Siren Visual Releases The Complete Collection of Detective-Twist Anime UN-GO On Australian DVD
is the latest from the team behind anime smash Full Metal Alchemist
and operates on a completely different level, although retaining the signature clean and cool BONES animation. Twitch colleague Charles Webb covered the US BluRay release extensively in his excellent review, the following is a modified excerpt from his article which can be found in full here
Detective anime Un-Go is more interesting for its literary roots than anything actually onscreen. The 11-episode series follows troubled detective Shinjuurou Yuuki as he investigates a series of high-profile mysteries years after a string of terrorist attacks in near future Japan. Each case deals in some way with the nexus of corruption and collusion among the ruling elite and media, with a jarring supernatural twist that keeps Un-Go from ever really working.
Un-Go is based on the works of novelist Ango Sakaguchi, whose Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chōlaid bare the excesses and corruption in the wake of World War II. This series gives its detective a sinister, magical assistant, named Inga, a soul-hungry creature who switches forms between a young boy and a buxom woman and is allowed to force a person to answer any one of her questions honestly.
Unfortunately, the format of the series doesn't allow much in the way of an emotional connection for most of the cases, spending maybe a third in drawing room-style interrogations/speeches where our detectives lay out the evidence (don't worry about trying to guess the solution to most of these mysteries--the viewers are kept far away from the full set of facts), and Inga is finally brought in to extract a confession from the culprit.
While there's definitely some mileage to be earned from a story examining the unchecked decadence of the powerful in the wake of a national catastrophe, the heavy emphasis on plot and neglect of character (it takes maybe two-thirds of the series before Shinjurou's personality comes into focus), Un-Go never really finds its center. Plus, Inga often "breaks" the plot, showing up like some kind of demonic deus ex machina to close things out (and her origins are only explored in a 12th episode outside of the main series).
From a production standpoint, Un-Go suffers a steep drop off in quality after the first episode, mostly owing to stiff animation and despite some real promise in concept, Un-Go unfortunately just doesn't work as either a mystery series or supernatural drama, a mash of too many disparate elements and no real throughline.
Besides the series' 11 episodes, the two-disc DVD set also includes "Episode 00: Chapter of Inga" a prequel entry narrated by Shinjuurou detailing his life and chance meeting with the strange creature known as Inga. it also serves as a meaty bonus mystery on top of the rest of the series involving the other supernatural illusionist Bettou from the main storyline while revealing elaborating on why our hero is so tortured.
Ultimately I agree with Charles comments, it does not quite work but has some very eye opening and unique moments and I quite enjoyed the OVA. Additionally the English dub is unbearable and ultimately Un-Go does not really suit as part of Noitamina's innovative lineup with its simple procedural pacing.
Un-Go Complete Collection is available now on DVD in Australia from Siren Visual.