The last episode of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, features a scenario where Ange is present with her family at the 1986 conference, in an attempt to uncover the heart of the mystery and conclude the long fought struggle between mystery and fantasy.
"...a story should be like a roller coaster. That is to say before writing a really cruel scene, I have to lift the people's spirits, for example, with a fun scene... Before writing a scene of pure despair, we must go through scenes of hope. And indeed, when I write, all of this amuses me very much."
A witch is born when human reasoning is incapable of explaining a mystery. A witch is born out of the need for escape. The previous episodes explained that the difference between reality and fantasy might only be paper-thin, at the same time only ever giving part of
an increasingly bleak truth. In the same way, Ryukishi07 never ceases to toy with the reader - exploiting the desire for a fantasy, making them see something which isn't really there.
Similar to Higurashi, only after reaching the ending does it become possible to appreciate the scale and intricacy of his work. At first glance, it seems that each episode of Umineko is 90% fiction and 10% fact, like a jigsaw puzzle where many of the tiles don't fit anywhere.
Or, it could also be compared to an onion, because I have no idea how he managed to include so many LAYERS BUT I'M CRYING ANYWAY.
Regardless, as fragments of 1986 are finally pieced together, it seems inevitable that the completed jigsaw is painted with a tragedy.
At first, each character's story throughout the series appears to relay a certain message: love is a source of madness which distorts the truth. Though somebody might want to live in a magical fantasy forever... eventually, it's time to grow up. The truth hurts, but lies hurt even more. It's a cold reality which is incompatible with the idea of a golden witch who you can blame all your problems on.
That's what this episode is really about - growing up without losing your magic. More than hunting down the truth in the previous episodes, this one confronts the need to overcome and accept the truth, instead of escaping to a blissful golden land when, really, you just died in a rather ugly way.
Beyond probability and fantasy, beyond delusions and forgeries, this episode remains a search for a golden land which shouldn't exist. The last game isn't just a sibling dispute between Ange and Battler - it's a war between 1986 and 1998.
And it's thrilling.
Coming fresh out of the other episodes, the difference in art style can be a little jarring... but if you're binging then you might not notice, considering that some earlier episodes had the same artist. Character designs are still on-point (i.e. seriously adorable, the hell is this), backgrounds are comfortable as usual (i.e. so much class), and the highlight of this episode is probably one of the most satisfying punches ever conceived.
It's the return of crazy frog eyes. The art is as cutesy as it is psychotic, but doesn't it just fit so well?
The hallmark of a strong cast is the potential for a thirty-page essay to be written about the characters alone. Nobody would read it if I wrote one, though.
In this episode, the spotlight returns to our favourite shredded meat girl. There's a comparison to a child soldier who marches in single-minded pursuit of an obsession, eventually left with nothing but themselves - well, that sums up Ange nicely. It's the simple story of someone who sets out for revenge and finds meaning beyond it, except it isn't simple because this is Umineko.
To any reader, finding the truth of 1986 should require rejecting all the fictitious fragments from the previous episodes. However, rather than rejection, this episode is a reconciliation between the witch of the future and the girl trapped in the past - and it's all tied to the idea that whatever lies on the jigsaw tiles isn't the whole truth. It's absolutely the truth, but there isn't just one truth.
Don't understand? Ange doesn't either. That's where all the other characters come in.
At the end of the day, Umineko really isn't 90% fiction and 10% truth - in a sense, everything is real. An emotion which is never conveyed can be truth, whatever the reality may be... and the true central message hidden in each character's arc finally begins to make sense.
"Without love, [the truth] cannot be seen."
Honestly, Umineko is a must-read for anybody who wants to spend their time thinking for far too long. Eva, Maria, Shannon; though their stories seem to be unrelated at first, by the end it's clear that they were wrapped in layers of o̶n̶i̶o̶n̶ allegory. Unlike this review, many of these ideas are actually digestible.
For instance, the idea that it takes two to complete a universe - it's like the concept of a catbox and an observer. A story can't be completed if the writer is the only observer; somebody whose work is never seen isn't an author.
To create a story, you only need a writer. To complete it, you need somebody else to act as a reader. Otherwise, who knows whether or not the story actually exists? Like Schrodinger's cat, the truth only exists within your catbox, not outside of it.
There are innumerable stories (at least 8) which can be uncovered through inference and deduction, but they should never be a replacement for reality. The truth may be ugly, and it may be reprehensible. However, if it isn't shared, then it remains forever locked within the catbox... and the infinite possibilities which result?
Emotions are filling me up. Yet again I was able to experience the void of finishing something great. Due to ongoing of the manga, I had to read the original visual novel. It was long but worth reading.
Everything comes to the conclusion. Battler sets up the last game for Ange in order to show her other side of Ushiromiya family: kind, solicitous and loving. Why would he do that? Before answer is revealed, Bernkastel appears with something in mind. Knowing that she is the main antagonist, we can suspect that her intentions will not be good and nice. What is
she up to? "Find that out" will be my answer.
Just as always, art is very good. Emotions were passed through pages splendidly.
There are a lot of characters in the series. Everyone can find favorites. As for development, readers will witness Lambdadelta's progression as a 'real' witch (a witch that is meant to bring happiness). Her actions were a turning point in the story, which make readers respect her.
Rating the enjoyment of this part of the story as a stand alone episode made me put an 8/10. There are more action scenes than mind games, so my expectations were not met in full way. Still, I was reading this episode with big interest.
Overall score for this episode is 9, but I want to put 10 for the whole series. This was on of the greatest experience since Higurashi. If anime adaptation were not bad, I wouldn't wait for a year to get acquainted with the manga adaptation. Umineko is the great story with elements of comedy, drama and mystery. If you want to read something intellectual and not cliche, I strongly recommend to give this manga a try. You will not regret it.