Anime Review: Un-Go Episode 2

Anime Review:
Un-Go Episode 2

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Un-Go is an 11-episode weekly television anime series produced by Bones and airing during the prestigious Noitamia timeslot, between October and December 2011. Japan is slowly recovering after nearly being destroyed after World War III. Yuuki Shinjuurou, nicknamed “The Defeated Detective”, solves mysteries with the help of a curious little “boy” named Inga, seemingly uncovering the truth but also always at odds with authoritarian government agents.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Very Quick Episode Summary: Yuuki investigates the murder of a wealthy woman, and after quizzing her daughter An, suspects a former all-girl idol group known as Yonagahime 3+1. Rising to the height of popularity during the disastrous war when one of their members was killed in a terrorist attack, Yuuki deduces that the murdered singer never existed in the first place. With that knowledge, he figures out the real killer, but is thwarted from revealing the killer by government officials that do not want their role in spreading propaganda to be revealed.

My Impressions: Hey, hey! I am now finally getting around to reviewing the second episodes of all the shows from the Fall 2011 Television Season that received a “thumbs up” — let’s see what shows survive to the next round!

After the first episode, I was very much…unsure of Un-Go. I did not know exactly what to make of the series, and I must admit after viewing the second episode, I still remain unsure of Un-Go.

But there is one thing that I have now confirmed, and that is the “detective” or “mystery” genre in anime is totally unsuited to the 22-minute-episode format. With all of the various shows I have watched within the past two years that have been heavily geared towards mysteries (Um, off the top of my head that would include Psychic Detective Yakumo, Gosick, Kamisama Memo-chou, Dantalian no Shoka, a few others), there simply is not enough time to fully flesh out a decent mystery in such a short time-frame. In a single episode, the writers have just enough time to throw out a handful of extremely obvious clues that stick out like a sore thumb, not enough time for a serious build-up or plot, so if you can spot the clues, add them together, you’ve solved the mystery. Not enough time for misdirection, wild goose chases, or anything.

Such is the case here, and within the first few minutes it became quite easy to figure out who the killer really was. If you’re coming to this show for the mysteries or the detective work, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Again. Instead, the points of interest of Un-Go rests elsewhere: 1) the characters, 2) the setting.

As for the characters, that is where I remain unsure. After the first two episodes, I get the point of Yuuki and the meaning behind his moniker of “defeated detective”. His female foil, the underage Rie, was largely out of the picture this time around. The massive question mark remains Inga. What the hell is he…er, she? Most of the time he’s just an annoying little boy that flounces around like some ADHD-riddled brat, but then there’s those key moments when Inga transforms into that strange, tall, busty female creature with the ability to force the answer to any question she asks.

Well…okay. Doesn’t make any sense, but even given that weird supernatural power, they don’t really use it properly. I mean, Inga ends up using her powers this time around to ask a question…that does nothing more than confirm what Yuuki already knew all along. What a waste. I am left wondering why Yuuki puts up with the insufferable little twat in the first place.

That leaves me with Un-Go’s setting…and that is where there it potentially gets interesting. It’s a future Japan that is struggling with the ravages of war, the government transformed into a repressive institution that controls everything, all in the name of keeping the peace. It’s a dystopian view of the future that makes me wonder whether this show is representative of a significant chunk of Japan’s views, and where their country is heading. Combine this with some other recent shows like Guilty Crown, as well as Deadman Wonderland and No. 6 and we could be seeing a depressing trend emerging.

The verdict:

Un-Go passes to the next round (third episode), but I am not going to pay much attention to the smaller, episode-by-episode mysteries (that would just be setting myself up for disappointment). Instead, let’s see if the characters develop into people worth watching as they navigate a downtrodden vision of the future. Yet I am already worrying as to whether this will turn into just some sort of heavy-handed moralizing cautionary tale about giving government too much power over individuals’ lives. Let’s see if Un-Go manages to rise above that and grow into something more interesting.


For more information:
  • My earlier reviews of the series:
  • Info resources:

    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • “Overall, this series is developing a certain plot structure which is ‘Mystery of the Day’ -> Shinjuro solves it -> Rinroku covers it up. The series will probably be a solid 7 or might be pushed slightly above it depending on if there’s an actual backstory that is interesting in this series. The mysteries are engaging enough and despite it’s “low difficulty level” it does well in not coming across as being childish or retarded in nature (which Phi Brain seems to love to do). The characters are also intriguing and I am still undecided as to what sort of character Shinjuro is meant to be since he does not seem to fall perfectly into the mold of any stereotypes just yet, and that’s a good thing. =)” – Otakuness
    • “In the end, after the somewhat weak start last week, Un-go has managed to pull through with a very nice second episode. It’s still not perfect, but Un-go is approaching it’s mysteries with a bit more finesse than more recent mystery-based anime.” – Emory Anime Club
    • “While I do praise UN-GO, this show isn’t perfect. It tends to suffer from poor pacing and some people would probably find it hard to follow. That said, this is one of the most intriguing shows this fall and one that uses it’s setting wisely. It still has a long way to go but I’m glad that it’s standing on it’s own and walking it’s own path that is very different from many of the anime we’re watching this season.” – Hachimitsu
    • “So we have an enigma (the government coverup) behind an enigma (the Defeated Detective’s explanation) behind an enigma (the murderer’s explanation) behind an enigma (Kaishou’s explanation) behind an enigma (the original mystery). UN-GO is like an onion.” – Draggle’s Anime Blog
    • “What also really interests me in UN GO is its setting. It takes place in a war-torn Japan. Numerous questions arise: Why was/is there a war? Who and what are the factions and groups that are/were involved? Why does the main character say it’s still “unsettled”? I hope the anime addresses these questions along the way.” – Muir Woods
    • “I’m still not sure exactly what purpose Inga serves to the series (surely Shinjurou is smart enough to get information out of people without relying on a walking deus ex machina), but even with his “unique” input this was an eminently satisfying episode, not least because this time Shinjurou’s victory was more than just a pyrrhic one in the face of officialdom. I’m not sure that Un-Go has what it takes to be a classic, but I’m certainly warming to it nicely. ” – Hanners’ Anime Blog
    • “I think we’re seeing the makings of something pretty interesting here – a story that was written during the halcyon days of fascism being adapted for the Ishihara era (“Internet Information Privacy and Protection Act”, anyone?”). I’m still not sold on the characters though.” – Lost in America

    ROUND TWO (Second Episode) RESULTS FOR THE FALL 2011 SHOWS:

    Thumbs-up for Round Two: Un-Go

    Thumbs-down for Round Two: None yet.

    Coming up next: Chibi Devi, Working Season 2, Bakuman Season 2, Mirai Nikki, Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2, Ben-To, Chihayafuru, Guilty Crown, Phi-Brain, Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing, Fate Zero,Boku Ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Hunter x Hunter, Tamayura Hitotose, gdgd Fairies

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