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Umineko Vol. #09 Manga Review

5 min read
Umineko Vol. #09 Manga Review
Umineko Vol. #09 Manga Review

Fate claims more victims as Battler and Beatrice reach a stalemate.

Creative Staff
Story: Ryukishi07
Art: Soichiro
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
One by one, the attendants of the Ushiromiya family gathering are killed under what can only be described as supernatural circumstances. Even Kyrie, the strongest proponent of logic and reason, is convinced by the vicious parade of witches and demons she has witnessed. Battler and Maria have yet to be tested for their suitability as family head, but the greater test for Battler will be whether or not his logical stance can hold out against the seemingly undeniable tide of the witch’s magic…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers): 
Everything in the fourth murder mystery retelling seems to be purposefully stacked against Battler’s quest to prove that nothing supernatural took place on the island. As the bodies continue to fall and the dying survivors plead with Battler to not go head to head with evil magic, it all just feels like a punch in the face. It’s blatant disregard for logic, reason, and ultimately, the rules. How can anyone expect to win against beings with the power of gods?

To hammer home this point, and I do mean hammer, we’re treated to yet more scenes of explicit gore and death. Pages upon pages of cackling, plotting, scheming witches and the women who act like them. Brief moments of heroism are blotted out with lascivious tools of destruction commencing in stabbing, crushing, and whatever else the ‘furniture’ is ordered to do. There’s no reason the demon sisters have been depicted the way they are except for a cheap thrill for the straight male reader, but by now their costumes are just theatrical and any ass-shot just seems really stupid at this point. Everything has become gratuitous, a senseless padding of the real plot. Did we need twenty pages of gloating over Maria’s diary? We get it, the poor kid was damaged and so is Ange. Can we get on with it?

Yet it’s not the obvious magical manipulations and gruesome deaths which break Battler this time. It’s Beatrice questioning his lineage. Not his connection to the Ushiromiya family, but to his own mother. The weird angle that Beatrice plays to take Battler down is so far from anything to do with the story itself that it’s just plain cheating. A dirty trick to get out of a game she no longer has an interest in playing. Beatrice is tired of being used herself by the other witches and just wants to escape to the golden land with Maria.

Ange won’t let the witch get away with leaving the table. With her mind finally made up Ange realizes her death is inevitable. She drags Battler back from the edge by telling him the truth about who she is, and in doing so signs her death warrant.

The sad truth to Ange’s life comes into stark contrast as her story plays out to its final conclusion. She may not have been on the island, but all that her absence brought her was twelve more excruciating, loveless years of life. Her aunts hated her, her classmates bemoaned her existence and in the end, all she can do is realize that she was too harsh on Maria. Hindsight is 20/20 when you’re plummeting to your death.

The end of this volume shows real progress for Battler. He’s able to stand to Beatrice and throw hypothesis after hypothesis that she cannot refute. It makes this battle of wits visually impressive it is depicted with shards of magic and dragons. It feels good to have what appears to be some actual logical assertions made after an arc of insane magical thinking being played out to it’s most absurd conclusions.

Only to have the coda bring it all crashing down once again. The two higher witches giggle about how Battler was still off the mark about some things, and how Beatrice didn’t go in on him hard. Of course, if this had been the real truth of things then this would have been the end. Yet this is barely the halfway point. You can almost feel the fatigue setting in.

There’s a smattering of the usual extras. A few jokey omake comics thrown in, two opening color pages, and a glossary.

In Summary
As the 4th game comes to a close we are both closer and further away from the truth to this complex murder mystery. There are some real villains in the Ushiromiya family, of that there is no doubt, but does everyone deserve to die? Certainly not. The deadly outcomes seem to be written in stone, but which one is the leading universe? Battler may have beat Beatrice at her own game once again, but the witch has grown bored. I’m growing equally bored of the fetishized violence. All of this blood and gore, the gleeful torture, how much more is the audience willing to watch? Only the mystery is driving my interest forward, and the desire for justice. The deep melancholy Beatrice hints at leaves further questions, and ultimately the real mystery fall back to ‘who is Beatrice?’ For now, the 4th story arc draws to a close.

Content Grade: B –
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A –

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
MSRP: $22.00

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