Umineko – Turn of the Golden Witch – Prologue, Part 2

Last time, we got to know Beatrice.

We move over to Jessica for this section. She’s at school, which she usually enjoys as a break from her rigid homelife. However, right now she’s worried — she’s rather popular at school, and had been lying about having a boyfriend, and is about to get caught in the lie at the school’s culture festival.

We flash back to Shannon suggesting she have Kanon pose as her boyfriend. Ah, this is how this starts. Well, and weird rapey love charms.

Jessica had been thinking about Kanon ever since he had shown up. There were almost no young men on Rokkenjima. So maybe it was natural for Jessica, as a girl in puberty, to become interested in Kanon.

Ah, this is actually a fair point. And if it pre-dates the charm, not really creepy. Or at least, much less creepy.

Jessica finally agrees, and works up the courage to ask Kanon, only to find Shannon had already basically ordered him to do it.

He fully understood what Jessica intended by inviting him. However, it would be really annoying to go along with the lady’s game of love.

But Shannon had talked to him persistently. He was very indebted to her. He couldn’t refuse. And that brooch was in his pocket. Couldn’t this strange turn of events also have been brought about by the magic power residing in this brooch?

A love charm creating opportunity, rather than feelings, is actually really interesting and also not creepy like love potions usually are. Like, say… two people keep repeatedly, say, being randomly paired together in class, because of a charm placed on them by someone else, and they both get suspicious because they don’t really have a thing for each other, and then it turns out the charm was meant to put one of them with a totally different person, but the charm functions like a baby duckling and just works on the first person they interact with, so as long as it’s running they’re going to keep running into each other, and they have to figure out how to undo it so they can go back to their lives.

OR someone gets a ‘love charm’ as a gift and it results in a long series of contrived events that brings a long-distance couple happily to the same city.

OR more creepily, the charm keeps bringing a man and woman who had a missed connection together but after it happens two or three times the woman starts to think she’s being stalked, and after the guy confesses he just wanted to meet her again, they realize that even though he got rid of the physical charm the spell is still on, so the universe is going to keep contriving to put them in the same place, which means they can’t leave their city.

OR actual stalking.

What were we talking about?

Over at school, Kanon shows up dressed like, uh…

Wtf Kanon.

Lol, the coat is apparently Shannon’s idea of date attire. Wtf, Shannon.

Also apparently Jess keeps brass knuckles on her and threatens her friends with them regularly. Okay, Jess.

Jess shoves Kanon into a hallway and prepares to give her presentation. Kanon muses on how he’s never seen Jess act like this, and how schools are weird.

…He had the responsibility to report everything he saw and heard to the Master. So he also had to report about how Jessica had acted without restraint earlier. At the very least, it was not fitting for the daughter of the Ushiromiya family. The Master, Krauss-sama, and especially Natsuhi-sama would probably be angry. If I am to report it in a way that protects Milady, should I blame it on inappropriate school friends…?

I can’t tell here if we’re supposed to see Kanon as overreacting to never seeing Jess among peers before, or if her parents would really be angry she was acting like a schoolgirl around other schoolgirls. We don’t know about Krauss, but Natsuhi’s biggest pet peeves with Jess seem to be a) her course language, which wasn’t present here and b) her laziness about her schoolwork. I’m not sure she’d be upset, per se, to hear Jess was acting happy and social.

Suddenly the lights go down, and… Jess’ band is giving a performance? Uhhhh???

Now imagine multicolored kana flying across the screen for 30 seconds with fake JPOP in the background.

I’m scared for real.

On the stage, Jessica-sama also sang enthusiastically, dripping with sweat. He couldn’t find a single element that was appropriate for a daughter of the Ushiromiya family… but it looked like she was having a lot of fun.

Aw, Kanon is a sweetheart, though.

As I looked at Milady having a great time, I thought. Isn’t this Ushiromiya Jessica’s true form? Don’t I know best that during her life on Rokkenjima, she’d had no choice but to kill her sense of self? Then the time she spent… not as Milady, the successor to the Ushiromiya family, but as a single girl called Jessica, living life to the fullest, must have been very important to her.

I worked close to Milady, saw her in all seasons, and I thought I knew everything about her. But that was only limited to one side of her, Milady of Rokkenjima.

I too support Jess’ JPOP ambitions.

We serve on [the island] and end our lives [there].

That’s sinister.

