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Old 2010-10-09, 13:51   Link #17941
Renall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LyricalAura View Post
To extend the comparison, saying the story is "solvable" just means that all of the figures and factors are available to you. There's no requirement to tell you if you've done your math properly until after your test is graded, although you might have the opportunity to check your answer by talking to other students in the hall.
I think the difference here is we are dealing not with arithmetic, but algebra. There remain variables I am highly cynical have actual been fixed to values. There's a difference between "I put 3, 6, 21, and 59 in the story somewhere, and if you could find them all, you'd get 89" and "I put x, 6, y, and z in the story somewhere, and if you could find them all, you'd get 89." All that would give us is x + y + z = 83. There isn't one answer for that equation, except that "x + y + z = 83" is itself a singular answer. So now: Is it "one of" the solutions for those variables, or is it the variables themselves that are "the answer?"

Really, the question here is what "solvable" means. Because it may not mean the standard mystery definition. In fact, it can mean just about anything. Look at it this way: What was the author actually trying to do?

The simplest answer is "write a mystery story," but he has gone to somewhat great lengths to evade, contradict, or deny that prospect. So maybe that's the problem to begin with. Looked at more generally, to "solve" a work of writing is to arrive at a particular mode of thinking, to engage (one way or another) a belief, to obtain a perspective or new understanding, that sort of thing. Some works exist solely to evoke emotion. Some works are political. Some are trying to succeed as stories unto themselves, others as stories about storytelling. Some are just comedy.

Upton Sinclair was a reporter, and The Jungle is not good fiction (in fact, it's terrible fiction), but as rabble-rousing politics it was incredibly socially impactful in its time. Sinclair provided a very clear "solution" (a political viewpoint, socialism); it would be hard to argue that any other was intended by his work. So it doesn't matter if his book sucked, if he got you mad about the conditions of workers in the Chicago meat packing industry. That was the "solution." If you got mad and demanded change, that's what he wanted to happen. You want to know whether things actually will be better for Jurgis in the end? Well... too bad. That isn't a factor in the "proper" solution.*

Likewise, if we were trying to "solve" the Gospels, the "solution" is not to come upon an explanation as to why Jesus's tomb was empty and why he's appearing to disciples as if it were a Carr locked room. Certainly we could plug away at explanations, but we'd conclude that it isn't a very well-structured mystery story. But of course, it isn't; it's a religious text, meant to convey a particular theological view, and in light of this view the "solution" is that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, died for sins, conquered death, etc. That probably wouldn't satisfy Knox, but the Bible isn't trying to, and even if it coincidentally did satisfy Knox, it wouldn't make it a mystery.

The difference, of course, is that The Jungle and the Gospels do not pretend to be something else. However, there is no particular reason why something cannot purport to be a different genre than it really is (The Blair Witch Project is not actually a documentary, but this makes it more effective horror). One can be straight-faced about a blatant lie (Borges's poker face about Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius being history is legendary), but I'm not totally sure whether Ryukishi has ever actually said "this is a mystery, primarily." The old joke from ep5/6 that it's a fantasy romance is not so far off in that case.

If it's not actually a mystery, the solution need not satisfy as a mystery. Going back to the wall metaphor, if the solution is not "build a wall with bricks and mortar" but "build a wall with bricks and anything, and do something with it," we actually already have the answer. Just not the answer a lot of people think should be there.

---

* That does not mean we must be happy with that. There are, in fact, people who think that the "right" answers to certain stories suck. Sometimes it's even the author themselves.

Dissatisfaction with literature and efforts to expand, correct, or reinterpret it abound. Japanese mystery writers have at times had fun with alternate solutions to mysteries, Chandler was famously unable to remember who was supposed to have killed Owen Taylor, one of Christie's most famous works is about Poirot intentionally spinning the "right answer" as absurd, Doyle had to un-kill Sherlock Holmes, Tolkien wanted to expand on The Hobbit, Maguire and Randall wanted to twist the events of The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind around.

So suppose for the moment that the actual solution to Umineko is an expression with multiple variables, and the "answer" is that we can plug in whatever we want as long as it adds up to the final sum. This is not so insane as it sounds, if we go by Tohya/Featherine's claim that a person with the truth can wirte their own story against the backdrop of multiple stories which do not appear to contain any identical truth-elements. How can a person who knows the truth willingly allow themselves to participate in the continued obfuscation of it? Well, if the truth is "x + y + z = 83," then that is exactly what they are doing: Showing, repeatedly, different values for x, y, and z, while never contradicting that the sum is 83.

