The post title best describes my thoughts on this week’s Un-Go. Bizarre and thrilling, this is one of the best episodes I’ve seen all season. No, allow me to correct myself– it is the best episode I’ve seen all season.
Un-Go is a peculiar series in many ways. It’s characters are wholly mysterious, fleshed out using subtle characterization. The series is armed with an eccentric flair, unwilling to submit itself to a standard formula and delivers its cases using strange and faulty pacing. Un-Go tends to leave it’s viewers a little uncertain what to make of it. This is why I find the show to be an enjoyable watch, it’s a series that tries different things without completely losing its restraint and offers thought provoking content along the way.
The fourth episode is a continuation of the Masked Mansion mystery. The base mystery itself was deceptively simple, and the ‘big reveal’ was easily predicted. This episode astutely turns everything around, uncovering a larger conspiracy at work and imbuing a more sinister atmosphere to the scenario. There’s also the clever dark humor thrown in, a sign that the show isn’t taking itself too seriously.
Plenty of shows get so absorbed in their own absurdity, it begins to develop an unhealthy obsession over itself. I find this off-putting at best, however Un-Go is a detective story and while what transpires may be odd or simply uncomfortable– the universe where it is set abides to a set of rules that allow for consequences to actually happen.
The Gray Area
The not-so subtle jabs at the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths and the anime industry is here. These are mere implications though, the stance the story takes is still one that considers the existence of a RAI capable to duplicate human thought. The situation rings familiar but anime and manga aren’t like that, they’re hand drawn images.
In this episode we find out how RAIs are exploited, used to satisfy sexual deviants and those who watch robots destroy each other for entertainment purposes. The government perceives such acts as inappropriate and harmful to the youth. Komamori argues: “They’re not human!”
Both sides are intent on exploiting that technology though, the military intends to use it as a weapon while Komamori uses Kazamori to do plenty of the dirty work. At the same time, I wouldn’t consider either of the two entirely wrong either.
In the later half of this episode, we hear Shinjuro speak of a ‘love for what’s right’ as something Komamori lacks. It’s a vague statement, but I personally found it as a way of saying that while it is human to submit ourselves to our desires, restraining ourselves and reflecting on what is right and what is wrong is also an integral part to our being.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Dol-Pri’s role as a virtual idol in Un-Go. This is the second time in the series we’ve dealt in issues existing in otaku subculture. Of course, such an issue isn’t really limited to otakus. As Shinjuro says: “Everyone has desires they can’t tell anyone about.”
Undoubtedly one of the most uncomfortable scenes in this episode featured Kazamori in the body of a stuffed bear offering Shinjuro sexual pleasure. It starts being funny and slowly spirals down to a case of ‘What the hell am I watching?’ If this implies anything, it just means Kazamori is frequently being used to satiate Komamori’s sexual appetite.
Later, we find out that Kazamori’s ‘real’ body is in fact, a robot that resembles a young girl. As if that weren’t squicky enough, E Minor of Moe Sucks points out the how the doll bears a resemblance to Komamori’s own daughter, Mitsuko.
More on Inga and Shinjuro
Funny how an AI incites Inga’s empathy. Inga has never truly cared much for the people she and Shinjuro have encountered. She’s always been a otherworldly being, however she and Kazamori both seek what a real human being is, I guess that’s why she was able to relate to the RAI much more and showed concern when Komamori destroyed the stuffed bear Kazamori was in.
It’s also notable that this is the first time Inga shows disapproval over one human being’s actions, and is unable to ‘eat’ the said person for some reason. I assume ‘eating’ someone’s soul has it’s own consequences.
The line above says a lot about her relationship with Shinjuro.
They’refucking. If he’s sleeping with both forms, EVEN BETTER. Give this guy a medal, he deserves it. Look at his harem, it’s infinitely superior to everyone else’s.
Joking aside, I’m more than convinced that he and and this girl were lovers and the same could be said about Shinjurou and Inga. There’s also a chance that Inga could’ve been joking but I doubt it.
I wouldn’t count on an episode dedicated to their backstory though, the prequel movie has that covered.
It Does Need More Salt but it’s Not Necessarily Bland
I have to disagree that the Un-Go characters are bland. If you say bland, I’d imagine a character with the personality of a cardboard cut out and that’s not what Un-Go characters are. Yes, they’re a bit more reserved and distant not to mention none of them actually do share close relationships with another with the exception of Shinjuro and Inga.
The characterization is subtle, and because none of the characters are easily classified into a stereotype, it gives off the impression that such characters aren’t as lively. This episode showed smaller and more intimate details. Shinjuro understands Inga better than anyone, he realizes on his own that she placed the toy over the refrigerator so Kazamori could transfer itself. Izumi doesn’t question Rinroku’s abilities and motives while her partner Hayami appears to be a hardworking officer whose zealousness comes across as somewhat comical (Arresting a refrigerator? Really?). Although right now, I’d have to say Rie is still a bit too much of a stubborn daughter and her single mindedness doesn’t make her a very engaging character.
Cool story bro.
What battlefield was Shinjuro referring to? He wasn’t in Japan during the war so where on earth could’ve he possibly been?
If anyone is interested, I uploaded chapter 2 of the prequel manga, Un-Go ~Ingaron here. I’d love to upload the first one but I have been unable to find a copy of Newtype’s October 2011 issue so I don’t have the first chapter with me.