Posted on 5 May 2012 with categories: Un-Go

Fr4anchise based movies have always been this interesting beast and I’ve noticed myself that it’s always difficult to rate them. I’m not sure why, but the format of a movie is rather difficult to correctly mesh with the format of a movie; that’s how different these two formats are. And on top of that, there are so many different ways in which to execute these movies: sequel, prequel, side-story, filler, completely new story, background movie, recap story, done in the same style, with a completely different style or a style that’s similar, but not quite the same, or just going for an entirely different alternate retelling. All these options have had their examples that worked really well and that didn’t work at all. Un-Go went with a prequel movie that’s done in the exact same style as the TV-series. And it delivers.

This movie is set to answer some of the questions that are left behind by the TV-series. Not all of them, unfortunately. We get to see a lot of details and new information on the two leads, along with Bettenou, and it subtly answers a few questions about the final arc of the TV-series. Characters like that one prisoner however never make an appearance. For me though, this series did answer as many of the most lingering questions without forcing things in and I’m overall very happy with the result. Shinjirou, Inga and Bettenou definitely emerged as better characters out of it.

Now, the reason why I’m not going to rate this movie is because it really is just another episode of Un-Go. It fits right in with the series, unlike for example the Eden of the East Movies. If you’d package this as a 13-episode series, you wouldn’t notice the difference. This movie blends in perfectly, it rocks for the same reasons as the TV-series, and if you’ve liked the TV-series, then there is no reason to not watch it.

The storytelling really packs the same punch that made the TV-series so good, combining interesting characters with a fast-paced dialogue and throwing in many twists along the way that lead into very satisfying conclusions. Again it succeeds in fleshing out quite a few new characters in a minimal amount of time; something that very few other series can boast. It’s all-around enjoyable and had me consistently fired up.

Posted on 22 December 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Un-Go



Ah, the Noitamina Timeslot. It’s been going solid for more than six years now. Making a Noitamina series is a tricky thing to do, especially with the way that timeslot has evolved during the past three years. Series in it need to be both ambitious, yet fit in a very limited time and space (with only a few exceptions). There have been quite a few who miscalculated on this, like what happened with No.6, Eden of the East or C. Or Library Wars, Jyu Oh Sei and Moyashimon for that matter.

Here comes a show that does this in a different way, though. Un-Go realizes that its time is very limited, and yet it tries to put a lot of stuff in each of its episodes. This is a formula that can screw up in so many different ways, and yet here the creators actually nailed that balance that gets everything right. This show is half-episodic and half-continuous story, and for each of its arcs, even the ones that just take place in one episode, it makes sure that their murder mystery stories deliver. It’s great at build-up, and the twists it delivers all kick ass. It’s fast, but never too fast or too rushed. It’s definitely something where you need to pay attention if you want to be able to get it, but that’s the great thing: it forces you to think and pay attention.

As for how this show managed to be able to do this? Well, it just has no space reserved to flesh out the characters. There are no scenes in this series where we can just see the characters take a bit of time, and show off their characters’ sides. Every scene and line of dialog has a meaning to the plot. This posed another challenge to the creators, because they had to find another way to make these characters interesting and make them carry the story. The result is that the characters are fleshed out through their actions, ways of speeches and their reactions. It’s all carefully intertwined with the dialogue. This doesn’t lead to the most memorable cast, but still to one that works. The characters in this series somehow end up being fun and nice to watch.

The mysteries in this series are also carefully intertwined with this series’ setting. It’s post apocalyptic, but it uses this really well to spice up its stories, and it does so in quite some imaginative ways. This series really loves to pull heel-turn twists, in which things turn out to be completely different from what they seem at first. You can definitely see that a lot of time was spent on the script of this series, and that makes it consistently enjoyable for those who are in for something with a very fast pacing. It may seem overwhelming at times, but it’s because of this that the creators were able to put so much in so little time and somehow make it work.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Some excellent mystery storytelling here. Very fast paced, though.
Characters: 8/10 – They’re not fleshed out in the usual ways, but they still have some nice details to them.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Very solid graphics, but in particular the music backs up the show really well.
Setting: 9/10 – Uses its setting really well in the backgrounds of each of its stories, with a great look at modern technology.

