Anti-Mystery vs Anti-Fantasy (アンチミステリーとアンチファンタジーについて Anchimisuterī to anchifantajī ni tsuite) is an article written by Ryukishi07 and included in the 07th Expansion booklet released at Comiket 74. Ryukishi goes into detail on how the mysteries in Umineko are presented. Original translation comes from Belladonna Lee from this site.

This article contains spoilers for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

Transcript[edit | edit source]

This time around, the tagline for EP3 has changed from "Deducible? Not deducible?" to "Anti-Fantasy vs. Anti-Mystery". Those who have finished reading EP3 might already understand that the world of Umineko is precisely as the tagline says. Although everyone has heard of "mystery" and "fantasy", you might not have heard of "anti-mystery" or "anti-fantasy". What does it mean by "anti"? Please allow me to explain.

The meaning of "Anti-Fantasy" is as the words say. "Fantastic" phenomena cannot exist in the world we live in. Those dream-like fairy-tales are nothing more than fiction. Even if someone believes in their existence, it's really nothing more than an exaggerating, politically-inclined delusion.

Do you truly believe that Earth was created by the Creator in seven days? Do you believe that Izanagi used a spear to "dig" up the first island of Japanese archipelago?[1] Impossible. The Big Bang, collision between asteroids, movement of land mass -- using these theories to explain how lands are formed is the plausible way to go.

To those people who love to talk about scientific theories in Japanese History or World History classes, I would like to welcome you to the world of "Anti-Fantasy". To those people who do not believe in "fantasy" at heart but who are good at conforming, I would also like to welcome you to the world of "Anti-Fantasy".

Witches and magic cannot possibly exist. Everything can only be revealed through the method of deduction. There must be a lot of people out there who believe earnestly in such view point. This thing that I call "Anti-Fantasy" is really our basic thought process, our common sense. As long as you adopt this way of thinking, there is no way you will surrender to Umineko. Because witches and magic do not exist.

Now then, the direct explanation of "Anti-Fantasy" is complete. And now we will move on to the topic of "Anti-Mystery".

First off, before we talk about "Anti-Mystery", we need to first dive into the topic of "mystery novels". To fully explain what is a "mystery novel", this little booklet is not enough. Therefore, we shall only dabble in it briefly.

When one talks about "mystery novels", one usually means "traditional mystery novels".[2] To put in simply, traditional mystery novel is a mystery novel where the reader is able to use the information given in the story to solve the case before the solution is given out.

This is the main trend in mystery stories; it's perhaps appropriate to grant it the title "traditional". Traditional mystery is a battle of wit between the author and the reader during the reading process. From this perspective, traditional mystery novels are the most entertaining one amongst genre fictions. That means high quality traditional mysteries are exactly like precise riddle games such as mathematical problems; they are the purified, enlightened condensation of many great works by famous mystery authors.

Nonetheless, purified traditional mystery will eventually run into certain obstacles, namely, a famous problem called "later Queen problem".[3] To put it simply, the "later Queen problem" concerns with the inability to determine whether the information the detective (the reader) can obtain in the story is complete or not. Good detectives normally use evidence and clues they've found to come up with a good deduction and a plausible conclusion. But an important criteria must be satisfied before the solution can be regarded as completely accurate.

That is, the evidence and clues that the detective are processing must be "complete". In most cases, the detective will thoroughly search the crime scene, and list the evidence and clues he or she has discovered. However, the possibility that "there exists a decisive evidence X which the detective is unable to unearth" cannot be denied. It means that, no matter how much the famous detective shows off his great detection skill, the solution is only "constructed together from the clues and evidence that was present at the time". To put it another way, if the "undiscovered decisive evidence X" is later added into the story, the solution the detective came up with might be struck down entirely.

Therefore, a detective not only has to come up with a solution according to the evidence, but he also has to prove that "there does not exist any undiscovered evidence". There is no further need to explain this, for this is the true "Devil's Proof". It's impossible to prove the accuracy of the solution that the detective must have come up with in the end. Even though traditional mystery ought to play out as a completely plausible puzzle game, at this point they are trapped by the fact that they cannot plausibly reveal the truth.

