Un-Go – Series Review

Dude looks like a lady~

  WOOH! UN-GO TIME~ It’s been a while you gaiz! Un-Go hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves on Metanorn and for that I apologize. Hopefully this post, which happens to be quite massive, is sufficient. I’ve also managed to drag Bass, our dear old buddy from Sekijitsu, along which is pretty exciting, if I do say so myself. We’ve covered Un-Go in depth so read on!
 

It’s pretty hard to believe that this is my first time collaborating with Metanorn, seeing as I’ve been asked quite a few times in the past. Oh well, better late than never right? I don’t kno-ooo-ooooow where we goin~ with this, but here’s hoping that my first attempt pans out well haha. We really tried to be as elaborate as we can with this post and, judging by the length of it all, I think we hit it pretty close.

So I hope y’all enjoy this as much as we did writing it (and believe me, writing this was a goddamn mission itself).

  So, I will admit, the first couple episodes of Un-Go didn’t have me convinced. I had really high hopes for the show and, at the start, it wasn’t quite measuring up to my expectations. Put simply, it was awkward. However, as the show progressed, I found myself increasingly intrigued and excited. Everything began to come together and, though there were times where I honestly had no clue what was happening, it was really fun to try and figure out what was going on.
  Yea, you weren’t alone there. I’ve never been one to pick up on hidden themes and messages in shows, so Un-Go was always going to be an uphill climb. After being thoroughly disappointed with Guilty Crown’s lackluster start, I was fearing the worst – two noitaminA offerings tanking in one season. Like you said, the first few episodes didn’t really do much to ease my fear. The way in which you were dropped willy-nilly into the setting right from the get-go was a bit unsettling and this definitely wasn’t helped by the uneven story structure. The good thing, though, is that once the base was established it went on to become one hell of a ride.

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Un-Go is not a shallow, one-track show. It delved into a number of issues, refusing to pull any punches in the process. The foremost of these themes was that of truth. As this show is of the mystery genre, the search for the truth in the face of deceit and lies is obviously going to be an ongoing pursuit. However, Un-Go went about it in a different matter than most other whodunits. Even though the truth was revealed to the viewer, it was covered up by a “beautiful lie,” the purpose of which was to serve as a cover up. If the truth of the matter was made public it would be less-than advantageous for those in power, such as Kaishou Rinroku. And thus we explore a side of mysteries that most of us have never even considered before. When is it appropriate for the truth to be covered up? If it’s for the supposed benefit of the public and reduces a scandal, should it be allowed? I can see how a white lie, if you will, would be preferable over a huge uproar. However, I find myself reluctant to agree to such a thing, especially in the case that a lie is created solely for the purpose of creating a buzz (i.e. the Yonagahime story).

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  With the other noitaminA show receiving all the pre-season hype, it’s funny how overlooked Un-Go was. Let me just say that, after comparing the production values side-by-side, Un-Go more than holds its own. The character designs are very distinctive and while the art style in particular is generic at first glance, there are subtle details that create a look to Un-Go that isn’t replicated all that often. The most noticeable being the elongated facial structure and awkward physiques of certain characters. I was initially a little perturbed by this particular look, but as time went by I grew to appreciate and love this style. Of course, this is aided by the fact that only the male characters look strange, as the female designs are actually stunning. :P Detailing in the environment was top notch and the series benefits greatly from the high resolution due to the striking colour schemes used in the design. There wasn’t any noticeable drop in quality that I took note of so I think it’s safe to say that animation-wise, Un-Go is highly polished and consistent.

