In memory of 2011 その10: 「UN-GO」と安吾、真理は何だろう?

UN-GO is, in my humble opinion, the most interesting anime series broadcast on TV this year. Despite there being many reputedly excellent shows that slipped me by, ending up on my backlog, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that none of them will be as philosophically challenging and interesting as UN-GO.

I’m not sure how many people realised, but the title of ‘UN-GO’, which you pronounce as if they are English words rather than Japanese (i.e. ‘un’ as in ‘unlike’ rather than the うん used as a casual ‘yes’ in Japan), is a direct reference to the author who wrote the stories upon which most of the cases were based. Apparently, the essays of Sakaguchi Ango are required reading for high schools in Japan, though I certainly don’t recall hearing about them when I was there. Possibly a result of my school being quite low on the academic scale – here‘s one such essay, and its damned difficult to comprehend!

But thank goodness for translators like Quarkboy, who found and gave us the relevant section of the above essay.

Pardon me. I am completely hopeless. Why? Because I am no teacher. I am a student. And yet I dare to lecture.

I am but a single ball of unease. I am just searching. Be it women, the truth, whatever. I leave it to your imagination. I am just, definitely, searching.

However, that thing known as truth does not exist. Namely, truth has always been that thing which is searched for. People search endlessly for the truth, but the truth will never exist. It is a thing whose existence comes from that it is being searched for, and whose existence therefore implies its none existence. If there comes a time when truth comes into existence in our mortal realm, when truth’s existence is here before us, then humans will have ceased being human. Humans will be nothing but pigs in the form of humans. The truth will be fed to humans, and the humans will eat it, no different than pigs.

I did away with traditional Japanese thinking, and denied the concept of the impermanence of things (mono no aware) and the thinking of the occult. However, what I say is not the truth, or anything close. It simply has some meaning of the era. I, defeated, for the sake of the defeated words, the lies are seen through, the arguments are won. Putting my denial aside, I once again hold true the impermanence of things. There is no need for something like a dialectic. What I am talking about is obvious. People die. Things break. Just like the Hojoki states, there is nothing which does not break.

I have been broken from the beginning. All I am doing is searching. “You. Why do you search?” Because I am not so grand as to not be searching. I am not so grand as to say “This is a pain” and sleep for eternity without eating.

I search. And, along the way, I create. I create things with all my might. But, these things will all surely break. But, for just me, with my effort, they just barely stay intact. But beyond that I can do nothing.

If that is to be judged by the corner that runs counter to the public order and morals of the world, then I have no intention of being judged by the public order and morals.

I must be judged only by myself. Probably, I am also no longer a judge of “humans”.

I will discuss this in greater detail when I actually ‘review’ the series after I’ve seen episode 0, but the whole idea that the ‘truth’ is something that people forever search for but never completely arrive at is very compelling. Or, to put it in a different way, different people will see different truths depending on how much or how little you know, and it may never to possible to know the entire truth. It’s something that has really been brought home to me this year by real-life events too, and I sincerely wish that showing this series to the relevant person would help them realise that. Unfortunately, that’s quite unlikely to happen.

But the bottom line is, more than politics, or Japanese national identity, or anything else I saw people comment about before the final episode, UN-GO really was about the nature of ‘truth’. And that is one of the main factors that has made it my favourite anime TV series of 2011.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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