In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, it was repeatedly stated that there is "only one master key," but one cannot deny the possibility that the master key has been duplicated. Even if a character were to claim it is impossible to make a duplicate, one cannot disprove the possibility that "the key has been duplicated without the speaker's knowledge." Even if the key is molded into a shape that makes it impossible to duplicate, one cannot disprove the possibility that "there is unknown technology out there that makes duplicating the key possible".

The witness might have been lying; the police might have made some blunder during the processing stage. Or a key character is bribed by the culprit, or the culprit has placed certain evidence that would lead the detective to the wrong direction (i.e. red herring). If we cannot completely exclude these "unexpected possibility," we might not even be able to discover the hints. Regrettably, this "disproving" cannot be accomplished.

Stepping back, assume that the detective (the reader) has come up with a very plausible solution, and the murderer has confessed to the crime. As long as the undiscovered evidence X still exists, one cannot disprove the possibility that "the accomplice admits to the crime in order to protect the true murderer".

In fact, a similar situation as described above has appeared in Watanagashi-hen of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Before Meakashi-hen was released, almost all the readers had come up with the wrong culprit for the events that had occurred in Watanagashi-hen.

Examining Watanagashi-hen alone, when the culprit admits to the conclusion Rena comes up with in her deduction, that particular deduction is "complete". That means the deduction that marks "XX as the culprit" was "accurate at that moment in time". And then in Meakashi-hen, we are suddenly given a lot of new information that weren't present in Watanagashi-hen. So appropriately, the fact that "the true culprit is someone else" can be easily understood.

After reading through Meakashi-hen, the reader would likely think this revised solution is correct. However, at the time of Watanagashi-hen, he or she would not have been able to come up with this solution. Nonetheless, the solution that is constructed in Watanagashi-hen is not wrong in itself, even though the identity of the true culprit is wrong. The solution for Watanagashi-hen is entirely correct "at the time", because this is the "truth" that is constructed using the pre-existing clues "at the time". But clearly, the real oversight lies in "easily deducing the identity of the murderer at the time of Watanagashi-hen".

This is the "later Queen problem".

After the reader finishes reading Meakashi-hen and receives a concrete answer, he or she has more or less accepted this truth. Even so, if the "later Queen problem" exists, then there's no guarantee that what is being revealed in Meakashi-hen is the real truth.

As an outrageous example, let say in the future, Ryukishi07 decides to release a truth exposing arc called "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Shin", claiming that "the truth in Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen are both disguises, and the real culprit is the unexpected character XX!", in addition to adding new information to the story. The new truth would obviously take over the old ones, and the truth in Meakashi-hen becomes false.

(The scary thing is that even if it's such an absurd situation, as long as one sees Watanagashi-hen, Meakashi-hen, and "Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Shin" as a complete series, then everything makes sense. No matter how much new "additional information" appears, it's impossible to prove the new information is "added after the fact". Also, as long as the "later Queen problem" persists, no matter how much new information is added, it is still legitimate. That's because the existence of unknown clues "cannot be disproved".)

Although this is a bit argumentative on my part, I still want to say that the seemingly complete opposite plotlines in Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen are actually the same. At the time of writing, there didn't exist any "information added after the fact". Or so I say, but it's impossible to prove whether it's true or not.

Putting it all together, what the story is trying to say, what kind of answer will one get from the story, or even the truth that the author (god) says isn't absolute. Even the truth dictated by the "author", this all powerful god, can be revised by the future self of the author, an even higher entity. That means whenever one runs into the "later Queen problem", the mystery novel would fall into an extreme predicament. The "mystery", this noble ideal in mystery novels, would in fact cause itself to be denied, which is rather ironic.

With a bit of sarcasm on my part, I call this phenomenon "Anti-Mystery".

