It already feels like an age since I watched (and largely enjoyed) Un-Go and its smart take on the detective genre - now, it seems that it's finally time to plough my memories of the series by revisiting its origin story, aka "episode zero" of the show.
In short, this double-length episode, which got a Japanese theatrical screening to kick off the show before an eventual physical release at the end of the series proper, explores the life of Yuuki Shinjurou and how he came to wind up wandering around with the decidedly odd creature that is Inga. The story effectively begins with Shinjurou (although this wasn't his name then) as a young boy with no parents, determined to make his mark on the world to repay those who had looked after his during his childhood. But how to do this? It's his inability to "make a difference" no matter what he tries that haunts this young man, even more so when he becomes the impromptu driver for a band who perform in war zones in the midst of an escalating conflict.
When their van comes under attack, everything changes for all of those involved, and for nobody more so than our protagonist as he "meets" Inga - he isn't the only one to have had a supernatural encounter as we flip back and forth between this scenario and the near future to find that the deity Bettenou has also been awakened by another member of the same party. But who is making use of Bettenou, and to what ends? Besides which, what of Inga and his relationship with his cohort? So goes the birth of a detective....
In a sense, the timing of this release is rather unfortunate, as it feels as though it's come just at the point where Un-Go has slipped out of my consciousness, thus leaving me having to dredge of my memories of the series to get back into its groove. Given that my main driver for watching the series was the show's mystery angle, I have to confess that episode zero isn't the most satisfying of instalments from that viewpoint as it has plenty of other fish to fry, including a contrived romance angle which really didn't feel believable to me.
From a more positive point of view, this episode certainly manages to fill all of the more frustrating gaps left by the story-telling of the series proper, so as someone who enjoyed the show I certainly welcomed this episode of animated Polyfilla. There were also some nice ideas on show here above and beyond those we got to enjoy in the rest of the series, particularly with regard to Shinjourou's place as a man lost and without a true purpose, and the irony of his literal soul-searching to find that purpose turning out to feed that very desire - this was the icing on a broadly well-written cake provided you're willing to overlook the odd flaw or two. If only this episode (perhaps split into two episodes) had been aired within the context of the series proper, I may have warmed to it even more.