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Phew~ That was quite a mouthful…
  That’s what she said~
 Zabo: Haha! Good one. For the sake of being politically correct and accounting for fujoshis, however, I would recommend changing that to “That’s what he/she said.”
 Bass: Pfffttttt rotten girls…
Zabo: Yah, yah. :P Back to business though, Un-Go was seriously one of the best mystery shows I’ve ever seen. As we mentioned earlier, it was legitimate mind-fuckery. But that was what made it so entertaining to watch – there’s no fun in it if you can always figure out what’s going to happen. I was constantly surprised as I could never fully anticipate what would happen next. Un-Go is definitely the type of show that actively engages the viewer.
Bass: At times I felt like the show is above my level of intellect. As I said in the introduction section, it required my full attention in order to pick up on certain details, and even then it wasn’t nearly enough. I guess I was a little too distracted by the cutesy antics of Inga, or the back-sass of Kazamori, but that’s not to say that the serious nature of the show is lacking. If anything, the humor is more like a reward for our invested interest, and they were peppered into the flow very nicely. This is what I loved most about Un-go, it takes itself very seriously in its execution but it also allows for nimrods like me to enjoy it at the same time (though without Zabo I would have been totally been lost 80% of the time).
Zabo: Hehe, I’m sure you would have been able to figure it out. But yah, I’m fairly positive that my only real issue with this show was what to refer to Inga as. He? She? …It? Even Kazamori had a bit of gender ambiguity going on there. I suppose this brings to bear the fact that Un-Go had a stellar cast of characters. From Shinjuurou to the Novelist, each person had their own sense of individuality and depth, even if they were simply a follower, like Izumi.
Bass: I also loved the fact that Yukiatsu and Tsuruko both made a cameo appearance from Ano Hana. NoitaminA doesn’t shy away from bringing in star characters from their other properties :P With that being said, the show really had everything. From the music to the characters; the plot to the visuals, it was really the complete package. I also appreciate how neatly the story was wrapped up, in a mere 11 episodes no less. Given the ambitious scope of the plot, it was a pleasure to see the narrative being given priority from start to finish. Even with a few loose ends (that will be addressed in the prequel), there’s not much more I could have asked from it. Well, other than the fact that some people may be too slow to follow it. Oh, and the lukewarm start to the series haha.
Zabo: Man, thinking back, in comparison to the rest of the show that start was rough. However, for those who stuck around past that, it was seriously well worth it. Un-Go didn’t disappoint and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody. Seriously. Also, I love Inga. So yes, my final consensus on this show is that it’s brilliant. 9/10, for sure.
Bass: Yea, the start doesn’t detract from the overall quality and I really loved the anticipation of discovering the key to every mystery. Hell, even the way the ED is slipped into the end of each episode is a work of art itself, reminiscent of how Ano Hana handled EDs. Gun to head, I would have to give this a 9 out of 10 as well. Although, if you’re very slow to follow even after a few episodes, the score may bump down to an 8. As for me, a 9 is a fair assessment of my enjoyment.
Zabo: Great minds think alike, yo~
Bass: Yea, definitely. So……yea…..I’ll be expecting that cheque in the mail, yea?

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40 Responses to “Un-Go – Series Review”

  1. jGLZA says:

    Never watched the show and still don’t really want to. I mean if you guys were lost for most of the time I don’t know where I would have ended up… mexico perhaps?

    I just came here for Bassun’s graphix!

    • Zabobinator says:

      I say go for it anyways! It’s really awesome! Trust me, you won’t regret it. xD

    • Bass says:

      Haha cheers for coming by mate.

      But yea, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to handle this show. Seriously, once you get past the 2nd or 3rd episode you’re gonna have a blast.

      Plus, I think the show is worth it for the ED alone

  2. tatsuya says:

    nice colourand good quality .. i feel proud to knowing this anime T_T

  3. Miyu says:

    I think the turning point of the series was probably episode 7, where things started to get interesting. And then whoosh mindblows every episode! Definitely one of the better anime for the season – sticking around was so worth it ^A^

    My favorite character for this series is definitely Inga! Both adorable shota and sexy ojouchan in one >///< His role was well-played in the anime and brought lots of laughter (and swooning) ♥

    Seriously guys, I can't get that tune out of my head. P-p-pocket full of hawthornes. Poor Robb xD

    Great review, Zabo and Bass! :D Enjoyed reading that, um, mouthful ^^

    • Zabobinator says:

      Haha, I’m so happy that you stuck around. I felt the same exact way, yah. ESPECIALLY about Inga hehehe! :D

      Awesome tune, eh? Thank Bass for that one. I’m sure Robb will come to appreciate it, though. xD

      I’m glad you liked this! :D

    • Bass says:

      Hehe getting that tune stuck in your head is the only reason I agreed to writing this post with Zabo :P (jkjk)

      But yea, I suppose different people have different turning points. Personally, I didn’t really start to enjoy it fully untill like 5 or 6 but after that it was just smooth sailing. I was slowly picking up on things that I didn’t before and it became more fun to just guess what the ultimate answer is.

