Brought up in a conflict-ridden environment, child soldier Jonathan "Jonah" Mar hates weapons and those who deal them. But when Koko Hekmatyar, an international arms dealer, takes on Jonah as one of her bodyguards, he has little choice but to take up arms. Along with Koko's other bodyguards, composed mostly of former special-ops soldiers, Jonah is now tasked with protecting Koko and her overly idealistic goal of world peace from the countless dangers that come from her line of work.
Jormungand follows Koko, Jonah, and the rest of crew as they travel the world selling weapons under the international shipping company HCLI. As Koko's work is illegal under international law, she is forced to constantly sidestep both local and international authorities while doing business with armies, private militaries, and militias. With the CIA always hot on her trail, and assassins around every corner, Jonah and the crew must guard Koko and her dream of world peace with their lives or die trying.
“Your new recruit is a child soldier? And he's got iron, shit.”
There is much to talk about guns, wars, arm dealers, and child soldiers these days. For those who are into the fast action type, the type of series involving a kickass music, or a type of series involving a main protagonist being loco, or blood being splattered all over the screen, then this series is definitely something to keep an eye on.
According to Norse Mythology, Jörmungandr (or more often known as Jormungand) is known as the Midgard Serpent or the World Serpent. And like a serpent, the main character is cunning as expected of
an arms dealer. For without intelligence and leadership, the crew would not be what they've become of today.
Jormungand is based off the manga of the same name starring Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer who sells weapons under HCLI, a weapons corporation. She is badass, she is independent, she is cunning, she is fun, and she is of course loco. With her is the child soldier, sidekick, bodyguard, and brother all the same time named Jonah (Jonathan Mar). He is of the West Asian origin and after being orphaned swears to get vengeance. Yet the same time, with his acquittance of Koko and the crew, his sentiment seems to have cooled down and even has a warmer side to him that some of us may see as cute or peculiar.
[ - Story - ]
To be honest, this is the type of show that can make any fan of action genre glued to the screen with its blood packed spilling, rapid violence, and gun dominance at first glance. The first episodes kicks off already with some full throttle road war and those bullets fly across all over the screen. It wastes little time in conveying the hazardous occupation and brutality of being an arms dealer. At the same time, it also finds ways to make the series relaxing through some heartwarming moments and comedic scenes.
The story is set in the modern eras so if you're looking for mecha action, futuristic weaponry, or of the historical theme, then you're looking at the wrong place. Fear not though as the story is easy to understand and not one of those mindfucks that leaves the viewers going “HUH?” Speaking of stories, Jormungand has a smooth pace focusing on the crew's teamwork and abilities to accomplish tasks. Each arc focuses on professionalism and it's up to Koko and her crew to work together in the end to deliver the result. Although somewhat one-sided and predictable, the story is still smooth and to the adult-oriented audience, can be appealing.
[ - Characters - ]
One of the aspect that engineers this series is the colorful cast of characters. Koko Hekmatyar assumes the role of the female protagonist who is amusing, entertaining, and dramatic to watch. Despite the real dangers of her occupation, she makes fun out of most it and can literally be seen as a troll at occasions. Her character brightens up the gloom and doom of the crew and gives her job a new light that some future arm dealers may find appealing or maybe strange. On the other hand, there is Jonah, the child recruit soldier. Like the opposite side of a coin, he has a more stoic mind and says things that can sometimes be interpreted blunt, sarcastic, or too brutally honest. Yet he is an interesting character if we look at him more carefully for his ability to balance out the seriousness and fun mood of the story and her crew.
Speaking of the crew, there are some of other prominent characters to look at. One of them is the one eyed ripped girl, Valmet. Her priceless expressions throughout the episodes towards Koko are those of a puppy like crush and silly to watch. Yet behind that eye lies a dark past, one which changed her life forever and made her the person that she is today. There are some others worth to mention namely Lehm that resumes the second in command of the crew, Kasper Hekmatyar (Koko's elder brother), and Chinatsu from one of the earlier episodes. While all of them have contrasting personalities, it is easy to see that they share the theme of having a dark past whether playing the role of the good or bad player.
It is because of these themes and histories, the crew and the characters of this series are quite unique in its aspects.
[ - Animation/Art - ]
Like Steins; Gate, Jormungand is handled by White Fox. They are a relatively new anime studio who are more into the traditional background. At first glance, that's nothing worth to talk about. Yet, if we look carefully, we can clearly see that the studio creates the realism of the the story and into its characters. The weapons, the military backgrounds, the settings, the outfits, the visuals. It retains its ability to create the atmosphere. Koko's mischievous expressions on her loco face shows it all through the lashes and those slippery grins like a serpentine. That can also be said to the same for her bodyguard, sidekick, and friend, Jonah.