Of course, this would mean that there are no canonical values for x, y, and z. The one that satisfies you would just be the one you happen to like best.

Don't like that? Write a damn message bottle about it.
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Old 2010-10-09, 14:08   Link #17942
Oliver
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renall View Post
Well, if the truth is "x + y + z = 83," then that is exactly what they are doing: Showing, repeatedly, different values for x, y, and z, while never contradicting that the sum is 83.

Of course, this would mean that there are no canonical values for x, y, and z. The one that satisfies you would just be the one you happen to like best.

Don't like that? Write a damn message bottle about it.
While well reasoned, this point of view has a flaw. Namely, we don't really know the sum.

In fact, Ep4 went out of it's way to obscure certain key things which would be most of the bits of the sum-as-known-to-outside-observer - namely, the nature of the accident - and Ep7 resulted in a description of it that isn't really very satisfactory.

But continuing the mathematical analogy, what if what we really have is not a sum, but something like...

x * y + 1 = z

And Z cannot be revealed to us... because Z is prime, or some other number that satisfies rare properties, so knowing that it does, only one set of X and Y is possible.
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Old 2010-10-09, 14:10   Link #17943
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Well at that point the question is whether you're okay with x * y + 1 = z being "the solution." Most people would want to know what x/y/z are. But in more than a few mathematics classes, this answer would be sufficient to get full marks.

EDIT: And by this example, x and y are basically unknowable if z is unknowable, except through guessing. At least so far as this metaphor can stretch.
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Old 2010-10-09, 14:13   Link #17944
Oliver
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Minor flash of insight:

Umineko's solution is actually a genetic algorithm to produce a mystery novel generator.

EDIT: By this example, it may be possible to find both X, Y and Z if it is known that Z (or X or Y) have any special properties, like being prime or hexagonal or whatever. They will be unknowable if the condition of satisfying that special property is not known.
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Last edited by Oliver; 2010-10-09 at 14:23.
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Old 2010-10-09, 14:30   Link #17945
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Well I think there are algebra questions where you have to know the value of the other variables to get the sum right? Like they get you to assume if X=2 and you add 1 to Y then what is Z? solve for Y or something like that.

Eh... math...
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Old 2010-10-09, 14:37   Link #17946
Oliver
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Originally Posted by Judoh View Post
Well I think there are algebra questions where you have to know the value of the other variables to get the sum right? Like they get you to assume if X=2 and you add 1 to Y then what is Z? solve for Y or something like that.

Eh... math...
There are algebra questions where you don't have to know the value of any variables in the original equation to find them all, as long as enough other information is presented about the variables. These extra constraints actually produce the extra hidden constants that result in a system of equations. For example...

x * y = z
is unsolvable on it's own, but then we also know that
x < 28
y < 16
z % 2 = 0
...etc, etc. Enough conditions of this kind can narrow x, y and z down to the only possibility.

What I'm saying is that when something is conspicuously not mentioned when it should be, it might be that the very fact that it is not mentioned can actually provide enough information.
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Old 2010-10-09, 15:23   Link #17947
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Well, technically that is exactly what is expected from an orthodox mystery. Well not exactly half way through, but as soon as the investigation is done the reader was expected to be fully capable of solving the novel.
There's one minor difference. Those were books - which, depending on your reading speed, you could probably read in 2-4 hours. However, you cannot do that with Umineko, because it's not just one story, but 8 of them, and each one of them are released every 6 months. So, whilst you can read one episode in 2-4 hours, it's simply impossible to read the whole thing in that amount of time - of course, unless you haven't been spoiled at all and you buy the whole thing after it's been finished, and even then, I think Umineko is too long too be read, on its entirety, in under 4 hours. In addition to all of these, the ones who read Umineko are quite likely avid Internet users. So, not only do they have a lot of time to think about their own theories, but the can also gain insight about other details and even read theories from other people, from all over the world.

So, if Umineko was solvable beyond doubt, with 100% certainty by EP4, then I believe the expectations for the following games (i.e. the next 2 years) would have been rather low. In fact, if that had been the case, R07 could have ended the whole thing by EP5.

