Un-GO ~ First Impressions

Un-Go is another show that is a little problematic for me, having both some interesting elements, and parts that are both frustrating and boring. In fact I think it suffers from some similar problems to Persona 4.

Un-GO is based on Ango Sakaguchi’s novel Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chō (明治開化安吾捕物帳) and is basically about Shinjuro Yuki and his partner Inga as the solves various crimes. It is an odd story, apparently being set after a world war in which Tokyo and large parts of Japan were destroyed. Unfortunately I honestly have no idea what’s going on half the time. In parts we are told various facts about Shinjuro taking part in the war and of course we are giving clues about how certain crimes link to the war, the terrorists, how the country is currently run and pretty much everything else.

And this brings me to my first major issue with this anime, it is far too convoluted; there is just far too much going on. I keep wondering why I should care about Shinjuro, and in general why these cases are important. Also we keep being given clues about shady goings on in government before and after the war, also about Shinjuro’s part in the war and it gets to a point where I no longer care about anything. It’s a case of too many clues and not enough explanation; the puzzle itself has become so big and so complex that honestly I don’t know where to go from here. I feel that the story itself is also quite badly written, and feels as if the script is trying to copy the novel as closely as possible only the novel does not seem to translate into an anime.

I should point out here that Ango Sakaguchi was a novelist who wrote many of his works on the 1930s and 1940s, however the novel Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chō was written after World War II, and is in a sense a story about the rise and fall of the Japanese empire, the atrocities of war and the pain and suffering that go with it (as far as I can tell). There is one small problem, I don’t think the novel translates properly into an anime, in fact I feel that the political intrigue within the story and the nuances to do with politics, culture and what at the time may have been considered a broken and backwards society do not properly work in what seems to be a modern detective series in the form of Un-Go.

This leads onto another point about the show, it is too episodic, by which I mean there is no real continuity between the episodes. Very much like Persona 4 we are introduced to a mystery, the characters go about their various activities, and it all culminates in Shinjuro asking Inga to ask the suspect a question, which of course the have to answer, and voila the case is solved. I have not seen any real character or even story progression and I don’t count these little hints about Shinjuro’s past and his supposed role in the war.

And so we come to the characters, all of which are potentially interesting, but so far have been quite dull. Shinjuro seems to be the classical lone detective with a dark past, essentially trying to save his soul. Inga is a curious one,and is usually just a mischievous and slightly annoying child, she of course transforms into a very sexy, big breasted woman who apparently eats souls. And of course there is Rie, the daughter of who appears to be Shinjuro’s main rival Rinroku Kaishou. She is potentially interesting but like Inga I feel is often simply there for fanservice as the cute girl who rides around on a horse all the time for some inexplicable reason. All the characters are potentially quite interesting, and I am intrigued by the relationship between Shinjuro and Inga as it appears that Shinjuro has made a Faustian pact with Inga in order to solve mysteries and in a sense save people for his own selfish reasons. Unfortunately so far the characters all seem to be fluff, and often make as much sense or seem as important as the supporting characters. This is a great shame since there are some fascinating relationships here, and overall I feel that the characters would be significantly more interesting if there was some meaningful progression.

I do however like the animation style, it is not as flashy or extravagant as say Last Exile, Guilty Crown or Fate/Zero, but there is a nice old school look to it and some pretty quirky elements that can make it enjoyable to watch. Then again the way the story is portrayed does not really allow for any spectacular fight sequences or big landscape shots like those shows. I do enjoy the Opening and ending and find them quirky and enjoyable to watch. Although I would say that if I’m paying that much attention to the opening and end credit sequences then the show itself isn’t really captivating me.

Honestly this show is quite boring for me; there was a glimmer of hope in episodes 3 and 4 where we are given a glimpse into a fascinating government conspiracy, unfortunately this didn’t last. The episodes are too self-contained, with little or no progression in either the story or character development and relationships and the plot is too convoluted. There is quite simply too much going on and I found myself simply not caring about Shinjuro’s past and why he is solving these mysteries. I would love to find out how Shinjuro met Inga and why he formed a contract (we are given a brief glimpse in episode 5) unfortunately I think ill be too bored by the time the series gets around to this to care.

So basically, this show has some potential and quite a few interesting points, but there is too much going on and it is too disjointed for me to really care about them anymore. In the end I feel it’s the fault of the source material being incompatible with an anime series, and even if Bones have made some excellent anime series before I think that they may have bitten off more than they can chew in this case.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

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