Thursday, 13 October 2011

Un-Go - Episode 1

Politics, corruption, police investigations and a party featuring some of the country's most powerful people all in one place - sounds like the perfect setting for a murder, doesn't it?

Of course, this is exactly where this opening episode of one the autumn's two noitaminA series, Un-Go, takes us - after an unexplained opening snippet which seems to hint towards the past of its main protagonist, we're soon thrown headlong into that aforementioned world of politics, as we learn of a man named Kanou Nobuzane whose power looks set to be taken from him, with an arrest expected any day on account of allegations that he's been embezzling funds.

Amongst the others attending this party is Rie, daughter of Rinroku Kaishou, a much vaunted detective of sorts with an impressive track record; and our stars of this show Yuuki Shinjurou and his sidekick Inga - a detective far less vaunted, to the point where he's become known as "the defeated detective" on account of his unerring ability to get his deductions wrong.  When Nobuzane is murdered on stage in the midst of his own party, both Rinroku and Shinjurou set out to make their deductions, but whose going to get it right?  Besides which, who is the strange woman who dresses suspiciously like Inga and holds the ability to ask a single question that her subject simply cannot refuse to answer?

All of this makes for an interesting blend of elements to kick off Un-Go - Inga is a mysterious soul with an almost Code Geass-esque power (the questioning, not the turning into a woman), the show's setting is your typical post-war stuff, and the murder-mystery portion of this opener is exactly what you might expect of such a series, even if this is no bad thing as other recent mystery-oriented shows have actually neglected any real detective work.  Perhaps the most interesting facet on show here is the "rivalry" between Kaishou and Shinjurou, which turns these two characters reputations on their head in the midst of conspiracies and arguably doing what's necessary to keep the country running.  Hopefully the series can do something with this element of the show to make things interesting, as to be honest it's the only truly stand-out aspect of an episode which otherwise felt a little disjointed and messy as it threw characters at us at break-neck speed before giving a slightly unconvincing motive for its murder.

In short, Un-Go has plenty of promise, but it needs to do more with its premise, characters and setting to really prove its worth - in those terms, this first episode is not bad as a starting point, but there's little more to it than that.

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