Jormungand Series Review: She’s Going to Devour Everything

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in July 2016 and can be found here.

From my first watch to the most recent, I haven’t really changed my thoughts on Jormungand. It is still a problematic show to try to convince someone to watch because of the subject matter, but it is still a lot of fun to sink your teeth into. If you missed my original review, here it is again with some minor edits (probably just as many errors though).

Review:

Jormungand is a tricky show to sell to someone. It’s about an arms dealer and a child soldier. It’s about selling weapons and the perpetuation of violence and war. It has a child soldier in it and doesn’t continuously drive home the point that this is immoral and wrong (they touch on this occasionally but it isn’t the central theme). When you put it that way it kind of makes it tricky to convince someone that this anime is entertaining or that the subject matter is actually palatable.

Jormungand5

Breaking it down, Jormungand is an amazing anime to watch. It is sometimes funny, sometimes action driven, sometimes character driven, sometimes thoughtful and thought provoking, and occasionally (but not too often) preachy.

It acknowledges that the main characters in this story are selling weapons and are not the ‘good’ guys. They aren’t fighting for a noble cause. They are selling guns for profit (and don’t try to pay Koko in drugs, it does not end well). It also does a great job of first convincing us to like these characters and yet strategically giving them moments where you see them as true villains. This rich contrast is actually quite interesting because you see them as real people. Yeah their job is kind of morally reprehensible but a lot of them fell into it after their former lives as soldiers or the like fell apart. Or they just enjoy the rush or they like Koko. They aren’t trying to make these guys out to be underdogs. Just showing a group of well trained soldiers brought together by Koko.

On rewatch, it is this group dynamic that really does sell the show. You spend a lot of time with this crew and they are all interesting in their own way but it takes time for you to get to know them. That’s what makes watching it again so great because you pick up more about these characters each time.

Jormungand2

Koko is a fascinating character. A little over the top in places and not as nuanced as she might have been, but her views on weapons and the world are interesting and provide a fairly ground perspective even as she acknowledges that she is becoming a monster of a human being. Running through both seasons of the show is the ongoing storyline that Koko is up to something outside of selling her weapons (and various agencies and parties are interested in finding out what). When it is revealed you realise fully that Koko is crazy. Somewhere along the road she was pushed too far and she has come up with a scheme that should never have been followed through with. It makes for an interesting frame to hold all the other missions and characters together because there isn’t a lot of coherence in the plot outside of Koko travelling around and selling her weapons.

And if you know the legend of Jormungand you kind of already know what Koko is up to though how they interpret that legend in this anime is unique.

Jormungand3

The relationship between Koko and Jonah is also intriguing. Throughout the story they develop what kind of looks like an older sister and younger brother relationship with Koko regularly imparting some ‘wisdom’ upon Jonah (who due to his background has an understandably warped view of the world). However, Jonah also acts to keep Koko from crossing too many lines (you know besides selling illegal weapons and travelling with a child soldier). While Jonah’s around, Koko maintains a facade of civility and rationality.

Jormungand4

We do delve into Jonah’s backstory. His reason for hating weapons and how he ended up being recruited to work for Koko. It’s a tragic story but Jormungand doesn’t really try to make you feel sorry for Jonah. It isn’t that sort of story. Mostly we see him develop from someone who simply follows orders, to someone who questions orders, to someone who becomes very confused because he doesn’t know what he should do, to someone who makes a clear decision. While we may disagree with his decision it is an important step as a character and an important step for Jonah as a human being. Most of his life was dictated by circumstances and to actually take control of his own life and make a choice is a massive progression. Jonah is a much more understated character than the extravagant Koko and he is also younger. At times he seems very mature but at others we see the child beneath.

Jormungand7

Of the other members of Koko’s bodyguards, R is my favourite. No spoilers on his character development but pay attention to him early on. I must admit the first time I watched this show when the episodes suddenly focussed on him I was like ‘who are you?’ but on rewatching you see he’s actually there the whole time. He’s certainly the character I remember fondly when I get to the end of the series.

The other bodyguards all have their moments and as I said earlier, the show tries hard to make you like this crew. In between action set pieces we see them trying to tutor Jonah, messing about at the beach, relaxing while eating, and generally just being people. The relationships between the members are realistic and feel comfortable despite their different backgrounds. They each have their specialities but at the same time, they all work together for common goals.

Jormungand6

While we are focused on characters I just want to say the American agents are probably the worst portrayed in the story. They are either idiotic, arrogant, clueless, a combination of all three, or just plain crazy. These characters do not get any real development or growth nor are they given any particular human characteristics. In a show full of characters doing horrible things, Jormungand really wants you to hate most of these agents and gives them very little in the way of redeeming features.

The other character who I haven’t mentioned yet is Koko’s brother, Kasper. Mostly because he is a bit of an enigma and a jerk. He is necessary for the plot but mostly he’s a pain in the neck and he doesn’t feature very much.

I’m not going to comment on the weapons themselves or whether or not any of the combat sequences are realistic. I’m not into weapons and I don’t really play first person shooters so to be honest I don’t really care whether it was realistic or not. Most of the action sequences were exciting or dramatic and they all served their purpose in the plot so that was good enough for me.

So down to business, should you watch this anime?

I’d say yes. It presents an interesting premise and doesn’t try to direct you to take a certain view of the situation. Rather it tries to get you to question the circumstances surrounding each event and draw your own conclusions. It has a rich cast (though at times they play them up a little too much in order to soften the quite dark themes) and develops some interesting characters. Visually it is interesting (not amazing but it does do some interesting things) and the diverse range of settings used actually makes it feel like these characters are travelling the globe.

I really loved this anime. I thought going in it would be a bit too confronting but was pleasantly surprised. Certainly there are moments of sickening violence (more so because unlike a lot of anime this isn’t a fantasy or set in a future time but is firmly grounded in the world we know) and there are confronting ideas at times but it makes for a thought provoking piece of entertainment. And it is entertainment rather than a diatribe against weapons and arms dealers. At no point do the themes get in the way of telling the story.

If you’ve watched Jormungand, what did you think?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

avatar

Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or use one of my affiliate product links:


Kurose Riku 10 Count

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Jormungand Series Review: She’s Going to Devour Everything

  1. Because of its aesthetic I naively expected something akin to Black Lagoon, which I got but not quite as good.

    There are some interesting ideas present and I like the anti-hero idea of Koko as a weapons mongerer but there is something equally unsettling about young Jonah being groomed as a cold blooded assassin.

    A good action show but a morally dubious one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never seen or even heard of this anime, but I have to admit that this one sounds very intriguing. It’s not often that anime presents a story such as this in the real world, so I have to say that I am really interested in this one. The characters sound especially good. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d definitely recommend this one to you at some point. It isn’t the greatest thing ever but it certainly is different from the normal high school shenanigans and there’s enough going on to keep this one interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I picked the anime up after starting the manga. That was recommended to me by staff in a store after I mentioned that I wanted more manga with adult characters rather than teens, and said I liked Black Lagoon. I really enjoyed both seasons of the anime. It was fun, harsh, and easy to watch. You’re right that Koko is fascinating as a character too, I think. Plus ‘Her Name Is Koko, She I Loco, I Said Oh No’ is one catchy song.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s pretty much the same. If I remember correctly, this was a spot-on adaption. It does take the approach of having some non-existent backgrounds in some panels, which I know puts some people off, but it’s really great when it comes to action.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s