Note: This review contains a spoiler for the last arc of the series. It is in white text so if you don’t mind being spoiled (or already saw the series), then highlight the text.
The growing trend in mystery/detective animes is startling: What is the reason for it? In anime, the three “M” series only sell well: moe, mecha and mainstream. Most mystery series qualify as none of these and their successes have been quite mixed with series like Dantalian no Shoka and Gosick constantly negative opinions and many had written-off UN-GO from the very first episode. But that was a mistake on their parts.
Make no mistake: The first two episodes of UN-GO are pretty weak, but it’s nothing but consistently better mysteries afterward. This show really does make you think and like Steins;Gate makes even the smallest detail a major game changer. Looking back at some of the episodes, the staff leaves some clues but you’re the one who has to figure the mystery or have Shinjuurou and/or Inga tell you it. That strategy really worked on the Bettenou/Kaishou arc and i had a hunch who the bad guy was (oh and i was right!) but i saw what clues were layed out and others were a complete mystery. For example…the last arc with Bettenou and Kaishou’s involvement. I knew the criminal was Hayami. The clues from when Inga saw Bettenou in the sky, someone was following Inga (a tall slender man with brown hair..) and his sudden increase in appearances were also a red flag.. Plus with Diet Member Kuramitsu commented on how surface to air missiles was easily acquirable to the Bureau Department (which Hayami is in charge of)..now that bit was alot harder to deduct in my opinion.Despite the lackluster first two episodes, UN-GO kept a strong consistent animation pattern thanks to BONES’ involvement. Especially when the cases were a bit wacky and surreal, the animation really accompanied those episodes quite well. Another strong point of the series was the background music. It was varied, used really well and was nice on the ears: composer Narasaki who also did Deadman Wonderland’s great soundtrack, did another splendid job here. The voice acting was great ranging from the major characters (Aki Toyosaki voiced both Inga’s??!) to the minor ones (Yuuki Kaji in his umpteenth role this season..including fellow noitaminA’s Guilty Crown). I had no complaints with the voice acting at all. I really liked both OP and ED though i really like the OP a bit more with School Food Punishment’s vocals and the stylish animation visuals.
What makes this show even more fun to watch is the relationship between Shinjuurou and Inga as they take on these varied cases. Shinjuurou “just seeks the truth” while Inga is a bit more mysterious and it’s easy to say that he’s not human, because no human can command another human to answer their questions and eat their souls. The cast is well-rounded and though 11 episodes isn’t enough to cover the development i found the cast to be engaging and worth the screen time in most cases.
At just 11 episodes, UN-GO is a series that should be watched in one sitting. You’ll love the thinking that goes on in this series, the characters, the BGM and the animation are also very high quality. A very under-rated show compared to the other notitaminA series currently airing…
Animation: 9/10 – Yeah, BONES does it again. They’re consistent with high-quality visuals and mixed with UN-GO’s eccentric cases this can be a huge plus.
Story: 8/10 – It’s really hard to say what UN-GO’s plot is for the first few episodes but once things get settled down, the plot really becomes a driving force to be reckoned with. Like Steins;Gate, UN-GO gives the smallest obscure items a potential to be completely game-changing which i really like. From easy to solve crimes to Bettenou’s involvement in the latter part of the show, the series does a great job balancing out great stories. The ending was a little confusing though.
Sound: 8/10 – I don’t think i’ve had one complaint with the voice acting in this series. Everyone is very well acted like Shinjuurou, Kazamori, Kaishou and Inga. The background music works very well to create tension and bring out intense moments very well. The OP and ED were just amazing: School Food Punishment must love noitaminA series as they’ve been in Eden of the East, C, and now UN-GO and once again they leave a great impression. The visuals in the OP are very inspired and creative. The ED is also great because of the growing trend to start playing the song before the actual credits which makes it feel much more authentic to call it a “ending” theme.
Characters: 8/10 – I like the diversity in the cast and though development for them was small to the 11 episode restriction, it was good for such a series. Inga was arguably the most interesting character to watch, having even a prequel movie about his and Shinjuurou’s pasts. Others like Kazamori, Kaishou and Rie were interesting characters though they didn’t nearly get enough development.
Enjoyment: 8/10 – I’ve been losing faith with BONES – No.6 was great except for that last episode, Eureka Seven was just riddled with problems, lost interest in Star Driver very early – but they’ve redeemed themselves temporarily with UN-GO. It may not be perfect, but with just 11 episodes UN-GO knew how to effectively use those episodes. It may just be “another” mystery/detective series but this may be one of the best of that genre of this year.
UN-GO Score Tally:
Animation – 9/10
Story – 12/15
Characters – 16/20
Sound – 8/10
Enjoyment – 36/45
Total – 81/100