Un-Go 04 – Off the Wall

Aww. How does Inga switch between cute and creepy so effortlessly?

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.

Arrest that refrigerator!

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

Serious old men in the front, lesbian porno at the back.

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.

Unhinged

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.

Extra Notes

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?

Inga has a third ability, it seems. Shadow manipulation? She also says that the war has ‘come back’ very mysterious statement. Does Inga foresee a new war?

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.

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12 comments:

      1. Though I don’t think this was intentional, this scene actually helped ‘humanize’ Kazamori because the officer treated the fridge as though it were a human criminal. I have a feeling that this scene was intended for humor, but considering this episode dealt with the difference between AI and humans I found it really intriguing that the AI was treated as human for the arrest even though it was inhabiting a body that had no resemblance to a human body.

        1. I found it really intriguing that the AI was treated as human for the arrest even though it was inhabiting a body that had no resemblance to a human body.

          Nice catch there. I have to agree that the scene was possibly used for humor purposes but it also appeared to me as if Hayami is the sort of ‘just’ police officer who treats all criminals equally, even if you are a refrigerator! Also, I just noticed that Kazamori was exercising his right to be silent. Pretty ironic since such rights are exclusive to human beings, in one way or another I think Kazamori believes he has such rights even as an AI.

  1. I got nothing to say. You summed it all up perfectly. Really curious about the coming episodes.

    Plenty of shows get so absorbed in their own absurdity, it begins to develop an unhealthy obsession over itself

    Yeaaaaaah…. hello Pingudrum.

    1. This show has had its set of weak mysteries so I hope the trend ends with the fourth episode, it’d be great to see more complex cases.

      Yeaaaaaah…. hello Pingudrum.

      Yeah, you could say this applies to Penguindrum too. I do think a good sum of ‘eccentric’ shows tend to be like this which makes it difficult to follow or even watch. Sometimes a little patience is required (It took me awhile to warm up to FLCL too). But generally, it’s a bit tiresome. That’s why Un-Go is pretty refreshing, it’s sort of an in-between.

  2. Right now I think that the show has the perfect blend of character moments and story. I wouldn’t call them bland either, but I do think of them as static characters. They aren’t going to “develop” in the way that characters in stories with some large over-arching plot do. But I think that’s okay because the characters aren’t the focus, the setting and the storytelling itself is what takes center stage. Plus, there are enough hints and small character interactions to keep them fresh and interesting without distracting from the show’s focus on its ideas and questions. Its not something I’m used to, but damn this episode was good.

    1. You’re right. Un-Go seems to be more of a short story collection right now and as such, I think it’s handling its characters pretty well by allowing the characterization to be subtle and focusing itself towards it’s mysteries and concepts instead.

      Definitely a great episode this week for Un-Go!

  3. This sure was a great episode! I actually thought it worked fairly well as a mystery case too – although bringing in outside elements is sorta cheating for a whodunnit. I was kinda on the fence after seeing the first episode, but with these last two episodes I’ve been completely won over by this show.

    >we hear Shinjuro speak of a ‘love for what’s right’
    This might be of interest to you, but I read elsewhere that Shinjuro’s talk about ‘humans loving what is right as much as loving what is beautiful and fun’ is actually a passage from one of Sakaguchi Ango’s essays on Decadence.

    >Inga shows disapproval
    It was interesting (and a bit unexpected for me ’cause my guess is she’s some sort of demon), especially since Shinjuro actually seemed to show some understanding for the guy’s perverted hobby and was only pissed about the murder cover ups.

    >bland characters
    I have to admit I still find Shinjuro pretty bland, and I’m not that interested in Inga yet BUT I am intrigued by their relationship! The character I’m most drawn to at the moment is Kaishou Rinroku since he seems to hold all the keys to the secrets of the show’s setting.

    1. I think this is the first episode we get to see Shinjuro’s true deductive abilities, he couldn’t use Inga to get the truth out of Kazamori!

      I read elsewhere that Shinjuro’s talk about ‘humans loving what is right as much as loving what is beautiful and fun’ is actually a passage from one of Sakaguchi Ango’s essays on Decadence.
      That’s pretty cool, they must be interweaving more of Ango’s works into the narrative. But it just makes me want to read Ango’s works even more.

      especially since Shinjuro actually seemed to show some understanding for the guy’s perverted hobby and was only pissed about the murder cover ups.
      I do think Shinjuro was being lenient with Komamori despite everything which might’ve disappointed Inga even more. I’m starting to think Shinjuro’s a sexual deviant himself hahaha!

      The character I’m most drawn to at the moment is Kaishou Rinroku since he seems to hold all the keys to the secrets of the show’s setting.
      Argh. I have no idea why I forgot to talk about him. He’s actually the character that’s fleshed out very well imho. He has all these interesting mannerisms too.

      Yeah, I think Shinjuro and Inga’s relationship is one of the biggest reasons I’m so intrigued by this series, right now I’ve been trying to figure out what Inga could possibly be but I have no idea!

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