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Un-Go Complete Collection Anime DVD Review

8 min read

Un-Go Complete Collection
Un-Go Complete Collection
The Last Great Detective can never quite bring it all together the way he might like, but it’s a fun ride nonetheless

What They Say:
Some call him the “Last Great Detective.” Others call him the “Defeated Detective.” What’s certain is that he’s Shinjurou Yuuki, a young man with a passion for mysteries and a talent for solving them that has made him the target of dark forces now stirring within the sinister underworld of a near future Tokyo.

That could prove lethal, given that not even the other “good guys,” including the police, are exactly on Shinjouro’s side. Fortunately Yuuki’s not completely on his own, and with the aid of his uniquely talented associate Inga, he’s ready to cut a swath through the veils of secrecy that have been laid before him.

Contains episodes 1-11 plus the prequel episode 0.

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing, I listened to the English 2.0 dub. A Japanese 2.0 track is available too. Technically, there was nothing wrong with the video, though at this point I am well conditioned to want a 5.1 surround mix rather than a 2.0 stereo one. With this being a dialogue driven show, I’m not too sure how much a surround mix would have added to the overall effect, but I still notice when it’s not there. Your mileage may vary.

Video:
Again, there is technically nothing wrong with the video in this release. The colors are bright, the lining is clean, and there were no noticeable moments of artifacting or distortion. My only real complaint was a general softness to the image, but I’m willing to accept that is more because I am so used to watching BluRay releases at this point that the lower visual clarity of DVD is noticeable. I don’t think it’s a flaw with the transfer.

Packaging:
The three discs for this release are in a single-width amaray case with a center insert to hold two of the discs. I like this setup because it is so clean and compact, which my shelves really appreciate. The cover has an image of Shinjurou standing in front of a blaze near an ancient temple with the adult form of Inga wrapped around him. It’s not a bad image, but it doesn’t really stand out either. With the dark background, Shinjurou and Inga are supposed to be the focal point of the image, but it is zoomed out enough that they lose prominence in it too. As I said, it’s not a bad image, but I might have liked a better composition for the cover of the case.

Menu:
Another case where I’m so used to how interactive menus on BD releases are that this seems underwhelming on first glance, and I don’t think the bland look of it is helping matters at all. The main menu has a purple background with the series logo to the left and a main character to the right. The selections are available along white bars coming in diagonally from the bottom of the screen. The purple highlight can sometimes blend in the background, but it’s generally not an issue. Again, the reality is that it is a perfectly functional menu system, which is all you really need, but, like the cover, I might have liked a better design.

Extras:
There’s a good amount of stuff to check out here. Aside from the standard clean OP/ED, we’ve also got quite a few promotional videos including the omake-style “Inga Nikki” videos used to promote the cinematic release of the OVA and a 20-minute interview with Ango Sakaguchi (the novelist whose on book Un-Go is based). The biggie, though, is the inclusion of the 50 minute OVA that explains how Shinjurou meets Inga and becomes the Defeated Detective. This was released theatrically in Japan, and an argument could have been made for giving it its own release, so I am happy that it was included here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shinjurou Yuuki is a brilliant detective—so brilliant that he’s never failed to solve a case he has taken on. Continually at his side is his boss, Inga; while Inga usually takes the guise of a young boy, when necessary, she reveals her true, adult form. While in her true form, she has the power to force a single person to answer a single question, which she typically uses to ring a confession out of the person Shinjurou has pinpointed as the culprit. Between the two of them, they are virtually unbeatable.

Unfortunately, Shinjurou has picked up the moniker of “The Defeated Detective,” all thanks to a single person: Kaishou Rinroku. Kaishou Rinroku is another brilliant detective, one who has gained quite a substantial amount of political clout through his business dealings. Despite rumors of his own shady connections to the underworld, he is popular among the people and has the pull to cover up any story he feels necessary.

