Over the course of half a year, our lives changed completely. The humble shield of our sovereign lord. Oh to die for the Emperor, would leave me no regrets. Many of the young men who professed these words fell gracefully in battle like withered blossoms, while those who survived returned home to form our black-market.
– On Decadence, Sakaguchi Ango
This episode left me overwhelmed with the sheer number of themes it set itself to tackle, all in one episode. Everything went by very fast and as such, it requires the audience’s full attention. Even the smallest pieces of dialogue in this episode mattered. I wasn’t bored watching and rewatching it can be very rewarding (the same goes for any of the episodes, I find them much more enjoyable the second time around). I thought this episode had good progression and while some scenes weren’t as effective as others (Read: Rie on horseback, lecturing Shinjurou) this episode was a decent followup. It wasn’t as strong as episodes 3 or 4 but it is definitely more complex than episodes 1 and 2. Given the standard the previous arc managed to set, it’d be difficult to recreate that success using a 22 minute format. This episode could be considered ‘padding’, but it’s a well-done sort of padding used expound more on Shinjuro’s character.
Stumbling upon a translation of Sakaguchi Ango’s ‘On Decadence’ was a happy coincidence. This essay’s subject matter ties beautifully with the themes explored in this episode of Un-Go. Three brave young men sacrifice themselves to rescue the lives of many. This story is later passed down as a tale of heroic nobility. However, like the grandiose statue of the memorial hall, this story hides an ugly secret. The murder in this episode was used as a way for Shinjuro and Shimada’s ideals to clash and the aftermath leaves a devastating blow to Shimada’s reputation and ironically, strengthens Shinjuro’s cynicism. It appears that while the death of the three students may not have been premeditated by Shimada as Shinjuro had suggested, he did use the story for monetary gain as evidenced by the gold bars.
There’s a parallel drawn between the statue of the three men and the remains of a rusted tank. Beneath the heroism, corpses of greedy men are to be found. Within the rusted remains of a war, financial gain is to be found. While the incorporation of these to the story weren’t done the best way possible, these two stand as powerful symbols of Shinjuro’s generation.
What I do find beyond intriguing in Shinjuro’s action in the final minutes of this episode.
Was he paying them (the three young men who died of the bombing) respect? Shinjuro’s cynicism breeds from his distrust in people of authority. After his talk with Rie and Kazamori though, it appears he’s realized whether or not these men were coerced to drive the truck, it didn’t matter. These men decided to sacrifice themselves for the lives of others. Those who died in the midst of war were able to receive a beautiful end, while those who stayed behind quickly became tainted and corrupted. Shinjuro himself accepts that in some way he has also been corrupted, but I wonder, does the audience perceive him as a fallen man?
Youko’s plans are a big waste of effort. Anyone who’s seen the episode should agree. Killing two people and putting them inside a statue you made is one of the most irresponsible things any criminal could come up with. Although you could say it was pretty brilliant in a way she knew she’d gain suspicion but Jirou would immediately come to her aid and defend her. I doubt it was done in the ‘spur of the moment’. I just think Youko didn’t care. When Rie says: “To be fooled by a beautiful woman, some detective he is!” It’s a statement that says a lot not just about Shinjuro but of the rest of the men involved in this case.
While the methods were illogical at best, I think it was a way to show Youko’s personality and her confidence. Even as the ex-bodyguard directly accused her, she wasn’t fazed at all.
This line wasn’t given a much importance, but you can tell that this means a lot to Shinjuro and Inga’s backstory. Chances are that Inga was born the same time the war began and the way Inga ‘haunts’ Shinjuro is the same way the war haunts many people.
Well, this scene was awesome and I mean that. Funny how this is the realistic portrayal of a poor young man. My dad used to do the same thing when he was in college. You could say the same about ketchup packets and many things we privileged people take for granted. (Un)fortunately, my dad isn’t Shinjuro Yuuki. Kazamori is an excellent addition to the team, it probably doesn’t even eat anything. ARREST PEDOPHILE, GET FREE AI.
I don’t know if this is a red herring or not, but a lot of people often comment how the older Inga looks like the brown haired girl in episode 1 and in the ED (You can see her better here, and her name is Yuuko Karuta I believe). You could say the same about the younger Inga as well. The relationship between these two fluctuate drastically and in this episode, it felt as if Shinjuro was truly alone. As he had his talk with Inga and Kazamori in the room, it almost felt as if he were talking to himself. It was a very unreal situation, interesting but– odd. I suppose that’s what you get when you portray a conversation between a human and two non-human entities.
Also, what? Inga is capable of tearing down a tank? My theory is that that Inga’s powers are split between the two forms. The younger one can carry out more practical tasks normally impossible for an ordinary being and if Inga wants to ask a question she needs to turn into the older self. As to why it has to be this impractical, I’ve got nothing.
Music of Words
This series’ soundtrack is often praised. I hate to admit it but I never paid much attention to the soundtrack. So when I went into this episode, I decided to listen carefully.
The soundtrack is bloody gorgeous. It just flows very well alongside the spoken dialogue. It feels very current and stylish, a perfect fit for this series. Narasaki of Coaltar of the Deepers is behind the music which was also a pleasant surprise.
A good episode of Un-Go this week, and I’m looking forward to the next one. There’s something very likable about this show despite a few glaring flaws here and there. I wish it had the same 22 episode treatment Guilty Crown received. We’ve seen what this team is capable of with longer story arcs, so it’s a shame. Anyway, the QUALITY was rampant this week. Bones better fix that shit in the BDs/DVDs, just saying. To close this entry off, have an Izumi and an Inga.