Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chapter 4 (f)

October 6, 1986, 0:00 AM.
This precise time doesn't simply mark the beginning of a particular day. No, it is far more terrible than that. This is when an unthinkable catastrophe occurred.
The first to notice were the inhabitants of Niijima, one of the many Izu islands that lie south of the Tokyo bay. Reportedly at that precise time a powerful explosion could be heard. It was strong enough to wake up people from their sleep. The shock wave reached their houses and made the windows' glasses shake violently. Many rushed outside to see what happened, but the center of the disaster was several kilometers away. It was the middle of the night, so there wasn't much that could be seen, however a few persons noticed something strange looking west near the horizon. The sky had just cleared up after the passage of a violent typhoon, but no stars could be seen in that direction, it was as if a thick cloud covered that part.
The reason we can be sure that that explosion occurred exactly at midnight, is due to the fact that it was strong enough to be detected by several seismometers, in other words we possess scientific evidence that it was indeed 0:00 AM. Conspiracy theorists later often used this fact to point out the unlikeliness of this timely disaster to be the result of a natural or a random event. However authorities and experts repeatedly argued back that the probability of that happening by chance is just 1 on 1440, far from being impossible. This would be a valid point, if it wasn't for the fact that that October 6 was no ordinary day.
It didn't took long before the epicenter of the explosion was determined to be in Rokkenjima. At the time that small island, barely 2 kilometers wide, was practically unknown to anyone. Since it isn't of any particular relevance, you don't usually find it on maps. However, even then it was a pretty peculiar place. Normally it shouldn't be possible for a single individual to own an entire island in Japanese territory, but Rokkenjima was an exception. This is a very debated argument and the subject of various speculations, but it is widely accepted that the GHQ had a hand in it. What is certain is that in 1950 the entire Rokkenjima island was purchased by Kinzo Ushiromiya. He was a money shark who had made huge profits in an incredibly short time through dirty deals and his many connections. It is said that he gained most of his wealth by speculating on the Korean war. Originally he was supposed to build a marine resource base on that island, but he turned it into his own residence instead. Truly Kinzo Ushiromiya was as much visionary as he was a lunatic. Why did he want to live in that forgotten island? Why did he move there with his whole family? Rationally it doesn't make any sense, especially considering he was a businessman, being so cut off from the mainland was decidedly unpractical. According to certain rumors, Rokkenjima held a sentimental value to him, but his true reasons remain unclear.
The morning following the tragedy, Kawabata, who used to work as a ferryman for the Ushiromiya, found the landscape of Rokkenjima completely changed. There was no longer a harbor where he could dock his boat, there was no longer a mansion on the top of the cliff, the cliff itself was gone. Of course, there was no passenger that required his services either, not that day, nor any other day thereafter. Instead Kawabata was welcomed by several patrol boats of the coastal guard. They had come directly from Tokyo and Shimoda. There were helicopters surveying the site from above, and even the JSDF was mobilized. It was truly an appalling sight.
When Kawabata was questioned by the police, he revealed a most shocking truth. On October 4, two days before, he had ferried to the island practically all the living relatives of Kinzo Ushiromiya. With just a single exception, they were all gathered there. Kawabata explained that that was an annual occurrence. Every year on October 4 they would all gather for an important family meeting. Normally they would only stay for a single day and then leave on October 5, but that 1986 a typhoon engulfed Rokkenjima and the near areas. Traveling by sea in such conditions was impossible, and so Kawabata had no choice but to wait for the following day. Strangely enough he couldn't contact the Ushiromiya by phone, it seems that the line was cut off. At the time he simply attributed the cause to the typhoon, but many believe that the island was purposely sealed off from the rest of the world. It was later revealed that there was a radio device inside the Rokkenjima mansion for such emergencies, but no distress call was ever received. It is a dreadful thought that many of the victims of that tragedy could be still alive if only that typhoon came a day earlier or later, but there are people who don't think so. Some say that the explosion would have simply happened a day earlier, some say that Kawabata would have become another victim; and then there are some that claim that Kawabata wouldn't have gone there on October 5 either way. Of course Kawabata always denied that, but it is a fact that the boat of the resident Ushiromiya was conveniently on Niijima for repairs. In other words, typhoon or not, nobody would have been able to leave the island anyway, without Kawabata.
