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.
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.
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.
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, 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.