Un-Go 06 – Hardboiled Wonderland

“When you sleep with a woman, which side of the bed do you sleep on?”

The series shifts it’s focus from the political undertones and introduces the Yajima family. The father was imprisoned for his writings that violated the New Information Privacy and Protection Act. During his incarceration, he meets a mysterious young man who shows him a book acquired from a second hand bookstore. The book is from Kaishou’s private library. Within its pages, Yajima discovers a piece of his manuscript paper with a number code.

Now a free man, Yajima seeks Shinjuro to the solve the mystery behind the code.

This episode felt very different from the previous cases we’ve seen, everything functioned in a personal level. While the episode never allows us to have an intimate look into the emotions of these characters, the quietness in this episode felt like a thin layer to cover up the boiling tension below. Kenji Fujiwara’s work on Yajima was excellent, you could feel his insecurity, his unhappiness and his loathing in the most subtle of ways. The script was especially powerful as well. Together with sleek pacing and stylish art direction, you’ve got one hell of a short story. I don’t think any other show has improved this much over such a short period of time, Un-Go keeps on trying different things when you least expect it to and the result is something very unusual but fitting of the NoitaminA timeslot.

The sly nature of this episode reveals itself upon the second viewing. This isn’t a show that you can only watch once, some people might think that this is a bad thing but I personally find series that continue to be interesting despite repeated viewings one that can stand the test of time.

There remains a mystery behind the facade of a happy end. Did Kaishou really have an affair with Yajima’s wife? It seems that the maid and Kaishou kept visiting last year, not to mention she explicitly states that she delivered toys to the house last year for the children. That doesn’t make a lot of sense once you realize that Yajima tells Shinjurou that his children were missing since that time period. Also, the wife seems to be hiding something as well. I like how the clues are thrown in but it allows the viewers to come up with their own speculations. Why not tell Yajima about the family’s real condition? Why did Kaishou intend his friend not to find out about his wife’s neglect? Also, had Shinjuro not interfered would Yajima ever meet his children at all?

Okay, this is going to sound strange but let us consider ‘intuition’ in this case. Rie and Yajima, both arrived at a similar conclusion upon seeing the coded message. Kaishou’s story coincides with Shinjuro’s conclusion but our detective was unable to hear the maid’s statement. This is why Inga’s face is darkened when Kaishou asks ‘Why do you reveal the truth?’. I believe that this time around, Shinjuro was unable to reveal the whole truth and as such, he truly was defeated.

The Novelist vs. The Last Detective

In the final minutes of this series, we find that a character referring to himself as ‘The Novelist’, a man who writes stories not with a pen but in reality. He premeditated this whole mystery. His aim is to have Shinjuro become the ‘Last Great Detective’ by revealing the truth right after Yajima had murdered his wife.

This newly revealed conflict is bloody brilliant. The novelist character has an Inga counterpart with him, a possible opposing force. Inga, is ‘karma’ a representation of ’cause and effect’. This girl might be, the belief that regardless of one’s actions– all things are predetermined and written by a greater force. The Novelist is playing god with the way he attempts to control certain events in order to arrive at a certain end.

End Notes

Another triumph for Un-Go this week. No other series this season has improved over such a period of time and this episode highlighted the storytelling prowess of the people behind this project. One thing to note here is how sex also plays a part in this series, the approach here is very ‘adult’.

When Yajima asks Shinjuro if he sleeps with Kazamori, Shinjuro doesn’t respond with your typical flailing and head shaking. He responds with silence. This sort of thing could go either way, but I doubt he sleeps with a sexually abused RAI. I say this because Inga would never allow it either. Although it’s obvious that Yajima suspects him to be a pedophile, I don’t think Shinjuro has gone that low.

I also liked how Inga switches from creepy, annoying , sexual and innocent in just 22 minutes. It just makes this character so much more unpredictable. It seems that their loss this time around really ticked her off.

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16 Comments

  1. Whoever is in charge of adapting the script is great at misdirection. Like in the last episode, I thought that the solution was the most obvious one (the mother was sleeping around, she killed the kids, etc.) but it turned out to be completely different. Amazing.

