Un-Go’s first two episodes were infuriating. You could see that, behind the mystery of the episodes and the characters, there was a fascinating post-war society evolving where censorship had taken root in some of the strangest fashions. But the scenarios through which this backdrop was set were horribly paced episodic mysteries. A murder takes place before we can get to grips with what the stakes are. Characters spout their reasoning behind events before we know who they are. The mystery is solved by the end of the episode without us even getting to grips with who was even killed in the first place. Un-Go made me feel stupid because I couldn’t follow what was going on. Thankfully some kind of mind-reading device scanned the globe and the creators of Un-Go realised their folly in time for the third and fourth episodes, where they thankfully split the mystery over two episodes. The results were astounding.
Without spoiling too much, the episode revolved around the murder of a famous android creator and his son, who wore a weird mask over his face at all times. The mysteries in Un-Go are never specifically a whodunnit type, but understanding why these things took place and how they fit into this post war conservative society. But not letting us understand what the stakes of the mystery are divorces us from the subsequent reasoning behind the case in the first place. Episode 3 nails the mystery perfectly, allowing us to suspect almost every single one of the limited suspects in turn, before blindsiding with the actual suspect in the final moments. I read a bunch of other people thought the mystery was obvious from the start. Congratulations for you clever clogs out there whose massive brains can’t be challenged by such simple mysteries. Why don’t you go star on Phi Brain if your brain is finding such difficulty being intellectually stimulated.
But the true genius was in episode 4 where they explored the reasoning behind the case. So many different themes were tackled in the space of such a small air time. What is humanity, where and who should you show this compassion to, should society give people the opportunity to carry out their darkest of desires if it harms nobody (a topic particularly relevant to certain sections of anime fandom). It does all this without coming off as pretentious, showing different characters views of the situation and tying it all brilliantly in with the story of the episode and of the series as a whole. It’s also remarkable how an anime with so much dialogue follows the ‘show, don’t tell’ motto with far greater skill than many others. So many times during that episode did little things clunk together in my mind. How did the tiny panda doll learn to be so skilled at sexual acts? Why does the child android look so similar to his daughter?
Un-Go’s double episode sprang me from a depression of what Noitamina was apparently turning into. The maturity of its presentation and of its tackling of sexual subjects was in stark contrast to the juvenile Guilty Crown. By themselves, episodes 3 and 4 could be spliced together to create a single introductory episode for anybody who wants see what this show is like. Episode 4 in particular stands out as one of the best episodes of anime I’d seen all year. Do watch these two episodes, even if you weren’t at all impressed by the first episode. It’s well worth your time.