Anime Spotlight: Un-Go

Un-Go is an anime series produced by the Bones animation studio, and it is based on the works of writer Ango Sakaguchi. The 11 episodes of the series aired in Japan from October 13-December 22, 2011. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for the series.

Un-Go is supposedly set in a futuristic Japan (but it’s mentioned in an episode that the series is set in 2011, the year it aired), and that this version of Japan has dealt with war and numerous terrorist attacks. Overall, it appears to take place in an alternate timeline, yet at one point, there is a reference made to the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The main character of the series is a detective named Shinjuro Yuki, who solves cases with his partner, Inga. Inga usually takes on the form of a young boy, but will transform into her true form (which is of a busty woman) when it appears that the truth is close to being revealed for a case. When Inga is in this true form, she eats the souls of people to force them to honestly answer questions. This, combined with Shinjuro’s keen insight for mysteries, helps them discover the truth of a crime.

Rinroku Kaishou is a well-known detective, who monitors crime scenes from his home through a computer set-up. Even though Shinjuro actually solves the crimes, he lets Rinroku take the credit and “rewrite” the solution to crimes. By doing this, Shinjuro has acquired the nickname “The Defeated Detective.”

This is the basic setup for the first few episodes, but then more supernatural and political intrigue elements enter into the picture. At first, the addition of the additional supernatural elements was a little jarring, but it turns out to add another dimension. This, along with the political intrigue elements, help to raise the series to the next level. I was so interested in what I was watching that I found myself binge watching the series over the course of two days. It had such an involved and interesting story that I couldn’t help but want to watch more. The only reason I stopped on the first day was that I had to go to work!

I especially liked the chemistry between Shinjuro and Rinroku’s daughter, Rie. What starts off as an antagonistic attitude between the two evolves into a friendship. At a couple of points, it almost felt as if there could be romantic interest between the two of them, but it was only ever hinted at. I couldn’t help but find myself shipping these two characters. I thought the friendship that Shinjuro and Rie develop served as an interesting element to add to the story.

The animation in Un-Go works well for the story that’s being told. It’s obvious that great care was taken with the character designs, and there were also moments where the backgrounds looked rather close to what their real-life counterparts would look like. The animation that really stood out to me though is the stylized animation used for the opening credits. This style obviously wouldn’t have worked for the actual series, but it was neat to see the chances that were taken with the opening sequence animation.

Un-Go starts out as a Case Closed-type series being aimed at an older audience, but by the halfway point, the series becomes much more than this. You definitely wouldn’t see the level of supernatural and political intrigue that the second half of Un-Go has anywhere in Case Closed.

I think that the combination of the story and the animation in Un-Go really makes the series memorable and worth watching again. I would definitely recommend this anime to viewers who enjoy the mystery genre, but can also appreciate the supernatural as well. At some point, I would love to add Un-Go to my anime home video library.

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