Un-Go 07 – Altered Perception

Undoubtedly the strangest Un-Go episode yet, Daydream feels like a Hitchcockian psychological thriller mixed with the dream-like qualities of a Murakami narrative. The difference though, is that I think it felt very raw. A little rough around the edges. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that it requires more polishing– mostly due to the pacing and transition.

Minor qualms aside, I did enjoy this episode though. I like it when a show takes you out of your comfort zone without making you feel like an idiot inept of basic understanding.

From what we’ve seen in this episode, it appears that Shinjuro has become a prisoner and the whole film-making scenario is a part of the new reality The Novelist is writing. The Novelist and his Inga counterpart have the ability to completely alter a human being’s perception of the ‘truth’. We see this when Shinjuro confronts the director and passes out. He is seen wearing a prisoner’s uniform and the script he’s holding turns into grass. Meanwhile, Inga and Kazamori intend to ‘rescue’ Shinjuro with Kazamori probably attempting to reach him though computers and other electrical devices.

It sucks waking up to a barcode tatoo.

That doesn’t mean the mystery is solved though. First of all, how did Shinjuro become a prisoner? Why are Rie and Izumi present? Did the Director really die? Who is Papillon? Plus, all sorts of other questions I may have missed out on.

Heck, did we even understand what was happening in The Novelist’s constructed reality? The characters were talking as if they were speaking in riddles. In The Novelist’s ‘reality’, a war never happened, nor was there an actual script to be followed. We’re just forced to accept that whatever transpires on screen does have an effect on what’s happening in what we consider to be the real setting of the show.

Nonsensical Cinema : Killing the Director

In this episode we see Shinjuro’s disgust over an empty script. He directly confronts the director and (according to the ‘fake’ scenario) this leads to Shinjuro murdering the man, strangling him to death before getting a streetcar to dismember him.

All throughout the episode, we see the staff enthusiastically working on the film. The three actresses in particular are very enthusiastic. The director’s script is the word of god, and each girl attempts to understand what is written and obsess over it. Having no knowledge of who they are or what their origins are, the actresses depend on the director and the script.

Shinjuro’s apprehension stems from how he feels towards the actresses and the film. He even offers to finish the story himself in order to provide the girls with an answer.

This unusual obsession with the film correlates with the desire to seek meaning. Their ‘god’ is one that sits in his chair and is uninterested in his surroundings, Shinjuro attempts to reach him in order to create something that will give him and the girls satisfaction, but upon the realization that there has been nothing for them from the very beginning, he destroys this ‘god’ with his own hands, a god that was nothing but a cruel man and a dictator to him.

Any thoughts if this ‘arrangement’ has any significance?

There’s also the not so subtle criticism of popular media as well. The girls are constantly filmed in their underwear, running in the burning city and spouting cryptic dialogue. The film itself makes you believe that there is something beneath it, but in fact– there was nothing but an empty script. The movie is nothing but a soulless endeavor.

The Exploitation of War

“We have this desire to mess up the world…and ourselves…”

Sex is a prominent theme in this series, but this episode makes an odd comparison– likening war and sex. There’s a rather long exchange between the three actresses attempting to comprehend the line written in the script. My personal interpretation is that, people tend to form a dislike for the mundane. Although they live supposedly normal lives, they begin to wish for something big to happen. We take a visceral enjoyment out of the idea of a war, the thought that unlike others– we will be able to survive the war. There’s a desire to return to a more primal way of living.

The other girl does bring up another interesting point in the discussion. War becomes the way to put everyone on trial. Rich or poor, good or bad– it is war that brings us together on the same level.

Representing three different stances towards the war.

There’s also a possibility that this ties with a criticism of certain films, namely that blockbuster ‘end of the world’ movie that comes around like, every year. Remember 2012? Heck, take any CG-infested apocalypse film. The public’s fascination with the end of all things as we know it, coupled with fear mongering isn’t new. But you don’t hear a lot of people pointing this out, that’s because it’s something we’ve grown so accustomed to.

End Notes:

• Three directors were mentioned this week: Schaffner, Rosenberg and Darabont. Each one has been involved in a prison drama. Rosenberg directed Cool Hand Luke. Schaffner in particular directed a film titled “Papillon“. While Frank Darabont is well-known for directing “The Shawshank Redemption”.  All three films involve escaping prision.

