Yugo the Negotiator
Beppu Yugo is one of the world’s finest private negotiators. With his mastery of multiple languages and psychology along with his indomitable will, he can succeed where most others fail. Now the negotiator’s skills will be put to the test in two very different lands: the passionate and burning lands of Pakistan and the frigid far eastern reaches of Siberia.
This is not your standard anime show and because of that I think certain people will find it very interesting and others will simply find it boring. The bulk of the show focuses on Yugo’s use of various tactics and psychological strategies to get the information and influence he needs to negotiate the release of a hostage (more a de facto hostage in the second arc I should note). There is a bit of action here and there but this is mostly measured exploration of the different sorts of approaches that would be necessary in different situations, different cultures, and with different people. I personally found it rather engaging though given the general dearth of action, humor, or romance in this show, there are certain to be a number of fans who wouldn’t like it.
As noted above, this show is mostly about political intrigue and psychological manipulation. Though Yugo is shown to be a fairly righteous man, he is a man of fearsome analytical ability and an almost equally intense will. For every single encounter he has in the show, he adapts his strategy to deal with whomever he needs help from at that moment. It was interesting to see him prod so many different types of people all with their own particular motivations, desires, and preconceived notions about either Yugo or the world around them. I will note that there are a lot of individual characters who flow in and around the narrative, so focused development doesn’t always occur but I did feel that most of the characters were brought realistically to life. Even the primary antagonists in the two different arcs, while initially appearing a bit simple minded or pointlessly vicious, have their own motivations that make them more complex characters and potentially much more sympathetic.
With over ten years of manga stories to work with, the producers of the anime simply took two major negotiations and adapted them into two completely independent storylines. While both work fairly well though the conclusion to the Siberian storyline seems a bit weaker and lacks the emotional resonance of the Pakistan arc. The particular contrast between everything from the environment to the religions affiliation of the Pakistanis and the Siberians helped make the two negotiations distinct and interesting.
The show demonstrates an interesting attention to detail in regards to setting. An obvious amount of effort was put into making sure that the Pakistan and Siberian locales were adequately represented and woven carefully into the fabric of the storyline. While I can’t claim that every single element in the shows is totally and completely realistic, overall, this anime presents a far more balanced nuanced view than many shows of groups that are not known for their general world popularity: Russian intelligence agents, extremist Islamic Pakistani rebel clans, et cetera. The only quibble I had with the setting had to do with the show not really clarifying, at times, what language everyone was actually speaking. A lot of the time I simply assumed Yugo may have known the local language or an appropriate lingua franca and the Japanese audio was presented in the same spirit as many an American movie with foreign characters speaking English to each other. There are a few scenes where Yugo notes he can’t read Arabic, though one can be fluent in a language without ever being able to read it. However, there were a few points where characters actually speak in Arabic or Russian that made it unclear to me what languages everyone was using. Overall, it was a minor quibble really and I was more than content to ignore linguistic inconsistency since I was enjoying the rest of the show.
The art work of the show is generally fairly good but there is a noticeable difference in quality between the Pakistan and Siberia story lines. This isn’t simply a matter of them getting sloppier as the show progresses, the two arcs were actually done by completely different studios. It isn’t that the art work in the Siberia arc is really all that bad, just that I noticed that character design and color work seemed a bit more polished in the Pakistani arc. The animation in both arcs is sufficient for this type of show though I must admit I was a bit disappointed by the use of stills during parts of one major action scene in the Pakistan arc particularly since most of the other parts of the scene were completely animated.
An unusual drama that makes good use of its non-Japanese settings to create engaging stories. This is a slowly paced show at times and a lot of the plot progression involves realizations of certain facts about the particular negotiation or psychological realizations rather than large changes in the circumstances external to the negotiator. People looking for something a bit more fast paced will probably want to take away a star or two. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: While overall, Yugo doesn’t have a huge amount of violence, the scenes it does show up in are generally of a more personalized brutal nature (such as some torture scenes). Overall, this show is really only appropriate for older teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Yugo the Negotiator © 2004 Yugo Production Committee / Kids Station
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