Umineko: When They Cry, Vol. 17

Story by Ryukishi07; Art by Eita Mizuno. Released in Japan in three separate volumes as “Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Requiem of the Golden Witch” by Square Enix, serialized in the magazine Shonen Gangan. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Stephen Paul.

(If you aren’t spoiled about Umineko by now, best not to read this review.)

It does feel something of a cheat to be introduced to Will and Lion and then have them barely appear for the entirety of this next omnibus. Indeed, the author lampshades it. But it’s also something of a necessity. Battler wasn’t able to solve this. To a large degree, neither was the reader. And thus Will is here to reveal the culprit and have them explain everything. We’re not getting ALL the answers here, and the story plays a bit coy with the culprit by using Clair as the personification of the backstory. But here we learn about Yasu’s life as a servant in the mansion, her interaction with Battler, and what exactly it was that led to everything that happened in 1986. Yes, we finally learn Battler’s sin, and it’s the sort of thing that’s very hard to blame a young boy for but also very easy to.

That said, one of the answers we get spelled out here will, I suspect, frustrate the reader immensely. The Riddle of the Epitaph has always been fairly hard to figure out, but here we find that not only would it be hopeless for Western readers, even more Japanese readers were never going to get anywhere. Not because of the tortuous alternate kanji readings that infest every aspect of it, but simply because the one clue that would have started things off is deliberately hidden from us till this book, which is Kinzo’s “hometown”. Even Yasu, who ends up solving the riddle right at the end of the book, needs Genji to explicitly give the hint of “Taiwan” to start the ball rolling, and it’s *still* frustratingly obtuse. I credit the translator for not simply giving up and throwing his hands in the air.

I was, admittedly, about ready to throw my hands in the air when we got to the final scene, where “Beatrice” dons her regalia and is presented to Kinzo so that he can grovel and apologize to her. What Kinzo has done to Beatrice is so loathsome that even Genji, putting out feelers to see if he can get away with revealing who Beatrice really is, all but asks “Are you just going to rape her again?”. Ryukishi07 means this scene to be somewhat sad and pathetic for Kinzo, but I still can’t get over my intense hatred and loathing for the man who abused his family and made them into what they are in 1986. That said, the rest of this volume is excellent. The scenes of Beatrice and Shannon in the Golden Land are very well-adapted and help explain why Beatrice is so fixated on (and in love with) Battler. The art is also very good, conveying several times the “…wtf?” face that is the only reaction to events here.

We have one more large omnibus to go, and clever readers will be wondering what Bernkastel is up to. But Yasu’s story is not quite finished either, so put up with the backstory a little more. As for those dissatisfied with the riddle’s solution, well, can’t help you there. Umineko fans will find this essential, though.

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