Jormungand – 11

Within Koko’s team of bodyguards, interpersonal communication is a rarity.  Often minimal and infrequent or limited to the mission at hand, we hardly ever see the bodyguards converse with each other even during their times of peace and relaxation.  Rather, they fragment themselves to be alone or thereabouts and remain that way until they’re required to assimilate again for their next objective.  But when Koko is communicating with any of her bodyguards, they stand attentive and respond diligently.  The use of communication in Jormungand certainly reveals an interesting dynamic given the structure of Koko’s team and how they associate with each other.

First thing’s first and that’s to identify the power gradient within the team to help explain who’s above who.  Not only will this help define how the other characters see each other and communicate with each other but also help explain why communication is indeed minimal.  At the top is Koko, of course, as the leader of this operation and the brains behind everything they do.  Below her is Lehm, who has experience and insight into these operations and often provides information and advice to Koko even if she doesn’t need it.  Lehm hardly gives out any orders though, which is a stark contrast to Koko who seems to only be effective in distributing them, but Lehm is able to act on his own, so long as he believes its within Koko’s plan for the operation.  The only time he ever does is when Koko sends him and a few others on a special mission in which he is always the leader.  Under Lehm would be Valmet who seems more similar to Koko in how she approaches the party.  She’s willing to give out orders and command the others around as long as its within her scope under Koko’s tactics.  After that, it really opens up to everyone else though they rise and fall based on the circumstances present or due to their specializations.  They remain somewhat disconnected between each other but all report to the three who are above them in this chain-of-command.

What this structure reveals is how top-heavy the group is.  Koko sits at the top of the group wielding supreme power over her bodyguards and commands them to do what’s needed for them to survive and to profit.  Like a general, she’s able to direct each party to where they’re needed and mediate the communication between them as a means to keep each part functioning as a whole unit.  Because of this, communication between the soldiers is reduced to a minimum as everything goes through Koko to the others.  The rest of the party has no real need to communicate with each other and it’d likely break down or be inopportune if it went against the power gradient or if an equal was commanding another.  But this structure extends beyond the battlefield and into the private lives of the party members which affects their relationships and how they talk to each other.

Not only is the structure of Koko’s team constructed so that the members rarely talk to each other but their own individual backgrounds and personalities add an additional effect to their isolation as well.  With everyone having a rich, yet different background from each other, many members have little in common with each other besides the fact that they follow Koko and serve her with their lives.  When the entourage is relaxing or in between missions, they often satisfy their own interests or desires and hardly converse with each other.  The only conversations really seem to be involving Koko and she often attends to Jonah.  And though the party is able to relax in hotel rooms or play together at a desolate beach, they hardly know much about each other.  This has been made evident by some of the question Jonah has inquired about the others or, in this episode, when Valmet recognized how little she knew about Jonah.  Furthermore, Lutz’s comments to R when burying the mafia showed another level of disconnect between the bodyguards on their responses to the recent bloodshed.  And thought the camera tends to focus on Koko and Jonah, you never really see any side conversations between the bodyguards or see them spending time with each other.  It’s almost always Koko and someone else.

With this brief and rather simple analysis of the communication of Jormungand, we can see that the party is constructed to having Koko essentially be the leader of the party and the leader of each individual.  Everyone serves under Koko and responds to her orders or requests.  It really hasn’t allowed the party to assimilate with each other and allow for personal relationships to form though that could be expected given the nature of their business and the diversity of characters selected.  And what it does is it allows members to be substituted in or out for any operation, especially in the case that someone dies and a spot needs to be filled.  What it does is it shows how central Koko is to everything in this business and how she’s able to control and manipulate everything.  Being the center of communication in this group is just another way for her to govern her party and for it to function the way that she wants.  And with that, Koko is able to thrive and survive as an arms dealer in such a hazardous and unforgiving world.

Though we’ve seen Koko interact with HQ a few times in the series, we never really see how her supply-chain works, how she’s able to get these weapons to sell, and where she gets the information on potential buyers.  Besides her group of bodyguards which follower her around as she searches the globe for profits, you have to wonder what’s going on back at the company’s headquarters and how she’s able to keep her business running so smoothly when it seems she’s frequenting various corners of the globe without performing the duller, most tedious aspects of business.  I’m a little curious where she got through three trucks full of weapons, especially since she mentioned it was a small time job, and comparing it to her container ship which sailed from Asia to Africa, and how much inventory she carries or how much she spends on purchasing in a given timeframe.  Of course, this isn’t entirely a business anime in that it focuses on the business more than anything else, but it’s just something that crossed my mind given how little we see the weapons that Koko sells in this anime.

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  1. #1 by Zammael on June 20, 2012 - 4:57 PM

    Koko exemplifies how organized team warfare should be run. Her ideas and strategies work because the group she leads and depends on is creative & responsive, and no member put his/her agenda first. It is the structure of the team, i.e., the chain of command & the relationship of the parts to the whole, that give Koko’s plans force.

    Moreover, Koko operates on a fine line. No matter the group, everyone always has his/her own agenda. Koko avoids being authoritarian, and nobody reverts to their natural selfishness, hence she maintains control. She has a chain of command in place where her guys do not feel constrained by her influence, and follow her lead. They are largely the right people placed in the right place – they enact the spirit of her ideas without being mechanical. She allows for participation, but avoids groupthink, i.e., the irrational collective decision making.

    The paragon of this fundamental strategy of war is George Marshall, who reformed the US military.

    • #2 by avvesione on June 20, 2012 - 5:12 PM

      An excellent comment, thanks for adding that. I agree with you wholeheartedly and wanted to have this as a major component of this post. The way communication works in Jormungand shows how must of an impact and how much control Koko has over everything. Though it’s something that is easily overlooked, how communication is used in an anime, it is a telling aspect of how Koko operates her business and really shows the dynamic of her team with her at the top of everyone else below but connected to her. And as a result, it has allowed her group to be effective in combat and business.

      Didn’t know that about George Marshall but I’m not surprised it was something he did as a way to reform the army.

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