Un-Go 11 – Farewell to a God that Never Was

“I want to love people.”
-Yuuki Shinjurou

You know what? Un-Go is fucking amazing. I’ve been holding back from uttering those words, quietly dreading the possibility of a clusterfuck ending worthy of dethroning No.6. Now that it’s over, I’m glad none of that happened.

The ending is reminiscent of Mouryou no Hako’s finale, the detective stands in a room and vocalizes his deductions. These revelations ultimately tear down the facades of those responsible for the crime committed and well, you know the drill.

What fascinates me about this ending is that even as Un-Go ends we’re reminded that even with Bettenou’s disappearance, the story doesn’t end here. The shadow of war will never completely dissipate and the world will continue to evolve haunted by it. Shinjurou will continue to reveal truths, the souls of human beings. He will go on, fueled by his desire to love his humanity.

Bettenou – A Soul of Mere Words

“Long ago, the statesmen of this country let loose the words ‘victory’ and ‘kamikaze’. They falsely heralded them as gods, and sent them to war. All for the purpose of feigning a nonexistent reality.”

Shinjurou describes Bettenou as a misbegotten soul. That she is indeed, a soul born out of man’s fantasy. An artificial god powered by the words of the people before Shinjurou and Kaishou. Bettenou is a false idol, only truly efficient when in the hands of a human being. News spreads feverishly among men, and this is what ushered Bettenou into the position of a deity.

We all knew what Shinjurou referred to as he uttered the words ‘victory’ and ‘kamikaze’. Bettenou’s tragedy was not her existence as a misbegotten soul, it’s the fact that her powers persisted and retained it’s potency after so many years. Her final battle with Inga shows Bettenou’s other form resembling a rabbit. After being violently consumed by INga herself, I assume Bettenou became part of Inga’s existence.

As Hayami attempts suicide, Inga rescues him and tells him Bettenou’s parting words. “Live. Fall.” It’s one message from one generation to another.

Hayami’s Love

Viewers will point out that his motivation was weak because it focuses on his love for one woman. A love that wasn’t quite as well portrayed as some may have liked. While there’s no true reason for me to disagree with these sentiments, I found that it suit his character perfectly. He was never an overly complex person. He wasn’t like Shinjurou or Kaishou. The guy just wanted Izumi to recognize him the same way she did with Kaishou.

In the end, he was a bit of a lovesick fool but he was a refreshing antagonist who acted on his feelings in a bizarre, roundabout way.

Inga’s Freedom

From day one, no other relationship was as intriguing as Shinjurou’s and Inga’s. The dynamic between these two is constantly changing. It’s a dynamic that shifts from beneficial, tiresome, gentle and understanding. All things considered, Inga is seen as a monster. A frightening creature that tears the minds of men apart, however– Shinjurou still decides to free her from Bettenou’s control and with Inga by his side, he will continue to reveal the truth seen only in the human soul.

A soft facial expression, rather unusual of Inga.

To me, there’s symbolism occurring here. When Shinjurou ‘frees’ Inga of Bettenou’s control, it’s his way of finally proving that mere words cannot amount to ‘truth’. However, they can be used to form a false and fragile reality, one that cannot continue to exist once one’s eyes have been opened. This is something I believe is open for interpretation, but this is my personal take on what transpired regarding Inga’s freedom.

What’s scary here is that Inga does consume Bettenou. While Bettenou will never truly be equal to a human soul, the possibility that it’s ‘good enough’ as one remains.

More Dirt

Shinjurou and Kaishou have met halfway at times, but they are essentially rivals. It’s an amazing set up that I don’t think get’s lauded very often. Kaishou is a man who feels no guilt when it comes to covering up and manipulating the truth if it meant the fulfillment of a goal.

Kaishou’s dream is far too idealistic for the people around him, however I do believe that only strengthens his resolve. Undoubtedly, I see him as one of the most mysterious figures in Un-Go, alongside Inga. This is a character so well done that even the audience can’t visualize the scenery that Kaishou perceives. He’s the sort of man whose mind and soul exists elsewhere. It exists in a place far from where his family and Izumi are at.

Closing Thoughts

It’s great to come across an ending I feel very satisfied with. Un-Go was a joy to watch and blog about. I’m glad Sentai Filmworks picked this up. I have to wonder how Sakaguchi Ango would’ve felt if he had seen Un-Go. While I’ve never read the source material, I feel that the people behind this series were able to rekindle interest in Sakaguchi Ango’s work. People say Noitamina is dead, but I hope that’s not the case. While we’ve had a number of flawed shows, a generic disappointment and one inevitable trainwreck– I did enjoy what it had to offer this year. In short, we need more shows like Un-Go. Shows that make use of their time, delve into thought provoking (and rather important) topics without feeling pretentious and aren’t afraid of poor sales.

So yes, thank you Un-Go. Thank you for improving and being one of the best shows this year.

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7 Comments

  1. “You know what? Un-Go is fucking amazing.” Aaayup, my sentiments exactly. Haha, you’ve practically summed up how I felt about the ending. I liked that Hayami had a refreshingly different and simplistic goal that wasn’t politically influenced too. Un-Go was actually one of the shows I loved a lot since the start, despite how weak it was in the beginning.

    I’m hoping for a second season, but that’s probably not very likely at all. Maybe the possibility of an OVA isn’t too farfetched though; I’m curious about the Novelist and how he coincidentally came across Bettenou. Oh, and also how Kaishou is going to explain that he’s alive to the public.