Suggestions:
Mononoke
Shigofumi
Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei

Posted on with categories: Un-Go

And here we have Un-Go’s ending, which I must say pleased me a lot. There are some parts that never got answered, like what really went on in the previous arc, but this was very worthy as a finale itself.

Probably the weakest part was the motivation of the bad guy, which while plausible, also felt a little weak. I personally believe that he also had a grudge against Kaishou’s practices during the war, and that that together, along with coming in the possession of someone as powerful as Bettenou caused him to do it.

This was a great murder mystery though. What made it especially interesting was that Kaishou, despite being innocent in this case, still isn’t entirely clean. He could easily have pulled off something like what he was framed for, and I think that that was what made the previous episodes so believable. The string of revelations at the studio also was great. The pacing again caused the story to come together very nicely.

What’s also interesting is that this episode didn’t have the biggest budget. It was mostly just very good explanation and exposition, with one really big explanation. Suddenly Inga came up from out of nowhere and started chasing Bettenou with some awesome animation. It probably wasn’t even the case of a big budget here, but rather that Bones got themselves one really good animator, and specifically put him on that particular scene. It works perfect to give a bit of an action-packed climax here in an otherwise dialogue-filled ending.

Overall, this season was unique in the way that my three favorite series all somehow ended up airing on the same day: for me Penguin Drum, Hyouge Mono and Un-Go rank as the top of the past three months, and Aikawa Shou did it again. I really like this guy as a scriptwriter and with this, he also shows that he’s great at noitamina series. There still is a prequel OVA left, to which this episode dropped a lot of hints. Looking forward to it!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 December 2011 with categories: Un-Go

Now that we’re nearing the climax, the dialogue in this series moves even faster than ever. But really: I don’t mind. In fact, I actually encourage this series to continue with this style, and where you really have to put in effort to follow everything. This is a great way to involve your audience, and it’s been a long while since I watched a series that did it so well. The best way to illustrate this effect is to mention Boogiepop Phantom: if you thought that this series moves fast, you haven’t seen anything yet: that series is a complete puzzle to figure out. Your mileage may of course vary very much, but I really enjoyed having to puzzle to get everything out of the story.

Bettenou’s powers proved to be a terrific end boss here. What the hell here is real? In this episode the creators also suddenly came with small details like this handkerchief that had been tampered with. On top of that, the creators keep throwing us for a loop with multiple attacks on Kaishou. It’s indeed a very plausible theory for him to fake his own death, but who was this shady figure who stood behind Bettenou in that one shot? And why would Bettenou ask Inga to expose some of Kaishou’s deep secrets if she was working together with Kaishou? And what about that taxi driver who happened to be familiar with that female investigator?

With one episode left, I’m pretty confident to say that Noitamina did it again: Un-Go so far stood head and shoulders above all other Autumn Season Series, and the other shows are going to have to try really hard next year if they want to be able to top it. I mean, if the ending actually delivers like I hope to, then this pretty much is the example of how to do a fast paced Noitamina right. Instead of just rushing through its storyline, it actually made optimal use of its time. Compared to No.6 or C, which ended up skipping details, this show actually managed to focus on them.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 8 December 2011 with categories: Un-Go

And with this, we’ve pretty much abandoned the episodic nature of this series and are heading off to the finale where everything will come together, even though we’ve still got to wait for the preview movie to explain everyone’s backgrounds.

There is some serious potential for the ending of this series. At this point we already know that the writers of this show are just terrific: in terms of storytelling. Along with Hyouge Mono and Penguin Drum, we’ve got three upcoming endings who really have the potential to become amazing. There is a very big but here though.

Simply: Bettenou will either make or break this finale. I say this because she has some really good points, but also some bad points. The good points turn her into one of the most interesting villains around: the mystery around her. it’s a very neat idea to have the main villain of a show be a master of illusions, who can even bend those illusions into reality. Because of this, there was no way of knowing what was real. This was a very paranoid episode, because how much of it really happened? When this was revealed, it made all the more impact.

At the same time though, all we got to see of her was a bunch of random images. Heck, did she even speak yet? At the moment she’s only being fleshed out through her illusions, and the people’s reactions around her. This worked really well for Kaishou in this episode: as a side-villain he rocked. Again you don’t know exactly what his motives are, but there are a ton of possibilities with this guy. This show may not spend time fleshing out its characters, but it found some very interesting alternatives to still have a memorable cast by forcing us to read between the lines about them. As for Bettenou though, will that work as well? We’ve seen so little about her. Hiding a villain until the end is very tricky to pull off right. Blood-C pulled it off, but there the main villain’s air was all over the series. Un-Go is different and Beauteou is only one of all the different villains who all have hardly anything to do with each other.