So while Shinjurou pours all of his energy into discerning the truth, Kaishou Rinroku often comes along behind him and rewrites that truth, often in the name of protecting the overall public good. Shinjuro knows and accepts this and does not let it deter him from what he perceives as his duty. But when Kaishou Rinroku is finally caught in a scandal of his own, Shinjurou finally sees it as his chance to beat Rinroku at his own game. The only question is whether Rinroku really is trapped in a corner, or whether Shinjurou is caught in another one of Rinroku’s elaborate plots.

I knew absolutely nothing about Un-Go heading into it. In fact, until I looked into it when it came up for review, I hadn’t even heard of it. While it sounded interesting enough, I have to say that the first few episodes really didn’t do anything to draw me in. Like many anime, the first few episodes were short story arcs that are more designed to introduce the characters and the concept for the series. I like mysteries, and the whole “Defeated Detective” concept was neat, but for some reason, it was just falling flat for me.

Part of it, I think, was that there was almost too much mystery from the get go. I won’t go so far as to say that this started In Medias Res because it didn’t, but it does just throw you into it and semi expect you to know who everybody involved is. It is really confusing. I eventually put it all together over the course of the series, but the confusion took a lot away from the early episodes.

The biggest mystery, of course, is who is Inga? During the early parts of the series, there is little to suggest that there might be anything supernatural to the story; all of the cases are fairly straight forward, and (most of) the characters are normal. But not Inga. As I said before, she normally appears as a young boy, but when occasion demands it, she will morph into her true form and force a person to answer a question. It’s a neat idea, but where it is the only source of the supernatural until late in the game, it does seem out of place. So I found myself constantly wondering who she was, not necessarily in a good way. And frankly, we don’t get that answer until the 50 minute OVA on the extras disc. It’s never actually explained in series.

And there is a lot of mystery surrounding Shinjurou as well. Though he bosses her around, it’s obvious that Inga has some sort of hold over Shinjurou, so what is it? Is he a naturally gifted detective, or has her powers influenced him? And if Rinroku frustrates him so much, why does he never challenge Rinroku’s decision to rewrite history, even if in just private? There’s just so many questions from the get go, that it’s almost too much to handle. The fact that the characters all seem to know the answers to these questions and so they act as if nothing is out of place just makes it worse.

But while I had trouble getting into it initially, I do have to say that I really liked how it all came together at the end. If you have ever read Harry Potter, you’ll know just how much the final volume ties all of the books together and how even the smallest, insignificant detail in the first book could have profound meaning when all was said and done. Un-Go has a similar setup. While the first few episodes appear to be trivial with little meaning other than to establish the series, when Shinjurou is putting it all together later on, he starts finding out how they are all connected together and how they continue to influence things. Instead of putting together this final mystery, in a way, we get to watch him put together the entire series and figure out how it all fits. It’s pretty fascinating.

Frankly, because of this, I almost wish the series was longer. At only eleven episodes, it doesn’t have a whole lot of time to develop. Early on, I was glad that I was only going to have to sit through eleven episodes as it just wasn’t drawing me in. Seeing where they took it and how they tried to bring it all together, I now feel like there’s a lot of unrealized potential in there. It needed to cook a little bit longer, I think, to really get what they were looking for. And knowing what I know now, I’d be interested in watching it again to see if I feel the same way about the early episodes as I did the first time.

In Summary:
Un-Go was a series that I really had a hard time getting into but was digging at the end. Because of this, I actually feel like it was cut a bit short whereas I had been worried it was going to overstay its welcome. With just eleven episodes, it won’t require much dedication in terms of time, but I think the effect they were trying to achieve with the final story arc could have been better with more development earlier on. Those first few episodes were a chore on initial watching, but if you can get through them, Un-Go might be worth checking out. Mildly recommended.

Features:
Inga Nikki Shorts, Chapter of the Inga Alternate Opening, Un-Go “All Night” Events, Japanese Promotion Video “Retake,” A Coversation with Ango Akaguchi, Japanese Spots, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System

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