As long as the "Devil's Proof" exists, neither we nor the detectives can disprove the existence of an "unknown evidence X". As long as the "Devil's Proof" hasn't been broken, we aren't even qualified to try inferring. Even when someone falls down dead right before our eyes, and a locked room is established, and there are suspicious evidence everywhere, we still can't begin our deduction. Be it crime scene investigation, or processing evidence, or witness testimony, what we need to clarify first and foremost is "that thing", i.e. "are we able to conduct our deduction with all the evidence we have so far".

Historically when famous detectives arrive at the crime scene, they would look up to the sky and ask the omnipotent god (author) one question, "Is this world (book) really a traditional mystery world (able to perform deduction)?" And then, god would reply, "Of course this book is a traditional mystery. You will definitely be able to solve all the riddles. Get ahead and perform your deduction." The detectives would then mumble in their minds, "Ah, that's good. Now I can rest easy and perform my deduction," and begin their investigation. [4]

The scene must surely appear in real life murder cases too. The police seals off the area, and then the inspectors clap their hands together while looking up at the sky. "God, can this case be solved? If we don't get a clear answer, we can't even begin our investigation and deduction. Because if this is an "irregular mystery" or a "realist school mystery", or even the increasingly popular "supernatural fantasy", then it's useless to perform a deduction." But this is real life, therefore god isn't going to answer.

So, should we clap our hands together until god appears? Or should we forget about the investigation since we don't have god's guidance?

When the aforementioned situation crossed my mind, I thought it was funny, but also I've discovered for the first time that the concept of "Anti-Mystery" might actually exist. Those people who treat mysteries as mathematical problems and look for logical answers might seem to be going on the right track, but they are committing a terrible error.

Without the assumption that "this mystery can be logically solved", these people can't solve the mystery. Besides, this assumption cannot possibly be established. That means without the guidance of god, these people who wildly conduct their deduction are nothing more than uncultured idiots who can't even exercise a little of their "grey cells". Their IQs are comparable to insects.

In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Beatrice is mocking this kind of people. Even though they are single-mindedly trying to come up with a equation-like answer, if there isn't even an assurance to the most basic possibility, they have no chance of winning. To use boxing as an analogy, it's as if a boxer is saying "I only want to fight with an opponent whom I can win". To the Witch Beatrice, those people who stubbornly claim to deny witches and expose the truth are as laughable as that boxer.

Below are comments from Beatrice

After you have read Umineko EP1, are you really attempting to challenge this mystery? Because there's no declaration, then it is not considered a challenge? Because this story doesn't specify that "all the evidence are gathered", then it is not considered a challenge? Kukukuku!

How foolish. When and where have you seen this kind of proof before? During your entrance exam, do you ask the deity "will I be able to enter this school"? If the deity doesn't offer you guidance, then you are not even going to write the exam? Kufufuahahahahaha!

If your mother doesn't tell you, "good boy, you'll definitely make it," then you can't even go to the examination room? Hahahahahaha!

You seem to finally understand how cheap this human creation called "mystery" is. Then you should also be able to sympathize with my desire to laugh. Well then, welcome to the "Anti-Mystery" world.

Isn't there such a saying? "There are too many things in this world that science cannot explain." And so it is. Everything in this world cannot be completely proven! The "unknown element X" which we have not anticipated can exist; no one can disprove that.

Deduction? Mystery novels? And traditional ones? Ahahahahaha! How laughable!! Good kids, if you have bought mystery books then let Mummy read it first, and then ask her, "Are the riddles in this book something I can solve?" If Mummy nods her head, then you can go on and read. You can just eat the baby food Mummy has already chewed up for you. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Below is Ronove's commentary

Miss, truly, this type of talk is too tasteless.