It’s going to be important to bring everything together, and show the power of a conclusion of a semi-episodic series. Bring both the setting and characters to a new level, while retaining the same sense of storytelling that made the previous episodes so good.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 December 2011 with categories: Un-Go



Yet another amazing episode. Last week gave us one heck of a mystery, and this week did a terrific job of playing with it. From the start it was clear that this was some sort of illusion, but the how and why were what made it interesting. I love how the start of this episode showed what happened to the rest of the cast during the previous episode (especially Izumi was hilarious).

After that they found a very neat way to bring back Shinjuurou back to his senses and have him solve the murder. Or have him use Kaishou’s deduction in this case. What makes this interesting is that the novelist probably would have gotten away with things if it wasn’t for the people around Shinjuurou helping him, in particular Kaishou and Kazamori. The murder mystery was also very neatly wrapped up, and it indeed made great use of the previous episode’s build up in which the three actresses had no idea what to make of the script.

What’s also interesting is that Shinjuurou doesn’t care about retribution. So far in these past eight episodes, there has been no showing of victims getting punished or arrested: that all happens off screen. This may seem rushed, but remember why Shinjuurou is solving mysteries in the first place: it’s not because he wants to fight crime. Instead, he’s doing all this because he happened to be unfortunate enough to meet Inga, and he happened to be very good at solving mysteries. In order to keep Inga from running rampant, he continuously has to solve mysteries. What goes beyond that simply doesn’t involve him anymore.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 24 November 2011 with categories: Un-Go



Holy crap! This show just continues to get better and better. With this episode, it once again surpassed itself. This really was everything that an episodic series should be. And heck, this is why I’m a fan of the genre: because they’re able to put in episodes like this. What a trip.

To be fair though, the reason I’m a fan of this genre mostly stems from quite a few years ago. During the past few years the genre has dulled in a bit because it lost sight of what made it really special: the way in which it allows a much more diverse outlook on its story and setting compared to if it was just a continuous storyline. I’m not sure what caused the decline, but overall a big difference of episodic series of the last years is that nearly always, the episodic stories are kept similar to each other, with little chances to branch out, like what this episode of Un-Go did.

I’m not sure exactly why this happened. Heck, back in 2003 you’d even have series that were collections of short stories that are completely unrelated to each other (Human Crossing, Sentimental Journey, Rumic Theater). That’s something that’s completely unthinkable nowadays. Probably a factor was that around 5 years ago, fillers got really notorious. With the arrival of the internet, and how the number of anime each season exploded, audiences got less patient and random episodes that were meant to just fill time pretty much died out apart from kids’ series and popular shounen series. This lead to a huge decrease in filler episodes, but also episodes that want to try a different story for a change.

The suspense in this episode was really great. It was a very interesting idea to just stuff the male lead into this position where nothing makes sense, and it’s up to him to figure out not just what’s going on (this probably is an illusion), but also why everything is happening. It was delightfully paranoid, and the pacing of this episode was completely different from the rest of the series. I also liked how the actresses were used in this episode: on one hand their characterization was very good as they tried to relate to the plot in their own ways, but on the other hands this was about a movie that has girls running around in their underwear as some sort of criticism of modern entertainment. Un-Go may technically not be episodic because of how some of its episodes flow into each other, but it has the same air, in which it tries to flesh its setting and themes out through vastly different cases, and individual episodes that could very well be all perfectly fine standalone stories.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 17 November 2011 with categories: Un-Go



This show is clever. Every single episode contains a single story, but the first episodes of all the multi-episode arcs all contain these slight hints that things aren’t over with. This episode was the same: it already was a great standalone story, and yet there still are a few things that don’t add up.

Of course there was the obvious end of the episode, in which what feels like the main antagonist made his formal introduction, but also: why was the critic of this episode in jail? Why did Kaishou not reveal that he had this guy’s children taken away from their mother? Why did this guy refuse to ask Kaishou about what was up with the books? There is still a whole storyline here that has yet been explored, even though the end of this episode made it seem like the end of the story was reached.

