Every time I meet with my anime-loving friends, I end up being absolutely awe-struck at just how few people have heard of, let alone seen Yugo The Negotiator. The show is universally enjoyed among its followers, but that crowd tends to be nearly non-existent at best, nowadays.
Why Was it Passed Up?
Frankly speaking, a show about a negotiator just doesn’t have the same appeal as supernatural demon fighters, space-hopping flyboys, or even teenage girls talking about the minutiae of Japanese pop culture. The immediate image is somebody who spends a living behind a desk, in a fairly mundane position.
Yugo doesn’t kill anybody, and his only weapons are his wits, and his words. This alone turned away a good amount of the action crowd.
ADV clearly had low expectations for the show, since the first volume was released to stores at an (especially for 2005)
insanely low price of $9.99, with hopes of attracting a buyer. The show was released quietly, and promoted very little.
What is it?
Yugo the Negotiator revolves around, well, Yugo, who is a negotiator. Specifically, he is the negotiator that can achieve things that few others can. He travels into dangerous territory, hostile nations, and more just to secure the needs of his client. The show splits into two arcs: Pakistan and Russia. In Pakistan, Yugo infiltrates a gang of Taliban-esque radicals, enduring torture, and evading the Pakistani military in an attempt to get close to the radicals’ leader. By meeting with the man, Yugo will attempt to secure the safety of another negotiator, who was captured in a military operation gone bad.
In the Russia arc, Yugo is sent to the wastelands of the former USSR to retrieve the heiress to a Soviet fortune. I won’t spoil the entire arc, but the Russian military does try to descend upon Yugo as he tries to achieve his mission.
Why this show?
Simply put, Yugo is a joy to watch. The show is paced like two feature-length movies, instead of just one long-running TV series. The intensity of the missions, the gritty realism of the settings, and the sheer tensio of each peril Yugo faces make every episode seem far too short. Yugo is a genuinely likable character, and those he interacts with, from his allies to his adversaries, are portrayed as people instead of stereotypes. Everybody has a reason to act, and an aspiration to fulfill, as the world is painted in shades of grey not often seen in action titles. There are no “good guys”, and no “bad guys.”
The action is sensationalized to an absurd amount at times (at one point, Yugo staves off dehydration by drinking his own blood), but everything seems plausible, to an extent. The slow portions are kept to a minimum, and the end of each episode leaves the viewer simply wanting more.
I can’t say enough kind things about this show. It’s an action series that doesn’t resort to brainless gunplay, nor does it drone on and on with extraneous details or nonsense situations. It’s a series that I am proud to recommend, especially now that the entire 12-episode run can be had for under $20.
Yugo the Negotiator is a very rare treat in a market saturated with moe and action. I only wish more like it would come out.
Yugo the Negotiator was released in 2005 by ADV Films.
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