My point is that, when R07 said Umineko was solvable by EP4, he simply meant it potentially, as in, he didn't expect the Average Joe to solve it by then, but by EP6 and/or EP7. But, either way, whether the whole thing was actually solvable or not by EP4 is probably pointless to discuss.
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Old 2010-10-09, 16:49   Link #17948
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Originally Posted by Used Can View Post
There's one minor difference. Those were books - which, depending on your reading speed, you could probably read in 2-4 hours.
Well, it depends. Many of them were published per chapter or at least in blocks in mystery magazines or as additions to newspapers, so sometimes you had to wait a week or a month before you would know more. Of course it's not the same with Umineko (Umineko being much more extreme), but it's a similar concept.

But there is a popular made-for-TV movie every year in Japan. It's a detective-mystery written by famous Japanese authors. Part 1 gives you the story and all the clues. You can think about it, discuss it with other people and until a certain deadline you send in your solution. Normally one week later they air the 2nd part, which is the solution. And the person who sent in the solution closest to the truth (of course answering who, how and why) wins.
You could say that it's not your classical feature as well, because people have at least a few days to discuss options (especially with the internet), but it's always an event.

Quote:
My point is that, when R07 said Umineko was solvable by EP4, he simply meant it potentially, as in, he didn't expect the Average Joe to solve it by then, but by EP6 and/or EP7. But, either way, whether the whole thing was actually solvable or not by EP4 is probably pointless to discuss.
Well, I think there is a point to discuss that, because it depends on this point wether Umineko is actually worthwhile as something that it is understood as.
Had Ryukishi left it with his claim that it's not certain wether it's a mystery or a fantasy, I wouldn't have any problems with it. But when he said that the mystery was basically solvable after Episode 4, he put it into a certain corner and people began to have reasonable expectations.

But yes, solvable is a very broad term and I think what he might have wanted to say, if I remember what he said correctly, is that all the clues are presented by Episode 4 and it's basically possible to piece them together. At least I hope that's what he meant.
He basically told us something like this:
There are 20 roles.
Not all of them must be actuall people.
The setting is cut off from civilization.
The murderer is able to use a gun.
All found corpses are genuine.
A controlled disaster destroys all evidence after the crime.
One person is known to survive.
One relative was not there.
A promise was made in the past.
etc.
Probably all clues are present, as well as many red herrings. So we have no real clue how to set them apart, so of course a bit of luck is in order to actually solve the mystery just after they have been presented, but it's not impossible.

As long as Ryukishi does not pull something out of a magical top hat (like a sqealing, incompetent, dimension-travelling deity or a privately funded military organization) and all clues were actually there, I would be pleased.
A mystery that everybody can solve is boring. I want it to be mean and difficult and full of strange knowledge that actually hinted the crime but was impossible to see until you knew where to look...
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Old 2010-10-09, 16:52   Link #17949
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Originally Posted by chounokoe View Post
Well, technically that is exactly what is expected from an orthodox mystery. Well not exactly half way through, but as soon as the investigation is done the reader was expected to be fully capable of solving the novel. Practically without even having to read the further chapters containing the solution by the detective. That was only in there to give the reader confirmation about his own deduction.

That is exactly one of the points, why detective fiction has been discriminated against so often throughout it's existence.
Many classical orthodox mysteries are technically not real literature, at least that's what's claimed by critics at their times, because many had no real plot, no real plot curve, because they were sticking to the mystery rules of their time, like flies to honey.

I would agree, many of the great works of the Golden Age are fantastic puzzles, but as stories they often suck big time.
That is one of the many points that changed in the 80's in Japan in terms of mystery and detective fiction. And I can't imagine, that there aren't some parts of the shinhonkaku-movement and even those novels that came after in Umineko...
So I think approaching it just from the angle of the rules of classical, orthodox, Golden Age mysteries is something that is backing many people into a corner.
Mind you, the Golden Age itself had novels with very good plot. Even Van Dine, who made the famous "screw the plot let's get to the puzzle" rule, had one of the best proses in the industry, and some of his novels were very good not just as puzzles but as narratives as well.

Agatha Christie however, as good as she was with puzzles, was simply a terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible storyteller.

That's not the point why detective fiction has been discriminated so much. The point is that some writers got acclaim for their plots while neglecting their characters, like Christie. There is nothing wrong with a perfectly solvable plot, and even Japanese fiction sees nothing wrong with that.

What people do frown upon was the Christie attitude to make generic characters and let the mystery stand on its own.

Van Dine's logical beauty plus compelling settings made his novels quite interesting, and Carr's supernatural mysteries were(sometimes) very good stories on their own.

Of course even some Golden Age writers like Chandler(who by the way expressed disdain of the rest of the golden age and probably wouldn't want to be associated with them) hated the mystery over plot over characters routine.

