Directed by Seiji Mizushima
Starring Adam Gibbs, Emily Neves, and Hilary Haag
A constantly defeated detective continues digging for the truth with his otherworldly partner with a knack for inspiring honesty.
In a near-future Japan ravaged after a recent war and political machinations, Shinjurou Yuuki is a young detective hell bent on discovering the truth.
The series and each mystery are inspired by the “Ango Sakaguchi’s Meiji Kaika Ango Torimonochou” – “Ango Detective Mysteries” – by mid-20th century Japanese author Ango Sakaguchi. From my understanding thanks to the extras and also searching online, the original stories take place during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th and featured mysteries that struck at the heart of political intrigue both of that era and of the mid-20th century when they were written.
Likewise, so do these stories, murder mysteries which touch on government cover ups and information manipulation through technology. Even references to recent events and conspiracy theories after the turn of the millennium play a part in setting the mindset of a police force that constantly shields the public from truths they deem too dangerous. All of which run counter to detective Shinjurou who believes truths must be brought to light.
This show plays like a procedural detective drama, which I’m all for (as my countless Law & Order marathons can attest). Its gimmick though is its supernatural element in the character Inga, who forces anyone she wants, or as directed by Shinjurou, to answer one question truthfully. It’s a cheap dues ex machina, speeding along the plot without explaining why or adding to the story itself until the last story arc and the special theatrically-released “Episode 0: Chapter of Inga,” which is included at the end of the episode order.
This feels like a style-over-substance show, being surreal at times just for the sake of being surreal, but I still like it. I enjoy the main character Shinjurou working with, yet pitted against the police and their consulting detective. Both trying to discover the truth in each murder case, yet both competing about what to do with it. The mysteries are complex in some cases, with several turns and tangents that may lose viewers who aren’t paying attention. It’s not a show to have on in the background.
Some of the convoluted plots and cop-out mysticism may turn off some viewers, but it ties itself together better at the end, with its compelling mysteries and characters, into a decently satisfying series.
The Video and Audio
The series is presented in 1080p HD and 16×9 widescreem. The audio comes in English and Japanese, both in 2.0 stereo. The animation is crisp and active on this Blu-Ray collection, with vibrant colors. It’s a nice-looking series that doesn’t look like it skimps with overused still shots and static animation. The animation company Studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka Secen, Scrapped Princess, Soul Eater, etc.) typically does a good job, and this series upholds that.
The audio is likewise clear, and the music is catchy, except the climax theme that sounds like the audio freezes for a bit.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This two-disc set comes packed with an impressive set of features, but the quantity doesn’t ensure quality. Most of them are different promotional shorts or alternate scenes. The diamonds come through with the “All Night” event recording and the “Conversation with Ango Sakaguchi,” which is technically a conversation with the writer ABOUT Ango Sakaguchi and modernizing his work into the series. It’s pieces like these that give insight into the making of the series and expand their enjoyment.
Unfortunately subtitle issues in these extras, from missing subtitles to subtitles stacked on top of one another, hurt the understanding of some of these.
Overall (Not an Average)
Un-Go is a compelling whodunit series with intriguing, albeit somewhat convoluted, mysteries. Its supernatural elements may initially attract or detract an audience, especially the latter in the beginning of the series, but those who stuck through the end will be pleased they did.
The Series 8/10
The Video and Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10