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Onee-Sama of Tears – Part One

October 25, 2009

Yeah, Umineko still doesn’t make sense. We went over this before. Beatrice and Battler meet-cute by means of murder re-enactments. A bit like having When Harry Met Sally take place in the latest Saw sequel in that it totally clashes with the nonsense going on in said murders.

When you get down to it, though, these nonsensical scenarios make perfect sense when you apply a healthy dose of dream logic to the situation

There’s a fine line between “dream logic” and “that shit don’t make no sense.” In all honesty, it’s probably up to individual interpretation. I can look at a story or a movie as being dream-like in its narrative, and someone else can look at it as a random series of events that make no narrative sense. I look at “dream logic” as a manner of storytelling that doesn’t follow any sort of conventional timing or geography, yet within its own confines he sequence of events “make sense” the way such events would make sense while dreaming.

A perfect example is the movie from which the above scene comes: Suspiria. If you watch this scene play out, it doesn’t really make much sense. One second the woman is screaming at her window, her assailant reaching out from the middle of the sky. When the camera cuts back to her, she’s on what seems to be a roof running along a chain link fence. When we cut back to her ultimate demise, she seems to be inside an attic in which there’s a completely unnecessary stained glass window. In addition, we have other inexplicable scenes. How does her roommate know that she’s being attacked so quickly. The only audible noise was the breaking glass and a scream. It took a leap of logic for her to assume that her friend was being attacked. Also, the manner by which the woman is murdered makes no real sense. Not only is she stabbed repeatedly, she’s stabbed directly in the heart. By all accounts she should be dead, but she’s still struggling. And despite being in complete control of this woman’s fate, the murderer insists on pushing the woman through the stained glass window and wrapping a noose around her neck. It is said hanging that ultimately kills the victim and not the repeated stab wounds or puncturing of the heart.

This sequence of events is as thoroughly implausible as the wire-fu in The Matrix or hot goddesses fawning over Keiichi in Ah! My Goddess. Yet the movie is shot in such a way that it expects us to take this at face value, much in the same way that our minds accept the disjointed events of our dreams. There’s no sense of irony or parody. All that’s left is to either laugh it off as inept filmmaking, or look at it from a different perspective. That’s what I think viewers need to do when watching Umineko, especially those of us unfamiliar with the game upon which it’s based.

Umineko only makes sense when viewed as an exercise in dream logic. How else are you going to make heads or tails out of a story where the still-living head of an annoying brat is served to its mother after said mother and child were implied to have been torn to shreds by a herd of goat-headed butlers?

One of the common themes I’ve found in stories where dream logic is prevalent is a sense of absurdity and hopelessness. What makes the events so horrific are the same reasons why many people find Lovecraft’s works frightening: there’s no sense to the events transpiring and there’s nothing we mere mortals can do about it. The murders in Suspiria, along with the murders in Umineko, fall along these lines. Most of the victims don’t deserve to die. They’re innocent of any crimes that would warrant a death sentence. Despite this innocence, these individuals are thrust into situations that are hellish in nature and completely inescapable. They may struggle valiantly to the end, but that end is inevitable, gruesome, and often times morbidly amusing. Being crushed to death after being killed and resurrected is torturous enough, but to have said crushing take the form of a massive strawberry cake terrifyingly absurd and funny.

Or it could just be stupid. Again, this stuff depends on the angle from which you’re looking.

More about this stuff later. For now, here’s some more absurd death scenes, this one from the sequel to Suspiria: Inferno.

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