      And thanks for reading that entire mouthful ahah

  4. anaaga says:

    This. So much. UN-GO is so underrated because lots of viewers stop watching it after the second or third episode. Because of that, they didn’t see how UN-GO’s plots and mysteries developing, giving UN-GO the reputation as that mystery anime that has no mystery at all *show fist*

    The biggest let-down of the last episode was Hayami’s (or is it Hagami?) motive for his crime. It sounds so silly and irrational, it’s as if they’re adding Hayami just “because.” Obviously that’s not true because of his role of using Bettenou. With Hayami’s motive, even some silly revenge motive sounds great.

    I still don’t get the whole gender issue with Inga and Kazamori though. Obviously there’s a reasoning behind that, but I still don’t know what it is. Maybe the author is a semi-feminist? Gender equality? Though I don’t mind the ambiguous gender thing at all. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an anime where they put male and female equally (by making the characters experiencing both genders). Somehow in every anime, one of the gender is stronger than the other (magical girls, harem, etc. etc.)

    But do you have to compare UN-GO to Guilty Crown, Bass? It’s obvious that UN-GO is waaaayyy better than Guilty Crown. And yeah, FINALLY you collaborated with Metanorn. ABOUT TIME

    • Zabobinator says:

      WAAAIIIIFFUUUU~ <3

      Hayami's motive was hilariously pathetic, so I pretty much agree with you there. However, I kind of liked that his motive was stupid. It would've been hard to stick some sort of complicated reasoning in, especially given the amount of time given to wrap it all up.

      Oooh, that's a good point about gender strengths. Never noticed that before. My reasoning for the gender ambiguity here is that, perhaps, it is to indicate that Inga was not human? So he/she couldn't really be strictly categorized as a human.

      • Bass says:

        Good point with the motive thing. I think it might have actually been a bit forced if it ended up being something too elaborate. Trying to piece together the reasoning for an elaborate ploy behind the scenes is too much, especially since he didn’t get much time on screen anyways. Trying to manufacture shots of him masterminding key events was probably overkill so I guess something silly is probably best, even if underwhelming.

        The guilty crown comparison had to be done, since they are in the same slot of the season haha. And since both ended up being of the serious nature, I just had to make the comparison. Plus, it’s fun to poke fun at the overhyped shows when the dark horses take over for the win hehe

        And mum, why you so mean……yo.

        • anaaga says:

          Don’t like to admit it, but I guess Hayami’s motive is the best motive if I think about it clearly. Still don’t like it though because that kind of motive is too underrated in every psychological anime.

          Inga for not being a human is possible, but Kazamori surely had her gender stationed while she was created, just like any other RA. And her doll has no gender! Or I’m being too observant about it now.

          Son, your mom here is a tsundere. If you want an open love, go ask your other mom ;)

  5. Ness says:

    I have not even watched this series yet but I will… one day.

    I just wanted to say how much of a troll Bass is <3 I’m surprised that the icon used for him isn’t linked too XD

    Awesome job though, must have taken some time to get this out :3

    • Zabobinator says:

      WATCH IT!

      Thanks though! ^_^ And yah, haha, it did… xD

      <3

    • Bass says:

      You should definitely get on this, if only for the ED and OP song and visuals haha.

      And yes, this was explicitly stated in all my cameo contracts. But it’s nice of you to bring up the icon issue. I will look to incorporate that into future endeavors.

  6. Overcooled says:

    Un-Go actually turned into one of the best of the season once it finally got going. More people need to take a chance on it, because when it gets good..it gets REALLY GOOD. The only bad part is that some of the mysteries are really, really easy to solve. It just takes the fun out of it when you figure it out before the main character does. I HATE THAT. If it’s a mystery, I should only figure it out when the main character is telling me the answer >_< That's my own preference though, I guess.