The "Red Truth", which Lady Beatrice utilizes, is an anti-thesis of mystery. The content that the "Red Truth" conveys is the word of god; it becomes truth without the need for evidence or proof. As long as the "Red Truth" declares that "the door can only be unlocked with a master key", any other theories will be rendered useless. Theories about wires and fishing line will also be discarded. With this as the basis, one can use red to declare "there are only five sets of master keys; there are no other way to unlock the door; the keys cannot be duplicated". And then it will be perfect.[5]

But looking back, is what one calls the absolute "Red Truth" really the "truth"? I'm afraid not even Miss can confirm it. I presume some of you might have suspected whether you ought to believe in Miss's "Red Truth" or not? Yes, in this world, there is no such thing as truth that "can be proven". Therefore, if one wants to ask if one can believe this truth or not, please rephrase it in this manner.

"Do you really trust her?"

Someday, you would surely marry the person you love. And then on that destined day, the priest will surely ask you the question. You wouldn't say "it's impossible to prove what she says is true or not" in that kind of situation now, would you? Pukukukukuku.

In order to deny witches, one must enter the game between witches and human. But in your situation, you have no choice but to accept that the witch's "Red Truth" is the truth. This is a game one plays to deny witches, and yet one must believe in the witch's words. What a hilarious contradiction.

When you first heard of the rule of the "Red Truth", you asked Miss if the "Red Truth" can be trusted. Miss replied as such, "This is a game between me and you. The rule of the game is sacred. Those who scorn the rule are not qualified to participate!"

Pukukuku...!

Which means that you and Miss have already established a sacred relationship of trust. This is indeed a connection even the demons would envy. Pukuku...!

Truth doesn't exist in this world. Even "love", the so-called single element in this world, is no more than illusion and "fantasy". Perhaps those people who use mystery to explain everything and deny "fantasy" don't even have the right to love and be loved.

Dear reader, are you inclining towards "Anti-Fantasy" or "Anti-Mystery"? Or adapting one or the other depending on circumstances? Perhaps this is the wisest choice.

The exaggerated hero adventure told by friends -- Anti-Fantasy. The time when one is drunk in unsuitable dreams -- Anti-Mystery. The gentle melody on an insomniac night -- Antimony orgel. [6]

Goodnight, dear reader.

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Izanagi is the Japanese equivalent of Uranus in Greek Mythology. Legends had it that Izanagi and his wife Izanami used a spear to create the islands of Japan by plunging the spear into the ocean and then pulling it out.
  2. Honkaku Mystery, which I translated to traditional mystery novels, though perhaps not the best way to translate this. It mainly refers to mystery tales that focus on solving puzzle plots, and that these puzzles tend to be fair play, i.e. the clues necessary for solving the case are all there in the book. The entertainment value is not so much on the story but on the solving of the case. One can say that the Golden Age mystery stories usually fall under this category. Notably authors include Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie.
  3. I couldn't find the proper English term for this for some reason. Anyway, the "Queen" here refers to Ellery Queen. Apparently, this problem arose during the late period of Ellery Queen's writing.
  4. A little background on Ellery Queen's novels. In the first nine Ellery Queen mysteries, a "challenge to the reader" is included in the book just before the detective, Ellery Queen (not to be mistaken with the author), reveals the final solution. It's like putting a pause in the story for the reader's benefit, a point where the author is directly addressing to the reader. And in the challenge, they usually claim that the clues necessary for solving the mystery are all there in the book, and that the reader should be able to come up with the solution at the point through deduction, hence it is a fair play between the reader and the author.

    If you think about it, this "challenge to the reader" segment is almost like the commentary between Meta-Battler and Beatrice when the main events of the game (i.e. the family conference and what not) are momentary frozen in time.
  5. This footnote comes from the Chinese translator of this article. I thought it brought up an interesting point, so I include it here.

    "In Japanese mystery novels, the authors sometimes utilize 'supernatural power' to bypass the 'later Queen problem'. For example, because the detective borrows supernatural power to obtain the conclusive evidence to solve the case, the truth he comes up with in his deduction must be the real truth. In Umineko, the equivalent of this power is the Red Truth."
  6. Orgel = musical box

Sources[edit | edit source]

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