Posted by psgels on 16 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Ultraviolet: Code 044


Every season has its most underrated series for me. For the past summer season, this was without a doubt Ultraviolet: Code 044. It only got one episode subbed, and that episode received masses of bad reviews. Because of all this bad publicity, this series received no chance at all to show its goods, which is a pity, since it’s actually a pretty good series. If you know what you want to watch it for.

Let me get a few things straight before I continue. This series is part of a whole Ultraviolet franchise, which started out as a series of comic books. Previously, it had already been adapted into a movie, which sucked beyond belief. That’s yet another one of the reasons for this series’ lack of popularity. Let me assure you, though: Code 04 is nothing like its movie counterpart. The movie was a horrible mishmash of random action scenes, while the anime manages to avoid these pitfalls.

So, yes. Code 044 is an action-series, but it knows that you can’t make a good series with action, and so it has a very solid and simple plot to keep it going. Whenever the characters are not fighting, they’re being fleshed out or developed. Not a single scene is wasted. To those who might have feared that this series would fall into a bunch of random fillers: it doesn’t. This series has a very clear goal and purpose, and manages to balance the action, plot and characters very nicely.

Part of the reasons why everything worked out so nicely is that the series has a stellar director: Osamu Dezaki. Very few people have the same amount of experience as he does, and he not only manages to use this experience to avoid common pitfalls like characters that aren’t fleshed out enough, rushed endings or cheesy dialogue, but he also manages to turn the screen into a visual feast, even though the graphical budget is often limited. The action-scenes themselves are mostly consisting out of still frames, but the effects that Osamu throws at you give it a great sense of style. He really likes to overuse CG, those sketch-like frames and split screens, and it really works. If you’re into experimental visuals, of course.

In terms of flaws, this series doesn’t have any major ones, but it’s just not a series for everyone. There are some strange instances of fanservice in the first episode, but after that the fanservice disappears nearly entirely. The plotline is very simple and for most of the time straightforward. It never tries to be anything deep or thought-provoking. It’s just one of those examples of “anime as entertainment”, as in: don’t try to find anything special behind it, because there is none. It just wants to tell a story and entertain the viewer. And for me it pretty much accomplished that feat

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

(*a small note: like I mentioned somewhere earlier, a high number at production-values doesn’t necessarily mean smooth or detailed animation, but rather whether the series “looks” good. Which was for me the case, although do note that the character-designs are very unconventional for anime)

12 Responses

  1. Penguin_Factory says:

    Ultraviolet was never actually a comic book series- the movie is where the franchise started (although you’re right about it sucking, especially in light of how good Equelibrium was. Man, what went wrong there?)

  2. chenshang says:

    not to be rude but split screens is a popular technique used in the 80s.

    Also, can you explain to me, how can a series be a “visual feast” when the graphical budget is limited…? I always thought these two are the same things, unless you are talking about the difference between animation and artstyle…

  3. Cody says:

    read his last comment and it explains what he means. Think of kurenai. A really great look for the series even though I’m pretty sure it didn’t have huge production values (which showed at times).

  4. Ippo-kun says:

    I got bad reviews because the first episode was just that bad imo. I checked it out because you said the action was awesome. It just plain sucked to me.

    This is not a terrible series by no means, but fear of spending time watching another episode 1 is what turned me off.

  5. BlueYoshi says:

    chenshang: It’s not all budget. Camera angles, lighting effects, etc. Another series that is a “visual feast” is Shion no Ou, and I bet it’s budget was lower than Kurenai’s (haven’t seen that anime yet, or this one, cause there are no subs).

  6. Nice to know about past series. There are several ways you can store your valuable comic book collection. Comic book storage is really quite versatile.

  7. Marlon says:

    ;), intresting Review.
    But as you said, it’s not subbed, only one epi -_-, which means I have to wait till the torrents of the DVD version get on the web before I can take a look at it

  8. win says:

    i am one of those few that is following the series. i don’t quite understand all the reasons for the bad reviews behind this series and from what i heard, many are turned off by the character design.

    even though this is not my favourite anime of the season, but i must give thumbs up to ultraviolet for its smooth storyline that i am able to follow most of the time. 044’s feelings as a clone are also well conveyed.

    one aspect that i don’t like about this series is the darker colour tones used most of the time. sometimes it made it difficult for me to read the characters’ facial expressions.