    Anyways, holy crap this is a wonderful summary post. We need to steal Bass more often for graphics to reduce Ness's workload XD BASS, TAG TEAM WITH METANORN MORE!

    …I knew you'd do that thing you always do, Bass. I KNEW IT.

    • Zabobinator says:

      SUPER GOOD. Some of the mysteries were pretty easy to figure out, yah, but sometimes I get a kick out of that. It’s just kind of like “HAH! I BEAT THE MAIN CHARACTER TO IT!” …Maybe that’s just me too, though. xD

      Thanks! We’ll see if we can get Bass to do this again… >:D

    • Bass says:

      Lol you doctors are just too smart. I needed a lot of help to get through some of the episodes. I guess I was just too distracted by the pretty colors and Rie’s hotness.

      And yea lol, I’ll probably tag more in the future. Just have to hope that you guys can continue to afford my appearance fee.

      Also, ES21 is always a part of the package. That’s non-negotiable hehe

  7. Bob from Accounting says:

    Does this show really get that much better? I dropped it after one episode. I’m guessing it switches to multi-part stories, then. Because watching them trying to pull off a whole murder mystery in twenty-odd minutes was one of the most amusingly pitiful sights I’ve ever seen. There’s a reason that proper detective shows have episodes that are an hour long at the very least. This wasn’t helped by that kid’s magical power that was clearly shoehorned in to avoid having to squeeze proper investigation and questioning into the limited episode space.

    • Tofu says:

      It’s true that with mystery you’d usually want to build it up along a few episodes to give it suspension but the thing is like what Bass and Zab are saying, episode 1 wasn’t all that great but the episodes following after it was intriguing with how they handled their ‘one-episode’ mysteries. Of course there were some that went for 2 episodes but nevertheless I think it’s brilliant and praise-worthy if they’re able to create such a mind-grabbing mystery in one episode. Definitely give the series another chance Bob ;D

    • Zabobinator says:

      Though I find it to be a bit harsh (and only because I adore this show), I definitely understand, 100%, what you’re saying. The first episode was sloppy and forced. However, you should consider the fact that Un-Go only had 11 episodes, a lot of plot to cover and only 20 minutes or so to do so per week. So, given the limitations at hand, I found that the show did a sufficient job, if not better seeing as the quality increased by leaps and bounds. I also found Inga’s power to be a creative way of going about things; I didn’t see him as shoehorned in, so much as a vital character to the series. Essentially, what makes Un-Go so special, in my opinion, is that it has an entirely different approach to a mystery genre that tends to become generic and overdone at times. So, I definitely urge you to give Un-Go a second chance. It’s really good, yah! And you’re allowed to get on my case about it if you end up not liking it, after all. xD

    • Bass says:

      Haha yea, the first episode was very boring in comparison to the rest of the show. If I wasn’t obliged to write the review for the series, I may have dropped it early on like you did (and by obliged, I mean held at gun-point by zabo). Thankfully, I stuck through till the end and I gotta say it’s been worth the effort.

      As for the episode structure, the latter episodes actually allocated more than just the one week to a specific mystery, so it helped to expand the scope quite a bit. The way in which they chose to leave cliffhangers is also pretty effective, since they really picked the most natural spots to leave it for the week.

      I reckon you should give the show a few more episodes to get a better feel for it, since it didn’t start to really click until ep 3-5. It’s at that point, when the themes became darker and the overarching story starts to grow.

  8. Renn says:

    Nice to see this show get the tribute it deserves. It won me over in episode 2. You knew who the killer was right away, but I loved how elaborate and well-constructed the mystery was.

    Pretty fabulous gift, Bass. :P

    • Zabobinator says:

      Hehe, it makes me happy when people appreciate this show as much as I did~

      Episode 2 swayed me and it episode 3 that finally won me over. The mysteries were so creative and it was awesome when everything started to fall into place. Elaborate and well-constructed is the perfect way to describe it. xD

    • Bass says:

      I loved it during the RAI arc, since they explored some pretty significant shit during that arc. Plus, Kazamori is just a bloody riot with her sarcasm and wit.

