Lots of things have happened since the last newsletter: First we've launched a ton of new titles like Digimon XROS Wars, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, and a gaggle of K-dramas, including Gye Baek! Read more about what's been going on in the first article of this newsletter to figure out what's, as we will be highlighting everything going on, so you won't miss a beat!
Perhaps you’ve seen it all before; a story about defeated detectives searching for the truth while solving mysteries along the way. Perhaps you’re also familiar with the authorities often impeding the investigation, leaving the lead detectives to be the only people who can possibly crack the case. All this may be the basis for any good mystery thriller but when you take the crime drama and superimpose it upon a post-war Japan with futuristic technology, you get the rather layered series that is Un-Go.
To those hardcore literary buffs the post-war themes of this series comes as no surprise since it’s based on the works of Ango Sakaguchi, the Japanese author known for his perspective on Japan after World War II. He viewed his world as one that was decadent yet more honest with itself than the warmongers who glorify honor over reason, and there are certainly traces of that in Un-Go’s vision of Japan. Times have changed since WWII and more modern elements such as the internet and robotics have become more prominent in the series, but the underlying reflection of a blissfully ignorant society still remains.
The characters are hard to pin down as of now since the series is just starting. You have our star duo who provide a good enough contrast to each other and you have the elusive Rinroku Kaisho who serves as the silent mastermind behind the authorities. His daughter Rie provides a fairly grounded view to just about everyone else who seems aloof in their own world, and the recurring government investigators play their roles as one would expect. As of the end of episode four a new member is added to our detective team, but it’s too early to tell what said character will bring to the table.
There are still many questions that have yet to be answered as of this writing. Where did Inga get his strange power? Is there some sort of ultimate truth that Shinjuro is searching for? And what would happen to Japan if such a horrible truth was revealed? No good mystery would reveal all the answers this early in the game, so it’s best to just sit back and watch the case unfold.
For starters, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere focuses on a future world where Man has risen to greatness, akin to the Gods. Due to war and dispute, however, Mankind ended up losing much of its greatness, and was forced to return back to their Earth - an Earth that had grown hostile and close to uninhabitable. In order to regain their greatness, they began to recreate their history by following a historical source known as the Testament. At one point, the world was split into two parallel worlds to mimic the period in Japanese history called the Nanboku-Chou period, otherwise known as the period of the North and South Imperial Courts. Due to some "mistakes" in their re-enactment of history, the two worlds came crashing down upon one another, and the result was a world where different parts of these two worlds were scattered amongst one another, leading to exploitation by neighboring feudal lords. This marked the beginning of the Warring States Period (Sengoku), and is the current plot setting of the show.
A couple things were rather interesting, at this point. In Horizon, what appears to be the "northern court" (The harmonic state) was the world that came crashing down and eventually got almost totally destroyed - but in history, it was this same court that represented the militaristic Ashikaga shogunate, which eventually dominated the southern court and succeeding in pushing the country into what would eventually be regarded as the Tokugawa Era. Strangely enough, a character named Matsudaira Motonobu, who probably represents a monikered version of Matsudaira Motoyasu (otherwise known as Tokugawa Ieyasu) does the complete OPPOSITE of what history would say he would do… He sacrifices himself for the sake of some "apocalypse", to which the characters are "forced" to enact.
Yes, I'm thoroughly confused.
If the show is trying to get cookie points for trying to bend history as we know it, then it's doing so in spades. Perhaps these "mistakes" are the very point to which the story's plot is trying to emphasize - but dwelling on these plot specifics tends to cumbersome to be of any worth. Where the show DOES prove promising is in its showcase of action. The first episode is full of it - and does so throwing out all the anime stereotypes you can imagine. You name it: pettanko, oppai, megane-musume, tsundere, ojou-sama, mecha-musume, heterochromia… there are just too many to count. And this is the first episode we're talking about. In addition, the sheer number of characters is beyond nauseating - it's downright insane. It almost pains me to think of the amount of character development needed in order to make sense in such an obscene number.
But as to who the main character is, and whatever role they're supposed to play, I'm still not sure. It's easy to point out Aoi Toori as the main protagonist, but he plays a good-for-nothing, dense, eroge-maniac hero, who turns out to be more enigmatic than he's worth. Then there's the fact that these characters are structured in such a way that they make a "student council" of sorts, but each has its own "militaristic" ranking or something like that - I won't even bother trying to explain it because I'm just plain confused as to the point of it all.
So what IS the point of this show, really? Is it supposed to be a modern iteration of history with a creative license that is biting off way more than it's supposed to chew? I don't know, really… But one thing is for sure - I'm curious to know what's going on. It's a frustrating curiosity that glues me to the show and forces me to figure out everything going until everything is crystal clear. It's easy to call off the show as ridiculous, but there's a certain appeal in its mystique and uncertainty that makes me want to know more and more. You can say that this is a double-edged sword on that regard - for if in fact it turns out to be quite the dud, then I'd most certainly be disappointed. Hopefully, that won't be the case for this show.
But for what it's worth, there's a lot of potential for this show and whatever the heck it's trying to put forth. As a smorgasbord of anime stereotypes, historical references, and comedic banter, it's quite the animated abstract if you were to ask me. In fact, it is only after five episodes that the story begins to unravel its secrets, slowly opening up a world that tickles your brain and kicks you hard whenever you know it's doing something it shouldn't - like messing with history. This was a sensitive theme to exploit, if you were to ask me, but creative licenses ARE meant to go so far. And I'm willing to see just how far it's going to take me.
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