So I had come to think that Rokkenjima itself was our whole world, as though, like in Ptolemaic theory, the ocean spilled off the end of the world into an abyss. But when I look at Milady like this, I realize that this is a horribly narrow outlook.

Kanon wonders if this is the new color Shannon was talking about.

At dinner that night, Natsuhi and Krauss discuss the culture festival’s political side.

Krauss asks how the festival was for Jess, and Jess says it went okay.

[Natsuhi] “I was watching. You did an excellent job.”

Aww, Natsuhi! See, I knew Natsuhi would support Jess’ being happy.

“Jessica appeared with both composure and dignity. Fitting behavior for the students’ representative.”

 “…ah, oh… yeah.”

The smile that had been there until a second ago crumbled like sand. Jessica immediately realized that she was talking about something different. Jessica was also the school’s student president. She had no interest in something so annoying, but her parents had been pushy so she had grudgingly accepted. Unfortunately, she was popular in school, so she had won the election easily. So Natsuhi was praising her for the student council sponsorship ceremony at the beginning of the cultural festival.

Oh… well, that’s sad.

Instead of going to her room after dinner like she’s supposed to, Jess goes to the rose garden. She thinks that it’s for the better her mom didn’t see the band, because she’d probably just be scolded over doing something inappropriate.

Kanon walks up and Jess quickly composes herself, but Kanon thinks that for the first time, he realizes a lot of her composure is fake.

He tells her her performance was great. Aww.

“…I am furniture. So I didn’t believe there was any need to sing songs or play instruments.”

But… I’m not sure anymore.

“…Seriously, Kanon-kun, enough with that ‘I am furniture’ business… That’s like a proper attitude you servants are supposed to have, right…? Servants are supposed to be like living furniture. Genji-san says it a lot.”

“It’s not just a proper attitude… Because we really are… furniture.”

“I know that the kids from the Fukuin House… receive assistance from Grandfather in various ways, and I realize that you feel gratitude for that. But it’s a bit cruel for you to have to call yourself furniture. We’re all human, aren’t we?”

Kanon says nothing.

Jess says she knows he must have been envious of seeing her life outside the island. He realizes she’s right. She tells him they were both born into restricted lives, but she’s different in a key way:

“Kanon-kun, you think that your own fate is everything and you gave up. I can’t accept this kind of fate, so I do the best I can. So in addition to the constrained part of me that must act as the daughter of the Ushiromiya family, I’ve created another self that can do everything I like. […] Yeah. Kanon-kun, you’ve been instructed to say ‘because I am furniture’. I’m sure there’s been many things that have been tough just because you’ve been instructed that way. I think that’s… really unfortunate. But the thought that your entire life will be decided by that, I think that’s just sad.

This is getting a bit heavy, but I think for me, at this age, who I was online was where I got this kind of release. And I don’t mean like, in a catfishing way, I mean like in, uh, this-blog kind of way. It’s so easy to feel like the restrictions placed on your are inescapable, but even the tiniest outlet can let you in some way keep being who you need to be, just enough that you can keep going.

“You know, I’m called by this nickname Jessie in school. So when I’m Jessie, I live life honestly and to the fullest. And because of that, I can do my best when I’m Jessica too. …I wonder if it would be alright for you too, to have times when you live as Kanon, and times when you live as, umm… your real name. When you aren’t Kanon, can’t you become another part of yourself that you can like?”

Yeah!

Jess asks Kanon his real name. He’s quiet for a long time… but ultimately, can’t do it.

 “…I forgot. My name doesn’t matter anymore.” Those words contained a slight rejection.

“No matter what kind of real name I had, the only truth now is that here, I am Kanon. The past has nothing to do with anything. The materials with which furniture is made, whether it was originally the trunk of a tree or not, in the end, it’s all the same.”

 “…I told you to stop that! You aren’t furniture, you’re human, right?!”

Kanon snaps.

“I’m not human!”

He’s shouting now.

“…You are a human, Milady. So you are free to live any way you like, and any kind of future is possible for you. It’s almost like you have wings and can dance through the sky like a bird. But I am not like that. Even if I looked like a bird, I’d be nothing more than a domestic duck. Even though they have wings, they cannot fly. But despite that, to speak of that dream in the sky… that’s just… too cruel…!”

Jess starts to shout back that he’s being ridiculous, but gets a hold of herself.

