Nationalism vs. Globalism vs. Giant Naked Androgynous Monster Thing

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Dec 232011

Awesome. The crazy conspiracy theory I busted out about Un-Go earlier in the week was a good bit closer to the truth than I expected. Not quite as dead-on as I was with Occult Academy, but close enough to make me full of myself with delusions of prophecy.

We’re not 100% sure what’s up with Inga, but Benttenou’s nature was exposed. She’s the personification of Japan’s nationalism– or rather, the propaganda and lies used to fuel such fervor. That’s why she’s able to manipulate words and such to create illusions, not unlike a great, charismatic speaker duping the masses into believing in a delusional cause. She’s all about playing off of what people want to see and hear and turning that into a weapon.

So I was right in that she’s some supernatural force birthed from the conflict taking place in Japan, I simply didn’t expect her presence to track back to Japan’s imperialistic stint of the early 1900′s. So that makes her some sort of lingering ghost of past sins doing her best to perpetuate the conditions that created her. That’s pretty cool.

And it’s interesting how she plays into what’s going down in this episode, since we have two contrasting extremes battling it out for dominance over Japan’s future. We find out that the Diet lady has been working with some nationalist fanatics to take down Kaishou. She wants to nationalize some solar energy plan that Kaishou’s company controls, and she sees his independent ownership of said energy as a threat to Japan’s sovereignty. So she and her militant radical buddies have no qualms with setting him up and trying to kill him, even if it means killing innocent people in the process, since it’s all for what they see as Japan’s greater good.

The catch is that Kaishou ain’t exactly the hero here. He’s been unjustly set up, and he intends to use his solar energy plans for what seems to be the greater good (using it to not only help Japan but help developing nations in desert climates and the like), but he also reveals that he’s on the exact opposite side of the nationalism spectrum. He wants to see the national borders completely destroyed. While it isn’t completely spelled out, it seems obvious that he’s pushing for some form of one world government, and his energy plan won’t just benefit the world, it’ll also benefit him and his position in such a society.

And that’s at the heart of what’s played out in this series. All of the mysteries have revolved around the Japanese government trying to exert government control over some facet of society in the name of returning order, but in truth it’s all about power grabs and what may well be a new push towards imperialism or some other form of extreme nationalism. At the same time, Kaishou has been using this situation to further his own goals, working with the government and exploiting the war to push his globalist position.

That’s global politics at its core. The world is becoming smaller and smaller metaphorically speaking, but the more the world becomes cramped, the more individual nations and other political powers feel the need to exert themselves and have their voice heard. The more things become globalized, the more the individual parts reject the concept.

Un-Go doesn’t offer any easy answers, which makes it all the more awesome. Shinjuro’s speech at the end of the episode is noble and all, since all he cares about is doling out justice and uncovering the truth, but despite his efforts has he really done anything? He’s saved a few individuals, and that’s all well and good for those people, but despite uncovering the truth behind Kaishou’s actions he can’t do a thing about it. He won a moral victory, but moral victories never win the war. Then again, Un-Go seems to show us that trying to win said war will only lead to you becoming one of the extremes that perpetuates the damn thing.

And that’s what makes Shinjuro the “Defeated Detective.” He’s already lost the war, but that’s OK. He’s not in it for the victory.

So yeah, I really dug this series. It wasn’t the most cohesive thing, which can likely be blamed on the 11 episode schedule, but it did a damn good job of letting this world unfold through storytelling rather than exposition and the like. It’s more about creating an impression of all the shit that goes down in the real world rather than creating some elaborate, traditional narrative that spells it all out. I guess you could call it an allegory if you wanna go all literary and shit.

Also: The problem with that monster fight towards the end of the episode wasn’t its abrupt appearance. It just wasn’t all that good.

Revenge of the 12 Days – Day 3 – Moloch

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Dec 232011

Azazel-san has become one of my all-time favorites, and this scene is one of the reasons why it clicked with me. Given the fact that the series had been pretty damn irreverent and silly up to this point, when Moloch’s book was stolen by an angel and taken back to heaven, I was genuinely shocked that he died. No going back. No wishing for his return. No journey to retrieve his book. No time traveling to save him. No cop outs. And he wasn’t just dead. His soul didn’t go back to Heaven or Hell, he simply ceased to exist.

But what surprised me even more was that it was played completely straight. It wasn’t turned into a gag, at least immediately. When Moloch died, the characters mourned his death, and his demise lingered in future episodes. These characters may be demons and heathen users of witchcraft, but they were attached to the little devil bull. He was their friend, he was never coming back, and we felt that loss.

It was the most moving moment I saw this year. A genuinely heart-felt scene. Hell, it was probably the only scene that had that sort of emotional impact on me this year.