13 CommentsTwelve Days / By Inushinde /

12 Days of Anime #9: The OVA That Stole the Show


Airing at the tail-end of last year, UN-GO was one of those series that left almost everybody with the same feeling of “well that was good, I guess”. It was always a thematically strong, atmospheric series, but there was the niggling feeling that the more esoteric, supernatural elements were meant to be explained in ways that ambiguous hallucinogenic destruction just can’t seem to. Similarly, the characters went about their business without much explanation, all similarly hard to gauge due to maintaining the same level of non-interest. It wasn’t a deal-breaker because the people involved in the various plots don’t have as much importance as the mysteries themselves, but there were still missing pieces that needed to be replaced.

While the Episode 0 OVA technically aired in 2011 alongside the main series, it was only subbed and watchable after the New Year, so I’m still going to count it as a 2012 entry. Not only were loose ends tied up ceremoniously, but they did so in ways that made this possibly the first time that I’ve ever retroactively thought a series to be better without actually rewatching it. I’m convinced that had this aired before the series proper, the general opinion of the show would be far more positive. What’s more, the OVA tied all the splintered themes and messages into one cohesive message that’s shared by pretty much every Tool album: Look past the superficial and see the world for what it is. The fact that it’s assisted by a great soundtrack and some neat psychedelic imagery certainly don’t dissuade comparisons.


In the end, what separates Episode 0 from nearly every other OVA of the year is just how well it’s directed on its own. The main series was always visually distinctive, but the OVA really kicked things up a notch, all the while explaining away the many non-altruistic reasons that the upper-class have for helping the less fortunate. My inner-cynic was absolutely thrilled to see these unbearably nice people systematically torn apart by their own desires, their true selves consuming the façade that they seemed so keen on presenting to the world. Hell, it blew away everything that came after, and that’s no small feat.

UN-GO was a special series to begin with, and this improved it in every conceivable way. I mean not even End of Evangelion could fix the mess of that show’s ending without bumming people the fuck out. UN-GO essentially did the same thing, but without aliens, soul-crushing depression, or drowning the world in Tang. And that’s arguably a better result than I could’ve hoped for.

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  1. Scamp
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    YES! What was even better about those people revealing their real desires was watching Un-Go mock dumb hippies who thought that driving around in a jeep and playing acoustic guitar will solve anything. I mean, this show was always cynical, but that moment where the one guy revealed he just wanted to see carnage was fantastic in its unbridled evil cynicism

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      And yet I can’t help but think that being in it for the destruction rings true for a number of cases. It presented this in such a convincing way that I started eyeing one of my friends who went into the Peace Corps with suspicion.

  2. appropriant
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    While it isn’t Tang, people were infused with gelatinous tentacles and their butterflies forcibly extracted.

    I’d say that comes to a close second.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:14 am | Permalink

      I’m inclined to agree here.

  3. Karry
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    ” what separates Episode 0 from nearly every other OVA of the year is just how well it’s directed on its own.”

    Uni-bloody-corn, anyone ?

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Hence the “nearly” =P

  4. Lanf
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I preferred the OVA to the TV series big time. It made more sense than the rest of the series did on its own AND made the rest of the series make more sense almost like an essential standalone.

    It was brilliant though, extracting the true meaning behind their journeys that they wanted to put an infallibly good charity mission on, when it was all personal desires.

    This show is kind of 2012 for me anyone, whilst I watched the first episode just after it aired, it took another 11 months for me to bother getting around to again since it seemed to have a cult following in the critic circle and that I found the first episode interesting in concept but otherwise unimpressive.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      What got me about the show was I could always tell that there was a great deal of thought that went into it, but the execution didn’t quite gel as well as it could’ve. Again, that was entirely remedied here.

  5. shytende
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I really shouldwatch it…
    Un-Go was already great enough, so if it’s better, and makes the serie better, I’ve nothing else to hope !

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink

      Yes, you really should. It’s one of those rare things that adds to the overall package without overshadowing it.

  6. TheVoid
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed how the villain of episode 0 caused his own death because he used the wrong words.

    • Embok
      Posted December 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      This is actually why I couldn’t enjoy the OVA as much as I loved the main series. I just sat there thinking ‘uh, really dude?’

  7. Mormegil
    Posted December 19, 2012 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Great post, and it’s always nice to see some love for UN-GO. Not only did it have a good story in itself, it also managed to tie entire series together. And I completely agree that the OVA should have been released before the TV series.

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