OP Sequence

OP: 「How to go」 by School Food Punishment
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼

「舞踏会の殺人」 (Butōkai no Satsujin)
“Murder at the Ball!”

UN-GO was probably one of my two or three most anticipated series going into the fall season. What a pedigree – NoitaminA, Mizushima Seiji (FMA, Oh! Edo Rocket) as director – much of the staff from FMA/OER, in fact – and based on the works of early 20th-Century novelist Sakaguchi Ango. On paper, this should have been at the top of the heap this season. Based on one episode, it has some work to do to get there.

While the premiere wasn’t bad by any means, it didn’t have a lot of success in drawing me into the premise. First episodes of mystery series are often tricky affairs, trying to balance the need to introduce the characters and setting with offering a compelling mystery to solve. While Mizushima-sensei certainly tried to do both, what resulted was an an introduction that felt rushed and a mystery that failed to pop.

While dressed in a modern and anime-friendly setting, at its core the premise is a classic mystery setup from the period. You have rival detectives – the “Defeated Detective” Shinjuro Yuki (Katsuji Ryo), seemingly so-called because though he uncovers the truth, the truth is always covered up and he’s made to look incorrect. His rival is the reclusive Professor Kaishou Rinroku (Miki Shin’ichiro), who doesn’t get out much and seems to like to make his big reveals from behind a desk. Kaishou has a teenaged daughter, Rie (Yamamoto Nozomi) who acts as his proxy in the premiere. There’s also a cast of assorted police and government busybodies who interfere with the casework, among them Police Securiy Chief Hayami Seigen (Irinu Miyu, in what appears to be a minor role) and Koyama Izumi (Honda Takako), the public prosecutor.

Where things get to get surreal is when Yuki’s sidekick Inga (Toyosaki Aki) comes in. Most of the time Inga appears as a young boy (I think) with a panda hat and panda paws on his hands, but he sometimes turns into a rather slutty-looking adult woman who has the strange ability to ask any person one question, which they must answer truthfully – understandably a useful tool for an investigative team. None of the whys and hows behind this are explained yet – they may never be, I don’t know – but it’s quite jarring in its contrast with the rather conventional (and non-supernatural) mystery aspects that seem to be the norm for the series.

I won’t waste much time on the initial mystery, which involved a President under investigation for embezzlement. The structure was a bit iffy and the motive of the killer even more so. It seems to have been used mainly as a way to introduce all the characters and to give us the lay of the land in terms of setting – sometime in the near-future when Japan has been at war with terrorists who’ve laid waste to much of the country. That’s fine, but so far it just feels like a lot of information that hasn’t been tied together. Characters were appearing, announcing themselves and disappearing like crazy and then, whoops! Something inexplicable just happened. Hopefully, this will all start to meld together next week now that the heavy lifting is out of the way.

I’m not panicking yet – it’s worth remembering that the initial mystery in BONES’ Gosick was pretty lame too, and that ended up being a good series. The difference for me is that the characters in that premiere made much more of an impact, where here they’re still one-dimensional. The show looked good in that slightly retro-modern BONES way, with the set pieces reminding me a bit of an older superhero comic but the character designs – angular, tall and a bit gothic – very Japanese indeed. Given the staff involved I have no doubt that this will be a competently produced and directed series. The key question is whether the story and characters will come alive in future episodes, and make the series engaging as well as competent.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Fantasy」 by LAMA
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼



  1. ok… I got to say, the episode looks very confusing… with all the factions and wars and the mysterious stuff…
    though it has a style that I really like, the setting is kind of refreshing blend of tech and history… and something interesting about Shinjuro and Inga’s past.
    hope to see more of it, and thanks for the coverage, Enzo

  2. With the amount of noitaminA failures lately, I’d almost consider it a success if Un-Go just remains competent. 😀 Still, I do hope there’s an actual story here, and it’s not just a mystery of the week, as there wasn’t anything particularly compelling about this mystery as a stand-alone incident. The fact that it centered around someone who sounds like was critical to the post-war recovery gives me some hope that the murder was simply a vehicle for exposition to give us the setting for a real story that spans through the limited episode count Un-Go will have.