    It seems that their loss this time around really ticked her off.
    I wanted to see more of the fallout from that, to see how she deals when she doesn’t get to eat anyone’s soul. Oh well, maybe that’s something for a future episode?

    • The mystery this time around really had me scratching my head.

      Oh well, maybe that’s something for a future episode?

      Inga seems intent on eating Kaishou's soul, that's for sure. Can't wait to see how everything turns out!

  2. wow so I just found your blog and brb reading everything. I’ve been trying to find decent discussion spaces about this show for a while to no avail so I’m happy to see this. There’s so much richness in the subtext here, with every episode, and I agree with you entirely on the rewatch value. I think I’ve watched the pilot thrice (while anxiously awaiting new episodes) and got something new out of it every time.

    Initially this show didn’t pull me in save for the mystery behind Inga and Inga and Shinjuurou’s relationship but now, I find myself intrigued by all of them. Rie is growing on me, Kaishou is coming off as somehow both glorious and frightening and, of course, the subtlety in the Inga-Shinjuurou dynamic speaks volumes and I am transfixed!

    • Hi! Thank you for dropping by! It’s always nice to see more people into Un-Go. The show has so much going for it that it’s so much fun to talk about.

      Yeah, I like how the show uses very subtle characterization. The more I know about them, the more charming they turn out to be!

  3. I have to agree with everything you’ve written: this is probably the best 22-minute, “stand-alone”, dramatic story I’ve ever seen in film or television. A perfect visual-media short story, from start to finish. The fact that when it’s over you know you don’t have the whole story but don’t have enough to know the truth really hit me in the gut, almost viscerally; up until now we’ve been spoiled by cases that got solved completely — even if they got covered-up — but this time it’s like we actually live in that world, and directly experience the messy details getting swept up under the rug.

    One thing that jumped out: Inga’s intuitions were pretty much 100% on the money this episode, if for the wrong reasons (Yajima’s visit *was* a trap, but Yajima was an unwitting participant in the trap; asking the mother where her kids are really *would* have shed some light on the scenario, if not for the reasons Inga suspects). In earlier episodes I’ve taken Inga’s guesses as purely comic relief, but at the same time Inga seems to have some access to information (I think Inga detected the bodies in the statue ahead of time, and detected the upstairs room somehow, etc.).

    Another thing that jumped out: I have to wonder now if the other cases had involvement from the novelist. I figure we’ll find out eventually, but it’s an interesting possibility: the novelist seems to have constructed a small piece of fake evidence, which when discovered would set in motion a chain of events that would reveal certain truths (while, of course, letting others remain hidden). So with some of the other cases, now, I have to wonder if in fact we didn’t see the whole story: perhaps in ep1 the 2 napoleons helped the wife plot the murder (but this fact remained undiscovered)? Maybe there was more to the story of ep2 than what Shinjuro and Inga turned up? Many more questions than answers.

    Finally: I don’t know quite what to make of it, but at the ending there’s a bit of artful touch: when the sun comes up Rinroku’s face is half-lit, half-shaded, Shinjuro’s is fully-lit, and Inga’s is fully shadowed. Since this happens when Rinroku’s asking Shinjuro why he uncovers the truth, I think it’s intended to point out something like: Rinroku’s actions are often bad things that’re perhaps done in the interest of the greater good; Shinjuro’s actions are often ostensibly “good” (or “right”, I guess), but at the end of the day his actions are all are done for the sake of feeding souls to some kind of demon. Or something. I also think Inga was making a not-so-subtle threat to Rinroku, lol.

    Oh, actually-finally: I agree that the way this show uses sex sets it apart from most other anime: it’s there, it’s used realistically, and where it is it works. The conversation with Yajima has an interesting nuance to it: Yajima is feeling completely humiliated as a man, b/c he thinks his wife (i) has had a serious, long-term affair with some other man, (ii) went so far as to dispose of the kids to make the affair smoother, and (iii) has been lying to his face about the whole thing. So then when he’s asking Shinjuro if he sleeps with Kazamori, it’s in part just trying to make himself feel better by knocking Shinjuro down a peg (and Shinjuro, being an actual adult — what’s this, adults in my anime! — doesn’t take the bait). Well-written adult characters, wild isn’t it?

