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「楽園の王」 (Rakuen no Ō)
“The King of Paradise”

The prison mystery wraps up – sort of – in a mostly satisfactory and highly entertaining manner that plays something like a cross between 60’s sci-fi and early Hitchcock. I can’t help but wonder whether much was changed from Ango’s original story, or Ango was simply a remarkably visionary writer.

First off, I have to give full credit to the scene where Kazamori infiltrated the prison electronically in order to reach Shinjuro. It wasn’t quite as cool as The Spiral King’s master hack from the second Gurren-Lagann movie, but it was stylish and stunning in a retro-future sort of way. It certainly explained the strange message Shinjuro received on the library computer last week, but then this ep did a great job (perhaps even too neatly) of explaining pretty much everything that happened last week.

If you have the time, it’d certainly be an interesting experience to re-watch episode 7 in light of everything we were told today. It was especially fascinating to look back on the interpretations each of the three “actresses” (Toyosaki Aki, Takagaki Ayahi, Kotobuki Minako) took from the “We should’ve sucked off war more” dialogue last week, each a reflection of their real-life crimes – prostitute, propagandist, mother-turned-terrorist. As I surmised it was indeed The Novelist’s sidekick that Inga smelled last week, and now we know who she is – Bettneou, a black-eyed Kami that has the ability to change others’ perception of their reality. Whether she works for The Novelist or vice-versa is hard to say and we don’t know how they met, but this was certainly always the most logical explanation for what happened at the prison. There were other clues – the Frank Darabont films the “director” was looking at, for example – and some were quite subtle, like the missing number on the director’s keypad and the fact that Shinjuro appeared to be leaning on non-existent walls and such at times. The whole exercise was not just a play for The Novelist’s benefit, but a scam on the part of a prison guard to ensure the silence of a female prisoner who knew things he didn’t want to get out.

This was an episode where the side characters really got to shine. Kazamori proved its worth yet again, cleverly zapping Shinjuro into reality with shock handcuffs (perhaps an explanation will come later as to how Kazamori can seemingly create matter from the ether). Inga was uncharacteristically flustered in trying to deal with Shinjuro’s massive crowds of angry customers. It was interesting to see Seigen get his first opportunity to really participate (and for Miyu Irino to act a little) as he teamed with Inga to get inside the prison mystery once Rie and Izumi were caught up in Bettenou’s unreality. We saw the first signs of independent thought from him, too, as he seems to openly rebel against Kaishou’s tendency to hide the truth rather than shed light on it – I hope that’s a thread that’s followed in future episodes.

Indeed, in addition to providing a compelling mystery in its own right this arc did wonders to further add depth and color to the world UN-GO has created, and to set-up what appears to be a final arc building on the themes of war, freedom of thought and conscientious objection. Bettenou has fallen into the hands of the intelligence branch of the government, and given their track record and her powers, that’s a terrifying prospect. Shinjuro – as evidenced by his decision not to immediately leave the prison after the truth was revealed – has proved himself a complex and fascinating man, someone who holds deeply to his ideals and appears to be willing to pay the ultimate price for them. I get the sense that we’ve seen only the mild and smiling side of Kashirou so far, but we’re about to see some serious fangs there. I think the stakes are going to rise precipitously across the board, with everyone being forced to choose a side – a choice that will prove extremely difficult for some of them.

 

Preview

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December 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm
21 comments »
  • December 1, 2011 at 7:11 pmKim_Pine

    I’m loving this show, and it just gets better and better every week.

    • December 1, 2011 at 10:07 pmSeishowmeu

      I will not allow pride to keep me from admitting that UN-GO, not Guilty Crown, is the breakout hit of the year! This show plays it far from safe. “I’m loving this show, and it just gets better and better every week.” -Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

      • December 1, 2011 at 10:14 pmAlec

        Didn’t really expect anything from Un-Go, ‘cuz I was thinking Bones would screw this up, just as what they did to No.6 and the other 2 animes that came before it.