  3. I think that this anime needs more characters like FMA did. If they went into so much detail for each character like FMA did, I think this series will become very good…but that won’t happen and they will just tell the story by focusing on those 2 main….yea yea yea

  4. I think I’m missing the point of Inga’s power somehow. Since she (I guess it’s a woman) can ask any question, why would she make the question so, I don’t know useless? Couldn’t she just have asked the woman why she killed her husband or if she indeed did so? Other than that I found the episode intriguing and am looking forward to more~

    1. I think you’re over-thinking it. Just think of it as a weaker version of Lelouch’s geass power, with the same restriction of only being able to use it once, and the same rather non-sensical applications of said power, and you’ll be just fine. 😀

      1. Yeah you’re probably right, but it just felt like that plot device was just added for the sake of putting in something supernatural…anyway I think they’ll probably explain it in later episodes why it is the way it is hopefully.

  5. I actually enjoyed the premiere, but I won’t deny that the mystery itself just felt way too rushed and just…it didn’t have enough build up at all. I would have preferred a 40 minute start-off like Kamisama no Memochou did, to be honest.

    I think my biggest problem is the idea that Inga is some kind of magical grown up woman. While in a way I guess this makes the whole ship that is Inga/Shinjiro…heterosexual? I am still confused at all of that. Hopefully we’ll have a good 10 episodes ahead of us to develop all of this out. But lately, a lot of noitaminA shows that are 11 episodes long have failed in pacing ([C], NO.6, Fractale) so I am worried.

  6. The mystery aspect of this show I found to be quite lacking. I pretty much suspected the wife the second she came in. They really ignored the obvious clues like the super blatant drugged drink she gave Rie to remove her from observing the crime and establish an alibi. Inga’s question was really quite a waste anyway as the motive could have been elucidated without supernatural means.

    Also, the premise that detectives are rendered obsolete by one L-wannabe with computer manipulation powers is iffy at best. The real world never really relies on private investigators or detectives for solving cases. This show seems to be trying to parallel reality other detective shows like Conan. I do hope it gets better, but the mysteries need to be less clear cut.

      1. The key difference, of course, being that mine is the correct one. ;-P

        Seriously – I liked Gosick, but I didn’t love it. But it still grabbed me more than this one did, at least so far. Ironically, GC seemed much more like the BONES show in the block to me.

      2. Gosick ended up having some of the densest characters I’ve ever seen. :/

        Oh, and Kiiragi you should start putting captions over your main screenshots like you did with OP. Kinda miss those.

      3. I thought Gosick was pretty good too but didn’t quite live up to my expectations in the end. Typical for Bones since they always struggle with pacing and it sort of leave a bad aftertaste. Nevertheless, it was a fun ride, and I think Kujou and Victorique are one of the best anime couples for the year ;D

        Seishun Otoko
  7. The School Food Punishment OP made it worth it in the end :p

    It wasn’t horrible, but what its trying to set up with the episode count leaves me skeptical. I’ll definitely be watching, hopefully it’ll be planned out well and not bog itself down trying to rush through things.

  8. Okay, the murderer’s intent and the mystery itself were just silly. Luckily enough, the other components were stylish enough and cool enough to pull me through the episode. The whole premise is fairly interesting, and the characters are foreign and strange – which makes them so much more interesting. Oh, and yeah, the music was pretty awesome.

    1. Yeah, the in-anime soundtrack was pretty decent. I even liked the OP and ED (I’m not a fan of mainstream J-Pop/Rock). OP had a great bassline, while the EP was a superb homage to old-skool eletro-pop (the breakbeats were sweeet!!)

      The plot itself isn’t special, I agree. I mean, it’s the same formula: reveal a pit of the main(?) character’s past in the intro, then “fast forward” to the usual episodic-ish setting. It’s definitely no Agatha Christie rival in terms or the “mystery”, for sure. What I liked was the overall presentation.

      Remains to be seen whether it’ll deliver on all fronts, but of all the series I’ve caught so far (Guilty Crown included), this one is currently the one I’m interested in the most (along with Working~!! and Ika-Musume, obviously)

  9. At least the opening is good…

    I’m mainly going to hold off a bit on this one and see where it goes. I WANT to like it, especially since there isn’t enough good mystery animes out there, but will see how it fares a few eps in and the intro stuff is presumably out of the way.

  10. What a quirky show! About half of the time it tries to keep a rather jovial atmosphere with a degree of matter-of-factness/level-headedness ala-Conan, while injecting some darker elements into things at critical moments; e.g. the post apocalyptic setting, and the political intrigue. Fresh, but definitely a little odd- an interesting formula, to be certain- yet the competency of its execution remains to be seen; it will have to prove itself over time. (only 10 more episodes to go…)

    I agree with Enzo that the motivation of the killer was a little iffy, but this ties into another more major concern of mine- in this episode it seemed like they were trying to weave the socio-political backdrop of the the show into the first case, and introduce it to the viewers all at once along with the characters; to kill two birds with one stone. It almost seems like they went with the iffy motivation simply because it was the best thing they could think of which would tie the case and the setting together- and the result was far from seamless. It certainly wasn’t damningly bad, but it did feel a rather forced.

