Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Umineko When They Cry Episode 6: Dawn of the Golden Witch Volume 3
Battler's attempts to stymie Erika, with or without her detective powers, are falling into ruin as he creates a logical trap for himself. Taking advantage of her foe's difficulties, Erika decides to declare herself the master of the game, which sparks a change in Beatrice. Meanwhile Ange continues to read Featherine's version of events as the remaining sets of lovers continue on in Zepar and Furfur's great trial. Will there be any clear answers once the dust has settled?
Dawn of the Golden Witch may be simultaneously the least conclusive arc of Umineko: When They Cry and the one that gives us the most hints at real answers. This especially large omnibus volume does finish the arc, but it also gives us an incomplete game – Battler is unable to bring his match against Erika Furudo to a conclusion. Is this because his transition from the human side to the witch side is imperfect? Or is it Erika's fault for overreaching? Perhaps the blame lies with Zepar and Furfur's Trial of Love, which is in violation not of Knox's Commandments, but of S.S. Van Dine's, whose third rule states “To introduce amour is to clutter up a purely intellectual experience with irrelevant sentiment.” Regardless of whether or not any or all of these are to “blame,” all seem to be important in terms of actually learning what occurred on Rokkenjima, and even the seemingly foolish trial begins to shine light on who the characters may truly be.
The idea of “truth” is an important one this volume. Erika herself must come to realize that her desire for absolutes may be ultimately foolish, and that in turn encourages us as readers to question what we may have been taking for granted. Just as the previous book revealed some surprises about Kyrie, this volume has details about Kannon and Shannon and their “furniture” status that seem significant. During the Trial of Love, we learn that the two of them (and Beatrice) must ultimately compete because they are not fully human, and therefore don't possess enough love to fulfill their relationships. While at first this seems like the result of Kinzo's constant browbeating, upon reflection there could be more going on. Are Kannon and Shannon truly two separate people? Or are they two halves of a whole, somehow given two different forms? While that may have slightly more supernatural aspects than the ultimate solution is supposed to contain, it is becoming increasingly obvious that each iteration of the “game” that the witches play may not be taking into account any form of actual reality. As Erika realizes that “truth” can mean something different to each observer of a situation, perhaps “reality” does as well. What we may be seeing in each arc is not what actually happened, but someone's perception of it. While it would be a bit of a let down to have everything turn out to have taken place in Battler or Ange's tormented mind, it does seem possible that somehow all of the games reveal a truth as seen by one of the players. The only real solution, then, would have to be presented by a detective, according to both Knox and Van Dine – but Erika seems to have taken herself out of the running for that position.
Also of interest this volume is the repetition of the number 19. In numerology, 19 signifies the “number of surrender” and people associated with it tend to be egotistical. In Judeo-Christian terms, 19 is the number of “God's perfect judgment,” while in Tarot the 19th Major Arcana is the Sun, a generally auspicious card. Whether Ryukishi07 is drawing on any or all of these (and the first two do seem likely, and we could make a connection between the “golden” witch and the sun), the repetition of the number feels significant. Given how often the number of people on the island has been called into question, deciding whom to assign to the number 19 may in fact be a key to solving the final mystery.
In terms of the actual presentation of the manga, Hinase Momoyama is at the top of their game. Page set ups are particularly well done, with cliffhangers until many pages are turned, and a creative use of panels makes sure that your eye is never bored. The general technical merits of the drawings are also very good, and Momoyama's gotten very good with the series' distorted faces, as well as keeping Zepar and Furfur androgynous. One of the highlights, however, is Erika's veil and gown, which are beautiful and juxtapose nicely with her decidedly sexual manner of speaking to Battler, especially in the second half of the book. (The ring scene isn't subtle, but it is an interesting gender reversal.)
Umineko has two more cycles to go, so we may not have all of the clues we need to solve the mystery once and for all yet. But it feels as if this book brings us closer, if only we can turn our heads to see the specific truth we're being guided to. Whether we're in someone's distorted mind or the 19th person on Rokkenjima ourselves, this volume is a successful conclusion to its arc while still making us eager to keep pursuing the story.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : A-
+ Mystery starts to come together with the idea of different “truths.” Some particularly good art and page layouts, love trial makes more sense.
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