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Old 2011-03-15, 08:25   Link #121
Jan-Poo
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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
See, I thought that part was really clever. In EP2, you're so busy convincing yourself that the magic scenes are fake that you forget to doubt the more subtle fake conversations with Kinzo (and any other scene without Battler present).
It's not like you "forget", there was absolutely no reason to doubt them. You don't doubt what the writer shows you usually. There were a lot of people that didn't even doubt the magic scenes at the time. The stubborn magic denialists thought that the fake scenes were only limited to magic scenes, and they were still criticized by some.

After EP3 this view became predominant but it still didn't go further than that, in fact the idea that Kinzo was already dead was harshly criticized, similarly shkanon was criticized for the same reasons.

I'd like to note that those critiques were on the lines of "it would be bad writing if Ryuukishi did so". I've seen that line a lot of times, and it popped up again when the author theory begun to be seriously discussed.

What I'm trying to get to is that from the readers' side there is a natural tendency at trusting that the writer is not lying to the reader. In order to fix the inevitable inconsistency between this assumption and the facts the readers begun to progressively accepting "fake scene" while desperately trying to to limit them as much as possible to certain specific cases.

At one point red truths became the only thing that people would actually trust, but oh, in the end you can't completely trust not even those. Because no matter how absolute a truth is, if its definitions aren't absolute then you can interpret it however you like.

In the end we came to accept that everything seen in the first episodes is fake. Not only the stories themselves are fictions, but the characters in a fiction of a fiction are playing a charade.


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Originally Posted by Kylon99 View Post
Actually, I thought the point to the Epitaph was that yes, you dismiss it as some kind of word play puzzle. It was only a few people who started off suspecting that there was a second use to the Epitaph, that is the games that Beatrice plays for Battler involving faking their deaths.

So in that sense the Epitaph was worked into a 2nd big part of the story...
Isn't it the complete opposite? In the beginning people believed that the epitaph was the main reason of the serial murders. In the end it's just a "worthless riddle" (as Eva describes it) that whether you solve it or not has absolutely no bearing on your understanding of this story.
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Old 2011-03-15, 08:44   Link #122
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There's a difference between fake and "fake." Obviously the stories are "fake," inasmuch as they're fictions in fictions. The question is which ones didn't happen in a manner which has bearing on the outcome of the story. For example, the scenes with Kinzo don't bear on the story if you know he's dead; they become holes in alibis for Shannon/Genji/Rosa, but those holes aren't filled with anything.

By contrast, the magic murders might bear on the story if they're metaphors for the actual murders. That is, they excise the narration of the events as they actually transpired in the mystery story, but fill it back in with information that is useful.

What Battler learned to deny in ep3's First Twilight (whether he knew it or not) was scenes of the former kind; the massive magical duels that simply had no bearing on anything. But a scene like the battles in the mansion later in that episode might be "fakes" of a different caliber. And the same is potentially true of non-magic scenes (what Genji was up to when alone in ep2, for example).

I'm not sure all of this was executed well, though. Like roger said, I don't know if you can lay out a consistent road map that makes it clear to the enlightened observer which scenes are which.
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Old 2011-03-15, 11:06   Link #123
rogerpepitone
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I can accept the position that any scene described must be an accurate description of that scene. This is ruled out by the many magic scenes.

I can accept the position that any scene described where the detective is present must be accurate; any scene when he is absent is to be ignored.

I can accept the position that those scenes which have an indication of a falsehood (presence of a meta-character or golden butterflies) should be ignored; all other scenes must be accurate.

I'm thinking more about the scene in Episode 3 when Hideyoshi is watching over the sleeping Eva during the second twilight. Eva's sprite doesn't show in that room from the time Rosa and Maria leave the guesthouse until Hideyoshi and the others leave the guesthouse looking for them. This makes sense under the third rule; Hideyoshi was saying all those things, but it was just in case anybody could overhear him. There's no need for doing that under the second rule.

Another thing: In Episode 1, Kanon supposedly finds the wire cutters in the underground storehouse; in Episode 4, Battler finds them in the boiler room. At the time, I thought that discrepancy was important. Then Episode 6 allowed a discrepancy about the presence of duct tape.
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Old 2011-03-15, 12:51   Link #124
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Unreliable narrators are fine when you get them down to a science.

"Scenes with X happened, scenes with Y didn't."

That makes the twist neat and fresh. Once you know the twist in the Sixth Sense, you see the movie in a whole new light. The light isn't ambiguous, it's just different from the one you saw before.

