Un-Go 03 – The Question is: Why?

That feel when Inga isn’t busy being creepy, you realize how beautiful she is.

Before delving any further in this post, I suggest reading 2DT’s Un-Go and the Japanese Crime Novel and E Minor’s Un-Go Ep. 2: Impressively noir for a better understanding of how the mysteries function in UN-GO. Those two entries explain it the best.

One thing’s for sure: This show isn’t playing it safe. The beguiling nature of Un-Go lies in it’s blatant strangeness and playfulness mixed with cynicism and political intrigue. There’s nothing like it this year. It may not have the toughest mysteries and the best pacing, but in terms of sheer inventiveness? Un-Go does it so well.

There’s plenty of noteworthy ideas in here you can pick up on while watching. My only concern is that we’ve had a number of shows on Noitamina collapse under the weight of its ambitiousness and unrealized ideas, the challenge here is if Un-Go can sustain itself for another seven episodes.

In Un-Go’s latest installment Shinjuro is hired by Rie Kaishou to investigate Kazumori Sasa’s mysterious death. It is revealed that Kazumori is the adopted son of the family’s previous head, Komamori Sasa– a famous researcher known for his work on R.A.I (Real A.I). During the war, Komamori’s work was considered a violation of the New Information Privacy and Protection Act. It was during this raid that Komamori died in an explosion. Now the current head of the household, Kazumori suffers the same fate (which the family members refer to as a ‘curse’) and dies of what appears to be spontaneous human combustion. If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, this explains why there wasn’t a body found or there was too little left of Kazumori to be considered strong evidence.

During the father’s death anniversary, the rest of the family is seen wearing masks similar to that of the father’s.

Kaishou explains to Izumi that Komamori was shy and wanted to hide his blushing face when meeting people so he wore masks. However, he suspects that it was more to Komamori’s character than simple shyness.

Don’t tell me this isn’t weird.

On the Idea of Masks & Privacy

The motif in of masks in this episode goes hand in hand with the lack of privacy in  Un-Go’s Japan. Shinjuro warns a prostitute (?) that all e-mails are code checked and once detected, access is cut off. Surveillance cameras are often used by Kaishou to solve cases. In the Sasa household, Kazumori sets up cameras all over the place to track everyone’s movements.

When Kaishou said it had more to do with the Komamori’s character, what exactly did he mean?

In Junji Ito’s short story ‘Town Without Streets’ a young girl finds her family becoming obsessed with spying on her, even her younger brother begins to drill multiple holes on her wall to peep at her. She runs away from home and comes across a town without streets, it’s literally one house built next to each other. In order for people to go from one place into a another, one had to walk inside other people’s houses. Because of this everyone’s developed the habit of wearing masks out of respect towards those who walk in and to maintain some semblance of privacy.

A scene from Junji Ito’s ‘Town Without Streets.’

Komamori’s reasons may have been similar. Aware of how the world around him was constantly on watch, Komamori developed a habit of wearing a mask to save what was left of his privacy. Although his son, Kazumori uses it for different purpose.

YEAH. I MUST HIDE THE FACT THAT I’M A FUCKING REFRIGERATOR.

It becomes apparent that Komamori may have also lost faith and/or trust in his family or simply became estranged on his own. Since this episode is a two-parter, we still have a lot of questions unanswered. However, this is currently the strongest mystery we have yet and while some might boast that it was obvious and predictable (But then, to be honest I had a lot of theories going on inside my head while watching this episode), I bet you guys didn’t know Kazumori was a refrigerator.

What War are we Talking About?

Inspired by Sakaguchi Ango’s Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chō (明治開化安吾捕物帳). There are no hints that the novel has had an English translation and/or release so it’s difficult to say how much of the material is adapted into the anime. However, it’s safe to assume that the original stories are set in the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912) and the war alludes to the Bakumatsu.

Father and Daughter

I sense future conflict between Rie and her father. Although both possess similar traits (approachable demeanor and cleverness), it becomes apparent that Rie is unwilling to stand for her father’s cover-ups and hold’s Shinjuro’s deductive skills in high regard.

The idea of justice comes into play here, Rie and Shinjuro happen to have a similar perspective and that is what ultimately brings them together.

Rie might’ve bitten off more than she can chew now though, seeing as how this mystery stretches into what appears to be a larger conspiracy. I’d like to see how her father reacts to this.

Inga’s Sexualization

How does this even work?

What’s there to say about Inga? The kid is creepy, I’ll give you that.

In the third episode the audience sees more of Inga’s transformation. This is also the first episode to make the distinction between the younger Inga and the adult Inga apparent. The younger Inga is one that has an obvious thirst for more than just human truth. In the first half of this episode we see her exploring the ruins of the city and picking up things that genuinely pique her interest, things like manga and a talking stuffed toy.

Being the first episode to clearly depict Inga’s transformation, I found it interesting that the parts they emphasized on were Inga’s T&A. Surely, in every magical transformation there’s adequate attention to T&A, but one thing I noticed while searching for Un-Go scans is that the adult Inga’s design may have been inspired by the larger than life appearance of the Oiran.

Image Courtesy of The Art of Japan.