      And yes, that last gift was pretty perfect huh? So what you think, high maintenance enough for ya? ^_^

      • Renn says:

        Hmm… doesn’t look bad with make-up, quite possibly very charming. I sense taste issues with that tacky jewelry, but if there’s a PhD and a trust fund, I’m in. :P

  9. Joojoobees says:

    If I were ever to create an anime, I would avoid the Mystery genre at all costs. If you do deep, involved mysteries, people make snap judgements without giving the show time to develop. If you make single episode mysteries, people make snap judgements that the mysteries are trivial, and not worth the effort. Honestly I don’t think it is possible to win.

    Un-go tried nonetheless. It actually delivered in the end, but the only people who will discover that are those who are willing to give it a fair shot. No wonder anime is overrun with moe and fan service. If people don’t get instant gratification they are inclined to drop shows. Intellectually-oriented shows like Un-go depend upon the few viewers who are curious enough to watch a show even when it doesn’t hand them everything they want in the very first episode.

    • Bass says:

      Yea, you pretty much hit the nail right on the head there. There really is not much room for error and I feel really bad sometimes that shows like this don’t get the exposure it deserves.

      There will always be viewers like us who are more willing to let a series develop further, but these days shows don’t get greenlit based on its interesting plot. Looking at season preview after season preview, this is becoming more apparent with all the pandering moe shit that’s put out there so often. And even when they do manage to get a good story approved, they’re always overridden with certain tropes and fanservice that it degrades the entire experience.

      *Sigh* All we can hope for now is for the one or two anime a season that pushes the boundary. The rest we’ll just have to ignore.

  10. Tofu says:

    If I was to put UN-Go somewhere on my list of animes for the year it’d go in 11th or 12th place. It was hard enough putting in shows in my top 10 since how much each of them entertained me was practically a hair away from each other. By all means it was a pretty good series that’s for sure and the OP and ED does grow on you through time, same with the characters. Though even if Kaishou was doing illegal stuff I don’t think he’d be labeled as a villain per say. He was more of the ‘other’ detective that rivaled against Shinjuurou in my opinion but like Bass, I didn’t fully unravel how this and that was solved, more I was just going with the flow of “oh so he is, oh okay” so yeah ^^; By the way the last episode was great… only my gripe with that last part is the fighting between bettenou and Inga. The series never used the action genre till the very last episode and it kinda felt out of place due to how “in your face” it was being totally unexpected. Then again when there’s action, people fall for the “fighting = it’s so kool” trap. Not to say I didnt fall in the trap myself because I did. OTL I believe they said something about this in the series is that the female Inga is, of course, female and a demon at that but she’s possesing the kid that we’re all familiar with who is actually a boy so in other words, it’s a SHE (She…S-he…he…He) get it? ;D

    Great job on the review Zab and Bass!

    • Bass says:

      Hehe it’s funny that you mention that about Kaishou. It’s this same ability of his that makes you second guess him that makes him such a compelling villain. What he did to you is essentially what he did to the entire city. It’s his unassuming nature that gets your trust, but if you look at the bigger picture, his methods may be a bit suspect. But yea, he aims for the good but in the process, he’s allowing too much crap fall through the cracks that it’s hard to picture him as fully just. Take for example the soldier that he allowed to die in the fake death. It may have been a case of “For the greater good” but these things build up over time.

      But I’m glad that you like it in the end though. I loved this show precisely for it’s ability to allow multiple perspectives. There’s really no right way to approach it and it really depends on the person’s own surroundings, experience etc that determines how they appreciate Un-Go. But yea, even the political aspects of it was beyond my head at times. It does make me appreciate anime more though, since it’s able to provoke that much thought from a simple 11 episode series.

  11. eli-la says:

    There was an Ano Hana cameo? Where? o.O

    (Damn my ridiculous talent for being unobservant >.>)

    • Bass says:

      Haha I really should have elaborated further on this.

