Before we get into final thoughts, we have some extras to wrap up. This time, the OOC review session.
There’s not really any overarching plot to this, so I’m kind of just going to grab interesting lines as I go and comment on them.
The characters start by pointing out that this was basically a ‘bad end’ that came about because everyone was too busy flipping out instead of doing what the first letter said, solving the riddle.
Shannon says something important:
“Still, I think that Kanon-kun’s death was a big hint. After all, because of that, the existence of the 19th person was made clear.”
“That’s right. At that time, everyone’s location was obvious. So it was impossible for anyone other than some unknown 19th person to kill Kanon.”
Yes, it was pretty clear from the start, but this was an important confirmation.
“…Not only is the existence of a 19th person clear, but it is also obvious that this person holds a power that humans can’t even imagine.”
Maria adds on that things basically went south because no one believed Beatrice was both real and supernatural.
“Maria believed in Beatrice from the very beginning. But if that’s the case, how do you explain why Kanon-kun and the rest were all killed? They believed in Beatrice just as much, right?”
Well, I think it’s pretty obvious belief was only one aspect of it — the one that lets them approach things the right way. After all, Kinzo obviously believed and he went in knowing there was a real chance he could die.
“Well, it feels a bit weird saying this, …but I was sure this story would be in the standard mystery genre. I’m a little surprised to find out that it’s fantasy. After all, a western-style mansion shut away on an isolated island, in a world revolving around some inheritance… it sounds just like a mystery novel to me.”
Well, one of the beauties of Higurashi was that it was a clear mystery with a logical conclusion but also a supernatural story with its own internal logic that was immediately apparent (that is: it was unreasonable to assume there were no demons, since they figures largely into the IU lore; it was reasonable to assume there were no time-travelling aliens, since that had nothing to do with anything). Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible to write off the whodunit nature of this even with the occult-magic thing, because Higurashi was essentially a giant lesson on R07 being able to meld to completely opposed genres in absurdly capable ways. I think this goes back into the question of fourth-wall knowledge and writing with reader expectations in mind, and that’s exactly what happened here. We already played the game with the question of supernatural elements laid over the physical mystery, and now with that out of the way we’re playing a game with definite supernatural elements over a typical mystery.
“So, this murder case game is finally over. Now’s the time to pull ourselves together and try hard to solve the riddle of the epitaph, just like Beatrice said, right?”
Except I’m not sure we have any more information to work with than back when I last tried to do it. The key part seems to be the beginning, and I don’t really have any more idea of homeland sweetfish and keys than at the beginning of the route — just confirmation on my guesses at the second and third stanzas.
“…I’ve been listening to you guys for a while. Why did you all stop thinking? Why are you so sure that the witch was behind all of this? Don’t you realize something like that can’t exist?”
I mean, from my perspective, we literally saw the butterflies and Beatrice’s materialization, and I feel like ‘someone has a hologram projector’ actually does fall outside the realm of reasonable probability in a story like this. Like, a butterfly swarm threw a demon knife at Kanon and impaled him. I think at this point it would violate fair play rules to not have there be supernatural elements, which is frankly insane from a genre-convention perspective, but here we are.
“And you’re okay with saying the culprit is a witch just because I can’t explain it? With that argument, all of the unsolved crimes in the world could be resolved by saying a witch is the culprit!”
Except that there is evidence for a witch here. There are definitely parts that can be explained by, in this story, Maria being the killer or there being a 19th person. But I’m not sure how you could work Kanon’s death into that, or Natsuhi’s. Or the actual appearance of Beatrice at the end. I’m generally not a big fan of the ‘mirror solution’, where it was just a reflection the whole time. Yeah, sure, that can happen, but it falls outside suspension of disbelief as established by the story. It’s not reasonable to have the solution be an elaborate illusion even Penn and Teller couldn’t make work. I mean, at that point you could argue a timetraveller from the future came back and took the shape of Beatrice to kill everyone. You can’t prove it didn’t happen, and there’s certainly, from a logical perspective, a nonzero chance it did, but it’s not a great way to treat your audience, and frankly I trust R07 more than to play those kind of cheap gotcha games.
