When Seagulls Get it on Like Two Donkey Kongs
Umineko doesn’t make much sense, does it?. Yeah, didn’t think so.
But since when has “sense” had anything to do with quality?
When you look at Umineko from any sort of conventional standpoint, where plot point A flows to plot point B and so forth, it just crumbles under its own ridiculous weight. There are puzzles to be solved, but the audience is never let in on most of the clues. There are references to chess and other games, but we never really see these metaphors expanded upon other than a few throwaway lines like “let me turn the chessboard around!”
When judged by the same standards one uses to judge most other anime series, Umineko is a convoluted, contrived, idiotic mess. But that’s the catch. I don’t believe Umineko, as a stand alone anime series, can be judged by any sort of conventional standards. It doesn’t play by the rules. I’m not sure if the series is trying to create new rules by which it wants to play, or if it’s simply so ineptly made that it never bothered to read the rulebook. The reasons for why it abandons the rules are irrelevant.
I’m sure it all makes “sense” if you’ve played the games upon which the series is based. But I have no desire to play said games, nor should I be required to play said games to “get” what the intended theme, plot, or whatever it is that’s supposed to be conveyed in this series. What I’m left with is my own interpretations, impressions, and assumptions based on what I’ve seen. And what I’ve seen is convoluted mess that makes perfect sense when viewed from the right angles.
One of those angles involves a courtship ritual gone terrifyingly wrong.
It’s that simple: Beatrice and Battler are two star-crossed lovers who simply can’t articulate their feelings in a sensible, rational, cognitive way.
All of this is pretty evident from the first time they meet in the fifth episode. Everyone is accepting of Beatrice’s position as a witch, save for Battler. He claims that his adherence to logic keeps him from believing in the existence of magic and the like. That’s all fine and good, save for the fact that he’s clearly in some sort of afterlife/limbo as the result of his death earlier in the episode. The very fact that he still exists in some form after his own death already proves that his scientific, show-me-the-money attitude towards things should be accepting of “magic,” since supernatural means are the only way by which one could “logically” claim his continued existence to be possible.
Yet despite this fact, Battler refuses to believe Beatrice’s claim. One could shrug this off as hot-blooded stubbornness. That would make sense if not for one more fact: Battler agrees to Beatrice’s game. If Battler really cared about proving or disproving the existence of magic, he wouldn’t bother with this game. Yes, it has been shown that he enjoys game-playing, as exhibited by the numerous chess references given before this scene, but if his “logic” were so sound, and there was no way he could see “magic” entering into that thought process, why would he even bother with such a game? He has nothing to gain by playing.
Except for Beatrice’s heart.
The only sensible conclusion I can make from Battler’s agreeing to play Beatrice’s “game” is because his is smitten by her. Love at first sight and all that jazz. The only way to become closer to this beautiful woman at this point in time is to agree to her terms and play the game. It’ll give him time to “court” her. He can play along with the game, spend time with her, and use that time to win her over.
He’s just buying time to bone her.
What about Beatrice? She’s just as guilty of Battler when it comes to love games.
She has no use for Battler. Yeah, there’s some throwaway lines about needing Battler’s acceptance to become “free” or something along those lines, but considering the fact that Beatrice is presumably immortal, is conquering Battler really necessary in the grand scheme of things? Beatrice is fully capable of destroying Battler with nothing but a wink and a smile. She could crush him into nothingness and make nothingness cookies out of him if she wanted. But she doesn’t. Not only does she insist that he play her game, she continues with the game long after it has been proven that Battler is unbreakable. She even kills him during the end of the second storyline. She has him ripped asunder by goat-men dressed as buttlers, and despite this horrific fate Battler still refuses to buckle to her whims and admit magic exists.
Beatrice is playing an unwinnable game with Battler, yet she soldiers forth and continues to play. She, too, must be utterly in love with her opponent, and she, too, is incapable of expressing that love in any other way but brutish violence.
Everything else you see in the series, be it ruminations on puzzle-like epitaphs or bizarre murders or hordes of cute girls with the names straight from esoteric demonology texts, are merely a means to an end. They’re all distractions created in order for Beatrice to attempt to articulate her love for Battler. You could say its akin to a cat bringing you a dead bird. That cat looks at you like a sickly old cat that can’t feed itself, so out of some instinctual maternal love it brings you food. Beatrice only comprehends savagery and violence, and therefore expresses her love to Battler in these “words.” Battler, being a teenager with little experience with women, can only respond by forcibly and embarrassingly rejecting Beatrice’s advances.
They’re like two elementary school kids pulling each other’s hair because their little hormones don’t know how to express themselves differently.
It’s pretty cute when you get down to it.