「海勝麟六の葬送」 (Kaishō Rinroku no Sōsō)
“Rinroku Kaisho’s Funeral”
It’s a shame more people aren’t watching UN-GO, because it’s delivering some of the smartest and most interesting non-commercial anime in ages.
I wasn’t wild about this series for the first couple of weeks, but to say it’s grown on me would be an understatement. If this turns out to be the last hurrah for NoitaminA as a showcase for anime that would otherwise never be produced, so be it – while it’s not perfect this series has improved steadily to the point where it now works both as an intellectual exercise and an involving character drama. And this last mystery has proved to be the most interesting and puzzling one of the bunch.
I don’t know if this has been confirmed before, but apparently the show is set in 2011. Obviously it’s a very different one than the 2011 we know (though perhaps not as different as we’d like to believe) but that doesn’t stop Kaishou from making reference to the 9/11 bombings in New York and even the Tohoku Earthquake as it relates to tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories. Given that we’ve also just learned – courtesy of Inga’s questioning of Koyama – that Kaishou commissioned software for government use that could falsely quantify the existence of criminal activity, his words obviously need to be taken with a pound of salt. But I can’t help but thinking all the signs pointing towards his obvious guilt (and death) are a red herring.
It’s not as if we have any shortage of suspicious characters to choose from. For starters, the Diet member Kuramitsu is proving herself to be a publicity hound and a demagogue at the very least, trying to use Kaishou (and Shinjuro) to make a name for herself by stirring up conspiracy theories about microwaves being used as weapons. We also know that she met with Inga, as he had the handkerchief that Shinjuro had earlier given to her. There’s also the odd and erratic behavior of Hayami, who appears to be playing both sides but seems to be working against Kaishou to me. His motives might be more involved than just what was suggested here last week, as he seems to have a romantic interest in Koyama and can’t have been thrilled by the pictures released by Full Circle – and he seemed especially shocked to see Kaishou’s invitation in Shinjuro’s hand as the ep closed. We also know that Kaishou’s security chief Mizuno knew about the Yajima incident when he shouldn’t have – and he apparently died in the blown-up car with Kaishou. If that was faked, his involvement in the conspiracy isn’t far-fetched.
Obviously, Bettenou is at the heart of all this, but I wonder if we’ve been missing the heart of all this by focusing too much on who might be pulling her strings. What if Bettenou is doing all this of her own volition? Admittedly I can’t say what her motivation might be, but Inga could be argued to be using Shinjuro more than the reverse, so why not her? She’s certainly having contact with Inga, who seems to be doing her bidding – it was Bettenou who told Inga to ask Koyama the question about Kaishou. That question leads me to believe that Kaishou isn’t behind Bettenou, and just because he knows she exists doesn’t mean he’s using her to his own ends. My sense is that Kaishou is hoping Shinjuro gets to the truth, perhaps even trying to push him towards it – though again, his motives aren’t clear. He’s no innocent, but I don’t think Kaishou is the guilty party here.
And then there’s Inga, who’s clearly not the same being he was a couple of weeks ago. He even tells Shinjuro he’s sick of limiting himself to souls with no killing and disappears with a puff of butterflies. The relationship between Inga and Bettenou is at the heart of this mystery, surely, and I don’t believe he’s acting out of his own free will. At the very least I think he has more regard for Shinjuro than what he showed us here. As for Kazamori, she’s proving itself to be an extraordinarily useful RAI – and a damn entertaining one at that. Her in-character reading of Mizuno’s last words to Shinjuro was one of the most stylish and funniest moments of the episode. It’s immunity to Bettenou’s influence is surely a tool that Shinjuro will find a way to use to his advantage in next week’s final episode.
I’ll be sad to see UN-GO end, because it’s been getting better and better and there surely won’t be a second season. While we likely won’t see real closure for the characters, at the very least the writing here has been so strong that I fully expect a satisfying conclusion to this excellent final puzzle.