As the rescue team surveyed the site of the explosion, it became clear that there wasn't much that could be found, not even debris and rubble. Whatever existed there, it was completely pulverized by the incredible detonation. It is estimated that the resulting crater is around one kilometer wide, which means almost one half of the whole island was destroyed.
Considering the situation, it isn't strange that no corpse was found. A list of the victims was reconstructed based on what was testified by several related individuals, but technically they are all just assumed to be dead. The only exception is Maria Ushiromiya, the youngest family member. Somehow a fragment of her jaw was preserved enough to be compared with her dental records. Because of that it is almost certain that everyone else followed her fate. All, except one person.
This is yet another mystery of this strange story. When the helicopters arrived on the site, they were able to spot a building that wasn't supposed to exist. It was found at the opposite end of the island in relation to the crater, and because of that location, it was spared from the destruction. As the investigations later established, Kinzo Ushiromiya secretly ordered the construction of a second mansion when he built the first. Since it was never registered, and the normal procedures weren't respected, it is an unauthorized building. According to what has been reconstructed from various witnesses, not even Kinzo's closest relatives were aware of its existence. It was literally a secret mansion, but it is now known that it was called Kuwadorian. There are rumors that a woman, Kinzo's lover, used to live there. This theory is supported by several witnesses, including Kawabata, and by other circumstantial evidences. However as of today nobody was able to give her an identity, there are simply no records of such a woman ever existing. Truly, if this Kinzo's mistress ever was there, she literally came out of nowhere and in the same way she disappeared.
But on that fateful October 6, the secret mansion Kuwadorian wasn't empty. When the rescue squad arrived and explored the building, they found Eva Ushiromiya, Kinzo's eldest daughter. Hopes rose up after that finding, and the searches intensified. The rescuers spent three whole days combing the forest that survived the explosion and the surrounding waters. In the end the only thing that they were able to retrieve was a bottle with a strange message inside. At the time they didn't think it was anything relevant, at best it was a bad joke. The strange message was archived and forgotten, for a while. By that time it was concluded that Eva Ushiromiya was the only survivor of that tragedy.
As it is to be expected, Eva was found in a state of severe shock. She was quickly brought to a hospital in Tokyo, but apart from the psychological trauma she was unharmed. Of course the whole nation at that point was impatiently waiting for her to recover. Both the police and the press had many questions that they hoped she could be able to answer. They were all disappointed.
Eva didn't talk, no matter how much she was pressured, she adamantly refused to reveal a single detail of anything that happened during those two days. The police interrogated her for hours. Who knows how many times they made the same questions over and over. Who knows how far they went to get her cooperation. I am sure that they tried all the methods available, but they all failed, Eva never yielded.
She died twelve years later of heart failure, allegedly due to severe fatigue and psychological stress. She brought all of her secrets with herself to the otherworld. What kind of important reason did she have to carry that heavy burden until the very end? She probably would have lived a better life if only she opened her heart, but in spite of the unimaginable stress that destroyed her mind and body, she remained true to her decision to never reveal what she witnessed.
Naturally due to these circumstances Eva Ushiromiya became the center of everyone's suspicions. After all, with all of her relatives gone, she became the heir of the Ushiromiya's vast empire. The very fact that when everyone else died she was in a safe area, far from where she was supposed to be, isn't something that can be easily explained. She must have known in advance what was going to happen, but then why did she go to the secret mansion alone? How could she leave her husband, her son, and all of her relatives behind? And then why did she refuse to tell what happened? So it really isn't strange if people started believing that she planned it all. If it wasn't an accident, then the one who survived and benefited from it had to be the culprit.