In any case, this episode once again was just wonderfully written. Once again, this show just comes with twist after twist after twist, and things that seem completely random at first make complete sense once everything is revealed. Beyond that, in order to make up for the way in which this series doesn’t have time to carefully flesh out its characters, it does make the cast fun. This episode inserted these small jokes at the points where they didn’t get in the way of the real storytelling, and especially the android has helped here. This leads to quite an interesting chemistry between the characters.

Heck, I’ll be surprised if this show doesn’t end up as the best Bones show of the year.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 10 November 2011 with categories: Un-Go




Another excellent episode. Perhaps it wasn’t as good as the previous two episodes, but it still rocked, was well put together and very thoughtful. If only because of how it subverted a very common cliche: the big corporate bastard did it.

In this episode, even the main character got clouded by it, and the corporate bastard indeed wasn’t exactly Jesus in purgatory. He used the death of his subordinates for his personal gain and publicity and embezzled a ton of gold illegally. Normally in anime, this would be the bad guy. Instead though: he’s not a murderer. Finally we get a portrayal f these people that isn’t completely evil at its core.

Also, with the lack of time this show spends on characterization, I do have to say that it has found interesting yet subtle ways to still flesh out its main cast. This isn’t only done by making their beliefs and values a core part of each episode, but also with small things, like when Shinjuurou grabbed all the towels in the restroom. It perhaps doesn’t work as well as just showing these characters during moments when nothing plot-related is going on, but this works too.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 4 November 2011 with categories: Un-Go



Holy crap. So yeah, last week Un-Go already delivered my favorite episode of all of the new series of the Autumn Season. This week, it surpassed itself. Now this is storytelling!

This episode… it just turned everything about the previous episode upside-down. This episode was brilliantly written and delivered some amazing twists, in the same quick fire delivery of the previous number of episodes. This is also what I love about Science Fiction: there are so many different angles at which you can look at the evolution of technology. This show here is yet another completely new look at it.

On top of combining its plot with its philosophy, this episode also had those nice details, like the talking fridge that reminds you of eating more healthy foods as a poke towards those modern useless programs that exist today.

I also disagree that Un-Go’s pacing is too fast, like what happened to C. The differences between the two are subtle, but if this keeps up, Un-Go is going to end up much better. The thing with C was that it tried to flesh out its characters and develop them, while at the same time telling an epic story about money. Un-Go however is entirely focused on its storytelling and presenting its ideas and theories. It’s in essence a collection of stories, told by its characters and every single line and scene has its purpose. The result is a show with a flat cast, but an amazing sense of pacing, storytelling, twists and setting.

Oh, and on a final note: the music was on fire in this episode. More of this, please!
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 11:09 AM)
    @ninja: I certainly hope that they got better shit to do.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 11:08 AM)
    @Emma: I agree. I also had no clue that it was a Shoujo, tines have certainly changed. I enjoy me a Ray Mustang type of character every once in a while.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:52 AM)
    @Bam: Furthermore watching these ovas , its like being twelve again =P
  • Emma
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:49 AM)
    @Bam: Of interest twilight of the dark master is considered shoujo and its such a shame that the demographic has gone to for most part shit since the old days.
  • ninjarealist
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:48 AM)
    @Bam All this talk about drugs being bad is for the benefit of my personal NSA monitor. I just want them to know I’m right with the DEA. The NSA is reading everything we type so it’s nice to give them some fanservice when you can.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:48 AM)
    @Bam: And would you believe Akiyuki shinbou directed this? It was interesting enough to trace back to his early work/beginning of his directing style and compare it to now.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:46 AM)
    @Bam: I just finished twilight of the dark master, enjoyable nonsense. What I liked about these old ovas is that you don’t really end up caring about the why, you get a bit of fun violence, an artstyle you just don’t see enough of anymore, the plots are simple, quick, entertaining and digestable.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:31 AM)
    @Emma: easier said than done. The results of a mixture are often strangely unpredictable and quite overwhelming
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 08:21 AM)
    @ninja: a bit of an over-generalization don’t you think m8?
  • Emma
    (Friday, Nov 21. 2014 07:53 AM)
    @Friend: And speaking of scenes from a marriage, I really do wish that anime could, like some films like that, focus on a mature couple.

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