Jormungand – 6

Through six episodes now, the content of Jormungand has essentially been episodic with barely a handful of hints indicating a central or overarching plot.  Everything thus far has either been disconnected stories or timely flashbacks presented to us in a seemingly linear timeline.  While acceptable in genres where stories are secondary to other elements, such as comedy and slice-of-life, this approach to storytelling is ineffective or unfavorable for what Jormungand desires itself to be.  With no focus or substantial development on the main plot thus far, a discernible weakness in Jormungand has begun to emerge.

Rather than establish a story to provide a direction for the anime to take, Jormungand has covered other necessary content in the first six episodes.  Each episode has performed other obligatory storytelling duties, primarily introducing the cast, providing initial development or revealing motivations or flaws, and creating the setting by various world-building techniques.  So far we have a good, not great, idea of Koko’s entourage, Kasper and his buddies, and some of the other weapons dealers and CIA agents who appear to be actors in the Jormungand universe.  The setting has covered a diverse number of subjects, providing us reference to the dynamic nature of dealing weapons in addition to locating us in various regions of the globe where the weapons dealing industry has incredibly different players, needs, and processes.  Given these criteria, Jormungand has done an appropriate and reasonable job given what we’ve seen of the characters and setting, but without any significant development on the plot, the anime feels somehow incomplete or in some way lacking.

The reason why the absence of a central plot is harmful to Jormungand is because we do not know why everyone is doing what they do and in what direction the anime will go.  So far we’ve seen Koko deal with other weapons traders, sell weapons, avoid assassination, search for a friend, and for us to learn about Jonah’s past.  The content of each episode is disconnected from each other, much like how each physical setting was different between the episodes, so there has been no progress on whatever the main story might be.  We know Koko’s ambitions are to bring world peace through the sale of weapons but, unless this anime plans an improbable conclusion, we won’t be seeing that in this anime.  We’ve learned that Jonah has a vendetta for Kasper as being responsible for the death of his parents and hell he now lives in, but aside from a brief encounter and notable flashback, there has been zero progress toward that as an ending.  None of the other characters seem important enough to warrant being the central character in the story, so that can be dismissed, too.  Here, we are left with nothing satisfying, no context for which to understand anything.  We have no idea what the characters are doing or what they plan to do besides visit random but dangerous areas of the globe and sell more weapons.  There is no evidence that the characters want to escape from this routine and accomplish anything substantial either.  Instead, Jormangund continues to develop its characters and setting with no regard to context besides the individual and isolated narratives for each episode.

There does, however, seem to be some hints for which we can estimate what the story could be.  Through various aspects of the character development and world-building, it appears that Kasper is most likely antagonist of the series due to his actions as a weapons dealer.  It is apparent that Jonah will stop at nothing to exact his revenge on Kasper but no one else supports that idea.  Rather, Koko and Kasper are siblings with a healthy and amiable relationship between each other and it doesn’t look like Koko would allow Jonah to target her brother.  Still, Koko and Jonah have bonded quite well, so perhaps some event later in the story will drastically alter our characters and perhaps then initiate the story toward Kasper’s death.  Another, less exciting model for the story could be that Koko raises Jonah to become a normal member outside this society and live a normal life away from weapons, wars, destruction, and death.  Though somewhat anti-climactic compared to a battle against Kasper, it is a potential idea for what the main story could be for Jormungand based on the episodic content to date.  The context for this has been hinted in a few episodes already but given the structure, content, and presentation of Jormungand, in addition to Jonah’s personal crusade against Kasper, it seems unlikely.  Of course, these two are not exclusive and could be combined to make the central story, too.  Beyond that, there really is not clear indication of what the central story might be, especially for Koko’s character who’s only motivations are for world peace to be achieved and to care for her bodyguards.  Not a bad personality for a lead character but one that is limited without a story to move this character forward.

Now, voicing a complaint without any suggestions for improvement or advice would weaken or invalidate this argument since this is largely subjective and open to interpretation and personal preference.  How I feel Jormungand could’ve improved would be to have spent time on what drives Koko and what are her reasons for doing what she does.  If we had more time to understand her character, say in second, third, or fourth episodes, we could get an idea of what connects each episode together and why they are important to Koko and her ultimate goals.  If we comprehended Koko’s character more, we would have a better appreciation for the episodic content of each episode by being able to identify what context it provides for the story and why this is important for Koko to achieve her goal.  Furthermore, some more development on Jonah would also be appreciated but the fifth episode provided enough background and answers to understand his character.  Lastly, any clarification on the central plot would be nice but isn’t essential if the previous points were accomplished.  Additionally, these areas could be worked in with the existing content without affecting any of the character or setting development by removing some non-essential scenes with this new material.  This would also affect the wonderful truthfulness the adaptation has of the manga but I feel there can always be improvements made from transitioning a manga to an anime (but unfortunately they are rare).  There are also other methods, probably better methods too, for improving the story but these were the best recommendations I could come up with given what more I want from the anime and the most effective way of including it given what we’ve already received.

And though the message of this post was negative toward Jormungand, I am still impressed and enjoying the anime.  The amount of effort and detail put in the setting is outstanding, especially considering how the physical setting has changed in every episode and covered a wide number of topics.  I’m absolutely thrilled with how we’ve come to understand the weapons industry and how the anime portrays it with Koko being our personal representative.  I complained about the weakness of the cast in a previous post but I’ve grown to be content with the hierarchy of characters in the cast and understand the roles of the other characters better now.  For that, I’m satisfied though nowhere nearly as much as the setting.  And truthfully, the subjects of each episode have been fine on their own though some episodes were stronger than others.  The whole disconnect and not knowing where the story is going or why the characters are doing what they do just leaves me feeling something is missing in this anime.  Hopefully the story will reveal itself soon now that the anime is now a quarter finished.  Once it does so, then the anime can rightfully and unquestionably claim its presence among the top of this season.

Koko and Jonah have a relationship unlike any other, at least between Koko and her other bodyguards.  Koko has shown more attention and affection toward Koko than any other and seems to be around him more often than not.  Furthermore, Koko doesn’t mind being all touchy/feely around Jonah, either as there is a noticeable amount of physical contact between the two, usually imitated by Koko.  Though Jonah can be quite adorable at times, I am a bit curious about all the affection Koko shows Jonah when she hired him to be her bodyguard and is trying to reinvent him as a member of a normal society.  Additionally, I’m curious as to why Jonah has not shown any change in emotions, especially since his actions show he is rather compassionate, caring, and thoughtful of others (saving the orphans in the flashback, saving the pirate kid this episode, wanting to protect Koko is the third episode).  Jonah does care for Koko but he refuses to put his emotions on display besides at either deadly or dangerous times.  The relationship between the two is rather simple but the way they show their emotions to each other and how they act makes it seem to be an enigma.  How it changes throughout the rest of the season, regardless of cause or reason, will certainly be exciting to look out for.

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