    Hopefully we’ll be able to see episode 0 soon :)

    • I liked that Hayami had a refreshingly different and simplistic goal that wasn’t politically influenced too.
      Same here. I felt that this was an important point the series wanted to make. That by the end of it, there are people out there who have simple wishes and sometimes are misguided by their own feelings. Hayami is an excellent example of that. Un-Go was one of the shows I looked forward to from the very beginning and I’m glad I stood by it. It was a great show.

      I’d love to see a second season, although I wouldn’t mind an OVA either. Hahaha! It’d be awkward to explain how Kaishou is still alive, but I can see how he can manage that.

      Yes! I can’t wait for it to be out on BD next year.

      • I completely agree! Hayami wasn’t an entirely complex character, but his motivations made him all the more human and much more easier to empathise with.

        I loved it from the PV, but found the first two mysteries a little boring. It wasn’t until Kazamori’s debut that I really started getting hooked. But now at the end, I realise the first was essential in establishing the characters and the second gave us the background story we needed about Yongahime 3+1. So overall, I think it was well constructed and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

        The only thing I didn’t understand was the part in episode 10 where they had the silhouette of Hayami behind Bettenou. I thought he was at the live broadcast, since we saw him there before and after Koyama’s little speech @_@;;

        Oh yes, I’m hoping to get my hands on the new UN-GO design works book too ♥

  2. “You know what? Un-Go is fucking amazing.”

    wonderfully put :)

    First of all, I want thank you for blogging about this series in the way that you did. I’ve looked forward to your reviews every week and they’ve made me appreciate a lot of the finer points in a show that was bang-on to start with. I have a lot of thoughts about this episode and a series as a whole but you summarized them rather well: Kaishou as a masterpiece of a villian, Hayami’s motives as very human and rather fitting for him, and the Inga-Shinjuurou relationship which was, to me, the beauty, charm and heart of this show from the get-go. I have a soft spot for open-endings when done right and not in a way that feels like a cop-out and I think Un-Go did a fantastic job with that in a very “the circle of life goes on” kind of way. Also, it was nice to see Shinjuurou seeming almost being free of his own demons in a way at the very end and able to close that Bettenou chapter. While I think Shinjuurou would have gone on being a detective regardless of what happens, I like that we got to see him actively choosing to stay with Inga and expose truths as his way of life (whereas at the start it really did at times feel like it was something he’d been cornered into doing).

    I admit, the one thing that left me confused was Shinjuurou’s “I’ve already answered your question” to Inga as I’m not sure if it was a reference to episode 0 or just something that went over my head. That scene still managed to give me chills though, with him calmly getting through to her and redefining the terms.

    All in all, what a great ride! I’m looking forward to watching episode 0 and, like Shinjuurou, whatever comes next.

    • Aww, you’re welcome! Un-Go was a enjoyable watch and a show that constantly provided so much to ponder on. I intend to rewatch the series someday, I feel that there are plenty of details we’ve missed during its brief run. Like you, I feel apprehensive towards open endings. These are endings that seem more of a cop out, but in Un-Go it’s an ending that absolutely fits the narrative. The fight between Shinjurou and Kaishou will never end, it’s essentially a battle that will last for generations to come. I agree with you regarding Shinjurou’s growth here, it looks like he’s finally come into terms of what he needs to do and why he needs to be with Inga. Early into the series, Shinjuro seemed as if he were forced into the position of becoming the Defeated Detective, but as the series progresses I think the more Shinjurou discovered things about human soul, the more he began to understand what purpose he wanted to give himself.

      It seems that the ‘I’ve already answered your question…’ line is from the prequel movie. Shinjurou tearing down Bettenou’s status as a false idol was definitely a memorable scene.

      I’m glad we still have the movie to see, not to mention two ongoing mangas. Un-Go isn’t truly over!

  3. Nice wrap-up for this show. The ending was satisfying and quite conclusive; I only wish there were more of Shinjuro’s backstory revealed besides the sparse information we got at the credit roll. Un-go to the core was a detective mystery, and it delivered exactly what it promised with a mature and compelling narrative.

    I love that Kaisho is not your stereotypical, mustache-twirling villain, but rather a charismatic man whose agenda is simply too large for life. It isn’t out of spite or petty hatred that he antagonizes Shinjuro, but fate naturally brought them along opposing paths. In the court scene, Kaisho stated that “there are innumerable truths” and he seems to subscribe to the belief that truth/reality is entirely subjective, that people will believe what they want to believe (we saw this in the movie shooting episodes and those under Bettenou’s influence). Kaisho’s beliefs clash with Shinjuro’s constant search for singular, objective “truth” and as such, their philosophical battle continues in the sense that the nature of truth will never be fully understood.

    I honestly didn’t suspect Hayami, so it came quite a shock; all this coming from the guy who handcuffed a refrigerator. But alas, all the arrows were pointing at him in each and every ending… >_< Ah well, looking forward to the movie!

  4. Great wrap-up. Your discussion of Bettenou made what Kaishou was saying click for me: Bettenou is passive, and her powers only activate in response to human wishes. Thus she can’t be a god — she has no will of her own — but humans can make her into a “god” if they wish to. Thus similarly with kamikaze, etc., which are in the end only words.

    Happy 2012 and happy episode zero whenever it becomes available.

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