        Lol. Why mention the bust, Guilty Crown? xD

  • December 1, 2011 at 7:33 pmKarmafan

    I’m wondering if this series will pull a Blood-C and end on a cliffhanger with us having to watch the coming movie for it to be resolved. I hope not as I would prefer the movie to be a prequel that explains Inga and how he/she met up with Shinjuro.

    • December 1, 2011 at 7:42 pmKim_Pine

      The movie was an episode 0 that serves as a prequel and tells some of Shinjuro’s back story.

      • December 1, 2011 at 10:07 pmAlec

        He already knows about episode 0

        He is just talking about the ‘what ifs’

  • December 1, 2011 at 7:37 pmShiawase

    I was happy to see more Hayami this week. First, he’s flustered by female Inga; next, he goes against Rinroku :3

    And this simplistic question: Why did Rinroku help to get Shinjurou out of prison?? Simply because it was a mystery and that’s supposedly his job??

    • December 1, 2011 at 8:45 pmGuardian Enzo

      I think Kashirou needs Shinjuro to do his dirty work for him. If there are real mysteries that need solving, he can’t be seen dirtying his hands in the world actually solving them – Shinjuro needs to unravel the mystery so Kashirou can know what to cover up…

      • December 1, 2011 at 9:21 pmZammael

        That’s pretty much it. Kashirou makes for a better villain in that post-modern society than a cheesy Moriarty-type villain ever could.

  • December 1, 2011 at 8:23 pmJenanime

    LOL at the electricity zapping handcuffs XD.

    Very cool Ghost in the Shell-esque Kazamori scene there at the beginning :).

    Also why did Shinjirou not want to leave the prison immediately after he solved the mystery? To spend quality time away from Inga? Heh :P.

    • December 1, 2011 at 9:31 pmJenanime

      Shinjuro. Spell it right girl! XD

  • December 1, 2011 at 10:00 pmAlec

    Chihayafuru or Un-Go… Having trouble deciding which one is the best this season.

  • December 1, 2011 at 10:02 pmYuumei

    I kind of put off last week’s episode until today, and I’m kind of glad since I was able to watch the last 2 episodes together. Episode 7 was really confusing but it was all cleared up with this one. The actresses’ interpretations were also very interesting. I liked that all the scripts were blank as well.

    http://img141.imageshack.us/img141/7643/yuukio.jpg
    Honestly, the learning against invisible walls bugged the crap out of me last episode. I thought it was just an animation error but I’m glad to know it wasn’t.

  • December 2, 2011 at 1:07 amFlappy

    lol the novelist cant write a light novel :P

    Really hope that they wont mess this original material up… like having plot holes for future episodes. Quite well developed for something slated for a 11 episode run, hopefully they have a season 2 in mind. Looking back at the preview, the premises given by the introduction was kinda weird, but it has turned out to be a excellent series :D

  • December 2, 2011 at 6:25 ammonomo

    I lol’ed hard at “I guess that novelist can’t write light novels…”

  • December 2, 2011 at 6:35 amPandorakun

    Ye gods, what is happening to the Novelist’s face in the preview?

    • December 2, 2011 at 8:44 amKim_Pine

      Ever watch the matrix?

  • December 2, 2011 at 10:16 amteri

    I like this show a lot, but this whole war thing is really confusing me. Maybe I’m not concentrating enough, but this war, what was it about? Was it a global war or something in Japan? What caused it? I have to re-watch. Or maybe, they’ll explain the war in the end of the show, but it’s hard to keep up with something focused on war when I don’t understand what the war is about. *Feels like a moron*

  • December 3, 2011 at 4:31 ammonomo

    Well it was something like terrorists in Japan tried to do “something” by terrorizing. Hence, the destroyed buildings everywhere. *shrug*

  • December 16, 2011 at 11:37 amAshen

    Absolutely agree with all the positive reviews of this show. It’s been one of the biggest surprises for me this season. And a series I will own, regardless of if it ever gets a dub. Its stories and characters are so complex and intriguing, and the subtext of modern sociel commentary is wondrous.

    Thanks so blogging this!

  • January 1, 2012 at 4:31 pmtess

    I saw that leaning against invisible walls things last episode too and I was wondering if it was an error. One thing though I didn’t understand was the “suck off war” lines, would someone explain that to me?