Once you get into "whatever I say happened really happened and no I'm not going to go over every scene ever" then it gets a bit...yeah. Unless you are an exceptional writer, it's going to come off as rather pretentious and misleading. Ryuukishi is not that terrible, but he isn't that good either.

Ambiguity towards how much the narrator lied is very hard to handle. I personally don't think it was handled well at all here.

Last edited by Sherringford; 2011-03-15 at 13:30.
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Old 2011-03-15, 13:07   Link #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post

Isn't it the complete opposite? In the beginning people believed that the epitaph was the main reason of the serial murders. In the end it's just a "worthless riddle" (as Eva describes it) that whether you solve it or not has absolutely no bearing on your understanding of this story.
I just realized Eva was right about pretty much everything.

"Beatrice is Shannon with a wing"
"The culprit is a servant and he knows the servants room"
And she even teased Natsuhi in ep. 1 about Kinzo...

Makes me wonder about ep III fist twilight, she thought it had been the servants playing a scam.
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Old 2011-03-15, 13:14   Link #126
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerpepitone View Post
I can accept the position that any scene described must be an accurate description of that scene. This is ruled out by the many magic scenes.
Agreed and agreed, for the very reason you stated. Even if the magic scenes describe what occurred, they are clearly not perfectly accurate.
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I can accept the position that any scene described where the detective is present must be accurate; any scene when he is absent is to be ignored.
Disclaimed in ep5; one could narrow the statement to "is present and narrating," but this makes Erika's position as detective absolutely worthless because Erika almost never narrates in the first-person. There's also the problem that scenes the detective is not present for do not have to be false; Eva trying to pressure Nanjo when Battler isn't around most likely did happen in some fashion. Or the midnight meeting at the chapel in ep2; there's a very strong likelihood that this meeting actually did happen.
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I can accept the position that those scenes which have an indication of a falsehood (presence of a meta-character or golden butterflies) should be ignored; all other scenes must be accurate.
Again problematic for the reason you stated, but I think there's also a problem with consistency here, and even then, indications of falsehood do not necessarily mean the falsehood is useless. However, they don't really tell us which falsehoods are useful. They also don't help us with falsehoods of omission, such as the Hideyoshi thing. To say the absence of a thing is a hint of falsehood, bar particular circumstances, leads us to the famous "Aragorn doesn't wear pants in The Lord of the Rings because he's never described as having any" argument.
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Old 2011-03-15, 13:38   Link #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-poo
In the end we came to accept that everything seen in the first episodes is fake. Not only the stories themselves are fictions, but the characters in a fiction of a fiction are playing a charade.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renall
There's also the problem that scenes the detective is not present for do not have to be false; Eva trying to pressure Nanjo when Battler isn't around most likely did happen in some fashion. Or the midnight meeting at the chapel in ep2; there's a very strong likelihood that this meeting actually did happen.
So what? Are you guys saying, "We can't be sure about these scenes, therefore it is impossible to reason about them"? That's a logical fallacy, you can reason about things which you aren't sure. It just means that your conclusions are also not sure.
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Old 2011-03-15, 13:54   Link #128
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So what? Are you guys saying, "We can't be sure about these scenes, therefore it is impossible to reason about them"? That's a logical fallacy, you can reason about things which you aren't sure. It just means that your conclusions are also not sure.
No, that isn't what we're saying. Please try actually reading what was said before making arguments against things no one was talking about.

What we're saying is that there does not appear to be a clear road map in Ryukishi's writing by which he himself established rules (whether or not we were explicitly given them) for the veracity of certain scenes. This gives him too much leeway should he decide to "produce answers" as he would, on his option, be able to pitch scenes at his own convenience by declaring them "entirely false" and no one would be able to demonstrate through reasoning that he had not actually planned it from the start.

