Anime DVD Review: UN-GO Complete Collection

UN-GO Complete Collection is a three-disc set that includes all 11 episodes of the series, “Episode 0,” as well as some other bonus features. The release has both the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and an English dub.

UN-GO Complete Collection
English Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: DVD
Release Date: October 30, 2012

The series is based on the novel Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chō, which was written by novelist Ango Sakaguchi.

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 is the one who solves the crimes, he lets Rinroku take the credit and “rewrite” the solution to a crime. 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 the picture. At first, the addition of the 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 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.

The only special features on the first disc are trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases and the U.S. DVD credits. There are no special features included on the second disc. The third disc contains the bulk of the set’s bonus features.

The first bonus feature is “Episode 0,” which is titled, “Chapter of Inga.” It’s a 50-minute theatrical release that shows Shinjuro’s past and how he came to be partnered with Inga. While I’m glad that they decided to fill in some of the blanks with this, it’s a little disappointing that we couldn’t have somehow gotten a condensed version of this somewhere in the series, if it was shorted down to a length of one episode. This would have given the series a 12th episode, which is more of a standard length for Japanese television anime. While this explains who Inga’s female form is based on, it still doesn’t explain why Inga takes the form of a boy most of the time.

Next is the UN-GO “All Night” Event. This is a nearly half hour-long bonus feature, which features the director, Seiji Mizushima, and the scriptwriter, Shou Aikawa. They are interviewed in front of an audience, and the interviewer asks questions about them working on both the TV series and Chapter of Inga. It’s a little on the long side, but if you like to hear from staff members and hearing behind the scenes stories, then you might appreciate this bonus feature.

The next bonus feature is labeled as, “Japanese Promotion Video ‘Retake.'” This is a music video for a song that features still images from Chapter of Inga. I think this would have been stronger if it had included actual scenes from Chapter of Inga instead of still images.

“Inga Nikki” runs for almost four minutes, and it consists of nine shorts with super-deformed animation to promote Chapter of Inga. Some of them were a little amusing, but they did get annoying after a while.

This is followed by “Chapter of Inga Alternate Opening.” This runs for about 30 seconds, and it’s an alternate opening to what actually appeared at the beginning of Chapter of Inga. Honestly, I think the opening that was actually used was the stronger of the two versions.

Next is “A Conversation with Ango Sakaguchi.” This is a little misleading though, since Ango Sakaguchi is never spoken with because he passed away back in 1955. Instead, this roughly 23-minute feature gives the audience a little bit of history of Ango Sakaguchi, before launching into an interview with Shou Aikawa, the scriptwriter for UN-GO. This was an interesting feature, but it really should have been labeled as “A Conversation with Shou Aikawa.”

“Japanese Spots” includes 14-and-a-half minutes’ worth of Japanese promotional spots for both the UN-GO television anime series and Chapter of Inga. Unfortunately, several of these spots are similar to each other, with only one minor difference with the ending text. Because of this fact, this particular feature ends up feeling redundant. I found myself wondering when it would end because it felt so repetitive. Lastly, there is a clean opening animation and a clean closing animation.

To be honest, I was rather surprised by how much effort Sentai Filmworks went to for the bonus features for this release. Usually, Sentai only includes cleaning openings, clean endings, and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks releases. Having a release with such extensive bonus features from Sentai Filmworks seems to be a rarity.

If you’ve seen UN-GO and want to add it to your anime home video library, then this release is the way to go. Sadly, as of this writing, it appears the Blu-ray version of this release is now out-of-print and cannot be purchased new. If you want a Blu-ray version of the release, you have to buy a used copy (or a new copy being sold by a third-party seller).

Additional post about UN-GO:

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