Yugo The Negotiator Volume 1: Pakistan

[a href=mailto:[email protected]]Vandemar[/A]

When a businessman is kidnapped in Pakistan, his worried daughter hires Yugo Beppu to go in and save him. Yugo is, as the title suggests, a negotiator, one of the best in the world. Professional negotiators work for their client instead of for the police or army, and Yugo’s known to get hostages out unharmed. First, however, he must trek into Pakistan and find the guerillas doing the kidnapping, and avoid the army, police, and even some of the guerillas themselves.

Episode One: Negotiator
Despite sleeping on the pool table in his office, Yugo knows his stuff. This episode sets up the premise and introduces Yugo and the woman hiring him. Watching him do the legwork to get ready for Pakistan-and watching him in Pakistan-is like a detective show.

Episode Two: Resolve
Yugo continues his hunt for the guerilla leader, trying to avoid Pakistani commandos and angry men trying to kill him. This episode goes more into the background of the guerilla movement and gives us a definite feel for Yugo’s character: stern, quiet, and utterly confident.

Episode Three: Contact
On the words of a friendly imam, Yugo heads into the desert in search of the guerillas, dodging the army and unfriendly locals as he attempts to do his job. He finds them. He’s also taken prisoner. Can the negotiator survive his encounter with the giant, vicious leader of the rebel band?

imageWhat really jumps out artwise is the use of color and lighting. When Yugo arrives in the presumably hot, arid region of Pakistan, the color palette is drenched with whites, almost forcing you to squint to see the show. It’s the brightness of a hot summer day in a desert, down to the exaggerated shadows. You almost feel hot. The water effects in some shots are also gorgeous, the water ripples and moves beautifully. Otherwise, character coloring borrows from the muted palette of shows like Gunslinger Girl.

The sound is good and comes across very crisp. There’s an interesting little insert in the DVD case with information on Urdu and Arabic. It seems like they really did their homework with this series and put a lot of time into getting the language right. The opening theme, though, is unintentionally hilarious. It’s like J-Pop meets the Theme from Shaft and I just cracked up every time I heard it, which might’ve been good for a comedy, but for such a serious show, it was really, really jarring.

imageYugo The Negotiator looks like a very interesting series, but it’s very cerebral. It’s more like those detective shows where they wander around talking to people, rather than one with lots of gun fighting. It’s a thoughtful show that moves along at its own pace and though it isn’t from the adrenaline-packed thrill ride end of things, it was interesting enough to hold my attention through all three episodes. The series is off to a good start and it’s one I’ll be following (and watching) closely.

Technical/Extras: 9.0
Very interesting use of light in the art, and the disc is technically well done with a nice little package of extras.

Entertainment : 8.0
It’s a good start. Not the most exciting series, but it’s nicely written and the plot keeps on moving.

Overall: 8.5

Episodes: 01: Negotiator, 02: Resolve, 03: Contact

DVD Extras: “What is Yugo the Negotiator?” Featurette, 3 Interviews with Japanese Staff and Cast, “Japanese Depiction of Pakistan” Commentary, Personnel Dossiers, Clean Open/Clean Close

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