First Impressions: Un-Go


Here's an unorthodox detective show: it's set in an alternate future of Japan where the events after World War II was slightly different than what actually happened. The main detective combo acts a bit like a manzai act with a twist. Unlike just about every other detective show this year, however, there isn't some gothic lolita playing puppet master behind the scene.

Is noitaminA's latest offering worth your time? Click on and find out!

Un-Go is based on a book written by Showa-era author Ango Sakaguchi, originally about a Meiji-era detective. That's where the title of the show comes from, and it partly explains why Un-Go takes place in such a off-kilter setting, with Japan not quite reconstructed like how it is today. The anime takes place in a modernized society for the most part, but it will be interesting to see if the rest of the series keep close to what we know as present-day, or something entirely from left field.

When Nature Calls

With that said, the first episode is told more from the perspective of the daughter (Rio) of a detective (Rinroku) who operates behind the scene, solving mysteries but saving the face of the government. The "main" detective pair, however, is another more capable detective who goes by the name of the "Defeated Detective" and his otherworldly partner, a transforming girl/loli who can make people tell the truth to one single question.


In a way, Un-Go is refreshing because it is finally a detective story that appeals mainly through the mystery and intrigue, rather than character development. The first episode is a solid push putting the mystery in the center of the show, while introducing the characters. Not only just a feast on style, we are treated to the almost-familiar setting and the political atmosphere of the day. I have to admit that it's nice to see actual grown men and women solving a murder instead of a little kid (sorry Conan/Dalian/Victorique/etc), even if in substance it's more or less the same kind of thing.


The down side to this fairly solid pilot would be how the show manage to telegraph the killer at around half way through. I guess it's with faint praise that I say the show is solid in that it was able to do it, but that also takes most of the surprise from one of those big reveals at the end. The other problem, as I see it, is how there seem to be two philosophically conflicting detectives doing all the work. On one hand you have our main character pair getting to the ugly truth, while the more manipulative and detective will try to resolve the problem in a way that covers up part of the truth in exchange for social harmony or mutual benefit of the involved parties. That may not be a problem, but I think the series is coming in a little strong with such a grand and deep theme. It's way too early to show your hand.

That's like how I work!

Un-Go is definitely a more interesting take on the detective genre, a return to mystery with a more sophisticated setting beyond merely being fantastic. Well, arguably it is not so fantastic as it is rotten, but it is within that space that Un-Go develops its story. Thankfully there's enough antics between Inga, Rio and Izumi to keep the dialog from being too much of a drag. Hopefully the overall plot will go somewhere!

[Catch Un-Go on Crunchyroll!]

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Jeff Chuang
Jeff ChuangAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Yet to be the oldest kid on the block, this East Coast implant writes cryptic things about JP folklore, the industry or dirty moe. Attend cons and lives the "I can buy Aniplex releases" life. ... more + disclosures


Filed under... #anime #First Impressions #Japanator Original #top stories



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