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Ryukishi07 and Sayaka Ohara at Anime Expo 2024
Kalai Chik

Ryukishi07, the mind behind the When They Cry franchise, and voice actress Sayaka Ōhara came together for Anime Expo 2024. Ohara voices the legendary Golden Witch, Beatrice, from Ryukishi’s Umineko – When They Cry series. Although the final chapter in the story was released in 2011, both Ryukishi07 and Ohara still hold Umineko in high regard to this day. In fact, Ohara arrived at her Q&A panel in Beatrice’s dress. Between their panels, the writer and the voice actress reminisced on details of the seventeen-year-old franchise with ANN.

Umineko no Naku Koro ni will soon approach 17 years since the release of Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch. When will you release more Umineko content, given that Umineko no Naku Koro ni Saku was released in 2019?

Ryukishi07: Unfortunately, a lot of things happen in the background that leads to those types of decisions.

Could you please talk about how you were cast as Beatrice?

Sayaka Ōhara: A large portion of these kinds of characters have got to go through auditions. But for this role, I was very honored to be nominated directly by Ryukishi. It’s very honorable that Ryukishi and his staff members said that I would be a perfect fit for Beatrice. I was very honored, at the same time, shivering from anxiety to be playing such a big role.

The Umineko series has had a lasting impact on many generations of fans both in and outside of Japan. What do you think has made Umineko so appealing to global players?

Ryukishi07 To be honest, I had no inkling about how this work would cross overseas to different countries. I’m just very surprised and very honored to see that it has become very popular, not just in Japan, but elsewhere.

What about Beatrice drew you to her character and the story of Umineko?

Sayaka Ōhara: It’s difficult to put it into words. At Ryukishi’s Q&A panel, I agreed with him that one of the most inspiring parts of Beatrice is her facial expressions and the depth that they show her emotions and inner thoughts. In a way, having the honor of acting as Beatrice, showed me what emotions I can portray as a voice actor. This work [Umineko] is not just entertainment, but a work of art. We were talking about Umineko having many interpersonal relationships with many different characters. But they’re all related with one single line that leads to a result. I would like to ask Ryukishi to see inside his brain.

Since you [Sayaka Ōhara] were reading the series as the episodes came out, did you both discuss the story that was unfolding together, considering he is the author and you are a reader?

Ryukishi07: I wouldn’t say that we went in-depth. But we did discuss what Beatrice’s inner emotions are, what she’s trying to convey, and what she’s trying to portray. But we didn’t discuss with each other how the storyline was going to go.

Sayaka Ōhara: For me, I’m the one who’s always intrigued, and I’m always amazed to see how the storyline is going. It scares me to think that I could be part of any discussion.

Could you speak more on how you chose to use dai’s “Thanks for Being Born” [Umarete kite kurete arigatō] track throughout the sound novel?

Ryukishi07: This title was created by dai himself because he thought it fit the song. He has his inner world when creating his musical pieces. I leave all the song titles up to dai because these are his songs. On the other hand, sometimes I think this goes backward when dai comes to me and says, “Hey, I created this song called ‘Bunnies Dancing.'” I would incorporate that into the storyline, and it will have killer rabbits wreaking havoc.

The story challenges the players’ opinion on what is “truth.” Why did you provide the reader with the option to choose between the Magic or Trick ending rather than continue the story linearly?

Ryukishi07: I can say this for the Japanese fans, at least. There were a lot of fans and people who liked my work. They want to know everything, and they want to know the truth laid out in the open from the get-go. On my end, I really didn’t want to portray the entire truth from the beginning. I make numerous references to Schrödinger’s Cat, and whether the cat inside of the box is alive or not. Whether the truth is to be revealed is up to the reader. The answer depends on what the reader chooses. Either between choosing to decide that what happened is based on a fantasy or illusion based on magic, or the truth as it was simply told. I leave that up to the reader, and that’s what I wanted to leave out instead of just laying out all the truth from the beginning.

Beatrice has many different versions that show up in Umineko, and you do a phenomenal job of expressing each character’s range of emotions. What scenes made you cry the most?

Sayaka Ōhara: The one that I cried the most was the very first ending. This might be a spoiler, but there were a lot of parts where I spoke my lines in unison with the voice actor for Battler, Daisuke Ono. My tears started flowing down as I was reading that line out, and he also felt the same.

I read that Ryukishi07 had told you the whole truth behind the story to help shape your acting, but the other voice actors had no idea. Were you able to talk to them about the characters and the series after the last episode had come out? How did Daisuke Ono react when he finally reached the end?

Sayaka Ōhara: The anime never really got to the very end. So, a lot of the characters and the voice actors were left in limbo saying, “Okay, so what happens, what is the ending?” They were still left in the dark. I did discuss with Daisuke Ono that we were both truly honored to be chosen to act in these roles for Battler and Beatrice. Truth be told, even though I knew everything—such as all the background details and what the endings are straight from the creator’s mouth—certain parts are open. Even as a current voice actor, some mysteries are still left unsolved. I want to know more. I’d like to reread it, thinking, “Maybe I missed something?” I’m so eager to learn more about this.

Previously, there were parallels and easter eggs that tie characters together in the Ryukishi07 universes. However, in Higurashi SOTSU, we see a more direct connection to the world of Higurashi and that of Umineko through the acknowledgment of witches. Why did you decide to bridge those worlds?

Ryukishi07: In my head, I imagine that they’re all interconnected in some way—it’s kind of like Disneyland, where you have a Higurashi-land and an Umineko-land. Some sections link together. You can call this “Ryukishi-land.” Within that land, you have an area for Higurashi and Umineko. Somehow, they overlap, and sometimes they connect.

Thank you to MangaGamer for facilitating this interview.

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Interview: An Umineko Retrospective with Ryukishi07 & Sayaka Ohara – All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024