    Which leads to my final, and greatest concern. If the socio-political backdrop of UN-GO’s world is as important to the plot as this first episode would seem to suggest, then I would expect it to play a significant role in many, if not all, of the subsequent cases for the rest of the season, and tie closely together with them. And consequently, if this first episode is any indication of this writing team’s level of competency at weaving political intrigue into cases, then color me as very worried about the future of this show.

    I know not how much of this 11 episode series is actually derived from Sakaguchi Ango’s works, or if it is 100% original and only inspired by the man’s work, but the more original material there is, the more worried I am, considering the level of (in)competence the writers of this show have demonstrated at weaving political intrigue into cases in this episode.

    Even so, like I said, while the construction of the first case certainly felt quite forced, it wasn’t damningly bad, and it is just the first episode after all. Perhaps the iffy marriage of the first case and the socio-political backdrop was simply meant to serve as some kind of quick (albeit clumsy) introduction, and the rest of the cases will be more seamlessly construed in the future, when the writers no longer have a need to weave an entire backdrop into a single case, in a single episode.

    In conclusion, the writers will need to shape up quickly in terms of weaving crime and political intrigue together in a seamless manner, if they intend to avoid a train wreck; that is, if this show is at all what I think it is…

  11. I really loved this episode, actually. Inga was amazing in both forms and I’m interested in his past/powers and who he actually is. As a whole all the characters stood out, but the mystery was so-so as they also had to focus on the character introductions and whatnot so I’ll let that pass. Overall a great start… but BONES.

  12. I actually quite liked it. I’m always very interested in modern mystery settings, so that’s a given.

    I just hope it can kick it up a notch. I should locate the “source” (it’s only inspired, but yeah…). It’s just probably really hard to read in Japanese (it was written shortly after the war if I got that correctly) so probably not.

  13. It kinda left me sad that everyone but the detective seemed to agree that Show Spoiler ▼

    is a “beautiful” outcome. Well, I guess that’s kind of the point of the show, but I fear it will make the show frustrating to watch if all the crimes he solves get covered up by blaming innocent bystanders.

  14. Aki Toyosaki switching between boy and slutty adult female. Don’t know what to think.

    I’ll probably continue to watch, just because I really enjoy the OP and EDs.

    Hopefully however, the mysteries do get better. This one was fairly predictable.

  15. At least the detective solved the mystery instead of like Phi Brain where the character goes “This is hard. Cheat activate! What’s the answer?”

    I find the character design kind of awkward though. Very sharp faces with very long necks

  16. Sure, the culprit was fairly obvious. But for those of you who are blasting the mystery as predictable, honestly, how many of you saw the “why” (i.e. Inga’s raison d’être)?

    We know that Shinjuro is going to “lose” every time. I think maybe people need to go back and read Divine’s preview for the show again (if you haven’t), to be reminded of the world that the story is set in. The “why” is fairly important for the story telling (IMO); moreso than the “who” or “how”, especially since our protagonists are going to “lose” every time.

    I think that episode 0 would be very informative. I wonder if they will broadcast it at some point, or will it be a home video release thing.

  17. Wow. I actually like this much better than Guilty Crown. Maybe because I’m such a detective story otaku XD. Anyway, nice first episode, although the hints are too obvious. Definitely going to follow this.

  18. Question I have is, is the younger “Inga” supposed to be a boy? Or is he/she an Ed(Cowboybebop) type ‘boy'(girl).

    That being said Toyosaki Aki is definitely becoming a great VA capable of doing a rather interesting range of characters. Unlike some who are just stuck doing the same type of loli tsundere females in bazillions of series.

  19. Waiting for that episode 0 film to perhaps explain the origins.
    Perhaps to explain the opening scene of episode 1.
    Perhaps it will reveal the motivation/need? for Yuki to solve mysteries?

  20. I’m up to ep. 3 and I must say I’m loving a lot of the aspects of this show. Inga and Shinjurou’s relationship is first and foremost intriguing and compelling, but the fact that the latter retains the Defeated Detective title (which, upon first seeing, I thought, “It should be Defective Detective! That’s way catchier!!”) only because his rival is able to cover up the truth or twist it to suit his own or an organization’s ends is something I haven’t consistently seen before and am very much enjoying. The visuals are a personal high point as well as the OP and ED’s catchy/eerie tunes.

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