Here’s a brief description of the oiran in wikipedia:

Oiran (花魁?) were courtesans in Japan. The oiran were considered a type of yūjo (遊女?) ”woman of pleasure” or prostitute. However, they are distinguished from the yūjo in that they were entertainers,[citation needed] and many became celebrities of their times outside the pleasure districts. Their art and fashions often set trends among the wealthy and, because of this, cultural aspects of oiran traditions continue to be preserved to this day.

I wouldn’t have made this connection if I hadn’t noticed that Inga was wearing a pair geta as opposed to platform shoes. The geta she’s wearing are unusually high. Almost as high as the ones courtesans wear during the courtesan parade.

The disparity between these the two personalities of Inga is intriguing simply because the only way these two personalities meet is in the way they act towards Shinjuro. It’s obvious that while Inga is a eccentric, Shinjuro is still capable of keeping her in check while the older one causes Shinjuro to flinch. It’s too early to observe such themes as we’re only at episode 3, but once again, Un-Go provides so much to talk about. It’s difficult not to love this show so far.

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10 Comments

  1. I always love your UN-GO reviews ^-^b

    Go install a ‘like’ button my friend =P

    “I hadn’t noticed that Inga was wearing a pair geta as opposed to platform shoes.”

    Now that explains the crazy height of Inga.

    “Shinjuro is still capable of keeping her in check while the older one causes Shinjuro to flinch.”

    Is it certain that Inga is a girl? I keep thinking that “normal” Inga is a boy whilst transformed Inga is a woman

    • Aww thanks! I added a like button at the bottom of the post, I’m not sure if it’s the best option though!

      Now that explains the crazy height of Inga.

      Without it she and Shinjuro should be around the same height? I’m not sure…

      Is it certain that Inga is a girl? I keep thinking that “normal” Inga is a boy whilst transformed Inga is a woman

      Ahahaha! To be honest, I’m just too lazy to switch from ‘he’ and ‘she’ when referring to one person. So I chose ‘she’ because I see Inga as a girl.

  2. What is it with noitaminA shows and refrigerators this week? XD

  3. Here’s a crackpot theory regarding UN-GO–Shinjuro isn’t so much a detective by choice as he is an anchor that Inga uses to bind herself to the world. So long as he exists, Inga is able to expose the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or dangerous it might be. Look at the UN-GO ED, and you see Shinjuro holding his hands out to his sides, as if he was on a cross. Could Shinjuro ultimately be a sacrifice of some kind? Is that why he occasionally appears to possess so little agency?

    I was also pretty impressed by the detail of the world-building present in this episode and elsewhere. It’s very distinctive, from the caved-in buildings to masses of wires and Kaishou’s awesome touch-driven computer. That and the occasional hints at a grand underlying mystery (like the brown-haired girl seen briefly in the first episode as well as in the ED, flames blazing behind her–who IS she???) that make me think that maybe this time, Bones won’t cop out with magical wasps or whatever. We’ll see, I guess.

    Good analysis by the way! Didn’t consider the oiran as a potential influence for Inga’s design–although not quite sure how it fits in with his/her’s panda aesthetic.

    • Helllo!

      Regarding the connection between Inga and Shinjuro, watch the very first seconds of the very first episode. I’d say it’s not that Inga can stay in real world thanks to him, but the other way round: he once died and is able to stay here as long as he provides her mysteries.
      Cheers

      • Huh! You might be right. It would explain a lot, especially the fact that he and the brown-haired girl from the very first episode appear to be in their death throes. Maybe Inga is a spirit of the cave where he may have died, that offered to grant him a wish of some sort?

        Still doesn’t explain how an explicitly supernatural force like Inga is able to exist in the real world, though. But I guess we’ll get confirmation on that later.

    • Could Shinjuro ultimately be a sacrifice of some kind? Is that why he occasionally appears to possess so little agency?

      I’ve been having a similar theory but to me it’s actually the girl he was with that made a deal with Inga. Because from the looks of it, she and Shinjurou were lovers and she was perfectly fine after the car accident. She must’ve been the person who made a deal with Inga to keep him alive instead. And the reason why the older Inga looks like the same girl is because she lent her body. Now Shinjuro is working for Inga and collecting mysteries and truths so that he can retrieve his lover’s body/soulback? I’m not sure but I really hope we get some answers because I’ll take a long time before we get to watch the prequel movie. D:

      It looks pretty simple but the mystery between Inga and Shinjuro is pretty complicated when given a lot of thought.

      I really liked how the setting is being used here in Un-Go, it doesn’t quite fit with a predefined category like ‘steampunk’ or ‘cyberpunk’ and I guess that’s why it’s so intriguing and special to me.

      That and the occasional hints at a grand underlying mystery (like the brown-haired girl seen briefly in the first episode as well as in the ED, flames blazing behind her–who IS she???) that make me think that maybe this time, Bones won’t cop out with magical wasps or whatever. We’ll see, I guess.

      *sigh* Bones. They always start strong but the endings usually are a miss. I hope they get it right this time. Un-Go is one of my favorite shows this season.

      I always assumed the the panda theme was because of the Yin-Yang nature of the two Ingas. Not to mention the name Inga literally translates to ‘Cause and Effect’ or Karma. Just my thoughts.

  4. what do you think about shinjuro x rie?

  5. rie looks like she had a crush on shinjuro whan inga the woman inga kiss him she was blushing mad

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