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
(*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)