  9. windy says:

    This series is great!!!!! I’ve just watched it and I must say I completely loved it, how is a series like that could actually receive bad reviews, everything here is so well build and the chrter-development is awesome too. The fact it gives way to emotions too. I really didn’t expect such a great series, cause i haven’t heard much about it before, but now I’m totally impressed!!!Even if sometimes it was so sad, this sadness somehow gave place to happiness ( when Luca and 044 were together, it was so moving!). There’s just one thing I think I didn’t get, 044 disappeared at the end, well did she died cause the building exploded and who was that clone ultraviolet, her original? If she died it’s so sad, well she wasn’t supposed to live more than three years but anyway it’s so sad! It was thanks your review that I’ve come to know about it , thanks a lot!

  10. windy says:

    By the way, I really liked the dark colors and the chrter -design, it was smth really new in anime and i must admit this style was really good, it was beautyful !!!And even in japoneese I ‘ve got all the plot, so even if there are no subtitles, no need to wait for them in order to watch that. If you know some words of japoneese , it’s enough.

  11. psgels psgels says:

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one who liked this. :)

    And the Ultraviolet-bit is a reference to the movie. Bad as it may have been, Ultraviolet played the main character here, and that last bit tied the whole series into the universe of the movie.

  12. windy says:

    Have you seen the movie? I think I’m gonna see it then, because the series and the movie must be linked somehow, I guess, right? Well, anyway I completely agree with all your review, it’s a series people really should give a chance but,unfortunately when a series isn’t subbed it gathers less attention and that fact prevents other people from watching it, I know that quite well, but it shouldn’t be, cause there are lots of really good series which are not subbed or a long time later and besides I can’t say it’s a real pb cause we can understand just by watching and getting a few words.

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  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 08:15 PM)
    @Aidan Lol, Medusa was a different story- she had no known fighting tool by which she could be classified, which is why it was so easy for them to make shit up for her. Whereas with the heros we know what weapons they used, we don’t have as much leeway.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 08:02 PM)
    Alright I can get on board with Joan of Arc and Saber looking very similer, even mordred has a good excuse. But this is just a shoddy attempt to avoid not having the Fate/stay night poster girl in a game.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:59 PM)
    @K-Off, not really. I mean Medusa is a rider and the mythlogical beast is hardly know for riding a vehilce. All you really need to do is make there noble phantasm related to the class. Still would you even want anyone from the later centuries? The mythlogical heroes were OP as f*ck.
    Also Emperor Augustus has already been summoned as a servent. And get this…it’s red saber.
    http://typemoon.wikia.com/wiki/Playable_Saber_(Fate/Extra)
  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:28 PM)
    Thing is, the whole system kind of breaks the fuck apart once you bring in people from beyond the 17th century. Swords weren’t a primary weapon anymore so there wouldn’t be any sabers, unless you count bayonets, lancers are obsolete, and the rest is the same as well.
  • k-off
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:09 PM)
    @Emma Eh, George Washington, General William T Sherman, Guy Fawkes, Emperor Augustus, Julius Caesar, Andrew Jackson, Simo haya, Alvin York, the list goes on friend.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:58 PM)
    This leads me to ask, what historical people would you all think would make interesting servants in the grail war? Ones that haven’t been covered. What class would they cover?
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:22 PM)
    He wouldn’t be able to do much as an archer though, considering that it does not have presense concealment. But if he was summoned as a Assassin…hmmm…interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 01:18 PM)
    @Bam, there is a sniper class. It’s called Archer. It’s just that the archers in fate/stay night and Zero are not typical Archers. The Archers from Fate/apocrypha are more like real archers. And they would give Simo Häyhä a run for his money. Though funny enough I think Simo may actually qualify to be summoned as a servent of the archer class. Wonder what his noble phantasm would be?..
  • Bam
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 10:31 AM)
    The cast of FS/N should thank the heavens that there’s no Sniper class, otherwise all the masters would’ve been wiped out without even knowing who the fuck is taking them out. Shout-out to my man Simo Häyhä AKA The White Death.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Nov 24. 2014 07:46 AM)
    @K-off: I’ve seen you’re a fan of westerns have you come across this film or read the book it was based on?
    http://emma-hime.deviantart.com/art/Review-The-homesman-496287407

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