Posted 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)

Posted on with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: Luka tries to rescue King, and more things happen which I’m not going to spoil here.
Highlights: So different from what I expected!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8.5/10
Whoa! That was actually a really good ending! This episode was among the best episodes of the entire series, and it exactly knew how to use the things it built up for, and carried them further. Here I just expected 044 to go after Luka in a sudden flash of guilt. Here I just expected Daxus II to easily finish off Luka, only for 044 to finish him. Oh, how wrong I was! I expected the final episode to focus on action. Instead, I got a final episode that focused on character-development.

As it turns out, 044 infiltrates indeed Daxus’ headquarters, but not because she wants to help Luka. Instead, Garcia managed to find out from who 044 was cloned (more on that below), and she wanted to meet that person, who just happened to be sealed inside Daxus’ headquarters. Instead, it’s none other than King who kills Daxus II. A very fitting combination, considering the things that Daxus had done to him.

I’ve seen quite a few solid series, where you’d expect a great ending from, disappoint in their finale. For example, Ghost Hound and Dennou Coil: both were very well written, and yet their endings were rushed, and in Ghost Hound’s case it was all over the place. Ultraviolet, though, manages to use exactly what it’s been building up for to provide some nice extra twists, like how Daxus II is actually a clone of his father, but refuses to admit it. Fear o fhis own identity fits his character exactly.

And of course, there was the twist that 044 is Ultraviolet’s clone. Now everything makes sense: she was the one who unconsciously spoke to 044, and this is also the explanation why 044 was such a badass fighter. This also laid an appreciated parallel to the movie, however bad it may have been.

Then there’s the aftermath: Daxus’ headquarters blows itself up. I didn’t quite catch why, but nevertheless it was a very fitting end to such an action series. I also loved how absolutely zero budget was spent on that explosion. It’s just about the opposite a normal action series would have done. I really appreciate the subtlety of it all.

And the three that survived in the end were Garcia, Matilda and Luka. I especially liked the way that Luka managed to survive: you never actually see the guy escape, he just lives. It’s up to the viewer’s imagination of how he managed to get out of that exploding building in time. I must say that it was a very nifty way of the creators to save some time, rather than to increase the pacing elsewhere and make the ending rushed. We don’t really need to know how Luka escapes. It’s irrelevant to the story. All we need to know is whether he survives or not.

And finally, Garcia. I really like how this series never put him into a love triangle with 044: he knew that she had feelings for Luka, and decided to help her as a friend, preventing this series from delving into a pointless love triangle. I think we can thank Matilda for that as well.

Posted on 10 September 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: 044 finally gets the chance to talk with Luka
Highlights: They were a bit sudden, but the love-scenes worked really well.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, one episode left! This show has the potential to make for a solid ending. This episode introduced enough subplots for this series to work with to fill one episode. I predict that the first half of the next episode will be Luka vs. Daxus, and the second half settles the score between 044 and Daxus, with both of them probably dying. In between, the cult leader and Garcia also probably have their minute in the spotlight, and this fits about perfectly in 20 minutes.

This episode was of course mostly about settling the score between 044 and Luka. Where he seemed like a raging gorilla in the previous episode, he came back to his senses in this episode, and seeing 044 trying to heal him worked really well. Although this episode was a bit rushed, it did get across the main point: Luka is a terrorist, nobody would care about him, and he lived his life probably without being loved, which is why he probably was able to just throw his life away for the cult. And then his big enemy comes and tells him that she genuinely cares about him. I can see love coming from that, especially since he already was in such a confused state.

Overall, the past season has been a really interesting one. For most of the seasons, I have too much series I want to blog for the amount of shows I pick up. For the past summer-season, this was the complete opposite: I had too little series that I really wanted to blog, so I could experiment with a few series. In cases like Mission-E this rather failed; looking back, I don’t really see what was so special about blogging it. However, I’m glad I decided to stick with this series. It’s been a really interesting short series. It’s never going to make any top-10 lists, but the intensity and direction-style has made this series worth watching.

One thing that I did notice in this episode: the lip-synching was really off… let’s hope the final episode will do this better.

