UN-GO – 05 Review
Episode 05 – The Phantom Statue
aka Don’t Lick the Statue
Since the Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim game is out today, I am sure many of you are either staying up all night playing the game or too busy to watch any anime, so I doubt many would be reading this rant of mine. =P For those who are reading this review…well, thank you for reading it. =D
This was really such a weird episode.
The structure of the episode itself was different from usual, but what really gotten to me in this episode was the execution of the plot and the amount of things that didn’t make sense to me.
Perhaps I am simply having trouble understanding what is going on but this episode really had it’s issues. Where the last couple few episodes were nicely paced, this episode felt like everyone was running away from a fire.
Like I had said above, the execution was the biggest issue that I had with this episode. You can forget the detective element in this episode, since we all know it was never the main point of this story. However, the rushed manner in which the story had played out really frustrated me since it was worse than the first episode. Where the first episode seemed quick but simple in manner, this episode tried to be complex, quick and even preachy at times. Instead of letting things develop over time or using any well-timed pauses to let the information sink into the audiences’ mind, the show just went from one fact to the next without a pause. I wouldn’t call it a mess since there was some sort of structure to it, but it was definitely a very blunt episode. Everything just came pouring out of everyone’s mouths and it became somewhat of a information overload. To add to that, the high amounts of dialogue in the script definitely didn’t help the situation.
As to why I say that the structure is different from usual? Well, the story had started off with using a flashback to illustrate the back-story of the episode and went on to build upon it. The issue that I had was the manner in which the scenes had cut back and forth between the incident at the crime scene and Kaishou. If we were to take the debriefing of the events that had occurred during Kaishou’s scene to be the present time and everything before that to be a flashback, then the only time that was really in the “present” time was towards the end of the episode. Sure, this is quite simple and not an issue once you realise what is going on, but it had made me do a double take when I had first seen it since I felt like a time warp had occurred.
Moving on from the general execution, the episode itself was very heavy handed on the theme of war (which is nothing different from usual). The whole episode was focused once again on the corruption and the aftershock of the events that had occurred in the war with the addition of money tainting a human’s judgement. I do like this ongoing theme about the downfall of humanity through the use of the war, but sometimes I find the episode to be dry and tiring to watch. There are some things that work better in a novel format than it would as a movie or as an animation simply due to the lack of entertaining scenes that would have to be made up with highly entertaining cinematography. =/ Although this is an adaptation, the content feels dry and unentertaining at times and I can understand how some may feel undecided about the series and be bored by it unless you enjoy analysis themes.
What was nice in this episode was the development of Shinjurou’s character and some minor insight to his past.
We now know that his connection with Inga is due to him wanting to prevent Inga from obtaining human souls through killing people, and that he simply provides Inga with those souls that she needs. As to whether there is more to it than that we are not told, but I am pretty sure this is not all there is to it. Then we see Shinjurou do the classic ‘I am not a loser’ change in attitude after having been defeated. Thank god that whole situation was not played up to be as corny as it could have been, but like I had said, everything went by so quickly that even the convincing needed to change his mind seemed so quick (referring to the scene between the R.A.I and Shinjurou). However, it was nice to see a more emotional side of Shinjurou and him becoming what his title claims that he is – the defeated detective. But as I had said multiple times before, although all of these developments were good, it had really felt like an information dump – from getting a short snippet of Shinjurou’s character in the last 4 episodes to an episode that tried to cover multiple angles of Shinjurou’s character. Also, am I the only one who feels that Shinjurou had gotten even more crazy negative and pessimistic in this episode? I mean, he was no bucket of sunshine to begin with, but boy was he full of gloom in this episode. Then again, I guess it is kinda natural due to the circumstances in the episode.
Naturally I have to talk about Kaishou. Although he didn’t do much in this episode, he did play a part in it. I had liked the blunt manner in which the script writers had decided to spell out the fact that Kaishou decides who is right and wrong and essentially plays the role of the judge for the greater good of the country. As to whether he is really doing it for the greater good or for some ulterior motive, we are unable to tell just yet. Then we have his daughter, Rie, who once again makes her appearance and waltz in like the queen of the world on her high horse (literally on a horse) accusing people left right and center of things. Where is Rie getting all her unnatural and unjustified expectations of Shinjurou? It is like as though we are back in episode 1 and Rie is once again jumping ahead of everything and coming to a conclusion about people without a viable reason.
Then we have the R.A.I and Inga.
I am feeling sad that Inga has turned into this convenient tool that is there to be used whenever anything out of the ordinary is needed. I am really having trouble understanding the world of UN-GO, is it normal for there to be supernatural beings such as Inga? Are there many of her running around the whole world? I mean, the first thing is that no care is taken in hiding her abilities (She actually ripped off the side of the tank with huge deformed arms, it is not exactly inconspicuous). Then we have the fact that everyone believes Shinjurou’s claim to the fact that when Inga asks a question, people cannot help but tell the truth. It really doesn’t make sense for people to believe Shinjurou since it would sound like a load of bull under normal circumstances. To add to that, we have the whole idea of convenience. Shinjurou needs an answer? Lets just use Inga to get it. I mean, even though the answer that he had gotten this time wasn’t the right one, the timing of Inga couldn’t have been more convenient.
Also, I have no clue why I haven’t ever questioned this before but, why doesn’t Inga just ask the culprit if they had done the deed? Why bother doing things in such a round about manner? I understand the whole 1 time only concept, but since it is such a shock for Shinjurou to be wrong, then it must mean he is usually right with his hunches. If they need evidence, then couldn’t they just use Inga’s “truth serum style” of soul sucking interrogation to be the evidence? Of course, that is if they do recognise and believe the fact that Inga does have the uncanny supernaturally ability to get the truth.
As for the R.A.I, I quite like the role between the three as she provides the cold “facts only” personality that contrasts against Inga’s unpredictable nature and Shinjurou’s deep poetic nature and bleak outlook on life. The manner in which she states the obvious (thus enlightening Shinjurou) was another bad moment for me in this episode, but other than that, her character more often than not does contrast and compliments the rest of the cast.
I could go on about other issues with the episode and the other parts that I had liked and questioned but I think I have already ranted on for too much and I believe you get the drift of what I have to say about this episode. A few more examples would be that the issue of the blood splatter was another thing to question. You don’t get one drop of blood so high up without any blood getting onto the statue, especially if you slit a person’s throat. And if you do clean up the mess, you wouldn’t miss such a huge drop of blood in such an obvious manner especially when it is something that crucial. Then we have the animation quality being erratic and quite bad at times as well, if you want and example of the animation refer to the scene of Shinjurou shouting as Rie is riding away on her horse. His character was spasming out in the background and not timed to the speech at all. I thought that was pretty badly done.
Overall, the story itself and the messages that it had tried to get across was not bad and can be quite interesting when done right. But when it is done in such a bad manner, it can really hinder the potential of the series. I understand that it only has 11 episodes, but I would rather 11 solid episodes with an abrupt ending as oppose to faster paced and more condensed episodes – which was what I had felt this one was.
Episode Rating: 6/10 – at least I had enjoyed the themes