Jormungand First Impressions – Her name is Koko and she is Loco
April 13, 2012 1 Comment
Jormungand got off to an interesting and energetic start, with a lot of stylish fight sequences, along with a curious, if a little biased look at the underworld of gun smuggling. Based on Takahashi Keitarou’s graphic novel about a child soldier named Jonah, someone who hates guns with a passion, yet must live with them everyday – he joins a group of arms dealers lead by the charismatic Koko Hekmatyar, and so must continue to struggle with his hatred for the very tools that keep him alive. This series has a dark atmosphere reminiscent of Black Lagoon (hardly surprising since its produced by White Fox, the same studio who were behind Black Lagoon), and has some fascinating characters may not be entirely sane.
This first episode, rather than be a role call for the main cast, introducing them one at a time, instead jumped right into the action, choosing the introduce our cast of arms dealers where you expect them to be, in the middle of a gun fight. It is a clear demonstration of how Koko’s group works, along with how mad each and every one of them are, along with how much of an enigma Koko appears to be. It’s a full on action episode with gunfights, wild driving, and a lot of trash talking, with each individual member of Koko’s gang reacting in a different way. This works incredibly well since it shows how varied the gang really is, along with demonstrating the madness that can happen when a deal either goes wrong, or gets close to it. The point this episode hammers home is that while they all might have a few screws loose, this group is a force to be reckoned with.
The characters themselves are larger than life, with Koko at the centre towering over everyone with a strange mix of serious businesswoman and slightly crazy gang leader with a flair for the dramatic. It’s great to see how each character can switch from being relatively normal to a gun and knife-wielding psychopath when the timing is right. And yet all the while they are sticking to the plan that Koko has created and clearly trust her with their lives in the same way that she trusts them with hers.
And speaking of Koko, she is fascinating, acting like a kid one minute, showing her motherly side when it comes to Jonah, and then switching into psychopath mode with eyes that positively scare you. Her interactions with Jonah in particular are great to watch, especially when you realize that she knows exactly what kind of monster she has brought into her group. And yet, to treat him like a little brother was fascinating, seeing her dote on him, and act in a very childish manner shows one sod of her character, and yet she is willing to leave her life in the hands of someone who hates guns and yet is a ruthless and bloody killer.
That is a major draw to this series, it has a complex cast, and while they all might at first seem relatively benign, and a bit eccentric, they all have their reasons for being there and can switch personalities almost instantaneously. That Jormungand can inject splashes of comedy throughout the action while maintaining the frenetic pace and overall feel of the episode showed an ability to match gags with the mood. The idea of having Koko crack gags while Jonah is taking care of anyone that is chasing shows firstly how unhinged this show is, but also the quality of the writing. Still not entirely sure how Koko views Jonah, but there are implications that she holds him very dear despite only really knowing him for a short period of time.
In terms of animation quality, style and soundtrack, this show is easily one of he best of the season so far. The fights are expertly executed, an the dialogue is well written, witty, serious, but also has an ability to play with the ideas that are swirling around this series. This series has a Black Lagoonesque feel about it, and perhaps this is its one flaw; it is trying to be Black Lagoon, at least in part. The opening sequence is again reminiscent of the Black Lagoon opening, the character designs; general banter along with certain elements of the humor and character mannerisms just scream Black Lagoon. This is not necessarily a bad thing since Black Lagoon was an excellent, stylish, sexy, and above all cool series, and having another series with a similar aesthetic is generally a good thing.
While there are clear links to Black Lagoon, Jomungand has yet to be bogged down with simple copying, and has a clear style of its own (although anyone who has seen the other series will see many similarities). It does have its own unique traits and characters, which shows that while Black Lagoon has in part influenced it it is not attempting a whole-sale copy of the show. Above all else it is a joyous ride of madness, fighting, along with an interesting look at the realities of weapons and arms dealers. That it can have a cast of fascinating yet mad characters, while exploring the darker side of the arms trade, both legal and illegal shows a real maturity in this show.
What really drew me into Jormungand was Koko, and to a lesser extent her relationship with Jonah – seeing a character who is psychopathic one moment, and then cracking gags, throwing tantrums and sleep walks in such a defenseless fashion is fascinating. Her character can change in such a dramatic fashion its almost scary, and yet demonstrates how complex a character Koko really is, and perhaps helps to explain why she is willing to trust herself to someone like Jonah who hates everything she stands for. I look forward to seeing where Jormgunad goes from here, and in particular want to see where the relationship between Koko and Jonah goes to. I have a feeling that I shall blog this show, it has really grabbed me, and honestly any show with some similarities to Black Lagoon will grab my interest.