So to summarize my argument, mystery fiction used to be frowned upon because certain writers were acclaimed for their plots while neglecting all other areas, which led to a certain stereotype.

It doesn't matter how beautiful the carefully planned setting in The Dragon Murder Case is, people will remember the genre for how every Christie story had a couple, people jealous of that couple, and then a murder.
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:14   Link #17950
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Originally Posted by chounokoe View Post
Well, it depends. Many of them were published per chapter or at least in blocks in mystery magazines or as additions to newspapers, so sometimes you had to wait a week or a month before you would know more. Of course it's not the same with Umineko (Umineko being much more extreme), but it's a similar concept.
That's interesting to know, but due to different times, I'd say the situations work out rather differently. Back then, people definitely had time to think about these cases, but, how many people could they discuss it with? Perhaps one of their neighbours read it? Or maybe one of their friends? Compared to Internet sites with sections dedicated specifically for these topics, in which people from all over the world gather to discuss these stories, I'd say the situations go from one extreme to the other.

In addition, did people receive 100% confirmation midway in those mysteries back in the day?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chounokoe View Post
But there is a popular made-for-TV movie every year in Japan. It's a detective-mystery written by famous Japanese authors. Part 1 gives you the story and all the clues. You can think about it, discuss it with other people and until a certain deadline you send in your solution. Normally one week later they air the 2nd part, which is the solution. And the person who sent in the solution closest to the truth (of course answering who, how and why) wins.
You could say that it's not your classical feature as well, because people have at least a few days to discuss options (especially with the internet), but it's always an event.
An answer close to the truth... would mean there's no 100% certainty is it?

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But yes, solvable is a very broad term and I think what he might have wanted to say, if I remember what he said correctly, is that all the clues are presented by Episode 4 and it's basically possible to piece them together.
This is exactly what I mean, and what I think R07 was trying to say.
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:16   Link #17951
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I'm sorry to butt in the middle of a conversation, but recently I've been trying to develop a Kyrie-centric culprit theory and I think I've got something worth presenting.

(Note: my knowledge extends to the end of EP6. I have not read EP7 yet, so if there is something in EP7 that conflicts with this information just say "EP7 disproves you.")

Well, I think Kyrie Ushiromiya is the mastermind of the series. She uses accomplices to do some of the dirty work for her, though.
Rudolf and Nanjo are always accomplices and Shannon, Kanon, George, and Jessica are being manipulated.

Firstly, Kyrie is one of the most intelligent people on the gameboard. She knows this and tries to create a series of "impossible crimes" on the island in order to snag the hidden gold for herself. She possibly already knows the solution to the epitaph but is having trouble transporting it without being detected by her family members. After all, even if she legitimately obtained the gold, the threat exists that her husband's siblings will kill her out of envy.

Kyrie creates the illusion of "The Golden Witch, Beatrice" on the island to boost her "impossible crime" setup. After all, she is one of the only people to actually witness Beatrice's existence in EP2. She is the one that tries to get the children to accept magic in EP4 over the phone.

She probably gets Shannon to dress up as Beatrice and give Maria the letter at the beginning of all of the games. This is the beginning of the illusion; she tries to get everyone to believe in the presence of the Golden Witch. It is unknown WHY Shannon puts up with this, but she is probably being told what to do because she is a servant.

After she subtly introduces Beatrice to the scene, she sets up the Fake First Twilight. The reason Kyrie tells the victims for the Fake First Twilight varies with each Episode. After the "survivors" investigate the crime scenes, Nanjo lies to them and says that the corpses are indeed dead.

After the survivors leave the scene of the Fake First Twilight, the victims are legitimately killed. Kyrie uses the "Fake First Twilight" scheme in order to gather the victims together so it's easier to kill them. Kyrie is let free, along with any accomplices she chooses (probably Rudolf, at least).

This is where things get interesting. Along with Kyrie, there is someone called the "Anticulprit." This person is responsible for killing Kyrie in the Episodes where she dies. As far as I remember, the only Episodes where Kyrie is confirmed dead by the red text is when the Epitaph is solved. Thus, when the Epitaph is solved, everything changes.
After the Epitaph is solved, the Anticulprit ends up killing Kyrie. I believe the Anticulprit does not change throughout each of the Episodes. For now, it's probably Eva (she solves the Epitaph) or "Erika" (she kills people in EP6).

At the very end of the games, Kinzo's bomb kills everyone except for the Anticulprit (given the gold is found).

