Umineko no Naku koro Ni: The Toxic Siblings Eva and Krauss
Umineko's Ushiromiya-family has three major traits: they are rich, they are proud, they are dysfunctional. Their internal struggles and deep-rooted issues sets the stage for the murder mystery of Umineko no Naku koro Ni, they are also what makes Umineko's characters more complex than in Ryukishi07's previous work, Higurashi no Naku koro Ni. In Umineko each character is a villain in someone else's life. As the two older siblings among the adults, Eva and Krauss are quite hated by their younger brother and sister, and rightfully so. But perhaps even more hateful is the rivalry between Eva and Krauss, the gifted daugter and the oldest son.
There is a scene at the beginning of the third game that nicely shows both Eva's relationship with her big brother, and the motivations that would drive her through the rest of her life. Eva and Krauss are eating together, and Krauss casually asks “Don't you think that education for women is like sugar in black tea?” The idea being that sugar in the tea makes the tea better, but too much and you have ruined it, the underlying thought is that women in the end should be judged by how well they entertain men. Eva is not amused.
However, she is later informed by her father that Krauss was absolutely right, and so she goes to sulk in the garden. We see Eva's conflict here: should she continue to push herself to become a brilliant intellect, in the hopes that one day her father would see how much more capable than Krauss she is? Or should she finally go along with her family's father and find herself a man. We see that Eva eventually settled for the latter as a way of revenge.
So Eva quickly finds a man and gets a child, and by a lucky coincidence it is a boy, George. Krauss does not have a child, and when he gets one, it is a girl. Now everything is reversed. The same sexist attitudes that stopped her before can now make it so that George becomes the next head of the family, instead of Krauss' daughter Jessica.
First, I like that Eva and her husband Hideyoshi have a good relationship. We are told that Eva was just looking for a man to get a child with, so she could very well have ended up with someone she hated. But they now seem to have genuine affection for each other, and Hideyoshi becomes the one pillar Eva can lean on.
Second, this is where Krauss comes in. For someone who wants to distance herself from her brother, Eva has arranged her entire life around him, around beating him and in some way get justice. For this she sacrifices her son, turning him into a perfect pawn to take down Krauss' family, and living her life through George. How happy is he? Eva sometimes wonders, and seem guilty both by her treatment of both her husband and son, but she can not stop. Not when she sees the possibility to dethrone her brother.
And there is Jessica, Krauss' daughter. Eva is trying to steal her future and give it to George. And she is using the very same method that she feels robbed her of her future: sexism. Is she any better than Krauss, when she uses the exact same methods to grab power, Eva ponders and cries.
And yet she is not entirely sympathetic. Eva loves power and loves abusing it. She ruthlessly mocks Natsuhi, Krauss' wife, she bullies Shannon when the lowly servant gets to close to George, she laughs evilly. Maybe she find it to be a delicious taste of what she could have had, what she pictures Krauss has. The life of a brilliant young woman was severely brought out of balance by a father and a brother, but Eva is not a kind woman. She is just as much a villain as she is a victim.
And then there was Krauss. Now, the fathers of Umineko got a lot less development than their wives, and Krauss barely got any outside of the fifth game. But he is my favorite of the three fathers, if for nothing else because he is so pitiable. Indeed, even in the scene where he is at his douchiest, most sexist, you can not help but feel sorry for him. We once again return to the scene where Eva and Krauss eat breakfast together.
Eva and Krauss are eating together, and Krauss casually asks “Don't you think that education for women is like sugar in black tea?” This is meant to mock her, or possibly rile her up. It works. Then, however, the father, Kinzo, comes in, and starts yelling and ranting about Krauss, how Krauss is incompetent, how he does not act like a man, how he is unworthy to become Kinzo's heir. Krauss is obviously embarrassed, but leaves with one last jab at Eva.
The two main enemies in Eva's life was Kinzo and Krauss, and for Krauss it is Kinzo and Eva. His entire life, Krauss has been taught that he most become the next Kinzo, he must rise to the challenge and become the essence of a man, ruthless, brilliant, a master businessman. Krauss was never this, but he, like Eva, kept struggling to become someone his father would accept. He tries to win his father's love, but seemingly hates and fears Kinzo. Krauss also struggled with gender expectations, which I like, because men's problems with measuring up to society's ideas about men are less explored than women's, I feel.
Kinzo is the one choosing who Krauss should marry, of course someone from a good family. In a way I pity Krauss, his life was perhaps in more in his father's control, and he failed so miserably at everything he did. And that brings us to Eva, who, spotting any weakness in Krauss' armor, tries to take him down and take his position. The position Krauss had sacrificed his freedom of choice to get, and which seemed like the only way to get his father's respect. Eva added even more pressure to a man with enough problems. It is not like Eva was vague about this, she flat out says to her father that she is much more qualified than Krauss.
So Krauss retaliates by trying to put Eva in her place, perhaps mimicking his father, which is where the aforementioned comment comes from. I do not think Krauss is actually sexist. He seems perfectly okay with his daughter living in her tomboyish ways, loving who she wants and doing what she wants. Krauss seems like a nice guy when not pushed. When pushed, however, he starts kicking back in every ugly way he knows.
The relationship of Eva and Krauss was a destructive one, one that would influence their respective spouses and kids and the rest of the Ushiromiya family. The two of them might be the most outwardly hateful, but it is interesting how alike they are. Both of them used sexism as a tool, when they had the chance, not because they believed it, but because they so desperately wanted something. We also see that Eva could be pleasant when with her husband, so they both seem to be of kind when not under pressure. Like so many, they were kind when they could and monsters when they felt they had to. Their relationship may not have directly caused the murders Umineko details, but their toxic attitude towards each other may eaily have poisoned the rest of the family too. And so, the tragedy rolls on.