Even so, regardless of the many suspicions, due to a lack of evidences and witnesses, there was simply no way to prosecute Eva Ushiromiya, nor to conclude that a crime was committed at all. Int the end, the case was archived.
Up to this point it was still called the "Rokkenjima explosion incident", or simply the "Rokkenjima incident". It occupied the first pages of many newspapers for about a month, but the public interest waned pretty soon. Even considering the extremely unusual situation and the many unanswered questions, it still lacked that something that would make it the center of speculations and conspiracy theories for years to come. Of course that something later materialized itself in the form of two peculiar findings, but before that, it is probably useful to remind who were the members of the Ushiromiya family.
Let's start with Kinzo Ushiromiya, the family head. If you could sum up all that was written about him, you would get several books thousand pages long, and as it is often the case with extraordinary men, discerning facts from legends is very difficult. It seems that most of his relatives died in the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 when he was still very young. He himself and his parents were unaffected by it because at the time they lived in Taiwan. The Ushiromiya used to be a wealthy and powerful family even back then, but the earthquake destroyed most of their holdings, so, while it is only thanks to that tragedy that Kinzo was appointed as the new head, it is also what left him with nothing but ruins to inherit. Not much else is known about the following years. It seems that Kinzo kept a low profile and he never made use of his talents. However it is believed that an important event happened during the second world war. Kinzo actively participated in it as a soldier, but he was never sent to the front lines, so it is hard to speculate what could have changed him that much. The military are notoriously tight-lipped, and with the confusion that followed after the unconditional surrender and the american occupation, it isn't strange that not much is known about what Kinzo was involved with. What is certain is that he returned from the war as a different man. From that point onward he started making several crazy investments as if he was possessed by a demon. His economic strategies were hazardous to say the least, no matter the risks involved, he would bet everything he had even if failure would have meant dragging his whole family into poverty. Miraculously Kinzo always won his bets, and as a result he gained a ridiculous amount of wealth in a very short time.
Those were years of radical changes for Japan. For the many noble families and the bourgeois of those times adapting to the new situation was very difficult, but Kinzo was different. Having spent his childhood far from the mainland, his mind was more open to the world, and he was fluent in both Chinese and English. Notoriously Kinzo has always been fascinated by the western culture, to a maniacal level. All of that helped him immensely in establishing good relations with the GHQ, and that gave him several advantages over any other competitors.
Kinzo was married with a woman that he, reportedly, never truly loved. He was forced to marry her when he was still young, soon after he was appointed as the new family head. Even so he had four children from her. Kinzo's wife was already dead at the time of incident, so there is no point in remembering her. Her offspring and respective families, however, are quite important.
The firstborn son was Krauss Ushiromiya. All of Kinzo's children and grandchildren were given those strange western sounding names. His fanaticism for the west was that bad. As the one who was supposed to eventually become the new family head, Krauss spent his life in the attempt to replicate the outstanding achievements of his father. He failed miserably. To be completely blunt, he was an idiot who could be easily beguiled by unrealistic promises of huge profits. In 1986 Kinzo had already retired from the public scene, and he had left to his eldest son the duty to administer his empire. That wasn't really a wise choice, but it seems that in his latest years of his life he no longer cared about money, or the fate of his family. Krauss abused of his position and embezzled more than his due in order to make several horrible financial investments. After every failure, he would invest even more money in even riskier business to compensate for the losses. If he wasn't caught in that explosion, he would have probably ended up losing every single yen that his father gained, as unbelievable as it may seem.
Krauss was married with Natsuhi. Not much is known about her, as she rarely left the mansion, but the many servants that used to work for the Ushiromiya describe her as a very stern person. It seems that Natsuhi wasn't in good terms with Eva. As the wife of the next in line for the title of the family head, she desired for her role to be recognized. However Eva would not consider her anything more than a borrowed womb meant to provide a heir for her elder brother. It seems that Natsuhi greatly suffered from the scarce power that she was granted in the rigid rank system of that family. Tragically she was a failure even as a borrowed womb. It took her twelve long years before she was finally able to bear a child, and that child turned out to be female.