Posted on 7 September 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: Luka (or what’s left of him) makes his re-entrance in this series.
Highlights: Mostly build-up, but an episode well-spent with lots of eye-candy.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Well.. so this week I decided to not watch the low quality raws from horribleraws (since these also mess with the video-resolution, which just doesn’t do justice to this series’ sense of visuals). This wasn’t the best timing for that decision, because it seems like the raw providers went on strike this week, explaining why this entry is so horribly late. Ah well, at least it’s not like Porfy no Nagai Tabi: it’s been TWO bloody WEEKS and still no episode 34.

In any case, like predicted, this episode started the final arc of this series. It’s of course mostly building-up, but it was an episode well-used, with especially Luka gaining some more depth. The woman he ran into was cute: she lost her boyfriend, and therefore picked him up for emotional support. There were some things I didn’t like, though. In the end, Luka found 044 due to a coincidence (this woman turns out to be a maid at the hotel 044 is staying at), and he may have been a bit too similar to a gorilla in this episode. Especially the red glowy eyes were a bit too much.

This was probably the lightest episode of the entire series (I was really surprised to see these characters in broad daylight ^^;), but at the same time, this finally allowed 044 to relax a bit, resulting into a touching scene where she was finally able to cry her eyes out and let the stress of all that happened to her go.

Okay, there are two episodes left. I think that the creators just need to focus on creating a solid final episode, centred on the action and style of the previous episodes. There’s no need for any fancy plot twists, and I can see this series actually finishing off with a satisfying climax, if the creators just do what they’re good at, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Posted on 27 August 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: Zakusa and Daxus’ armies face off against each other.
Highlights: An action-packed episode that works.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
Excellent episode. The building-up of the past few episodes really paid off with a very exciting episode. I’m glad that despite the negative reactions, I kept watching this series, because even though it’s nothing deep, complex or special, I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. Osamu Dezaki rocks!

There’s of course nothing much to say about such an action-episode, apart of course from Zakusa’s death, and how he still helped 044 and Garcia escape when his army finally got defeated. In the end, it turns out that he was also in the debt of Luka’s boss, the cult leader. These guys obviously have enough tricks up their sleeve for escape, since they’ve managed to stay hidden for that long. This also answers the question of “how the heck is Luka going to track down 04?”

This episode also showed that Daxus II is a very proud and cocky person, and he likes to gloat over his victims when he knows that they’re not a threat. That’s of course going to be the thing that’ll kill him in the end: my prediction is that he and 044 somehow face off together, after which her superior skills end up killing him. The question is of course how they get to that point, what Luka and Garcia can bring in and how the creators are planning to fill up those final three episodes.

Posted on 20 August 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: The scale is upped as 724 reveals an army’s worth of allies.
Highlights: Mostly building up… and still no Luka?
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Ooh, it really looks like this series is planning to go all out for its finale. This is the second building-up episode in a row, with just four episodes remaining. In this episode, 724 reveals that much more clones and numbers have followed him to that distant planet, and that he’s regarded as their hero. This episode also gave some more background to Daxus II, and if I say so myself, it was an episode well spent.

724 is really a person who attracts others. He not only did that with his clone comrades, but also the people who work in his mine greatly look up to him, to the point where they were actually willing to fight to the death. It was interesting how didn’t even give them the chance to bury their comrades. 044 didn’t do much in this episode (this episode was really meant to flesh out the side-characters), but that one fight scene of hers was pretty impressive; she actually wants to be stopped.

Also, I really wonder when Luka’s going to pop up. It’s surprising that there hasn’t been any sign of him for the past two episodes. He’s probably frantically looking for Ultraviolet, but as long as there’s no news about her, he obviously can’t do much. It would perhaps have been better to show a bit of footage of him, looking for 044, but on the other hand, this does add to the mystery of it all.

Posted on 12 August 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: Mainly a building-up episode where Daxus II searches 044’s location and 426’s past gets revealed.
Highlights: Garcia.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Ultraviolet is really one of those “anime as entertainment” series that does a wonderful job fulfilling its purpose. A lot of this is also thanks to Osamu Dezaki’s specific style of directing, and all the interesting camera-shots and angles and animation styles he throws at the viewer. This is exactly why I like anime that aren’t afraid to do something more with their graphics than just the necessary animation that matches their budget. I guess that that’s also one of my problems with 90% of all visual novel adaptations. It’s not just their premises that sound boring and formulaic, but nearly all of them (and their art/animation styles) just look the same, and hardly take any risks when it comes to animation, and instead they just go for the safest and laziest way (there are a number of notable exceptions, of course). I know that experimenting is much more financially risky than the tried and true formula (like this series showed), but a lot of my favourite series have experimental elements in them (the biggest of course being Mahou Shoujotai).

