Jormungand – 7

Though the frequent skirmishes, provocative action sequences, and persistent use of modern weaponry are the principal attractions of Jormungand, it is actually the business of selling weapons that drives this anime.  And though there is this constant reminder of how the effects and influence of guns are what shape the world, there’s that required step of currency prior to weapons that permits that philosophy to be true.  Yes, while often indirect or merely overlooked, Jormungand boasts a surprisingly robust industrial and fiscal side that suggest that this is quite the economic anime among its numerous other strengths.  The commercial side to Jormungand is an essential characteristic to the series; it is used to explain how and why Koko encounters and connects to everyone and everything.  Just as it is the guns that influence the world in Jormungand, it is the trade of weapons that controls the story of Jormungand.

Although the business of dealing weapons is imperative to the story of Jormungand, there are a variety of alternative methods for managing a story with virtually the same core and major themes as we see currently.  For example, replace the job title of Koko from an adept and esteemed weapons dealer to that of a rogue and stealthy mercenary. With that as the storyline, Jormungand could feasibly retain all the comedy, action, and themes as the real anime does.  Another example would be to make Koko an enigmatic and intellectual spy who spans the globe searching to answers.  Really, there is any number of ways to create a background for an action and comedy anime as we’ve seen in Jormungand, so the fact that it’s about weapons dealing indicates that there’s something special about it.  The fact that the business has been involved as it has throughout the anime further reinforces this point.

So what is it about the weapons trading business that Jormungand needs for it to tell its story?  Perhaps the best explanation comes from what we’ve learned about Koko and her ambition to establish world peace through the sale of deadly weapons.  This obvious hypocrisy is attractive as a theme in the story as it seems contradictory that the increase of devices that lead to death would be what ultimately leads to less conflict.  The theme would be reduced in the other examples since those have Koko as the direct user of weapons rather than the indirect.  This difference is significant because being a direct cause of death, destruction, and conflict, it’d be impossible for her to follow her dream.  Koko believes that selling weapons intelligently and tactfully will be what achieves her dream.  There are other examples through the aspects of industry, too, though not as definitive as Koko’s desires.  Jonah’s story also shows how significant the business side of Jormungand is with his vendetta against Kasper for selling the weapons that slaughtered his village and destroyed his life.  Rather than being content with murdering the enemies who actually performed the cruelties, Jonah won’t be satisfied until the business of murder is addressed, too.  This also ties into the hypocrisy, too, in that Jonah is using a weapons dealer to get back at a weapons dealer and doing something most would identify as contradictory, too.  Whatever the reason, the business elements of Jormungand are necessary for the story and the characters that we see.

Now that we can understand why the occupational characteristics of Jormungand exist, it’s important to see how it is utilized in the story to allow it to progress.  Through seven episodes, we’ve seen Koko and her band deal with rival weapons dealers, clients, allies, and avoid assassination.  Each storyline in this anime has had some direct connection to the fact that Koko is a weapons dealer.  Each confrontation and each association thus far is a result of Koko’s employment.  Though the story could easily be rewritten to include all these events with Koko being a mercenary or spy, it would fail to match the ambitions of her character in that she wants a world with no conflict.  This demonstrations that it would be possible to preserve the same episodic content as we’ve seen but the connection between each story, the weapons trading industry, could be different and consequently, the message of the anime and the link between episodes would unquestionably be different.  That is also why the business elements of Jormungand are some of the most essential to the anime.

Going beyond these simple storytelling devices and attempting to explain the importance of why the author gave Koko the occupation she has, the business traits of Jormungand correlate to a certain message about money in the anime.  Although the fiscal elements of Jormungand have been nominal to date, briefly mentioned by Koko that she didn’t want to sale weapons to an army with no money and how Scarecrow only cares about obtaining money, the importance of business means the importance of currency.  We have yet to see any trade of bank notes, handoffs of briefcases crammed full of cash, exchanges of weighty brown bags with comically large dollar signs printed on them, or ordinary credit card transactions, we know money is flowing in every episode of Jormungand or that the events in these episodes have the potential to drastically alter or halt the currency stream.  While it is the guns receiving all the attention, the guns are ultimately fighting over the money that is at stake in every episode.  It shouldn’t be surprising considering the themes for this anime but it’s always a fun exercise to examine how money and monetary gains are represented in an anime such as this.

However, our understanding of the weapons trade industry is still incomplete and thus, our understanding of Koko is likewise.  Information, explanations, and clues here would do wonders for developing our heroine, her team of bodyguards, the story, and even other areas of the anime, such as the setting and perhaps other characters, too.  Fortunately the anime seems to be self-aware and is transitioning to Koko’s HQ where we’re certain to dive into even more business aspects of the anime.  Though it may sound boring to those who readily dismiss economic-themed stories, these details will indeed be essential to Koko’s character and help illuminate her motivation for being a weapons dealer.  How the visit to HQ will affect Koko and the direction of the series, especially after covering the commercial elements of the anime in this post, will surely be remarkable.

The action sequences in Jormungand have always been a bit wonky but this week’s duel between Valmet and Karen was especially difficult.  While the action and brawls are glorified to the point where they become entertaining and thrilling to watch, the enjoyment begins to diminish when it becomes too unbelievable.  Upon seeing Valmet literally outrun bullets fired from roughly a meter away by a proficient assassin is a bit much.  Compound that with the fact that Valmet lost all her bloodlust and emotions when Lehm simply talked to her and unwelcome questions begin to sprout regarding the motivation of Valmet or even necessity of the scene.  Though still enjoyable to watch, the action scenes in Jormungand have begun to slip recently.  What’s going to solve this isn’t any more over-the-top action where humans in a realistic setting defy the laws of physics but rather some simple, yet intense sequences where the action is relevant to the story or vital in developing the character.  Something like, especially with someone like Koko or Jonah, would really hook me back on the action in this anime again.

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  1. #1 by Anon on May 24, 2012 - 4:27 AM

    The action sequences in Jormungand have been pretty weak and unbelievable. The inconsistency in (orchestra’s) gunfight felt extremely jarring. However, Jormungand do have an interesting views on economical trade of weapons. In my opinion, the business elements have always been the focal point of the story.

    • #2 by ThatOneGuy on May 24, 2012 - 4:31 PM

      Maybe they are intending to make it feel jarring, to put forward the idea that gunfights aren’t for the weak of heart, or slow of… eyes. like their target audience? eh?

    • #3 by avvesione on May 24, 2012 - 7:44 PM

      It’s becoming more and more apparent that the gunfights in Jormungand aren’t a strength in the series in terms of realism and that, in turn, has affected the enjoyment of these fights. If the anime were campy or non-realistic, then it’d work better, but given how serious the rest of the anime is, it is a bit detrimental.

      And yeah, I’ve noticed a bunch of people have taken a stab at this topic after this episode and applauded the business end of the anime. It wasn’t great or spectacular but it was well executed and fit nicely in the story. It’s a great focal point to wrap a story around.

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