Hey MoarPowah! How’s it going? It’s been a while since my last review, and considering how the new anime season has just started, I figured it’s time for another post. This time I’ll be doing a first impressions on Bones’ anime adaptation of Sakaguchi Ango’s Meiji Kaika Ango Torimono-chō, which the studio has named UN-GO.
Now, just to put it out there, I’m a fan of Studio Bones; they’ve been fairly consistent with the quality of their shows, and they did churn out my all-time favorite anime movie, Sword of the Stranger. I’m also a huge sucker for the detective genre. Therefore, I might be a little biased in my review of the first episode, but I will try to be my usual disdainfully demanding critic.
Without further ado, itadakimasu!
It looks like UN-GO will be one of those episodic series, where the main character goes around solving many unrelated mysteries (probably one per episode?), and though the director will likely drop hints here and there (probably moar generously after the series’ half-point) about a greater overarching plot problem, said protagonist will not likely tackle said problem until the last three episodes or so. I’m not going to say this is a bad thing, this is a pretty solid albeit overused layout for anime series, just that if it turns out this way, I get to say, I called it.
The mystery of the whole first episode was pretty simple. You know the wife is the murderer from the way she acted. However, her motive was pretty original; she kills her husband because she saw him as a hero, and wanted him to die as a hero who was victimized by a corrupt post-war government (did I mention this was apparently post-war Japan?). It makes me wonder how this will tie in with the later episodes, considering the anime takes place in a post-war society. Is this dying-for-honor thing going to be a trend? Will there be moar mysteries where people are murdered for the sake of saving face?
Also, the last several lines in the first episode didn’t really sit well with me; that “something beautiful should be allowed to end while it’s still beautiful,” even if it was a “beautiful lie.” Was it supposed to philosophical and leave me thinking? I’m not sure what I was supposed to think, because to me it just sounds too try-hard. And too flowery. And possibly naive.
Carrying on. From the first episode, I can be pretty sure that the main character here is going to be a man named Yuuki Shijuurou (voiced by Katsuji Ryo, and very fittingly so, I’d like to point out). He is known as “The Defeated Detective,” although the irony here is that he seems to be pretty undefeated in terms of solving mysteries. In terms of personality, his is fairly agreeable so far. He seems rather laid-back and lackadaisical, dropping some funny or anticlimactic lines here and there. From both the OP and ED, it looks like he has some sort of uncovered past (like many protagonists), but the catch here is that in his past he looks older, and frankly, moar like a hobo (lol Jack Guo reference). I’m curious as to what and how that will be revealed.
Aside from Yuuki there is his little boy assistant named Inga (voiced by, to my surprise, Toyosaki Aki, AKA everyone’s waifu Hirasawa Yui from K-ON!). Inga is really queer. Like, the really really creepy and strange sort of queer. He says weird things, wears a panda suit and sometimes, when he’s not being disturbing, he provides comic relief. However, it seems that upon the solving of a mystery he can no longer keep his form, and shifts into his (adult) female form, who openly flirts with Yuuki and then helps him solve mysteries.
Female-Inga’s power is that she force a person (only once) to truthfully answer a question. When I got to this point in the anime, I couldn’t help be laugh at how much of a Code Geass rip-off the scene was. Inga would activate her power, and both her eyes would have that sparkly purple texture. The only difference here was that the Geass symbol was missing, and her power was restricted to asking questions as opposed to giving orders. I just hope it won’t be quite as much of a train wreck in the end.
Back on track, two other possibly main characters are Kaishou Rinroku (CV: Miki Shinichiro) and his daughter Kaishou Rie (CV: Yamamoto Nozomi). Just a note, Kaishou Rie is surprisingly not that annoying for a potential female protagonist. Anyways, Kaishou Rinroku seems to be the reason Yuuki is called “The Defeated Detective.” They seem to have an unspoken agreement where Kaishou takes credit for Yuuki’s deductions, and then sugar-coats it for the public so chaos doesn’t break out and restart the war that had apparently recently ended (although the issues being fought over seem to be unsettle…).
And that’s most of the important characters. There’s also some female police detective, but I don’t think she’ll have that big a role, at most she’ll just turn up every episode and have a few lines. Then again, she does show up in the OP… well, she’s not very interesting yet. She just doesn’t seem to like Yuuki or Inga.
Some notes about the cast chosen here, I was pleasantly surprised at Toyosaki Aki’s versatility. She’s probably recently most famous for voicing Yui (as I’ve said), and I haven’t heard many of her other roles, but I’m sure none of them have been particularly creepy characters like these. It’s nice that she’s expanding her repertoire. I was really surprised at how good a voice actor she is.
After characters and plot is … animation, art and music? Something like that. I must say, the art is below my expectations from Bones. The character designs were by pako and, moar distinguishably, Kouga Yun (shudder), who also did the designs for the characters of Gundam 00, in addition to being the artist of the BL series Loveless. So in conclusion, I did not like the art style. The eyes were very Kouga-esque, the faces were stretched out to varying degrees, the worst of which being the face of the protagonist, whose facial features were so far apart his nose was the majority of his face and his mouth was practically on his jawline, rendering his chin nigh non-existent. That and everyone was obviously anorexic. But enough about the art.
The animation itself is fine. There hasn’t been any action so I can’t determine how awkward or how fluid movements are and et cetera. However I can say that the backgrounds are well-drawn and detailed, and both the OP and the ED have some flashy special effects. But as I’ve said, problems like how facial proportions vary from character to character show that something lacking in this series here, that I feel like Bones usually has down, is consistency.
Unexpectedly, the saving point of this anime is its music. The OP, “How to Go,” is done by one of my favorite bands, the well-known school food punishment. Enough said. I also liked how the ED had the piano introduction kick in as the episode ended with a scenic walking-into-the-sunset mood. The song itself had a sort of jazzy feel, and it was very catchy. It’s hard to tell how good the soundtrack itself is just from the first episode, but from what I heard, background music is used sparsely as most of the episode was just talking, and it’s not very memorable either.
Goshisousama deshita, over and out!