“…I don’t know anything about you. I don’t even know your upbringing, and I don’t know the hardships you’ve been through. So I can’t even imagine why you started calling yourself furniture. …But know this. You aren’t furniture or a duck. You’re a real human. If you want to say that the Kanon-kun working as a servant is furniture, that’s alright. But… in that case… don’t you think that you can make a part of yourself for when you aren’t furniture, when you’re human?”

“…Only a human like Milady can embrace that possibility. I am not like that. My future and possibilities, aren’t even a dream I am supposed to see. So, Milady. Please don’t… say any more… cruel things…”

“Why… Why are you saying that…”

“Because it seems that you are making the mistake that I am a human, just like you are, Milady. We are different beings. I just wanted to make that clear. […] People cannot love furniture. I am trying to say that even if Milady can love furniture, I cannot love Milady.”

Jess is struck dumb at this.

Kanon thanks her for thinking of him as human, and says it was nice to watch her have fun. Holding back tears, Jess apologies and literally runs back to the mansion.

As he watched her back, for just an instant, Kanon was tormented by the feeling that he had just made a huge mistake.

Can someone photoshop Kanon’s head onto Gob Bluth’s head in a gif with this line.

As Kanon wonders if he did the right thing — BEATRICE MUSIC!

“Nice going, making a woman cry like that.”

Bea is a straight shooter.

“I shall forgive your reckless words towards me just this once in deference to that pleasant show. Even after one thousand years, no more interesting show exists than complications between boys and girls. To me, it’s a pleasure with a sweetness harder to resist than opium.”

Uh, is that a request, or…?

Kanon takes the brooch out of his pocket and stomps on it. He accuses Beatrice of purposefully playing with hearts because she likes to see relationships fail entertainingly.

… But did you know? Trees grow thicker branches if you thin out and prune them. A girl who loves furniture, interesting, truly interesting! Shannon and George will also eventually reach a stalemate with their love, which cannot be fulfilled, and ripen as the kind of large fruit I like. However, regretfully, it wouldn’t be interesting if they didn’t go too far, right? If that happens, I think you all would entertain me greatly, *cackle*cackle*!”

The witch laughed. Even though she had known that the two could not be joined, she had lent magic to join them together. However, they couldn’t escape the fate that made it impossible for them to be joined. The witch knew that. Even if they were joined, the relationships of Shannon and George, Kanon and Jessica would fail, and as they wandered through the eternal desert in the hell of love, they would be tormented by eternal thirst…!

I wonder how much of this is a front, a way for Bea to protect herself. Or just to feel better about being trapped alone herself. Misery, company, and all that.

Kanon ground his foot even more into the stomped brooch. He felt it break under his foot. Then, it evaporated like water, and changed into butterflies that sparkled gold, which fluttered away from beneath Kanon’s foot…

Bea says all magic has a price, and hers is that when the relationships inevitably fail because they were never right to start with, she gets to watch, and they’re even.

“Just look at Kinzo. See how he ended up, an old, pitiful man who knew the taste of love and was thrown out of paradise! Look at how he lives, like a dead man that can’t fully die. *cackle*cackle*!!”

“You really are a witch. Disappear and get out of my sight, you demon…!!”

She tells him she’ll go for now, but she’ll be back — for her revival.

Go insane with love. Go insane with gold. Those that don’t go insane from those are not human! I see, so that’s why the word furniture is fitting, *cackle*cackle*! Furniture is created to serve humans. And I cruelly treat humans as playthings during my thousand years of boredom. What a truly pleasant three-way deadlock, that I cannot control furniture!

We jump over to Kinzo drinking his cares away while wailing about Beatrice.

We then move to Jess wailing about Kanon while Kuma weirdly looks on.

“…Oooh, how heart-rending, Jessica-sama. Even though her crying voice that I can hear from her room tells me of the situation, there is nothing I can do… This is all a tragedy due to people who are too young getting too close, when the positions of their birth are too distant… I can do nothing but understand Milady’s feelings, hide my footsteps, and quietly walk away…”

What are you, the chorus? Go talk to the girl and tell her it’ll be okay, geez.

We then move over to George telling Shannon he intends to propose at the conference, and if she says yes, announce the engagement immediately.

The glass smashes, the prologue ends, and we move to the first day of the route proper.

7 Comments

  1. Keltena says:

    It’s cool hearing your analysis and speculation on the workings of Umineko magic as it comes up! I’d read those love charm plotbunnies, honestly.

