Un-Go anime review Box art

  • Genre: All of them
  • Episodes: 11
  • Studio: Bones


In the not too distant future a slightly dystopian Japan is the grips of political unrest trying to right itself after a series of devastating terrorist attacks. Private detective Shinjuurou Yuuki makes his living trying to bring some law and order to these chaotic times with the help of his really weird partner Inga and Rie, the daughter of Rinroku Kaisho who is the director of this huge company but also a super sleuth recluse who helps out the police. Also there are actual police detectives, and this illegal super advanced AI who takes on the form of a little robot girl and a shape shifting, gender swapping, soul eating demon. No one has ever accused this show of being by the numbers – possibly cause no one has seen it.  

I’ll admit I’m a bit of a Studio Bones groupie. They have released a lot of shows that I really enjoyed and tend to put out very pretty animes. When I came across Un-Go with that intriguing nondescript title and attractive character designs, I figured I had stumbled onto an undiscovered gem. Well I had definitely stepped in something.

Un-Go anime review
Intriguing, right?

Bones makes pretty animes. Their body of work speaks for itself. I wouldn’t call the general art styles they choose particularly avant-guard (with the possible exception of Soul Eater cause that was interestin lookin) but they are always well designed, highly detailed and just beautifully executed visuals. Un-Go is no exception. The settings are well plotted, interesting but architecturally sound. Each character looks unique and has their own style. I noticed that there did not seem to be any accepted fashion trend as everybody dressed very differently. This is fine and nice to look at but not very true to life.

Un-Go anime review
Based on these costumes, guess the time period – go ahead.

I’m going to repeat myself and insist that Bones knows exactly what they’re doing when it comes to anime but in this case, I have no clue what they were doing. The story is just so messy that it pretty much loses all internal integrity. That was the clearest summary I could come up with. Since this is an original series, not based on a manga or light novel, I really don’t understand what could have happened. I think maybe there was a string of ring like unexpected tv ghost based deaths among subsequent writers for the show and no one knew what the previous author had in mind. Yup, that’s probably exactly what happened. Now I’m a little sad.

Un-Go anime review dead body
Those poor writers

The show never seems to figure out what it wants to be. It’s part police procedural, part supernatural adventure, part political thriller, part existential drama and part Sci Fi. I’m not saying that a show has to stick to a single genre or that different themes can’t be mixed in but some effort has to be made at cohesion. Here all these elements are each given a huge importance in the story but never quite mesh together. Every other episode I found myself thinking – oh well this could be the start of something interesting, just to have it get dropped a few episodes later. As a result, the show feels like nothing so much as a series of aborted arcs without any satisfying resolutions at all.

Un-Go anime review
Wonder where this is going? (nowhere)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there wasn’t anything of interest but nothing was given the time needed to develop into any sort of substantial plot. The characters suffer similarly. They all seem to have potential but the show tries so hard to be mysterious they just end up as vague outlines.

Un-Go anime review
I’m so proud of this pic choice!

The sad part is that the foundations of a really good show are clearly visible but never built upon. I would love to see Bones take a another pass at this. My suggestions would be to trim down that storyline, concentrate on one or two elements and make some attempt at making the character relatable in any way. Sadly, I can’t recommend Un-Go to anyone unless you want to see how to waste a ton of obvious talent.

Un-Go anime review
Sometimes this guy is a creepy little girl

Favorite character: Little Inga

What this anime taught me: Horseback is the most efficient mode of transportation.

Time is never wasted when you’re wasted all the time

Suggested drink: The Ol’ Switcheroo

  • Every time Izumi wears a cape – take a drink
  • Every time Inga transforms – take a drink
  • Every time someone’s soul gets eaten – have a snack
  • Every time exposition is dumped on Rie – take a drink
  • Every time Rinroku leaves the house – take a drink
  • Every time we see Inga’s doll – hug a pillow
  • Every time the fourth wall is broken – take a drink
  • Every time someone rides horseback – take a drink
  • Every time the show switches genres – sigh

Un-Go anime review

7 thoughts

  1. I’d read this was based on an Ango Sakaguchi novel, hence the name “Un-Go” (according to the katakana, the first part of the title is pronounced “ahn-go” like the author’s name).

    I have quite the mixed feelings about this anime, although it’s been a few years since I watched it – the Inga Nikki short episodes and Inga-ron movie might have something to do with that…

    If Concrete Revolutio (directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Sho Aikawa, just like this one) is anything to go by, the mess of a plot and mixture of genres is their fault and not the studio’s. That said, ConRevo is full of themes through reading between the lines while this one has some themes, but they’re much harder to parse.

  2. Sorry to hear that the anime was a disappointment. Bones has a good track record with both their popular shows and some of their lesser known ones (Kurau: Phantom Memory is definitely underrated). Looks like this had so much potential, but they never saw it through. What a bummer.

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