I know I'm forgetting some things, but I'll add them later. If there is anything wrong with this theory, please let me know and I will try to develop it

Last edited by DaBackpack; 2010-10-09 at 17:37.
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:37   Link #17952
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I think Kyrie was confirmed dead for EP's 1 & 2's 1st Twilights in EP4.

Anyway, I remember I came up with a crack-theory for Kyrie, before EP7 was released:

Spoiler for Le Kyrie et 00Gohdá:
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:41   Link #17953
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But yes, solvable is a very broad term and I think what he might have wanted to say, if I remember what he said correctly, is that all the clues are presented by Episode 4 and it's basically possible to piece them together. At least I hope that's what he meant.
Yeah, I agree. I think what he meant was something along the lines of "to solve this puzzle you need to combine those following pieces using Y pattern. I haven't given you the pattern yet, but hey you have all the pieces."

Quote:
As long as Ryukishi does not pull something out of a magical top hat (like a sqealing, incompetent, dimension-travelling deity or a privately funded military organization) and all clues were actually there, I would be pleased.
A mystery that everybody can solve is boring. I want it to be mean and difficult and full of strange knowledge that actually hinted the crime but was impossible to see until you knew where to look...
I know what you mean, and I think there is no such a thing a mystery fan that wants an easy mystery. But I'm afraid that Ryuukishi's solution will be something pulled out of thin air.

A mystery that everybody can solve is a bad mystery. But it is possible to create a mystery that everybody can solve yet don't. For example, Roger Ackroyd was one book that while VERY fair(seriously the murderer is blatant if you think about it) it fooled everyone.

I know that expect every novel to be fair yet hard is foolish, but to give a writer a free pass in not being fair in order to make his mystery hard is the same as rewarding him for his incompetence.

That said, I understand where you are coming from. But I personally prefer crimes that seem impossible, yet remain fair with the reader.
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:54   Link #17954
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...Or it just isn't a mystery, and it fits Ryuukushi's initial promise? Hmm.
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Old 2010-10-09, 17:58   Link #17955
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...Or it just isn't a mystery, and it fits Ryuukushi's initial promise? Hmm.

This would be hilarious, and I would actually be okay with it. Though even if it isn't a mystery, it will be a Burning Court ending of sorts.
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Old 2010-10-09, 18:01   Link #17956
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I mean, this story has an introduction saying "You're not meant to be able to solve it. I will try to screw with you as much as possible. Feel free to have a go anyway". I guess that could be a lie, but...
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Old 2010-10-09, 18:10   Link #17957
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Originally Posted by chounokoe View Post
Had Ryukishi left it with his claim that it's not certain wether it's a mystery or a fantasy, I wouldn't have any problems with it. But when he said that the mystery was basically solvable after Episode 4, he put it into a certain corner and people began to have reasonable expectations.
IIRC this interview was written during the chiru arcs I think. I think it's also stated in episode 5 (or was it 6?) that there was no chance of the fantasy side winning at that point. So I think the question of whether it's a mystery or a fantasy was already closed, which IMO makes this statement a no-brainer from his view point.

I actually do think all the clues are probably there by episode 4. I consider episode 4 to be the start of the breakdown series since murder weapons are clearly explained, and it's the first episode where Beatrice's letters stop appearing etc. Clues are added in episode 5 and 6 in response to theories like Kinzo's tape player for instance and there are statements added to get a better feel for people's personalities, but I think the foundation for a lot of things is there by episode 4.

EDIT: Another thing is I think he said once that Umineko is a story about writing mystery novels or something similar.
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Old 2010-10-09, 18:20   Link #17958
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Originally Posted by Leafsnail View Post
I mean, this story has an introduction saying "You're not meant to be able to solve it. I will try to screw with you as much as possible. Feel free to have a go anyway". I guess that could be a lie, but...
He also said that he'll "make us beleive a witch did the murders". Compare that to the tag line for the superman movies "You'll beleive a man can fly". Seriously it's just hype and reverse psychology to goad people into reading his game.
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Old 2010-10-09, 18:28   Link #17959
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You can read it that way, but you can't complain if it turns out that's how he meant it all along.
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Old 2010-10-09, 18:36   Link #17960
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You can read it that way, but you can't complain if it turns out that's how he meant it all along.
Oh, but I can. Very loudly in fact. I can also chose to stop reading his games at all if I don't find the solution satisfying. Although I personally doubt that will happen since I enjoyed some of his other works.

I still think the ending will be good whether it's solved the way I think it will be or not.
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