    Also, FYI: someone over at the AnimeSuki forums went to see “episode zero” and has written up a detailed summary. It’s pretty interesting (and it shows that I either got a fair amount wrong trying to read that comic, or that Rie was just really, really confused about what’s going on and a bit incoherent…). To see the summary it’s Forums => Current Series => Un-Go => the last page of the thread, or thereabouts. Even in summary form it clarifies a *lot* about what’s going on in the series, and adds a couple angles to the stories we’ve seen so far that would be impossible to pick up on otherwise. Without really spoiling, Inga is about what we’ve been guessing, but there’s some interesting twists that add more nuance (and that I’ve not seen guessed-at by anyone, anywhere).

    • but this time it’s like we actually live in that world, and directly experience the messy details getting swept up under the rug.
      This story felt incredibly personal, it was such a huge change from the usual episodes which made it even more special.

      I really wonder what would’ve happened if Inga asked the mother. She’s obviously a supernatural being, and I think Inga can detect hidden truths but never goes out of her way to feed herslef because she relies on Shinjurou now.

      The Novelist is an intriguing character, I wonder how many of the cases we’ve seen so far have been ‘real’. I saw you pointed out the Un-Go: Ingaron spoilers and now I’m starting to have my doubts of what ‘reality’ is in Un-Go. Nice observation with how the lighting emphasizes on Shinjuro and Kaisho’s respective roles in the series.

      To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure why Yajima went out of his way to ask if Shinjurou was sleeping with a ‘little girl’ but your take on it makes so much sense. As a man, his pride has been wounded. Perhaps he felt that he failed as a father, a husband and as a man. This kind of characterization is rare in anime, and the approach reminds me more of an adult drama which is a refreshing change. Would would’ve thought?!

  4. Everyone here have already summed everything up beautifully, so I don’t have anything to add.

    But damn, this show is good. I’m going to rewatch it when it’s finished.

  5. I must say that Un-Go’s turned out to quite the pleasant surprise. I got a bit worried that Bones might’ve been getting a little ahead of themselves( No.6’s ending comes to mind) but I find myself intrigued and liking it even more with each episode, to the point where I wish it was a 2-cour :_:

    Nothing much to contribute aside from praise from the show, and how passionate everyone is about discussing the show\o/

    As for the anime:

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2011-11-06/sentai-filmworks-adds-a-channel-un-go-anime

    It has been licensed for an english release slated for sometimes next year, and Sentai’s site says that it’d be available on DVD and Blu-ray, so we can expect a dub.o/

    T-though the Japanese release is tempting with all the extras…double dipping it is! orz

    • Oops, should be, “praise FOR the show”, damn typo. <_<

    • No.6’s ending was kind of a trainwreck. It’s a shame really, I did like majority of the show. It would’ve been nice if Un-Go was a 2-cour, or maybe if we had a second season!

      Ohhh! Fabulous! I can’t wait to own the show in English. But you’re right, I’d love to get the Japanese one because of the freebies!

  6. >Although it’s obvious that Yajima suspects him to be a pedophile, I don’t think Shinjuro has gone that low.
    I imagine Yajima assumed so because that’s what RAIs were commonly used for (or at least had that image).

    We learned more about Kaishou in this episode, but not enough! Having rewatched the ep, I still can’t quite decide whether or not he was actually having an affair with the wife. This show likes to deliberately leave a lot of questions unanswered. My favourite guess is that he had a long term crush on her but never made a move. It would be horrible if he was having an affair since she was obviously not in a mentally stable state. (Neither did the husband seem to be though – why wasn’t he desperately looking for his kids as soon as he learnt they were missing? Is that why Kaishou didn’t inform him about his kids’ whereabouts?) Also, was Kaishou connected to the man’s arrest in the first place?

    • I imagine Yajima assumed so because that’s what RAIs were commonly used for (or at least had that image).

      This reasoning works the best. It makes a lot of sense!

      The more people think about it, the more questions pop up. It’s kind of hard to find out the whole truth in each case, I guess!

  7. Perhaps it is as Rinroku-kun says- there is not one “whole” truth. In this mystery, or any of the others.

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