Not your traditional mystery anime.
[contains some generalized spoilers, suggestive humor and language]
UN-GO is by no means a traditional “mystery anime”. If you view it only from that perspective, then UN-GO is relatively mediocre as a whole. What makes UN-GO a “good” anime is the hidden mystery behind all the concurrent “traditional” mysteries.
Now, what exactly defines a “traditional mystery” and what sets UN-GO apart from being one? Well a traditional mystery is “best” mediocrely defined as going from the crime scene to interrogating the suspects, to finding the verdict by the end of the episode, this is best comparable to anime like Gosick. UN-GO on the other hand incorporates a different element. It’s the type of behind the scene mystery that’s blatant after you learn about it, but rather difficult to discern when you’re watching it initially; it’s an enjoyable treat. But, it is arguable on whether or not it was actually done well.
Unfortunately, UN-GO does suffers from mediocre characters. The entire cast is relatively linear, there’s little to no character development. But, strangely enough, the characters aren’t generic, they all surprisingly have something that sets them apart from any given cliché archetype. That could be positive or negative depending on how you view it, but you do have to inevitably assume their pasts (although episode zero should answer some questions). But, one character does stand out from the rest, possibly the worst character this season. It’s the transvestite heroine addict that stays in the back until she needs her fix at the end of every case, whether he’s needed or not. Now, what exactly does he do? Well, she’s basically a cheat code. He possesses the ability to make her “victim” answer truthfully once to any of her questions (she does this by essentially sexually harassing his victim and giving them whiplash or something similar). Now, his ability wouldn’t be so irritating if the show used his ability logically. Unfortunately, the main character decides to ask some of the most redundant questions using her, it often does aid the case, but there’s probably a list of so many other better questions you could have asked (It’s like asking do you own this knife rather than do you know who killed the dude in the corner).
That being said, UN-GO would definitely be better if it was longer than eleven episodes. There’s just too much content to cram into such a short frame of time. Watching this weekly often leads the viewer confused on the previous events. Many of the mysteries take up two episodes, it’s a pain to recollect after a week. The maximum experience would probably be catalyzed by watching it after airs, in one or two sittings at the most.
Objective Score: 6/10. You’ll probably enjoy UN-GO more if you analyze it. On the surface, it’s mediocre. The mysteries aren’t that good, and the characters are mediocre. But what it does offer is an atmosphere that’s relatively rare in anime. The setting of UN-GO and the behind the scenes occurring ultimately adds to the overall “mystery” of the anime.
Subjective Score: 4/10: It’s pretty bad if you watch it expecting for the obvious mystery. It’s riddled with lapses of logic, and the storyline is sporadic. It wasn’t really meant to be adapted in eleven episodes, it’s way too short. But UN-GO does offer one of the best ED transitions since The Tatami Galaxy.