Supernatural investigations led by the lovely but cruel Superintendent Ryoko.
A quick review this time!
Ryoko’s Case File (Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo) 2008
This was a short and fun series, and I found it interesting to see some politics mixed in with the supernatural too – though it probably takes a bit of a back seat to the intrigue.
There’s also a ‘girls with guns’ feel here too, which was another plus in my books.
In fact, the anime covers a few genres (in addition to the above there’s romance and sci-fi too) and maybe what holds things together most is the relationship between long-suffering Junichirō and Ryoko (who isn’t always cruel, thankfully).
There is a central plot line and an antagonist that probably makes an appearance a bit too late, but I do like episodic stuff for the most part. And in truth, the bad guys have some surprises up their sleeves so they remained engaging for me.
Ryoko’s Case File also has room for a bit of humour, which helped elevate some individual stories above others, and overall I enjoyed this ‘old’ show a lot.
Now, I don’t see it popping up on anyone’s Top Ten lists but if you want something enjoyable and a bit different from some of the genres that dominate modern anime today, maybe try to find this short series.
I think all lists that include ‘smartest anime character’ should probably have Yugo in them. And maybe lists ranking ‘most resilient’ ones too for that matter.
Because boy, Yugo really does get put through some tough times here – especially in the first negotiation (episodes 1-6).
But before I continue I’ll include a quick premise from Wikipedia:
The series follows Yugo Beppu, a hostage negotiator, in various cases around the world. Having both a very tough body and determination, and his keen insight, Yugo often goes to great lengths to rescue those he was asked to help.
Yugo doesn’t feel like a typical anime to me. Perhaps it’s due to the settings and its lead character, Yugo, or the overall tone.
I think there’s a carefulness to the show, or a sense of deliberation; the action is often (but not always) more a battle of wills and mental resilience, which sometimes translates to a more static camera but that’s not a drawback for me at all. It allows for extra focus on character, on motivation and even ideology.
All of which I really enjoyed!
Another thing I loved about Yugo: The Negotiator was the fact that the anime gave me a glimpse into other places and times – Pakistan and Russia in the 1990s, though due to the subject matter, it certainly won’t come across like a travel show.
Based on the manga from the 1990s by Shinji Makari and Shuu Akana, Yugo: The Negotiator is basically historical fiction now, so it addresses specific conflicts and events from the past.
It seems very well-researched too, although I didn’t search long and hard on that note – but I did find this great post which talks about representation in the Pakistan arc, which left me curious about thoughts on how the anime depicted Russia too*.
To switch to things that stood out in a less positive way, I did find the OP and ED perhaps a bit too upbeat but maybe that’s a purposeful contrast?
If you get a chance to watch Yugo, you’ll note that each arc is handled by a different studio – G&G Direction and Artland, resulting in a fair contrast in art styles between negotiations.
On one hand, with G&G Direction in Pakistan there’s a real sense of intense, oppressive heat with a lot of overexposed-looking shots and more washed out colours, whereas the episodes by Artland in Russia are more vivid. There are subtle differences in design too.
Those things weren’t enough to hamper my enjoyment but they’re definitely noticeable.
I finished Yugo very keen to see more negotiations too but that’s probably impossible, whether in anime or manga form… unless I learn to read Japanese. Maybe one day!
Big thanks to Curtis at Iridium Eye Reviews for reviewing this here because without it, I doubt I’d ever have come across this seemingly little-known anime.
*Curtis’ review has a lot of great insights and also some interesting analysis of differences in the details of the script/dub too.
Dallos feels extremely topical now when wealth inequality is so vicious, and you could certainly also read the OVA as a critique of colonialism – though I’m not sure Hisayuki Toriumi, Mamoru Oshii and Studio Pierrot were making a ‘message’ story? I should do more reading there.
Still, the themes are definitely present and expanded via inter-generational conflict as much as being driven by events around the Lunarian rebellion.
Science-fiction and action tropes do fill a lot of the short series, and although there’s time for politics too, what caught my eye (aside from the world-building) were the now ‘old-school’ visuals from both character and mechanical design – it does feel like the 1970s are very close.
But when I learnt that there were essentially two directors on Dallos, I think it became easier to see the action scenes when Oshii was clearly in charge.
Dallos is told from a few POVs. It mostly follows our hero Shun, rebel leader Dog and antagonist Alex as they struggle for control of the colony, and it doesn’t rush the story either, which is great. I guess if you’re mostly into modern animation, however, you’ll really see the age of the art.
In a way, two stories from 1966 came to mind when I finally saw Dallos – one was We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (filmed as Total Recall in 1990) and the other The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. For the latter, the production team mention it as an influence but my association with the Philip K Dick story is a little more nebulous to me – not sure I can put my finger on why.
I still really enjoyed the OVA series and my only qualm I guess, was that I think I expected a little more mysticism from the film for some reason – maybe since the ‘god’ of Dallos itself seemed to be set up that way? Still, that feel was not absent at all, but I guess I just wanted something extra.
Obviously if you’re a science-fiction fan, or curious about this pretty cool piece of anime history, or Oshii’s early work too, then you’ll probably enjoy Dallos but visually it’s not at the level of Ghost in the Shell, for instance, and I wonder if tonally, this is more the work of writer and co-director Hisayuki Toriumi?
*To borrow from Iridium Eye Reviews a moment – maybe remove a star if you’re not so interested in the history of anime.