October 2011 Anime Season – UN-GO Episode 2

Now here is a show that makes a LOT more sense after its second episode! Most of all, its main intentions are now MUCH clearer. And the reasons for watching have changed dramatically with this episode.

 

The first minute of this episode makes a big difference. There’s a somewhat secret sale of a new expansion for an idol program (the ‘Vocaloid is ancient!’ line was gold!), but it’s quickly shut down and declared illegal. Oddball detective duo Shinjurou and Inga proceed to investigate the murder of a prominent businesswoman. Her daughter takes the news in a weird way, as if she knows much more than she’s letting on. Turns out our murder victim managed a once-popular idol group that was banned after the war. The intrigue lies within the supposed 4th member that was allegedly killed during the conflict, which was a key part of the group’s success. Things go haywire once it’s revealed there never was a 4th member and that it was a lie designed by the murder victim. Worst of all, the voice supposedly posthmously used in future recordings was the victim’s daughter. And therein lies the motive and perpetrator. Shinjurou and Inga beat the hapless prosecutor to the truth, but it matters for little. The victim’s lover is pinned for the crime for the supposed ‘greater good’ by dear Professor Kaishou. Seems that the dear Professor was responsible for a lot more fabrication in this saga, too. And thus, Shinjurou and Inga lose out again. Although, the ending suggests that not everything can be quelled, as the daughter’s song manages to occassionally dodge censorship measures and find their way to others, including Rie.

It is now much clearer what UN-GO intends to explore. The whodunnit aspect is smoke and mirrors. There are two other aspects that are the true focus – the use of lies to warp reality and how it can be done to create a tyrannical, dystopian world. This is a future where technology has hardly progressed from what we have here in 2011. Censorship is in full effect – even on the future’s version of Youtube and the like. The use of lies to create a false reality that is supposedly more orderly for society is something that fuels Inga’s hatred of the prosecutor and Professor Kaishou. It also seems Shinjurou is required for Inga to ‘transform/genderbend’, but we don’t know why. The Professor’s daughter, Rie, seems unaware of the effect that her father’s lies have on the world. I get the feeling that once she does find out, Rie will rebel and side with Shinjurou and Inga.

 

Some very interesting social aspects are brought up here. Imagine if censorship to the point of only what the government aprroves was enforced. Could you imagine modern life with things like Youtube, the Internet and other media in general being only what someone else approves as right for all? Not to mention a world where the truth is meaningless – endlessly woven into lies to supposedly make life more comfortable – and where those that are supposed to pursue justice instead dispense a perverted, ruined form to suit the state. It is very reminiscent of the worlds depicted in literary classics like Nighteen Eighty Four and Fahrenheit 451. Not surprisingly, the source novel for this show came out in the era those novels did. UN-GO is not about crime-solving – it is about how a state-ruled country can be brought to its kness and have its citizens at the mercy of whatever whim the rulers and their enforcers dictate. It is about the desecration of truth and justice.

Now I have much better reasons to watch this show. Certainly, the whodunnit aspect is still fairly weak and character development is a bit slow. But rather than the nationalistic rhetoric which is getting too common this season, UN-GO is exploring society on a much more crucial level. Where it intends to go will be rather intriguing. But it needs to ramp up the crime-solving aspect and get Rie into the mix more. UN-GO needs a character with more appeal to get the sales needed for profit – thus far, it hasn’t quite given one with enough reasons or qualities for the viewer to identify with. Hopefully that changes soon, but with a clarity of story and better animation this episode, I have hope it will happen.