Jormungand – 3

Captivating and dazzling, august and imposing, Koko commands Jormungand through its tumultuous adventures, electrifying action, and charming comedy.  But that alone does not complete the persona that is Koko.  Beyond the recognizable, there are quelled characteristics of our heroine that sprout in opportune moments that showcase a magnanimous and compassionate side to Koko that otherwise remains obscured.  Koko is truly a kind soul despite what her mischievous appearance and exceptional behavior would suggest.  While her entire team of elite bodyguards looks toward Koko in order to protect her in her critical business, she looks back at them and makes certain her team is taken care of, too.

Though it does not always present itself in the most apparent way, Koko has demonstrated multiple times that she truly cares for those who hold her life in their hands.  Perhaps the most noticeable is that she does what she can to keep her team members alive.  Her tactics, ideas, or actions may belong to a grander solution than solves a problem or completes a sale but her objectives always include the safety and welfare of her team.  And while she does put her bodyguards in dangerous or deadly situations, she never puts them in a situation beyond their skill or comfort levels.

But that’s the obvious approach, anyone who claims to be a human would do go to such lengths to protect their assets.  Hell, even if you’re not doing it to keep them alive because you’re a good person, you would even do it because it makes sense economically.  No, the compassion and kindheartedness described earlier that completes our illustration of Koko goes beyond to the subtle details of our protagonist that are a true testament to how benevolent a person she is.  There were several examples in this episode that demonstrated Koko’s humanity.

First, Koko takes care of Jonah.  No, it isn’t simply providing him a place to sleep and food to eat, Koko truly cares about Jonah as a human being.  The first scene with Koko showed her teaching Jonah the basics we all learned in elementary school.  These skills won’t likely help our child soldier become a better bodyguard or assassin but they’ll set the foundation that can prepare the boy for a life beyond being a ruthless soldier.  For what other reason would Koko be personally teaching Jonah about these subjects than to prepare him for a real life outside of violence, hatred, and weapons?  One could argue that math and English have practical uses for a solider but Koko was intent on teaching Jonah all areas of knowledge to give him a complete education.  Yes, though the set-up was mainly used for humor and served no purpose in the current story, it magnified a trait of Koko’s character that is often hidden.  Her compassion toward Jonah and his future were on full display during this scene.

And not only Jonah, too, Koko cares about her entire team.  Because the rest of the cast outside the main four has had little screentime, examples are miniscule and the ones that apply are often feeble.  During the firefight with Orchestra, Koko did look out for Jonah and Valmet despite being a target for assassination.  After being wounded in the crossfire, Koko took it upon herself to transport Valmet to a safer location despite losing her cover after Jonah rushed Orchestra.  The scene was never actually depicted in the anime but you could imagine Koko carrying the bleeding and partially immobilized Valmet under a torrent of bullets to where Lehm and Jonah were sheltered.  It’s a noble act that Koko did for Valmet because she easily could’ve left her there and sent a bodyguard back to bring Valmet over to a safer area.  I’m sure placed in any situation, Koko would do that for anyone, even if it were a complete stranger who was caught in the gun fight.  She is just that type of person that looks out for others despite knowing the risks of her actions and the situation she’s in.  Perhaps that is a reason that her bodyguards regard her with such respect and admiration, that she cares about everyone regardless of who they are.

Coupled to that is that she listens to everyone and respects their thoughts and opinions.  A key example here is during the closing of the episode where Koko and Jonah were running along the beach.  Jonah leaked some of his thoughts and impressions of weapons dealers and guns to Koko while running for their lives.  They were personal feelings that Jonah had never shared before and they obviously mean a significant amount to him since it defines the person he is and why he is in the profession holds.  And there, on the receiving end of the communication was Koko.  She began her response by telling Koko how happy she was to hear him voice his own thoughts which is an encouraging and endearing way to begin a reply to someone after they share sensitive information about themselves.  And, of course, Koko choses her words carefully to phrase it in a way to support and connect with Jonah.  Following up on that, she shows she listened to Jonah and understood his words, even using the term ‘demonic weapons’ in her answer.  It goes to show that Koko values her bodyguards for more than their practical skills but for their input and feelings, too.  She looks out for the human side of her team and genuinely wants to get to know them beyond being the sanctioned murderers and nutcases they are.