• The scene with Shinjuro passing out and waking up reminded me a bit of Scottie’s dream in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

• Shinjuro is often seen eating alone. Possibly not significant, but I liked the emphasis on his isolation.

• There’s some very interesting compositions with Shinjuro’s face obscured.

My favorite snapshots.

• It was good to see Inga after the end credits, I was getting a little worried it wouldn’t show up. I suppose that The Novelist’s Inga counterpart can only affect humans around a certain area because we see Hayami (likely to be unaffected) in the car.

• I like how there’s no censorship in this show. Normally the dismembered body would be  censored, right? We’ve seen Blood-C do it and Mirai Nikki censored a severed hand and kid being stabbed. It’s actually nice NOT to see lightbeams or mosaics for a change.

Another great episode for Un-Go, this series is on a roll!

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7 Comments

  1. I can kinda see the three female prisoners in that shot as hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil. Hands on ears seems precise, holding hands seems close, it is the one in the middle that seems a bit loose. Might just be coincidence.

    I thought the bit at the start with the stealth bombers was just fantastic: at first it is a starry night, then those red stars are bombers, then it’s just a set. Total whiplash, nothing is real, etc..

    I tend to assume the tendentious speeches are lifted straight from something Sakaguchi wrote, fwiw.

    All in all a wild ride, can’t wait to see how it turns out. A real mystery this week.

    • I can kinda see the three female prisoners in that shot as hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil.

      It does seem that way, but maybe more of how differently they react to the war. One of them is ecstatic, the other is scared and the other one seems non-nonchalant or in denial? It’s pretty interesting.

      I thought the bit at the start with the stealth bombers was just fantastic: at first it is a starry night, then those red stars are bombers, then it’s just a set. Total whiplash, nothing is real, etc..
      That had a very surreal feel to it! I liked it a lot myself…

      I tend to assume the tendentious speeches are lifted straight from something Sakaguchi wrote, fwiw.
      I think so too!

      .A real mystery this week.
      I’d love to see what happens next week!

      • I actually looked up some imagery for the 3 wise monkeys and yeah, it seems unlikely that the 3 prisoners were referencing that in any way.

        I did think a bit more about the director. I don’t know of anything that that death pose would be referencing. I did notice that he had some died blond mohawk under the hat, and at least in contemporary Japan that’d be a weird hairstyle for a prison guard (or warden) to have (on the theory that the director is one of the guards). On the other hand, I’m not sure appearances tell us anything; for example, I doubt the three actress-prisoners are really running around in their underwear.

        It’d be funny if Hayami proves too dumb to fool. He is straightforward enough to handcuff a fridge, after all.

        Also: I also took another read through the manga chapter to see if it made more sense in light of the ep 0 spoilers. It really didn’t, actually: Rie talks about the cult, etc., as if it’s happening in the present, but ep 0 spoilers imply that that case happened awhile ago. The manga chapter can’t be a true prequel, either, b/c it starts out with Izumi letting Kaishou know his cover story for the Sasa Kazemori murder went out as planned (and her effusively thanking him for coming up with it).

        It seems the only way to make it “canon-compatible” is to assume Rie is just really, really confused about what’s going on, with neither Shinjurou nor Inga wanting to give her a straight answer. In any case, given the ep 0 spoilers I think the manga’s getting some guidance from the actual writers but probably isn’t meant to be strictly canon, for whatever that’s worth.

        • With the new episode out, I think most of our questions hav been answered. I bought the December Newtype– and nope– it seems the manga is a vastly different story. Some changes I noticed were that Shinjuro was childhood friends with Yuuko and the bandaged man and a character we will probably never see in the anime made an appears to be an ‘ally’. It’s really confusing but very interesting…the artwork is always delicious though.

          • Interesting, so it seems like the manga writers probably got access to the show bible and rough plot outlines but have otherwise been left on their own.

  2. Always love your review. ;) And I hadn’t noticed the 3 directors part. Thanks for pointing that out.

    What do you think will happen to this series though? Do you think this will be a long standing arc until the end of the series?

    • Aww thank you! I was wondering why they had to mention those directors so I looked into it!

      I’m very worried how this series will end, but I think this is the ‘big’ arc that will eventually get Kaishou Rinroku involved. That’s just a guess though, but with so many people getting involved– I can’t see how this will end smoothly.

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