Saturday, December 31, 2011

UN-GO Final Thoughts--What is Truth?

UN-GO Review Screenshot 1

The rest of you can keep Gosick, Dantalian and Kamisama no Memochou. UN-GO was the best mystery anime this year.

UN-GO Review Screenshot 2 UN-GO Review Screenshot 3 UN-GO Review Screenshot 4

While everyone (including myself) was talking about what a disappointment Guilty Crown was, and how the noitaminA television block was selling out and would never be the same again, this show was accomplishing something different and truly engaging. Most people stopped watching after the first two episodes, saying that it was either a) too obvious with its mysteries, b) too confusing with its mysteries, or c) Inga was too weird a deus ex machina character that would obviously ruin the show. These people missed out. These people missed out. UN-GO is a show that's not really concerned with the who or how in its mysteries, focusing on why instead. Taking full advantage of its futuristic post-war setting, UN-GO's characters are wrapped up in a complex web of individual morality, their stories ringing true with events that are happening in this day and age, on the other side of the screen. For example, the first two-part episode deals with a scientist who's breakthrough A.I. technology was censored by the government because of its inappropriate use. All of the arguments that the scientist makes against censorship are valid...but it's hard to take him at face value when he's also presented as a pedophile, using his creation to live out his fantasy.

UN-GO Review Screenshot 5 UN-GO Review Screenshot 6 UN-GO Review Screenshot 7

As the series progresses the mysteries become increasingly multilayered, giving the viewer enough information to go on to draw their own conclusions while dropping subtle hints about the actual solution. The answer to the final whodunnit is even hidden in the ED of the show, right in front of our faces the entire time. And of course, there's the supernatural element; rather than becoming the deus ex machina that detractors feared, Inga became the most compelling character in the show. UN-GO wouldn't have succeeded so well as a morality play if it hadn't had such well-executed characters. The main character, Shinjuurou, may be on a quest for truth, but that doesn't mean that his judgement can't be clouded by his own misguided assumptions about people. His "rival," Kaishou, has enough power to alter how the world sees the "truth" as he wants, but is that really so wrong when the alternative is unbalancing an otherwise peaceful social order? The only other show that brought up this many interesting questions about society was Penguindrum. The only thing going against this show is its time constraint; despite all the interesting possibilities it brings up, there's only eleven episodes. While the ending does wrap up most of the major events that were going on in the show, it doesn't answer everything. Hopefully the extra episode that only ran in theaters will take care of the lingering plot threads. I highly recommend this series to anyone who was disappointed with the mystery offerings this year as well as to anyone looking for an anime that's a bit different and isn't afraid to ponder the thoughts about society that it brings up.

Images from and Random Curiosity.


  1. Un-Go is the only mystery detective show that I followed this year. I was one of those people who was claiming that the mystery cases of the first 2 episodes were too obvious. But what made me stick around are the excellent characterization, engaging dialogues and wonderful OP and ED songs.

    Btw, another show this year that highly questioned about society is Hourou Musuko.

  2. The characterization was what made me stay as well, and I'm really glad that I can say that the cases get better as the show goes on, especially in episodes 3 and 4. And I love the soundtrack to this show. It fit every scene perfectly.

    I watched that as well! I'm really glad that there were more than a few anime shows this year that tackled questions about society.