Koko has a powerful sense of humanity within her that makes her the brilliant and esteemed leader we see before us.  Her tactics, business-sense, and ambition are what make her among the top in the industry of weapons dealing but her compassion toward her team of bodyguards is what distinguishes her from the masses.  Her sympathetic and concerned personality is not necessarily essential for her job, but as a part of her personality and character, she is able to utilize these talents and abilities to manage a team of bodyguards correctly, efficiently, and to the best of their abilities.  Her kindheartedness is unlike any other in this anime and she honestly looks out for her team despite it being gratuitous.  Her character is already unlike any other, an exceptional and remarkable personality is already enough to make her the best of this anime but her added compassion and generosity elevate her beyond that and to the zenith of characters.  Koko was already the best aspect of Jormungand and seeing her be a caring and supportive individual fashions her to be even more impressive, respected, and cherished.

The prolonged firefight in the second half of the episode proved to be an exhilarating and rewarding action sequence but there were a few issues with it that prevented complete satisfaction.  Perhaps the most erroneous of the entire sequence is how abysmal a shot everyone became when the background characters weren’t targets.  In the whole sequence, after countless bullets were fired from both sides and for an extended duration of time, the only causality was Valmet getting hit in the thigh by a bullet that pieced her riot shield.  Yeah, even when Jonah was rushing Shishou (Master), neither could hit each other despite being only a few meters away.  Let’s not forget that Shishou was able to hit two rooftop snipes with two bullets from that same assault rifle, too.  It doesn’t make sense from a realistic perspective but for the story, it does provide a bit of thrilling action (better than firing from cover) and provide a teaching moment for Lehm and Jonah (while Valmet and Koko are left without any protection).  Another problem with the firefight is that weapons seemed to appear and migrate.  Perhaps the best example were the weapons used by Orchestra which remained hidden until Chinatsu began pulling out heavy weapons from a suddenly there suitcase and Shishou found his assault rifle.  The riot shields brought by the police seemed to migrate since they were both in the same area yet both Valmet and Chinatsu had one.  And with all the bullets fired in that scene, there was surprisingly little damage done to the build environment.  Despite the storefronts containing windows there was never any broken glass during the firefight and the plant life remained relatively healthy and live though somewhat frightened.  Overall, the gun battle was exceptional, especially with the use of the setting, the character development during it, and the fact that it took long enough that it never felt rushed nor poorly directed or edited.  It was the highlight of this episode and hopefully a sign of what’s more to come but there are a few tidbits that could use some touch-ups or improvements.  If the second half of this two-part episode is able to correct these minor details, then I may find myself enjoying the action-side of this anime more than any other aspect.

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  1. #1 by Zammael on April 25, 2012 - 8:02 AM

    Fun episode all around. Tho it’s hard to expect any measure of realism from a show that has a guy with shark teeth. Not just human teeth that were filed down to vampiric fangs, but the Great White Shark type of razor sharp teeth!

    • #2 by avvesione on April 26, 2012 - 1:30 AM

      …but I like the shark teeth.

      Yeah, my previous post was about how to find the happy medium between the real world and an entertaining story with the weapons trade industry but I suppose that’s generally true for the entire anime, too. There will be some overlap of entertaiment and action-type elements in the realistic scenes and some realism will spill over in the other half to prevent it from going overboard in just pure action or comedy.

      I think the anime does a decent job with the realism. It certainly isn’t an anime I’d watch for the realism only but it does have some and it’s generally pretty good.

  2. #3 by chaostangent on April 25, 2012 - 9:33 AM

    It’s interesting how they’ve pitched Koko as, like you say, someone who is very protective of her team but is involved in the cut-throat world of arms trading. I initially assumed it was just as a form of juxtaposition against the murders she authorises but the real questions seem to be what makes someone her family (and therefore protected and looked after) and what is it that made her so flippant with everyone else’s lives.

    It was good to have episode 2 start dealing with some of the moral quandaries that arms trading poses but I’m wondering whether the series will take that any further and focus more on the action.

    • #4 by avvesione on April 26, 2012 - 1:44 AM

      It is a nice contrast to see Koko be so endearing and protective for her own team yet ruthless and unsympathetic to others, especially those that she allows to be murdered. It really isn’t clear how she defines who’s in her ‘family’ and who isn’t, but it seems to be more than just being one of her bodyguards or not. She acts differently around each member of her team and shows varying amounts of affection and attention to whoever she’s with. It would be nice to see how she evaluates everyone around her.

      I believe Jormungand will examine that latter issue in further detail but only toward the end of this first season or perhaps in the second season this Autumn. For one, we know that Koko believes her weapons dealings are leading toward world peace, whereas Jonah believes it’s a hypocrisy and morally wrong to give weapons to people and enable them. Seeing as the two are opposites as well as the leads, I’m sure the topic will be covered extensively at some point in the series.

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