Mystery shows don’t often believe in making great first impressions because they don’t tend to gradually build up to it. If I were in charge of a mystery adaptation I’d put some thought on thinking up ways to avoid massively focusing on a mystery and all the investigating procedures from the get-go because as an opener these method hardly works.
The difference between the books and the adaptations is an immense gap, a race to fit everything into a 25 minute show where the reader becomes a watcher connected to the story mostly visually and where only the most crucial, rudimentary information is provided. UN-GO is another mystery that falls prey to other similar mystery anime
adaptations that had similar lackluster first episodes and sometimes similarly eventually becoming lackluster series – they do poorly what they’re supposed to do best – handling mysteries. They do poorly more than often by putting their flimsiest mystery as openers for their series and thus failing to get the viewer’s attention.
Picking an average mystery of the week episode as a full opener isn’t the best way to go no matter how mystery centric the story is unless one knows for sure how to make it interesting. Sure, having the detective not act the detective part might be the same as having a fish out of its element – you don’t know what they should be doing, but regardless a story needs to build a proper strong start before they can surprise their audience with how ingenious the story and the lead is. When the show starts from the get-go with an unimpressive mystery it simply shows how cliche the story is and similarly how unimpressive all the characters of the show are, even if that is not case. When the train of thought is something along the lines of : “Maybe I should be learning about characters in the story or something entirely different instead of watching this mystery” is not a good sign. The problem with this type of poorly executed approach is that its only concern in the first episode and also in next ones is making the lead look good instead of giving depth to the overall story by “solving” (to call it that) unimpressive mysteries which does more harm than good. That’s why these overused and poorly executed approach are unsuccessful in drawing in the audience. Because they want to show you how interesting their stories are by not showing you how interesting they are.
[Right about now we should all be impressed]
Having a poorly constructed mystery as an opener for the first episode is a bad decision, not to mention very overused. We’re just learning about the characters, that is, we don’t know who they are and what they are like and because we hardly know them we aren’t as interested as we can be of them. How we learn more of them is based on what the story tells the audience and based on the first mystery that story provides the audience with, in which in most cases it turns out to be a painfully watered-down mystery solved in a couple of minutes after several chances at facepalming. That ties into the weakest part of (ironically) a mystery show is that the first mystery of the show isn’t as engaging as it could be. We get hit hard again when said less than stellar mystery we stumble upon in the first episode is the typical “recent murder” of some character we hardly knew and probably won’t remember their names after the first episode because of how rushed the mystery was. I get it. You’re a deduction skills are superb lead, however having a forgettable and dull mystery as your big debut does not impress anyone. Take a bow, anyway.
From my experience what I’ve noticed is that the more I know about the characters the more I care about the mysteries they are in. That’s one of the poor points that series like Gosick score hard. It takes dull main characters lump them with more uninteresting characters to create a story. On the other hand, the more the audience knows the characters the more they’ll naturally grow interested in them and when the times comes for the actual mystery and detective procedure part they will be ready. When we get the mystery throw to the face before we even realize there was one to being with, any possible chance to make a strong impact is gone. Mystery, or to be more precise mystery anime adaptations, hear me out, it’s not only about having characters being in a mystery but also having a story building up to this goal, to this point.
UN-GO is an anime that really *really* tells us to watch the next episode because they have more in store. There is no better way to say it. The first episode follows the typical “easy” mystery and ‘meh content’ because of it. Not to completely judge a full series based on the first episode but first impressions do matter and what impression the show is giving the audience. Having run-of-the-mill mysteries as openers hardly work because they lose the opportunity to wow the audience with a strong mystery instead of a weak one and a strong character introductions by resorting to dull the “10-minute mysteries”, that is, one that takes five minutes to tell it and another 5 to solve it. Or a full twenty five-minute mystery taking one minute to tell it, fifteen minutes of people minus the detective acting dumb, and less than four minutes for the clever lead to solve it. In the end, no one really cares about either of them because of how unimaginative and poorly constructed they were. Mystery shows tend to make poor first impressions because they start out very poorly by not gradually build up to it.
UN-GO isn’t up to a bad start as much as it is to a weak start where the most interesting part of the first episode was *this* scene included in the first minute of the show. I wouldn’t mind an UN-GO, and similar mystery series, which is not strictly mystery centric but a more flexible UN-GO. I wouldn’t mind an UN-GO that takes its time to develop a mystery rather than be a predictable mystery of the week anime. What I want is an UN-GO whose greatness foe is boredom, cliché, and dull scenarios. I want an UN-GO that is as clever as the main characters of the mystery shows they portray – I want an UN-GO and similar mystery shows to play it smart.