Jormungand – 10

Despite the constant presence of humor throughout the series, Jormungand is an anime founded in a serious nature.  Without this essential backbone providing structure to the entire series, the whole setting about an arms dealer and her band of bodyguards would feasibly collapse.  And due to this relationship linking the setting, story, and characters together, the main cast can partake in only limited amounts of comedy before it starts to undermine what the anime originally stands for.  But Scarecrow and Schokolade are immune from this restriction and are able to flourish where others cannot.  What is it about this duo that allows them to contrast with the rest of the characters in Jormungand so greatly?

While Scarecrow and Schokolade are influential, intimidating, and powerful people in Jormungand, enough to smack Koko and live another day, they’ve been designated the comic relief characters of the series given their prominent positions and their delightful personalities.  The tenth episode of Jormungand did not necessarily require their involvement; the episode could have been a “no laugh zone” and seen the demise of Dragon through Koko assassinating the militia leader personally or had the CIA be involved off-screen.  However, those options were nixed somewhere along the production process, somewhere when the manga was being conceived most likely, and Scarecrow and Schokolade made brief but humorous appearances throughout.  And not only this episode but ever since Scarecrow stalked Koko around in the third and fourth episodes, he’s been largely reduced to a mere side character who gets the audience to laugh more than anything else.  These two are unlike any other characters in the series given their roles and how they promote the comedy unlike any other.  How are they able to compliment the series with this humor rather than undercut it?

First and perhaps foremost, the anime requires Koko and her team to be serious for when the tension and action are present.  Any bit of humor or comedy coming from these characters in time of pressure and stress would destabilize the situation for the audience making it seem less important than what Jormungand wants us to see.  These gunfights and skirmishes and other fights are intended to be dramatic and intense points of the series for us where we see the merciless and destructive nature of weapons dealers and their inhumane business, a theme and concept the series requires for its story about Koko and Jonah.  These times are then contrast with the cast acting casual and amiable at other points, sometimes immediately after slaughtering a miniature army, to make them seem human again.  Scarecrow and Schokolade aren’t necessarily required to abide by this rule for the theme to remain true and, since we’ve already established these two as powerful figures in the anime, they’re free to fulfill any role they see fit for whenever they appear.  This is a major reason why Scarecrow and Schokolade were able to instigate some of the comedy in this otherwise serious episode.

Another reason why the CIA duo is able to thrive in terms of comedy is that their relationship with Koko allows them to.  Within Koko’s personnel of bodyguards, a power gradient exists with Koko at the top, followed closely by Lehm and Valmet.  This dynamic allows Koko to be somewhat relaxed and comical around her workforce while the rest are in a bit more of a precarious position minus Lehm and Valmet.  Scarecrow and Schokolade, however, view Koko in a completely different manner and see her more on equal terms on opposite ends of the spectrum (friend and foe).  By equating themselves to Koko’s level, whether true or not, they’re able to interact with the princess in a completely different structure than the rest of the main cast.  Koko is able to playfully interact with the two who bounce off her energy quite well.  Of course, this aspect of the comedy is dependent upon each character’s personality but Scarecrow and Schokolade fit those requirements suitably.

Furthermore, continuing with the relationship dynamic, Scarecrow and Schokolade are an ideal match for each other, too.  Given Scarecrow’s position as a ruthless and short-fused CIA operative and Schokolade who’s a ditzy yet effective airhead, the two bond together like oil and water.  Yet they work together as a duo due to the anime’s discretion and what results is a pair certain to always be at odds with itself.  And with Schokolade always brimming with a smiling and displaying an optimistic, positive attitude, the struggle or conflicts from this duo are certain to be defused quickly or immediately resolved before anything serious should arise.  The personalities and relationship of Scarecrow and Schokolade are quite effective at delivering humor for whenever Jormungand needs it.

But what about any other characters, why is this largely restricted to Scarecrow and Schokolade?  Well, provided that a new character is able to survive the episode they appear in, then it is definitely plausible that they, too, could become a comic relief character of this anime.  Despite Kasper being tied in to Jonah’s painful history and his revenge-riddled storyline, he fits the mold of this character as well given his position outside of the tense action scenes, his relationship with Koko, and his charismatic personality.  And some of the cast has been more adept at humor than others, most notably Valmet, though she tends to be another person entirely around Koko which is unlike the rest of the characters in the anime.  But the point remains clear in any of these cases and that Jormungand wants to keep the thoughtful bits separated from the humor as much as possible for it to retain a serious environment for its themes and stories.  Though it wants to have humor to lighten up the mood and get the audience to laugh, the anime wants its story and action to be taken as sincerely as possible and, in order to do that, it needs to structure itself so that the anime doesn’t undermine itself.  And because of this dynamic, Scarecrow and Schokolade are able to contrast the main cast of Jormungand quite well in terms of amusement and laughs.

My displeasure with the action in Jormungand continues into this episode again, though not for the same reasons as were detailed my episode 9 post.  What disturbed me during this episode was for the fact that Koko read ahead in the script and figured out what her enemy was prepared to do and so they were able to prepare their defense and their escape.  She knew exactly what they were going to do and how to defend against it given their limited resources and were able to evade the assault and fly to safety.  But what would’ve happened had the militia employed snipers for when they were preparing everything at the airport?  Or what if they fired at the wheels when the plane was taking off, resulting in it crashing before it could become airborne. Or they could’ve tracked where the plane was flying and attacked wherever they landed.  There were really an infinite number of possibilities the militia could have taken yet Koko was able to know precisely what was going to happen and they were able to prepare accordingly, almost like she knew everything that was about to happen.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was revealed later that she had all the copies of the Jormungand manga on her at all times and was reading it a few chapters ahead so that she’d know what to expect in the upcoming episodes.  But then… how does the Koko in the manga know what’s going to happen to her when there is no manga for her to read?…

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