In Defense of A Closed Cat Box

An unsolved mystery is an open canvas. It invites endless speculation and debate.

As long as it remains unsolved, it can continue to live. To provide the solution, though, is to kill it.

Art by gungun

Art by gungun

I loved the ambiguity of Umineko’s original ending. One solution to the series core mysteries was strongly hinted at, but never outright confirmed. I feel like this was the perfect balance between providing closure, while still keeping the mystery alive. Unfortunately, many readers hated it, both inside and outside of Japan.

The manga adaption has spelled out the “official truth” much more explicitly. Ryukishi07 recently did an English language interview with the gaming site APG Nation, and confirmed that “by no means is the manga version an individual interpretation. It is an official answer from me.” It’s hard to say whether did so in response to negative feedback, or intended to all along. Quite possibly the latter, considering his comments in the Higurashi Kai staff room about mysteries without a “solution book.”

Either way, I’m disappointed that Ryukishi07 had to open the cat box. Whether or not the cat has died, the mystery certainly has.

At least I’m heartened whenever I see the small mysteries that remain in Umineko. We can still find some shadowy corners where the light of an “official truth” has yet to shine: solutions of individual puzzles, Erika’s existence, and others.

It might seem irrational to seek out solutions, only to feel disappointed when given one. Sometimes, though, the journey is more important than the destination.

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3 Responses to In Defense of A Closed Cat Box

  1. I’m with you in this… but to tell the truth, in part I think it was hard for Ryukishi to cope with all the harsh criticism and fall in popularity after Umineko.

    After EP8 was released, Ryukishi popularity fell to the ground. Many of his fans became haters, people started to dig all they could about him, posted his personal information on-line and harassed the shit out of him.
    For a time there were tweets “exposing” how he somehow violated “copyright” because the clothes on the characters resembled actual clothes on stores, about how 07th Expansion wasn’t really a “doujin circle” and therefore he shouldn’t be in the comiket, because Umineko was registered under some trademarked company, and even many started to make conspiracy theories about that trademarked company being the real 07th Expansion (it wasn’t, it was the company which produced the CDs, which for some reason trademarked it), which by the way was one of the reasons why for a time 07th Expansion couldn’t even participate on the Comiket.

    He first tried to calm down all the crazy people with the special booklet where he exposed the “raw” creation of a Beatrice work, but of course it didn’t mattered at all.

    I really feel sorry for Ryukishi, because he did a piece of art, and was destroyed because he did, because instead of pandering to what fans told him, he did what he wanted to do with Umineko since the beginning.

    Like

    • perceez says:

      Would you recommend someone who’s read Umineko multiple times to read the manga to “know everything” about the story? Or does it just ruin it?

      Like

    • tim_p says:

      Yeah, it’s a shame.

      The most distinct moment in EP8 for me was realizing that the “final boss” was the audience itself, that horde of goats tearing the island asunder. It’s rare to see the issue of toxic internet communities addressed in fiction, but it’s a swiftly growing problem. It’s too easy for people to isolate themselves in a bubble of groupthink, letting the ability for critical thought and empathy atrophy. I guess that really touched a nerve with people.

      I like to think he’s still doing what he wants to. The political rants in Rose Guns Days (and it’s whole concept in general) make me think, “This is clearly a man who DGAF.”

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