There’s also the epilogue, which has a lot of meta evidence for supernatural elements.
“…Th… that kind of argument kinda pisses me off. So this is basically what you’re trying to say. If I can’t explain how a human could do it, I must accept that the culprit is a witch?”
Within the bounds of this story? Yes, I think so. Within the bounds of like, a Raymond Chandler novel? Of course not.
“We talked about that in the story as well, right…?! Kumasawa baa-chan, for example. She said that she followed right after you and headed down to the boiler room, but we can’t know for sure whether that was a lie. For all we know, she might have entered the boiler room with you and caught you by surprise! Or maybe, when you stepped into the boiler room, you activated some kind of trap, one that might have been set up to hit you with one of those icepicks.”
I think this also falls into the ‘violates fair play’ pile.
“D, don’t look at me with those pitying eyes… I’m not saying something that crazy, right? I’m just pointing out that it would be possible if you could think of the trick, alright? Look, isn’t one of the fallbacks in mystery stories that the victims aren’t really dead!?”
Yes, and the fact that this is so obviously inspired by And Then There Were None is a big factor here. I don’t believe the body found was Kinzo… or at least, I think there’s some pretty big reasonable doubt about its identity, as well as — to a lesser degree — the identities of the victims missing their faces. How this coexists with the ‘Beatrice is real’ theory… I don’t know. If we assume a mortal culprit as part of the original 18 who faked their death in a way that would hide their identity, we have a limited amount of options:
Those are the ones whose faces were mangled to the point of being unidentifiable aside from their clothing by the time Kanon was killed (as the only way the And Then There Were None solution can hold water is if the person who killed Kanon was the fake death, since everyone else is accounted for at that point).
It’s just too hard to know at this point what the purpose of any of this would be for anyone beside Kinzo. Based on what we know now, Kinzo is the murderer of everyone, which just seems… suspect. Like Bat said in the game, it’s too simple a solution.
And that’s not even getting into the epilogue, which makes no mention of the police being short a corpse. If, say, Rudy did it for the money, where did the extra body come from? Was there another person involved who’s whole job was to die so the real culprit could escape? Who would agree to that?
“…That’s right. Doctor Nanjo checked all of the victims. Battler-sama, for your theory to work, wouldn’t Doctor Nanjo have to be one of the culprits too?”
This is the other thing. Now we’ve expanded this to at least two, possibly more, people involved in the conspiracy. There’s just too much risk here someone will lose their nerve and spill before things finish.
“Umm, about that… that’s right, Doctor Nanjo faked his death! After all, there wasn’t anyone but Doctor Nanjo who could perform an autopsy, and everyone was really confused then anyways. We didn’t have any spare time to check and see if he still had a pulse! With this theory, any one of the dead people could have been walking around!”
Then who was the corpse in Nanjo’s clothing? It was clearly fresh and clearly a real body. This theory assumes three people involved, one whose entire role was to be killed.
Frankly, the sketchy thing about Nanjo is that a PHP has this kind of skillset at all — can general practitioners usually do forensic work like this? Someone (Battler?) even lampshaded that at one point.
“Sorry, but why don’t you let me turn the chessboard over one last time…? If you want to force me to accept that there’s a witch, there’s a really easy way. And it’s not the indirect way of saying ‘humans can’t do it so it must be a witch’! All you have to do is show me that a witch did it with magic. Furthermore, what Maria said earlier is what will really dig her grave. You said that if even one person doesn’t believe, a ‘miracle’ won’t occur.”
Hanyu begs to differ!
Oh hey, now Beatrice appears with a sprite.
She kills everyone, and the Tea Party ends. LOL. I guess that’s the end of that.