Okay, enough ranting for now, about the episode: 724’s little action of the previous episode indeed caught Daxus’s attention, and Garcia managed to accidentally get caught on camera when the incident was reported. Garcia, not knowing any of this and thinking that he’s safe, meanwhile goes to investigate on 724. I liked him in this episode, and how he seems to have himself devoted entirely to protect 044.

044 herself didn’t do much in this episode (Luka was also gone entirely; he doesn’t have a clue where 044 is, after all), but what was interesting is that she showed a more female side of her when her sickness that signals the end of her life popped up. I’m quite curious as to how the creators plan to end this series. There are five episodes left, and both Luka and Daxus II still need to do their thing, while at the same time 044 doesn’t have much time left anyway.

Posted on 5 August 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: 044 and Garcia manage to flee to a mining planet as Luka returns to consciousness.
Highlights: Fillers? This series? Hah!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
Ah, screw popular opinion, this series rocks. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it’s simple, yet effective. When looking at the plot in the big picture, it’s nothing special, nor anything pretentious, and yet the storyline keeps flowing smoothly throughout the episodes, with hardly any time to take a break. It’s the type of series you can just sit and watch, and at the same time it’s full of passion and manliness. The soundtrack is among the best of the season, I love Osamu Dezaki’s style of directing and the art style is a treat for any Osamu Tezuka fan, to see his style in a more serious and cyberpunk setting. In other words, I’m pretty much sold on this series.

This episode introduces a new character, another clone who seems to have returned to a mining planet that harvests a new sort of energy. The guy is quite an eccentric, but he seems to have chosen the side of 044, and I think that he’s had his problems with Daxus II as well, or else he probably wouldn’t have left him. He’s a bit stupid (beating up those goons will only make Daxus send stronger goons).

My favourite part of this episode was Luka’s bit, though. The guy has been unconscious for episodes, has no idea what went on and when he gets back to his comrades he gets accused of high treason because his biggest enemy turns out to have saved his life. I’m eager to see the moment where he sees 044 again: 044 should still be in love with him, and I have no doubts that the guy is curious as to why the heck he was saved.

Posted on 4 August 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: 044 tries to get rid of 724 and his henchmen.
Highlights: Solid action that knows when to stop.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Here’s one thing I don’t get: why the heck is this series getting so much hate?! I mean, I can understand how people can dislike this series: the art style, dark mood and Osamu Dezaki’s direction style aren’t for everyone. But when I look at sites as AniDB and MyAnimeList, with their abysmally low rating for this series and read some of the comments about this series, I just can’t seem to understand where all this hate is coming from.

This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged (and enjoyed) a series that was hated by a large amount of people, but at least there I could understand why people were hating it: the lead characters of Night Head Genesis did whine an awful lot. It’s obvious that they’re going to get on the nerves of many people. El Cazador was all about its characters, so if you don’t like them, then there’s nothing much left of it. Blade of the Immortal has been based on a rumoured excellent manga, so of course people will be disappointed if a studio like Bee-Train gets the rights to animate it. For Ultraviolet, I just can’t imagine any reason why someone would really label this as the worst show of the season.

Granted, the only really bad thing of the first episode of this series was the huge amounts of fanservice, but that doesn’t really explain the low ratings. First of all, series with fanservice are often popular in the online crowd (as demonstrated by series as To Love-Ru, Kanokon, Sekirei and Code Geass), so why should this be any different? Second of all, the fanservice was nowhere near as bad or blatant as in series as the ones mentioned above. And third of all, the fanservice disappears nearly entirely after the second episode anyway.

So someone, enlighten me. Why the heck is this series so bad? Why has this series the most amount of “suckage” when compared to all other series that aired this Spring and Summer?

