23rd Oct: It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here.
This is the Analysis entry for Umineko: When They Cry. Spoilers are unmarked ahead.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni goes much deeper than the power of love. Repeatedly, readers are told: "Without love, it cannot be seen". What exactly cannot be seen without love? In End of the golden witch, Battler has an epiphany: in a mystery novel, there has to be a trusting relationship between reader and writer; it is exactly the same as being in love. Without a guarantee that the mystery is solvable, the reader won't be interested, and without readers, the writer will not write. "Without love, the truth cannot be seen." But Erika expounds on that. Because of love, we also see things that shouldn't exist. I quote from Umineko's WMG page:
The Divine Comedy symbolismBeatrice, in Dante Alighieri's epic, is the symbol of divine love. In a similar vein, we have Beatrice III, the Endless Witch. The WMG that says "Beatrice is love" is valid. Love is fickle and doesn't necessarily follow human reasoning. Because of love, there are things that are hidden from view, and truths that are exposed. Virgilia is Battler's guide to reason, just as Virgil was Dante's guide. Without Virgilia, the illusions born out of love wouldn't have been dispelled. He would have given up by the third game if it wasn't for her. However, just as reason can guide, it can also mislead. Clair vauxof Bernard is the reader of the seventh game, and the one who reveals the final pieces of the puzzle to Will and Lion as well as the readers. Like Bernard of Clairvaux, Clair takes over from Beatrice, who has now gone to her eternal rest, as the final guide of the story. The place where Battler is trapped in is called Purgatorio. Beatrice wanted Battler to remember his sin of six years ago, and this is where "love" will purify the sin within him. Battler must suffer first in order to see the truth, just as Dante had to recognize, and then acknowledge his sins before ascending to Heaven. Arc Words, "Without love, the truth can't be seen", come into play here. The mystery genre is likened to love: if the author doesn't reciprocate the reader's desire for the novel to be solvable, the reader won't read it, just like how people won't reciprocate love until the other side says that they love them back. Requiem of the golden witch is a blatant reconstruction of the genre. Instead of a self-proclaimed intellectual rapist, we have a Badass detective who protects the innocent truths and unveils the destructive lies. We are shown how Mystery becomes Fantasy: by removing the last few pages which reveal the answer. And we are shown the importance of the motive in the mystery: by searching for the person who has the heart to commit murder, we find the true culprit.
The view of truthOn the Higurashi analysis thread there is an analysis on how our sympathy for a murderer changes from person to person. There is a similar point in Umineko but here it is instead how the truth of an event changes from person to person and that there can be no real truth since it varies so much. This point is reinforced time and time again especially in EP 4 with Ange's stubbornness with both Maria and Eva. But in the end, what is it that Ryukishi wants to tell the readers? What he wants is to show us is that when we have to look at everything from all perspectives. This is even reinforced with Kyrie's chessboard thinking where she looks at a problem not only from her point of view but also the culprits. But at the same time what he also seems to say is that you can go with any view as long as you think about it and therefore creates your own truth. This is probably the reason for Ryukishi's rather nasty Take That, Audience! in EP8. He did that because those people who demanded the truth didn't understand it. They only wanted to be told which would mean hearing one person's truth instead of creating their own, the opposite of what he wanted to tell us.