Krauss' and Natsuhi's daughter was named Jessica, at the time of her death she was 18 years old. Just to confirm her mother's inability to provide a suitable heir for her husband, Jessica never learned to behave as her position required from her. She was an unrefined tomboy, absolutely unladylike, and she lacked in intelligence. Overall she was more suited to live a commoner's life.
Krauss's family members, along with Kinzo, were the only permanent residents of the Rokkenjima mansion, excluding servants. The remaining Ushiromiya all settled in Tokyo, and only traveled to that remote island for the annual family meeting or other special occasions.
Kinzo's second child was Eva. It is rumored that she always harbored the ambition of becoming the family head in place of her older brother. The reason she thought she was fit for that role was because... she actually was. After all it is a fact that Krauss was utterly incompetent, and Eva proved to be a money shark even worse than her father. It is easy to imagine her frustration for her merits to go unrecognized on the ground of her being just a woman. Those who think Eva was the culprit believe this was her motive for killing her whole family. Personally I don't think that explanation works, at the very least it is simplistic. In any case it is evident that Eva never completely abandoned her ambitions. For example, after her marriage she was supposed to take the family name of her husband, as it is customary, however the reverse happened. That way she maintained her position and her rights in her original family. Hideyoshi Ushiromiya, her husband, claimed that he accepted that arrangement because he no longer had any living relative. In other words it was to follow his wish to become part of a big family. Honestly, I can only laugh at that obvious lie. The reasons were purely political and economical. Both Eva and Hideyoshi had interests in participating in the annual family meetings, where many important decisions regarding the family's vast wealth used to be taken.
Hideyoshi was himself a pretty successful businessman. Very much alike Kinzo, he created his fortune from nothing through his efforts. He owned a successful fast food chain management company which was even listed in the stock market. However, in his rush to acquire capitals to expand his empire, Hideyoshi sold more stocks than he should have. At the same time he made several unpopular choices who created discontent among his investors. As a result there were certain individuals that banded together and started to buy every stock available. It was obvious that they were trying to reach the majority of votes in order to overthrow the current president. Hideyoshi was bound to become a mere stockholder of the company he so hard worked for. The world of finance is merciless, and Eva learned it the hard way through her husband's plight. She certainly treasured that lesson, because later she became famous for using that very tactic in order to assimilate rival companies.
Eva most likely saw an opportunity in Natsuhi's apparent inability to bear a child. If Krauss had no heir, then her own son would eventually become the head. George Ushiromiya was the first of Kinzo's five grandchildren. At the time of the incident, he was 23 years old. Eva most likely believed he would succeed his grandfather one day. Basically she pushed her own ambitions on her son. I can imagine her anger when she was told that Natsuhi finally became pregnant. But in the end I doubt that George would have been chosen either way. He was a complete failure, a pathetic excuse for a human being. After the incident various magazines dug up a lot of dirt out of the Ushiromiya's personal lives. They were particular harsh with George, but that's because there was a lot to say about the guy. He has been described as a very unsociable person, an awkward nerd, a good for nothing. Some even claimed he was a NEET and a hikikomori. At any rate pretty much everyone agrees that George was a very unlikable person. He never made any friends, how sad is that?
Ah, the next family is definitely my favorite, for various reasons. Rudolf Ushiromiya was Kinzo's third child. He was famous for being a womanizer and a swindler. He started from a very young age. Back to his university days, he was already sleeping with several different women and making money out of barely legal transactions. Like his siblings, he also ended up running his own company, but I never quite understood what kind of business he was involved in. All I know is that he was making profits out of a niche market, but he ended up messing with the wrong guys. Expanding to foreign countries seemed a very good idea in the beginning, but then his activities raised too much attention, and a powerful american company noticed that he was blatantly infringing their copyrights. There was no doubt that he would never win the lawsuit, after all Rudolf was clearly at fault there. So he tried to reach a settlement out of court, but that meant he needed to provide a lot of money that he didn't possess. He didn't live enough to see the end of this story; his sister had to pay for his misdeeds in his place. His messed up company was later disbanded.