    Hello darkness my old friend…

    Natsuhi’s biggest pet peeves with Jess seem to be a) her course language, which wasn’t present here

    Actually, I don’t think this part is true. Remember that “coarse language” works a bit differently in Japanese than in English. What Natsuhi takes issue with isn’t Jessica literally swearing, it’s the way she talks—like a rowdy tomboy rather than a proper lady. The English version sometimes translates this to swearing to get across the effect/make it less confusing when Natsuhi tells her to watch the language, since that kind of thing doesn’t really translate, but in general I bet you can assume that if she’s speaking casually like a teenager, she’s using the kind of speech her mother disapproves of.

    Suddenly the lights go down, and… Jess’ band is giving a performance? Uhhhh???

    Explanation in case you’re confused here: this is a big Touhou reference. Jessica is cosplaying a Touhou character and performing a Touhou song, and the comments scrolling across the screen as she plays are a reference to how comments on Niconico videos display. (In 1983, yes. Maybe there’s a time-traveling witch in town?)

    I really like how you’re thinking about the internet as a space to explore/express your identity here. I had some similar thoughts here and there while playing. (I’ve also spent a whole lot of time wondering what might be different if some of these characters had had the internet as an outlet growing up.)




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    1. CrazyEd says:

      Sometimes I forget how low Act’s power level is due to her love of Weird Magic Japanese Mystery Novels… and yet despite that.. she somehow didn’t know Saber’s true identity from the start of her playthrough of Fate Stay/Night, in the Year of Our Lord 2015, and let this touhou niconico reference completely fly over her her head.

      Please wait warmly until Act stops letting herself be held back by common sense.




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    2. Act says:

      What Natsuhi takes issue with isn’t Jessica literally swearing, it’s the wayshe talks—like a rowdy tomboy rather than a proper lady. 

      Yeah, this is a good point. The other way the game tries to capture it is by having her truncate words (like, goin’ instead of going and such), but that can be pretty easy to read over. It would have been more effective with lots of slang or having her chat with her friends in some kind of recognizeable vernacular (think Azumanga’s using a Brooklyn accent for Osaka) and then switch to standard English with the family. But, that may have been a lot to ask from a fan translation and it’s really a nitpick.

      Explanation in case you’re confused here: this is a big Touhou reference.

      I actually knew that the costume was a Touhou reference, but did not realize the song and letters were as well! Good to know.




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  2. illhousen says:

    Wtf Kanon.

    Lol, the coat is apparently Shannon’s idea of date attire. Wtf, Shannon.

    Who wanna bet it’s an old Kinzo’s coat?




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  3. Last time, we got to know Beatrice.

    And by know you mean ship. It seems to happen to everyone at some point, though you’re particularly quick.

    We (inside the episode opening flashback) flash back to Shannon suggesting she have Kanon pose as her boyfriend (after flashpinballing her relationships with George and Beatrice).

    Complete disregard for chronology: check.

    Lol, the coat is apparently Shannon’s idea of date attire. Wtf, Shannon.

    Inexplicable fashion senses: check.

    Also apparently Jess keeps brass knuckles on her and threatens her friends with them regularly. Okay, Jess.

    Schoolgirl packing at school: check.

    Yup. It’s an R07 story.

    Oh… well, that’s sad.

    It’s the biggest tragedy of the story that we don’t see Natsuhi reacting to Jessie’s niconico performance.

    As Kanon wonders if he did the right thing — BEATRICE MUSIC!

    If I had Golden Sneer start playing whenever I appeared, I too would be ambushing people all day erryday.

    Bea is a straight shooter.

    Further commenting on this is unnecessary.

    and as they wandered through the eternal desert in the hell of love, they would be tormented by eternal thirst…!

    Modern internet slang: ruining good literature since 1960

    What are you, the chorus? Go talk to the girl and tell her it’ll be okay, geez.

    Kumasawa is too old to deal with all the emotional pain crap running in this family.

     

    There’s so much stuff I can’t comment on and it’s only gonna get worse for the forseeable future. It’s the fate of all blind follower following Seacat fans to suffer so. Beatrice too stronk.




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    1. CrazyEd says:

      If I had Golden Sneer start playing whenever I appeared, I too would be ambushing people all day erryday.

      Golden Sneer doesn’t usually play whenever I appear, but that’s never stopped me from ambushing people all day erryday.




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  4. Nerem says:
    Bea is a straight shooter.

     

    Just ask Natsuhi.




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