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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  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:54 AM)
    The episode was alright and felt dense as I watched it, but in hindsight only really moved the plot forward incrementally. Lancer not untying Tohsaka as soon as he killed Kirei and then not killing Shinji when he clearly had the chance left a bad taste in my mouth. That and Shirou’s heavy plot armor at this point is becoming reminiscent of another famous anime dual-wielder. Not a compliment.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:46 AM)
    UBW 20 felt like another rendition of Eva 26 (Take care of yourself), complete with character analysis, battle with one’s Jungian Shadow, and loosely Buddhist ideas of self-actualization. It even featured the repetitive monologue shots that fade to black (with “I saw Hell” instead of Rei’s “Sky. Red, red sky”). It never went as far as Eva with “which way is up?” type of Soliloquy, but that’s probably a good thing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.

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