, Battler wasn’t given even a decent fighting chance in this game, working with insufficient information as he is. It’s as if he started the board with his king in a corner and only had two pawns on his side, one of which was beside his king and the other in the square in front of it. In other words, Battler got owned in this game. Score one for the Golden Witch.
And oh, the Lady Bernkastel is moe. Mii~ Nipa~~~ <3
Ahh, Act II. This is where the fun starts. Notice how they changed opening animation to reflect the new arc. They will keep doing that. I think it’s pretty cool. After all, it pays homage the original game the animation was based on, which had its title portrait change with each new arc.
Act II – I “Middle Game.” As in Act I-I “Opening”, this episode sheds some light on the history of the characters. Jessica’s dress up as a Marisa was a lot more funny in the novel, as she was singing Tsurupettan instead of that song that she was singing. Also, it looked as if her band members were playing with their fists. Guess not everyone bothered to animated the fingers with the mastery that KyoAni did in K-ON.
No, it was not as epic as this, that’s for sure
Act II – II “Early Queen Move”. This refers to a player sending out his Queen early in the game. This can be dangerous for the player, as it puts the Queen at risk from the start. Imagine losing your queen right off the bat. However, if played well, this move can be disastrous for the opponent. The Queen can wreck havoc in the enemy ranks if the opponent is unable to counter it…. Which is what was happening here. Battler’s totally at a loss as to what to do with having Beatrice standing there and walking among them. However, notice that Battler never actually saw Beatrice till the end of the game, and notice that no one actually saw Kinzo till the end too. Hmmm….Could it mean anything?
Act II – III “Week Square”. I’m willing to bet that this is a misspelling of “Weak Square”. In this episode, Battler revealed a flaw in Beatrice’s game, proving that it is indeed possible for someone to commit the murder of the first 6 people. A “Weak Square” in Beatrice’s game plan? Or is she just baiting Battler by revealing a weakness?
Act II – IV “Skewer” Someone got skewered. Couple folks were crocking, couple of necks were cut, blood spilled. Also, Kanon Alter becomes masochist. The Skewer in the title can probably refer to a “Pin”, a move in chess where you lock an opponent’s piece in place by attacking it with another piece, and should your opponent move the piece that is being threatened, it would open up a route for you to take a more valuable piece that was hiding behind the first piece. The Pin here probably refers to Beatrice’s erasing of Kanon’s body and sending in Kanon Alter, since that forces the real world Battler to consider the possibility that Kanon actually did kill Jessica, and throws suspicion on the other servants.
Act II – V “Accept”. Unable to accept the possibility that one of the people close to him could be the murderer, Battler’s determination wavered, and he began to accept the possibility that Beatrice might actually exist. So you can take this both ways – the title might be telling Battler to just accept that fact that someone in his family is committing the murders, or it can signal Battler throwing in the towel and accepting Beatrice as the Witch.
Act II – VI “Back Row Mate”. And we end off the story arc with another checkmate! This time, it is the Back Row Mate, a situation that one can often find oneself in. Think your king is safe behind all those pawns? Well, the simple movement of a rook or a queen to the last row can seal the fate of the King, since it has no way to run except to go left or right, since the row in front of it is blocked. And going either left or right would result in a lost, as it is still under attack by the rook. So how does this apply to the game? Well, Battler walled himself in by refusing to accept the possibility that one of his friends or family members could be the culprit. In other words, that is the wall of pawns in front of his king. Beatrice exploited this weakness in Battler’s argument to force him to concede…but not for long, as we see him bouncing right back, in a most comical fashion.
At least Battler’s not a lolicon…Through I wonder about the suitability of asking that promise from a 9 year old girl….
And Maria’s head rolling around was really cute. lol