In any case, this episode was more action-packed, as 044 gets rid of 724, who turns out to have been jealous of her all along, as number two in the organization. At the same time, Mathilda and Garcia (who probably are also in trouble, seeing as how they helped their friend 044 kill off many of Daxus II’s subordinates) seem to be joining her, and reveal a bit more about her past.

There were a lot of fight-scenes in this episode, they were obviously not the best animated (probably due to lack of budget), but they were interesting to watch nonetheless. I’m interested to see where this series is going now: 044 is free now, and Daxus II can’t track her down anymore. 044 will probably go after Luka, but what’s going to happen after that?

Posted on 23 July 2008 with categories: Ultraviolet: Code 044

Short Synopsis: An intermezzo, without much action, but much character-development and introductions.
Highlights: The new characters should prove interesting for the rest of this series.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Okay, so even though this was a quiet episode, it still delivered, as it made perfect use of the extra time for the characters to reflect upon themselves, and it also made 044 see how stupid she was acting considering her love. There’s no guarantee that when Luka wakes up, he’ll be in love with 044 too, and he’ll probably just return to his comrades.

In the meantime, she also removes the chip that Daxus II used in order to track her down. He’s just like 044 in a way: he too is obsessed over another human being, to the extent where she’s more important than his job, and he’ll use all of his influence to get her back. In the same way, 044 will use al of her powers in order to protect Luka, even though she hardly knows anything about the guy.

The new people introduced included some sort of cross between a gang-boss and a fashion-victim, who was after the reward put on 044’s head. This episode also introduces Luka’s comrades, who come and retrieve him at the end of the episode. It’s interesting how they seem to be connected to Mathilda somehow. Then there are some acquaintances of Garcia, who haven’t done much yet.

I must say that Madhouse is pretty much turning into my favourite production-company this year. They may have had certain flops with Allison and Lillia and Kamen no Maid Guy, but the majority of their series that aired this year all had interesting premises, looked fresh and had deep storytelling. The problems I’ve once had with the studio was when they kept disappointing me over and over with Kaiji, the second season of Black Lagoon, the finale of Akazukin, Claymore and Shigurui and the large amount of hiatuses and recaps from Dennou Coil and Saiunkoku Monogatari, but ever since the spring-season, these guys have been better than ever.


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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:46 AM)
    @Kaiser: so far it’s good. I’ve been hearing the buzz but I wished someone had nodged me to watch it sooner.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:42 AM)
    You’ve reminded me Bam that I’d been meaning to pick up ash vs the evil dead sometime.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:39 AM)
    @Kaiser: the remake was still pretty entertaining, but it lost the silly comedy edge the series was known for. I still think that the 2nd film had the most unique and prominent voice of its own, and all of that is present in the new series’ pilot. If anything Raimi cranked it up a couples of notches here and there.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:35 AM)
    There was a mean spirited feel to the remake I found pretty appealling.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:27 AM)
    @Kaiser: the original Evil Dead was playing the horror genre straight, but it had a strata of slap-stick that was partially unintended. With Evil Dead 2 he doubled down on the strange horror/comedy dynamic and it became fantastic. Army of Darkness was very entertaining, but it strayed very far from the series’ roots. The remake was only produced by Raimi, while he got back on the writer/director chair for the pilot of the new series, and proved that he still got it sharp as ever.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:19 AM)
    Then again I believe Raimi was fairly involved with the remake.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:18 AM)
    The remake as far as remakes go should have been worse but it worked much better than I would have thought and I say this as someone who hates reboots/remakes.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 04:16 AM)
    @Bam: I’ve only partially seen the first evil dead but I don’t think its aged well, the second one I’ve seen and its hugely entertaining later on but its army of darkness that was the most enjoyable of the three for me.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Dec 1. 2015 03:47 AM)
    Wow Ash Vs the Evil Dead 01 was a blast; I really should’ve gotten into this sooner. I was smiling thru most of it, either because it was funny or slap-stick gory, or because it was a blast to see that Sam Raimi still got it. I guess the only time that Evil Dead works is when he’s involved. Seeing Bruce Campbell again with the chainsaw was a treat which I didn’t know I needed in my life.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Nov 30. 2015 10:31 PM)
    I’m trying not to get my hopes up however, given that it wouldn’t be surprising if he gave us another filler chapter like he did with that pointless flashback.

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