Rudolf married twice. The first time was with Asumu Ushiromiya, from whom he had his first son. Asumu died young in an 'accident' in 1980. Rudolf immediately remarried, this time with Kyrie Ushiromiya. It is a well established fact that Rudolf used to date both women at the same time, and that he was unfaithful throughout his first marriage. We can be pretty certain of that because Kyrie was already pregnant when Asumu died. Plus, according to certain sources, that wasn't even the first time Rudolf impregnated her. Allegedly the previous child died at birth. Speculations and crazy theories concerning this triangle abound. There are some who believe that Asumu's death wasn't accidental, and personally I have no doubts that she was murdered. It isn't really surprising when you consider that Kyrie was a Sumadera. Seriously, there couldn't be a shadier couple: a known swindler and the daughter of an infamous Yakuza family. The Sumadera are the worst criminal organization of the entire nation, they basically rule over the whole Tokyo from the shadows. In the underworld there is barely anyone who can match them, and no one in his right mind would openly defy them. That's the kind of family Kyrie was raised in.
Rudolf's firstborn child was Battler Ushiromiya, he was the same age as Jessica. Battler was a pretty interesting young man, he inherited his father's charm and he was the spitting image of Kinzo in his youth. He had many good qualities including an above average intelligence, but he was so silly and unreliable that you would rarely notice. On the surface he was very laid back and carefree, but that was just a mask he wore. When his mother died and his father remarried with the already pregnant Kyrie, he was so disgusted that he decided to divorce from his family. Can you imagine a 12 years old boy doing that? For the next 6 years he had been living with his maternal grandparents, he even adopted their family name. Since he was no longer an Ushiromiya, he didn't attend the annual family meetings for five years straight. Funny, isn't it? When Battler finally decided to forgive his father, he was right on time to become yet another victim of the Rokkenjima incident. However that wasn't completely random. That very year both of his grandparents died, and Rudolf took that chance to apologize while begging him to return to his family. There are really quite a lot of suspicious coincidences, if you ask me.
Kyrie's child was named Ange. She was the only Ushiromiya that wasn't on that island when it blew up. At the time she was only 6 years old. It appears that she fell ill right the day before October 4, and because of that she couldn't go with everyone else. People usually comments that she has been really lucky. Because of that timely illness, she was spared from the tragedy and survived. Every time I hear that I burst into laughter. Ange was lucky? What a joke! She was better off dead! A thousand times better! Her whole family died when she needed it the most, and after that her life became a true hell. Naturally Eva adopted her, but those two never got along. It seems that Ange grew up as a very gloomy and disturbed girl. Very much like George, she never made any friends. She became the target of several paparazzi, all trying to get a scoop from the child who was spared from the Rokkenjima incident. In other words she was never allowed to break free from that tragedy. According to those who had met her, she has always been an oddball, but after Eva's death she went completely nuts. She was sent to a clinic for the mentally ill, and nobody ever heard any news about her since. Truly, she is a most pitiful girl, I really wouldn't want to be in her shoes.
I think the factor that mostly contributed to her mental breakdown was the Rudolf's family culprit theory. While initially the public opinion agreed that Eva Ushiromiya had murdered everyone, everything changed when it was revealed what kind of people Rudolf and Kyrie were. To say that those two were demonized would be an understatement. They were basically depicted as evil incarnate, and all of that for the sole purpose of pleasing the many conspiracy theorists who only desired to be told a gruesome story. According to that theory, Rudolf and Kyrie killed their relatives one by one using guns or even melee weapons. Their alleged motive varies depending on specific interpretations, but nobody really minds as long as there is blood involved. In this scenario Eva somehow survives and kills the two bad guys, but not before they had already eliminated everyone else. Then Eva makes the whole island explode to erase any proof of what happened. She doesn't want the world to know what kind of messed up family the Ushiromiya were, and that is why she decides to keep her mouth shut. A variant of this theory includes Battler, sometimes depicting him as the true mastermind behind it all. This would be supported by the fact that nothing ever happened until his return, so it must be his fault in a way or another. So they say.
