UN-GO – 03
「覆面屋敷」 (Fukumen Yashiki)
I’m still not sure what to make of UN-GO after three episodes, but’s it’s carving out a place as a show that’s genuinely interesting for its creativity and unapologetic weirdness.
Based on the last two cases, in terms of pure mysteries I’m beginning to suspect that UN-GO is a cut above the likes of Gosick, Kami-Memo and Dantalian. I can’t find enough info on the source novel to know just how much of these plots are directly adapted from Sakaguchi Ango’s work – obviously a lot of details would have needed to be changed – but there’s a complexity and cleverness behind the last two mysteries that seems to transcend what we normally see in anime.
I found this most recent case put me in mind of Ghost Hunt quite a bit (and that’s a compliment) even though Inga seems to be the only supernatural element in this show. Of course sometimes there was a mundane explanation for events in Ghost Hunt, and indeed there seems to be a scientific rationale at heart of the story of mysterious and powerful A.I. guru Komamori Sasa – so secretive he never publicly showed his face – and his adopted “son”, Kazamori. I was immediately caught up in this tale of the scientist who died in an explosion, the stepson he left the company to and whose face his family never saw, and the tragedy that befell the son seven years later.
When Komamori’s daughter Mitsuko asks Rie for help, it’s fascinating that rather than turn to her father, Rie turns to Shinjuro. This is our first concrete evidence that as well as fancying herself an amateur detective she’s not only aware than her father is more a propaganda tool than a true detective, but that she bristles at this – leaving her in a unique position among all the characters in this series. With Komamori having died while under attack by the government for his artificial intelligence work, Rie recognizes that there might be much more to this case than meets the eye. She’s a clever one too, using her wits to get around a “No transport by vehicle or on foot” decree by entering a restricted area on horseback.
While it wasn’t hard to figure out that Kazamori was an A.I. himself (who even went to the extent of “growing up” for appearances sake) given the premise, this cliffhanger still has the makings of an interesting arc. Who was behind Komamori’s death, and why did Kazamori fake “his”? As with many mysteries it’s largely a question of who knew what and when, but there’s an obvious tie-in with the dystopia – in fact, I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that Komamori faked his own death seven years earlier. The problem I’m having is mainly in seeing how Shinjuro and Inga fit into the bigger picture. Izumi and Seigen don’t seem important in that they fulfill very predictable “government dog” roles, but at least we know who they are and what that predictable role is. Shinjuro and Inga are still very much an enigma.
In fact, at this point I think it’s valid to question whether Shinjuro is even a good detective. After all, in each of the first three episodes it’s Inga – who Shinjuro interestingly refers to as “my boss” – whose question proved the key to unraveling the mystery. Shinjuro is obviously smart, but is he exceptional? Not knowing exactly who he is or even why he continues to chase mysteries only to be defeated by Rinroku at every turn makes it harder to connect with him as a character and, by extension, the show itself. The answers are tied up with Inga, obviously, and about the only thing we know about Inga is that – he or she – Inga isn’t human.