Un-Go 05 – These Brave Young Men

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.

On Decadence

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?

Femme Fatale

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.

No guys, she doesn’t want to fuck.

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.

Speculation Corner

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.

Poorfags gonna poor.

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.

End Notes

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.

Inga making Izumi jealous of her fabulous cleavage. 

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19 Comments

  1. “Killing two people and putting them inside a statue you made is one of the most irresponsible things any criminal could come up with.”

    In fact, it’s so stupid that it’s a completely justifiable plot twist! The fact that the investigators immediately pointed fingers at her while evil corporate guy was still around completely cleared her of suspicion to the viewers because it looked like a really obvious setup. But it wasn’t. I love this show. I hope its sales smash Guilty Crown’s into the ground but the jaded half of my fangirling says it isn’t likely… D:.

    • In fact, it’s so stupid that it’s a completely justifiable plot twist!
      The show did pretty well playing around with the viewers. A lot of my theories were presented and debunked and it pretty much was an ‘OH SNAP’ moment. I intend to get the BDs or the DVDs next year (whichever I decide on anyway). I really hope it sells well, heck– I wish it gets a second season with 22 episodes. But like you, my jaded fangirl self knows this show doesn’t pander to the otakus and that’s going to be a big factor in sales. One could argue that fujoshis will buy this but the show isn’t exactly No.6 (which is only doing moderately well). Sigh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

      • Sadly, I’m fairly certain this series isn’t going to sell well. It doesn’t really have a target demographic: fujoshi are too busy occupied elsewhere (Fate/Zero) plus the show doesn’t have enough guys, “serious” anime fans seem to be put off by the character designs, and mystery fans are unhappy it doesn’t follow the normal Whodunnit structure. Ironically I think it’s got a better chance to sell to otaku who are after cute girl characters like Kazamori. It’s not unusual that a critically acclaimed Noitamina series doesn’t shift many BD/DVDs though (e.g. Hourou Musuko).

        • “Sadly, I’m fairly certain this series isn’t going to sell well.”

          I feel the same way too, and like you had said, I also think that the bigger hurdle is overcoming the fact that this series really doesn’t play to any specific niche group of audience. I think that if the approach that was applied to Mawaru was also applied to UN-GO, the success rate of this series would be better. I simply feel that as an animation the show might be better of as a novel since it banks too much on the script as oppose to visuals. =/ Which is sad cos it is a decent series.

        • Ironically I think it’s got a better chance to sell to otaku who are after cute girl characters like Kazamori.

          Heck, they’d probably buy it for Inga too. I’ve never seen so much fanart of one character of a Noitamina show in pixiv before. :|

  2. Thanks for linking to On Decadence, it was a very interesting read. (too bad it seems like he didn’t get very far)

    Interesting theory on the split in Inga’s powers. I’m wondering why she transforms between a boy and woman as well. Hopefully we’ll get some sort of explanation for this.

    • Yeah. This anime has got me wanting to read Sakaguchi Ango’s stuff by they are a bit difficult to come by.

      I’m wondering why she transforms between a boy and woman as well. Hopefully we’ll get some sort of explanation for this.

      Me too. The prequel movie premieres in Japan next week but we’ll have to wait a year I think. :/

  3. I hate to admit it but I never paid much attention to the soundtrack

    I noticed it in the first episode! I love it, it really sets the mood for the scenes (unlike that other noitaminA show).

    As for the episode itself, I would have preferred maybe 5-10 extra minutes? But as for the execution, it was great, and I love how they blend in stuff about the war and the characters seemingless.

    • Eh, my quote didn’t work. Oh well. Also turned out that seemingless isn’t a word, wonder where I got that from. Well well, stuff blends in good at least.

      • Fixed the quote for you! I would have preferred 45 minute episodes like the ones we usually get from J-dramas, but sadly Un-Go is stuck with it’s 23 episode format. :( I do enjoy the way the theme of war and the mysteries all blend together. It ties the show together.

  4. I detect, I dunno, a look of remorse on Inga after Kazamori’s little speech about how Shinjuro is such a good guy and all that.

    Conjecture: Inga used to murder people because it needed to eat and what it ate showed it that people are all just dirty punks anyways, so no big deal right? Shinjuro comes along and makes his deal, but part of the detail is that he’s supposed to be setting an example of human goodness for Inga (or maybe finding an example and inadvertently providing one). But, if Inga sees Shinjuro as that good guy, perhaps Inga will start to feel guilty about haunting him? Such an interesting duo.

    That is a good catch noticing the parallel between the bodies in the statue and the gold in the tank.

    • Oh about Shinjuro’s gesture: in ep1 he frames the triangle of corrupt officials with his fingers in a similar way. I am too lazy to go back and check but maybe one of the napoleons in ep1 is the same as this episode’s gold brick guy?

      • maybe one of the napoleons in ep1 is the same as this episode’s gold brick guy

        I checked the character relationship charts and nope, the Napoleons in the first episode were bankers. I guess it’s more of Shinjuro’s habit?

    • But, if Inga sees Shinjuro as that good guy, perhaps Inga will start to feel guilty about haunting him? Such an interesting duo.

      The dynamic between Shinjuro and Inga is really, really interesting. I mean, sometimes you can see how well they get along and then the next episode Inga’s presence clearly burdens Shinjuro. I like it a lot.

      I think Shinjuro providing an example of what a ‘real human’ is happens to be very likely and I think that something in Inga will change in the future. (I hope)

      Thanks, I thought it was very clever how the central figure (the statue) was pretty much what the case was all about.

      • Thanks for looking up the napoleons.

        Right now I don’t think I could get tired of watching Shinjuro and Inga solve cases. They just have a certain je ne sais quoi.

  5. Yeah, lots of new interesting info in this episode. So Shinjuro does have an office after all, but not much money. I wonder if it’s in the forbidden district? Inga eats souls(?) she obtains from truths rather than killing people, and has added superpowers. Btw have we seen Shinjuro eat or drink yet because I was wondering if he’s actually alive? However, once again (like ep1) I don’t think the actual mystery was very well done – I would have preferred another two-parter. I’m also worried that this show is beginning to come off as a bit preachy.

    The soundtrack is absolutely fabulous. I can’t help but get excited when the climax tune kicks in. And I can listen to the ED song on repeat all day.

    • Btw have we seen Shinjuro eat or drink yet because I was wondering if he’s actually alive?
      Pretty sure he was eating like a boss in episode 1.

      Yeah, I actually enjoyed shows like Mononoke where there were 5 cases in 11-12 episodes. Considering how Sakaguchi Ango writes, I think this show is trying its best to cram in all his ideas and Ango did strike me as a bit preachy.

      THAT GUITAR INTRO. The soundtrack is a piece of work and yeah, I’ve been listening to the ED at work and didn’t realize I had it on for repeat nearly the whole day.

  6. Great post! There was a lot going on this episode, and even if the mystery angle wasn’t as satisfying as the two-parter that preceded it, this episode was jam-packed with interesting ideas.

    • Thanks! I’m always enjoying the amount of ideas in Un-Go. While a well executed series is always welcome, it’s great to come across one that plays around with so many themes.

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