Umineko: When They Cry, Vol. 5

Story by Ryukishi07; Art by Kei Natsumi. Released in Japan in two and 1/2 separate volumes as “Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Banquet of the Golden Witch” by Square Enix, serialized in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.

In Umineko fandom, there are two manga arcs that are considered to be the absolute best at adapting the source and adding actual expressions and action, and Banquet is the first of these (the other is End, if you’re curious). The artist from the first arc is back, but this one gives her far more to sink her teeth into, with Beatrice seemingly getting replaced as people actually bother to… solve the epitaph this time around! Meanwhile, given the first arc was Natsuhi-heavy and the 2nd focused on Rosa, the cover of the 3rd arc should not surprise you…


Yes, that’s Eva biting her pinky on the cover… and yes, that’s also Eva behind her grinning insanely. Sort of. We get flashbacks at the start of the book to Eva as a teenager, dealing with being the smartest of the siblings but having a father who’s an abusive misogynist and a brother who realizes this is basically the only way he can ever have power over her. The flashbacks blend together with the present, as Eva arrives in 1986 for the Conference, and we see teenage-Eva stay behind, acting as sort of a ‘inner voice’ for Eva, driving her forward and giving her help/admonishment.

The First Twilight takes out all the servants (plus Kinzo), leaving us with the parents for a far more extended period than we’ve seen before. Which, if nothing else, reminds us once again how toxic this family is, even as they’re trying to hide from a killer. Speaking of that Twilight, we also meet a few new people, Ronove and Virgilia. Ronove seems like your typical ‘demon butler’ sort, there to give small hints, dole out tea, and be a bit too gay for battler’s liking. (It is worth noticing that Genji’s last name is Ronoue.) As for Virgilia, we see at the start that she was Beatrice back when the Beatrice we know was a young girl, and has been hiding inside Kumasawa until she emerges to chastise her former student. There’s a lot of double identities here, which is quite important as the series goes on.

Speaking of the Beatrice we know, there’s a lot of interesting things going on with her. She’s still really cruel and nasty, to the point where the omnibus ends with Battler slapping her after she laughs at the antics down on Rokkenjima. At the same time, she’s far less aloof and more likeable here, and I’d go so far as to say she’s even cute. This is also the first time I’ve really been able to buy the flirting that she and Battler do. We also get some backstory on her supposed history on the island; we see her as a young girl at the start, and later on a teenage Rosa runs into Beatrice imprisoned in Kuwadorian, Kinzo’s secret mansion on the other side of the island he created because he’s just like that. Sadly, Rosa leads her off the edge of a cliff (by accident, I note, she’s not an abusive mother just yet) and she dies. And Beatrice notes in read that she’s definitely dead down there. Curiouser and curiouser…

This arc has been described as “Umineko for Dummies”, as the fans apparently told Ryukishi07 that he made the first 2 arcs too hard to figure out what was really going on (except, well, “it was magic”, which they were reluctant to say). Ergo, this one really is a lot more anvilicious with its hints to Battler/the reader, describing the idea of Schrodinger’s Box as a way to avoid answering the “magic vs. human culprit” question in the first place, the use of ‘imaginary friends’ and identity theft, and Beatrice as a shared title. This culminates in Eva managing to solve the epitaph (though Rosa was close behind, give her credit), and finding the gold, which really does exist. As a result, she inherits the title of Beatrice… or rather, her teenage self does. And when her teenage self realizes she is unwilling to share the gold with anyone else, well, the murders take an even more grotesque turn. One might even go so far as to say that this game as been hijacked…

So again, if you’re looking for human culprits here, the obvious question is “Can I trust what I’m reading? And who can I not trust?” By the end of this first omnibus, you should have a pretty good idea. This is another good (and huge) adaptation of a fun and increasingly convoluted story. Will we get to sympathize with Beatrice even more next time? If so, which Beatrice will it be?

Also, Yen, you tried, and I appreciate the reluctance to use the fan version everyone knows already, but “Karub Kamy Crokatch” is no “Sucker Merry Barrels”. Love Natsuhi’s reaction, though.

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