“Her Name Is Koko She Is Loco I Said Oh No”
I wasn’t exactly sure on which treatment to give Jormungand. Seeing as it is, like Fate/Zero, something which had already been announced as being split into two seasons with a 3 months break, and not having the slightest sense of closure in the first one, I think it’d better be treated as a whole. However, due to my intention of blogging the second season this fall (shout-out to the higher ups^^) and the fact that the first one has not been covered here, I shall review it as an introduction to my love for these series.
Before its airing, Jormungand was already target of comparisons with Black Lagoon, which is totally understandable given the similarity between the settings of both series, which focus in the life of underground groups in the modern world – mercenaries in Black Lagoon’s case, and arms dealers in Jormungand’s case. However, once you work your way past through those first similarities, both works couldn’t be more different. Jormungand never carries an overly serious mood and needs not recur to heavy swearing and excessive gore to make itself entertaining.
In fact, Jormungand has everything I look forward in this type of series: interesting characters, good action scenes, great dialogue, intelligent storytelling and a delicious little amount of craziness. The few comedy moments that prevent it from getting too serious are usually really well placed, making for lighthearted relaxing moments without ever ruining the mood of the scenes.
The narrative follows a rather episodic formula, being divided in different arcs, with each corresponding to a job of the starring arms dealing group lead by the “loco”, yet cunning and overflowing with leadership qualities, Koko Hekmatyer. This group works under the HCLI, a weapons corporation, and is composed by a rather heterogeneous collection on individuals, ranging from a former mafioso to one who used to be a police officer. Either way, each of its members excels in their task – being effective bodyguards to Koko. The latest addition to this previous eight-man bodyguard team is Jonah, a child solider orphan who claims to hate guns and is set on getting revenge.
Although, I’m not a huge fan of that type of storytelling means, each arc is highly entertaining and usually comes with huge amount of character development, usually changing its focus to one of the members of the group, which makes each and every one of them worth watching. That said, the lack of continuity is, indeed, the main weakness of these series, at least in my eyes. But Jormungand is not deprived of an overreaching plot. Despite being surely a character driven series, the events in each arc are not completely independent from each other, and their connection between them isn’t brought upon only by the characters. The interweaving plot points are rather subtle so far, but the final episode heavily hinted towards a greater relation between all events, with a connection being established between the previous assassination attempts the group was victim of and the solidifying of the CIA’s interest in the group, which unexpectedly seems to go way beyond a lone agent who’s hunting for money and has been nothing but a bait for comedic relief. When we add to that Johan’s seek for revenge, about which we still have a lot to see, and the background of the HCLI itself and Koko’s relation with its leader (her father), which has been hinted but not touched too much upon just yet, we have plenty of things to look forward too, and if the second half of Jormungand succeeds in tying up all of these points tide and nicely, it’ll definitely turn out to be a truly great series.
The characters, which I’ve already mentioned before, stroke me as interesting from their first appearance, giving me an impression of depth, even before I could foresee any type of development for either of them. Their interactions are truly entertaining, though of course the spotlight here goes to Koko and Johan. The later, despite everything he has gone through and his amazing aptitude with guns, still has this natural childish side about him, though he’s careful not to let it show in front of Koko, only letting his cold and ruthless mood transpire. On the other hand, Koko is always smile, and trying her best to make him smile, while hiding her darker side which one can mostly perceive in moments where Johan isn’t present. That’s exactly what makes her such an interesting and mysterious character. She rarely travels the road of indiscriminate violence, though one has to wonder if that is out of good nature or sheer manipulation, as she is one who is definitely skilled in using others as pawns.
The antagonists are usually rather well developed too, which could be perceived as a waste of time, since most of them end up being one-time characters, but ends up being a positive point for the series, showing us all the sides of equation by demonstrating different points of view.
Something I cannot forget to mention is the dialogue in this series. From intelligently comedic to social criticizing, it is appealing, engaging and well-written, to the point where the viewer has to wonder whether is that or the action to carry this series. And of course, the action can’t be forgotten either. While the sole reason I picked this up was the fact it was going to be produced by White Fox, the relatively new studio which has been so praised for his high-quality adaptations, namely Steins;Gate and Katagatari, I’ve never expected them to succeed in making exciting and fluid action scenes. They have fortunately proved me wrong, as the action scenes, while somewhat unrealistic as it wasn’t otherwise expected, are not only exciting but still manage some believability.
As for the sound, it is my opinion that the background music was definitely the weakest part of the series. It’s a good musical score and it does fit its purpose, not being misused as it never feels out of place. Nonetheless, there were no tracks that stand out as noticeable, let alone others that would make me put a reminder to “download the OST as soon as it’s out”. The OP and ED songs, on the other hand, are some of the best this Spring season had to offer, fitting the series rather well and being excellent songs on their own merits.
In the end, I highly recommend this series, for it will make a good watch for pretty much anyone. Its writing is great, and those who want to get something out of what they watch will definitely find enough comparisons with the real world and human nature, as well as great quotes to analyze. But those are usually not left in a noticeable manner, for the show rarely has many slow moments, so those who just want to watch something entertaining for the sake of it will also have their quota filled with the flashy action and good comedy. This is something I’ve enjoyed a lot and I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting the second season, which is airing this Fall.