Umineko: When They Cry, Vol. 20

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

Given this came out about three months ago, faithful readers might have wondered what happened, given my When They Cry obsession. Well, frankly, reading about 200 pages or so of Ange revealing her suicidal mental state for all to see is relatively exhausting and hard to get through. It’s well-handled, it’s just really goddamn depressing. A lot of this arc of Umineko, and this volume in particular, is dedicated to hammering into the reader that this isn’t Higurashi and there is absolutely no “everybody lives” ending. The time for guessing the murderer is over, The time for figuring out Beatrice is over. And, just in case readers of the VN were still debating endlessly because Ryukishi07 wanted to not spoon feed people the answers, we now get those same answers spoon-fed. How much you enjoy that may depend on how much you wanted to “solve” the mystery of Umineko, and how much you just want to read a good story.

Once again, I think there was a more appropriate cover they could have chosen, but I’ve given up on that fight. And to be fair, Will and Dlanor do get a wonderful epic teamup here fighting the goats spinning their endless theories. They each balance each other’s weak point. The start of the omnibus intersperses an awful lot of battles into the mix, with logic flying back and forth and everyone screaming at each other. This contrasts with the end of the book, Confession of the Golden Witch. This is possibly the most controversial manga addition – it was not in the original visual novel, and some say that Ryukishi07 added it as he was tired of people saying there was not a “real” answer. There is one. This is it. We see the culprit narrating what led to this point, why they decided to do it, and how they did it, down to the tiniest detail. As a mystery element, it’s terrible. As a character moment for the villain, it’s amazing.

For all that I’ve been going on about an unhappy ending for all, and certainly Ange does seem to leap off a building while Bernkastel describes how ludicrous it would be for convenient netting to break her fall, there is also something suggesting that she and Eva may not have been the only survivors from the island. We get a bit of background for Ikuko, who is far more likeable in the real world than she is as Featherine. She almost runs over a body on the highway one day, and finds they’re not as dead as expected. Sadly, said body seems to have lost his memory, and is facially bandaged… and then hidden from the reader. That said, the secret identity of this person is not all that hard to figure out. What IS hard to figure out is where Ange goes from here. She’s read Eva’s diary, and did not like what it said. So she can’t get her revenge, and also she’s seemingly dead, though a lot of Beatrice’s impassioned speech at the end certainly implies she is not as dead as everyone else in the Golden Land. What can she do, other than scream and pound Beato’s chest?

Well, that’s what the final omnibus will tell us. It’s been delayed till 2020, so we may not find out for a bit. Till then, enjoy a fun but emotionally exhausting book. Unless you were trying to figure out the mystery, in which case you may hate this. The answers are highlighted in yellow.

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