Just a warning : I wrote this several days after the fact, so my memory is a bit fuzzy and I may forget a few points.
EPISODE 1 : Legend of the Golden Witch
We open with a cryptic foreshadowing conversation between Grampa Kinzo, Dr Nanjo, and butler Genji. All three of them have similar-sounding names, so it's a bit confusing. Anyway, the gist of it is that it's now time for Grampa to conclude his contract with the witch Beatrice. Or something. Our good doctor appears bemused, and the butler watches this stoically.
Opening credits ! It's surprisingly enthralling, given that there's no actual animation.
Everyone meets at the airport ! Well, actually, the three branch families : Eva/Kimiyoshi/George, Rudolf/Kyrie/Battler, and Rosa/Maria. This scene is very exposition-heavy, with eight characters and their relationships to introduce. Thankfully, it's not too clunky : our viewpoint character, Battler, hasn't seen most of the others for years, and thus gets a excuse to get exposition thrown at him. It's well choregraphed : each character appears after the other, is introduced, and then fades a bit in the background.
I've already detailed my early impressions of everybody in the first message, so I won't elaborate. In summary : Battler is a fun protagonist with lots of personality, Maria is already annoying, and most of the others try to stay rather bland for now.
We are treated to another credit sequence while the plane is flying, with just the names of all characters (including Beatrice !). I'm not sure why, but whatever.
We are quickly introduced to Jessica and old bag Kurasawa, would guide everyone to the boat for the island. Along the way, we are treated to mildly funny scenes about Battler's travel sickness. The only thing that seems vaguely relevant to the plot is that the island's shrine has been destroyed or something.
For some reason, the cook welcomes everyone on the island. This Gohda rubs me the wrong way. It's off to the mansion, but not before Maria falls in love with a random flower in the garden.
All the guests settle in the brand new guesthouse for a while, then it's off to lunch. And what a lunch ! Grampa doesn't even bother coming down from his study, which of course humiliates everybody. Most of all Natsuhi, who takes it out on the servants (poor Shannon !). It's interesting that, in the seating order, Natsuhi, who runs the house, rates below the grandchildren. It's an obvious sign of her place in the pecking order here, and it obviously wears her down.
Wait, I had forgotten. On his way to lunch, Battler stumbles on a big portrait of Beatrice, with a sinister epitath. It's a TIPS ! There's a bunch of cryptic instructions to find the mythical family gold, and then it gets disturbing : it announces 6 sacrifices, then another couple, then a succession of 5 more, and finally everybody dies anyway as the witch is revived. Why do I have a feeling this is exactly what is going to happen ?
Anyway, after lunch the grandchildren go to the beach to play a bit and try to solve the epitath's riddle. They're stumped, obviously. Shannon is with them, and obviously happy to spend her free time this way.
Meanwhile, the adults are talking about the succession. And it's far from cordial. Eva, Rudolf and Rosa are ganging up on Krauss to try and extort money out of him. There are accusations of embezzlement of Grampa's fortune (which Krauss is managing), stuff like that. Natsuhi is pathetic in her defense of her husband, and is chased out of the room. Then Krauss counter-attacks, and points out that each of the other needs some money quickly for various reasons. Anyway, he's not prepared to give up to them so early. It's a very unpleasant scene, with nobody really getting the moral high ground. What a bunch of greedy rats !
Back at the beach, the conversation has shifted to Maria's interest in black magic. She's deadly serious, and gives Battler and Jessica some cheap-looking talismans. On the way back, Maria looks for the previously-mentionned flower in the garden, but cannot find it. The other try to help her, but to no avail. Rosa comes, and ditto. She gets quite angry with her daughter's stubborness, up to mild physical violence. Wait, what ? Okay, Maria is very annoying, but still... In the end, everybody but Maria gives up, and she's left there alone.
Jump to dinner time... and it has apparently been raining a lot for a while. Nobody has seen Maria for hours (Rosa thought she went with the other kids, and vice-versa). They find her still in the garden, under the torrential rain. Fortunately, somebody gave her an umbrella. Maria, true to her unhelpful self, repeats over and over that it was "Beatrice". And, back at the mansion, everybody denies having given it to her (except for Grampa, who's still in his study).
Dinner is obviously tense : nobody has a good reason to hide this (Rosa wants to thank them !). And at the end, Maria reveals she was given something else by "Beatrice" : a letter sealed with Grampa's personal crest (he indeed threw his crest ring through the window in an earlier scene, though only a couple servants know that). The letter was supposedly written by the witch Beatrice ; she announces that her contract with Grampa is over, and that she will take her gold back as well as the family as interest, except if someone finds the gold first.
(The wording is interesting : she'll take the family, not the family fortune. Sinister...)
Everyone's flabberghasted, and the adults immediatly start squabbling over the gold (much to their kids' disgust). Maria is grilled about who gave her the letter, but keeps saying it's Beatrice.
Later, Battler crosses the path of his parents, and they seem very tired by the whole thing. Kyrie encourages Battler to think outside the box to find who has to gain from sending a letter in such a convoluted way (she thinks it has to be one the 18, and denies there's a 19th person on the island). Rudolf off-handly states that he may die soon. Hum-hum.
Elsewhere, Natsuhi is in despair. Krauss has just revealed to her that Grampa's gold is probably genuine (he's found an ingot), but has been hiding the fact to her for quite a while. Obviously, he doesn't trust her with his subtle games.
Jessica finds her mother in this state, and they reconcile. Jessica gives her Maria's protective talisman, which Natsuhi puts on the door inside her room before falling asleep.
The kids are then sent to the guesthouse, as well as most of the servants (only Krauss' trusted Gohda is allowed to stay in the mansion). We are treated to an unexpected tender scene between... George and Shannon. There was some chemistry there, but a full-blown relationship, with the scene ending with him proposing to her ? Wow, I didn't see that coming.
Anyway, Shannon goes to the mansion to occupy her minds. Gohda unloads all his chores on her, the slob. So she starts checking the windows and doors are closed everywhere. It's midnight...
Next part : Everyone dies.