If such a consistent road map did exist, and his answer conformed to it, we would be hard-pressed to say he hadn't planned his answer out from the very start, because it would be indisputable on the evidence that previously existed.
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:03   Link #129
naikou
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Originally Posted by Renall
No, that isn't what we're saying. Please try actually reading what was said before making arguments against things no one was talking about.
No need to be rude. If I misunderstood your ideas, I apologize.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renall
What we're saying is that there does not appear to be a clear road map in Ryukishi's writing by which he himself established rules (whether or not we were explicitly given them) for the veracity of certain scenes.
That's unreasonable. False narrators, false scenes (even without any hints otherwise), are both well established in mystery.
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:19   Link #130
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That's unreasonable. False narrators, false scenes (even without any hints otherwise), are both well established in mystery.
It's entirely reasonable. Any game (as mysteries are sometimes called) has to have clear and consistent rules, even if discovering the rules is part of the game. If scenes are going to be false or narrators untrustworthy, there must be reasons why and hints indicating which things cannot be trusted. That doesn't mean we have to catch it the first time through the story, but looking back upon the story with the answer in mind, it should be clear that x scene couldn't have occurred quite as depicted because of y discrepancy that we could have already been aware of, had we been thinking of it.
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:25   Link #131
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What we're saying is that there does not appear to be a clear road map in Ryukishi's writing by which he himself established rules (whether or not we were explicitly given them) for the veracity of certain scenes.
I'm not really convinced of that. It seems to me that Ryukishi's fake scenes just take what the mystery genre normally presents as witness testimony and elevates it to witness narration. That doesn't necessarily mean we're obligated to treat it differently.

You can't get anywhere in an investigation by automatically doubting all of your witnesses. You have to treat what they say as trustworthy until you have a compelling reason to believe otherwise. Have there really been any scenes we know are fake that didn't have adequate hints to that effect?
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:26   Link #132
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If scenes are going to be false or narrators untrustworthy, there must be reasons why and hints indicating which things cannot be trusted.
Your reason should always be, "This person may be the culprit, I shouldn't (fully) trust their perspective." That is all the justification you need to doubt any particular scene.

It is so common to include unreliable narrators in mystery, it goes without saying. If Umineko was one of your first mysteries, then maybe it was unfair for you. That's too bad. But amongst mystery fans I discussed Umineko with (I even played EP1-4 with some friends over skype), it was obvious at every point in time that we should be considering the possibility of unreliable narrators, even if there were no clues about unreliability (which there were: the fantasy scenes).
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:46   Link #133
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I'm not really convinced of that. It seems to me that Ryukishi's fake scenes just take what the mystery genre normally presents as witness testimony and elevates it to witness narration. That doesn't necessarily mean we're obligated to treat it differently.
The difficulty is knowing when a scene is attempting to present "witness testimony" and when it isn't. I think we could fairly say that scenes in which a character who isn't Battler is narrating in the first-person are testimonial; how about when that narration shifts to third-person? What about when it's bouncing around between Battler internally, third-person, and other individuals?

If you think Ryukishi created a clear and consistent set of rules, defend him. I'm not seeing one, but I'd be interested if your insights are clearer.
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Your reason should always be, "This person may be the culprit, I shouldn't (fully) trust their perspective." That is all the justification you need to doubt any particular scene.
I'm not stupid. I realize we have to approach everything with a degree of doubt. You simply aren't understanding the point being made here at all.

The point is this: If Ryukishi did not establish clear enough internal rules such that his solution, if ever unveiled, would obviously track those rules, then his solution cannot demonstrably be shown to have always been the "right answer."

Please stop acting like I don't understand something. I'm speaking of his emphasis on the craft, not whether I should be shocked that testimony is unreliable.
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:55   Link #134
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Originally Posted by naikou View Post
Your reason should always be, "This person may be the culprit, I shouldn't (fully) trust their perspective." That is all the justification you need to doubt any particular scene.

It is so common to include unreliable narrators in mystery, it goes without saying. If Umineko was one of your first mysteries, then maybe it was unfair for you. That's too bad. But amongst mystery fans I discussed Umineko with (I even played EP1-4 with some friends over skype), it was obvious at every point in time that we should be considering the possibility of unreliable narrators, even if there were no clues about unreliability (which there were: the fantasy scenes).

But having an unreliable third person narrator feels cheap. There are a few well done novels like that, but they are few and far in between.

Why would a character lie? Because he is the culprit, of course. Why would he lie to himself? Because he isn't lying. He's just being elusive with words.

Spoiler for Murder of Roger Ackroyd and ABC murders:


A lying third person narrator--mind you, not just unclear but outright lying--is generally frowned upon in mysteries. Sure it can be done well, but it requires an absurd amount of talent.

In Umineko, the unreliable narrator isn't just the culprit. If it was, that would be fine. It's often a third person narrator, which makes it rather annoying.

And again, there is the science rule.

With a mystery novel, you know the rules. When the culprit is involved, the perspective is unreliable. With Umineko, it's different. When anyone at all is involved, the perspective is unreliable.

Did I see the "NOTHING CAN BE TRUSTED" theme from a mile away? Sure. Did I like it? Nope.