      In reality though, it was these guys.
      http://twitpic.com/82ubr1

      It’s just that their designs seem so similar to Yukiatsu and Tsuruko that I had to comment on them. Plus, the whole twist at the end sort of makes it ironic right? haha

  12. Hoshi says:

    ~This whole post was a mindfuckery for me. Similar to Bass, it takes me a while to find hidden messages and themes in shows, so reading all this clears up a lot for me. I’m still considering re-watching the whole series because a lot of the military/war stuff confused me as well. I also need to watch the last episode still (lol), but I couldn’t resist commenting.

    UN-GO’s first episode made it seem like it was a typical, ‘We’re gonna solve this in 20 minutes!’ mystery show, but yes, once you got to around the 2nd, 3rd episode, the mysterys and the ideas along with them got more complex and entertaining. I stuck around because Inga intrigued me SO MUCH and because I wanted to know more about Shinjurou and how he came across Inga. I personally love knowing EVERYTHING about a character, especially their backstory, and I was hoping they’d eventually get to it in the series. When I realized they wouldn’t, I was seriously disappointed. Even so, I enjoyed UN-GO a lot, even with Rie annoying the crap out of me.

    FANTASTIC POST, GUYS~

  13. Reaper says:

    So much to say for UN-GO, but I guess this is the only thing needed to be said; NEXT SEASON NAO~!
    *Cough* Aside from an urge for a next season, the first ep is always the most difficult for any anime, but I think they did okay with it; mystery was entertaining, and Inga’s ‘My body is Lady’ technique was quite unexpected at the start :D

    Each character definitely has their own worth that we all like (non-weak protagonists and individual secondary protagonists and other characters that stand on their own feet), like Kaishou Rinroku (who I agree is like Izaya with the whole information control but without having Celty’s head hidden in his bookshelf or an angry Shizuo-like nemesis throwing fridges at him), or Kazamori, the RAI hacker too honest in some embarrassing situations ;P

    Having said all of this though, there is one little thing bothering me…Bones produced UN-GO, but I couldn’t help but notice some of the similarities in character design and to a degree background plot to Bones’ other series Darker than Black (which I love!). I mean, Izumi felt like a facsimile of Misaki Kirihara, down to her blue suit and job as a public servant related to the Justice system (though Hayami took Misaki’s made driving skills). The background setting with the war on Tokyo’s streets felt like a divergent path from the ending of DtB’s second season, whilst the other picture of Shinjurou we see both in the OP and ED animations shows a facsimile of Hei…I mean, I’d feel content if they took a few references from DtB, but even better if Bones made the next season; need more Black Reaper :P

    Rant ended: hat’s off to the effort you guys put into this post!

  14. Reika says:

    There’s actually a Hatsune Miku in the first episode, too~

    Ahhh, UN-GO. I watched it with a friend over skype and we were mainly going all “Huh, art is nice” and “Shinjuurou is hot” until female Inga appeared and we both went “THIS IS GONNA BE ON OUR TOP MUST WATCH LIST”

    So yeah, while our motive was kinda shallow at first orz, UN-GO did not disappoint at all. Every week I would be all giddy waiting for it to air and then I’ll spam tumblr with reaction gifs lol. It was kinda confusing at times, but I guess that’s one of its charms! The music was perfect, one of the best I’ve heard in a while. The mystery was a little bit…off at times, though (I deduced somewhere in episode 8 that Hayami would be controlling Bettennou and I was right! lol~)

    Overall, this seriously needs more love. I really hope they make another season, this time maybe focusing a little bit more on Shinjuurou’s and Inga’s past?

  15. [...] pretty hard to believe that this is my first time collaborating with Metanorn, seeing as I’ve been asked quite a few times in the past. Oh well, better late [...]

  16. Alynn says:

    I liked Un-go a lot, surprisingly. he first few episodes were pretty meh for me, and I stayed for the opening and ending songs (lolwut). It got a lot better when (i agree) Sasa Kazemori joined the crew.

    I couldn’t really tell if Kaishou Rinroku was a villain for the longest time. But fff yes. He is a total mastermind omg.

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