Honestly, if I had to list all the flaws in this worthless theory, I wouldn't even know where to start from. But what else can you expect from the brainless masses? They accepted it simply because it was a gruesome and interesting story. They wanted it to be true because it was fun. Not like I can really blame them for that, but the theory could use some improvement. However, I cannot deny that the fact that Ange conveniently wasn't brought to the island that day is suspicious, that much is undeniable.
Next is Rosa Ushiromiya, the last of Kinzo's children. She was born many years after Rudolf, so she was still young, if you compare her with her siblings. Because of that, she always held very little power in the family decisions. Rosa made the fatal mistake of falling in love with the wrong man. For a time they lived together, against Kinzo's will, and they were supposed to marry. But that man only cared about his dreams, and he didn't have any intention to tie the knot. When Rosa told him that she was pregnant, he must have had the scare of his life. That man persuaded his bride-to-be to co-sign a loan, then he fled with the money overseas, with the promise of coming back once he made it big. Naturally, he never kept his promise, and he never intended to. All that Rosa was left with was a huge debt to pay and a daughter to raise without anyone's support. Despite that, she didn't let herself fall into despair. She managed to start her own business somehow, just like her siblings, but in the end all the profits went to the bank she contracted her debt with. Basically, she was working to pay the interests, and there didn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. The situation worsened when her western clothing design company experienced several economic difficulties. But there was something else that afflicted Rosa even more than her disastrous financial situation. That woman never accepted the prospect of remaining a single mother forever. So, in order to pursue her romantic dreams, she neglected her daughter to spend time alone with several men. As if anyone would be really interested in an overdue Christmas cake. There are documents that attest that Rosa was visited by social workers. There were serious concerns regarding how she treated her child. It was reported that Rosa's daughter was often left alone for several days straight. It seems that she was even subjected to physical abuse, probably because her mother needed someone to relieve her stress on.
So, I guess it isn't surprising that Maria Ushiromiya had several psychological problems. With a mother like that, that is only to be expected. At the time of her death, she was only 9 years old. Maybe it was a fortunate event for her, at least she stopped suffering. I don't think she would have had a good life considering all that she went through, and the messed up family she had. Maria was generally described as a creepy and annoying girl. Not surprisingly she suffered from a scarce development of the emotional sphere, which often caused her to act as if she was still 4 years old. It is known that she was fascinated by the occult and other strange and creepy subjects. She was described as having a vivid imagination, but she was so assertive in claiming that her fantasies were true, that some suspect she was psychotic.


  1. Ange got locked up? Ouch. She's going to be really confused if she sees Erika again.

    1. Well, that obviously didn't happen. She actually changed her name after Eva's death and the public was told that story so they would leave her alone.

      I don't remember this being canon, but I'll gladly accept it as such~

      By the way, I REALLY loved this entry. It's pure gold! Thank you very much, JanPoo!!

  2. "What it is certain is that" --> What is
    "no records of such woman" --> such a woman
    "for her recover" --> her to recover / her recovery
    "he was the same age of Jessica" --> as Jessica
    "she went completely nut" --> nuts

    I like the theory that Ange being sent to a clinic was only a story told to the public for creating her new hidden identity as a book writer, thus not really conflicting with the canon umineko story. But another possibility would be that she truly went insane and all events told in umineko Episode 8 are just her mad delusions, perhaps written in the form of a book. Or alternatively a final manuscript by Ikuko and Hachijou Touya to finish their set of stories as their purpose was lost when Ange went insane.