You can argue that his fantasy scenes and lies are just overly complicated padding of a testimony, but then I ask you this:

Are you really saying that like it's a good defense? If he's literally padding a simple testimony then that's...not...good. At all.

In a good mystery novel with an unreliable narrator, the lies should be hidden within the truth. In Umineko the truth is hidden within lies.

That affected the series quality quite a bit to me.

Last edited by Sherringford; 2011-03-15 at 16:56.
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Old 2011-03-15, 14:57   Link #135
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Then there's the chapel scenes in Episode 2 before the cousins arrive. There's nothing particularly unusual about those scenes, except that both Shannon & Kanon appear.

Also, by "should be ignored", perhaps I should have phrased it "can not be used as a basis for deduction". And this is not like the traditional unreliability of witnesses; in a traditional mystery, Natsuhi might tell the other characters about her meeting with Kinzo. That would be an accurately depicted scene; Natushi really did say those things, even if she was lying when she did so.
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Old 2011-03-15, 15:00   Link #136
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Why would a character lie? Because he is the culprit, of course. Why would he lie to himself? Because he isn't lying. He's just being elusive with words.
Thinking about it that way, I actually have a lot of problems with disclaiming scenes in which a person is thinking in the first-person. I mean, who is the audience for Natsuhi or Rosa's thoughts? No one. Why would they just make something up?

I mean, I can potentially doubt Eva and Hideyoshi's conversation in ep1, but that's because it was spoken in a scene narrated in the third-person. I didn't see Hideyoshi thinking about places he wanted to visit or anything. If I had, why would I think he was lying about something that inconsequential?

Mind you, Umineko does have something I liked: A narrator who is unreliable due to his lack of competence. Battler's remarkable ability to draw incorrect conclusions made him more fun to read about, but only because I could tell when he was doing so.
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Old 2011-03-15, 15:19   Link #137
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It is so common to include unreliable narrators in mystery
Really? I think we're talking about two different things.

People lying and fake witnesses is the norm. But that's a lot different from the author lying. This concept is well represented by Dine second:

2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself.


This rule could be paraphrased into a more common rule for every author of every genre: no scene must ever turn out to be just a lie the author himself made up in order to fool the reader.


This is the very basic of narrative ethic, if you don't accept this you might as well pull deus ex machina and similar.


You can have fake scenes, but it must be very clear that those come from a character inside the story and that they are meant for another character in a story. Or it must be something that a character with a distorted perspective is seeing, and the reader is seeing it through their eyes.
At any rate in the end the reader should be able to tell with certainty what was a lie and what was the truth.

Those stories that break this common rule are usually very poor conceived. One example that I can make is Heavy Rain, where you are able to "listen" to culprit's thoughts that he couldn't conceivably have being him the culprit. A culprit can lie, but there's absolutely no reason for a culprit to lie in his own thoughts. That had no other purpose but the fool the reader.


Umineko is very borderline on the matter. There are scenes that you simply can't tell if they were true or not.

For example the whole story of Ange of 1998 in EP4. Was it real?
If we accept the events of EP8 as canon then all of that simply didn't happen. Unless it was a parellel universe, which existence however has never been confirmed nor explained inside Umineko.

So how do you justify that? The only way you can think it wasn't a direct lie from Ryuukishi to the readers is in case it was part of a story that Hachijo wrote.

The problem is that in that case it simply doesn't make any sense. Because there are particulars mentioned that Hachijo simply couldn't know, and if she did Ange should be pretty much freaked out.


Ah btw

Quote:
So what? Are you guys saying, "We can't be sure about these scenes, therefore it is impossible to reason about them"? That's a logical fallacy, you can reason about things which you aren't sure. It just means that your conclusions are also not sure.
Kant would strongly disagree with that.
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Old 2011-03-15, 15:26   Link #138
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A good example of the willful deception thing that kind of always annoyed me, though not a mystery, is The Conversation with Gene Hackman:
Spoiler for The Conversation:
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Old 2011-03-15, 15:29   Link #139
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Can we all just calm down and agree that Umineko is less of a bullshit mystery than Heavy Rain?
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Old 2011-03-15, 15:30   Link #140
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Can we all just calm down and agree that Umineko is less of a bullshit mystery than Heavy Rain?
It's kind of hard to beat a chick-torturing simulator which gives you the ability to hear the internal thoughts of the killer (which do not reveal that person to actually be the killer and cannot even ambiguously suggest it).

EDIT: And yes, I just trashed a Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. It really is a good movie, but that part was just cheating.
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