The series also tries to bring out humor through some of the more comic scenes with the black ringed eyes in the form of priceless expressions. While not too appealing, it brings out the comedy side of the series and shows that while the job of being an arm dealer is dangerous, it can also be fun and to make most of it.
[ - Sound - ]
I'll say this once and once only. The music and soundtrack of this series is pure epic. The music director behind the scene (Taku Iwasaki) puts the e into epic for its beats and techno trance like music that will make you wish you're part of the series. (unless you fear of getting shot that is)
The OP song, “Borderland” sung by Mami Kawada is also quite catchy. Known for her work from the popular Shana franchise and the Toaru Majutsu no Index series, she brings her latest work to life through this song. All in all for nothing else of a reason to watch this show, the soundtrack of the series is one of them
[ - Enjoyment - ]
Like I said before, this series is packed with nonstop action in rapid sequences. There's not much romance to expect out of this show but who cares when we have Koko and her alpha crew? There's also some little fan-service here and there with the ripped Valmet, the mass volumes of blood spilled on an episode basis, and of course, those kickass music that can get you start watching the show in a heartbeat. The action does occasionally get repetitive and the gore seems to be almost forced on. But if we look carefully, the series also has the more emotionally side to it (especially involving Valmet) in some of the later battles. To combine action and emotion, that is enjoyment.
Despite all the praise, this series does have flaws. After all, without flaws, this show would be in MAL's top 100 by now. Yet, it's not. That's because it does have flaws.
One of the major problems I'd say would be the forced action that is a bit driven too much and lack of more character development. For example, I'd love to see some more history background besides Valmet, Koko, and Jonah. Maybe that guy with the sniper that has the eye of a hawk, or maybe Schokolade, the blonde informant that has a peculiar and joyful personality. Additionally, the character designs of the show are a bit blend and seems somewhat dirty. After watching Koko and her crew grin on a daily basis, in the OP, on missions, etc, it gets repetitive. But even with these flaws, this series is enjoyable, at least in the action and seinen department. But even if you don't meet the age demographic, this show can be watched for some guilty pleasure involving Koko's alpha crew and their exchanges. It's fun, it's bloody, it's entertainment, and it's in your face. All in all, this series is great to watch in the middle of the week especially after a busy week of school or work even with all the violence.
Just remember though in real life that violence is not the answer to everything, well except in Jormungand.
“People who kill too much turn into dragons one day. Beasts that rule the land atop piles of money and fly the skies on wings of authority. They become more and more violent until they can no longer understand the language of men. We cannot allow dragons to remain in this world, even though we are the ones from which they are spawned.”
Koko Hekmatyar is a unique person, one of those people who keep equlibrium in the world, setting the delicate balance between right or wrong. As a guns merchant she encounters many chaotic situations where the line between right or wrong is easily crossed,
however that doesn't stop her, as she stands collected in the face of perils. As every person working in this line of business, she gathers a team of people who subordinate to her. As you might have guessed, they are not ordinary people, but experienced soldiers who came alive from the pits of hell. They choose to follow the bright light that Koko emits, being attracted by her charm and wisdom, talents which make her a natural leader.
As her new subordinate, she recruits Jonah, a boy who fought as a child soldier in the Middle East. Jonah meets her team and is taken by surprise by all the new information he finds out about the world outside the war zone, since he only knew who to shoot a gun and fight. Koko gives Jonah a chance to be free and discover the world in his travels. However, Koko doesn't babysitt him, making him a new addition to her team, and giving him the role of protecting her in her gun transactions with people of the underworld.
The story follows the journey of Koko and her team to various countries and continents where Koko sells different guns and war machinery. As expected, the transactions don't always go so well, thus making Koko's team enagage in badass combat to protect her when the situation gets out of hand. It does remind of Black Lagoon, but this show stands on its own, the story being engaging and interesting enough to set itself apart. However, it does have flaws, the story not being coherent at times in the transition between episodes as well as having some characters's backgrounds unexplained.
The art is appealing, especially the designs of Jonah and Koko. The animation is constantly good, and the fighting scenes are engaging and highly-elaborated. I find the guns designs pretty imaginative as well as the various combat styles.
The music in this anime is really stunning, from the up-beat rap music to the classic music played in the background and the music in various languages that suits the multi-cutural backgrounds of the characters. One of my favorites songs from this anime is in portuguese, its beauty touching the strings of your heart.
At first Jonah clearly states that even if he's talented with shooting guns and killing people with them, he hates guns and those who sell them. However, he soon discovers that Koko is not your usual cold-hearted, insensitive gun merchant, but follows her own code of morals, even if it at times ambiguous. For example, she doesn't accept payment in drugs, and it's been shown that she admires determination and bravery even in her enemies. The way she chose her followers is the best example. For instance, her bodyguard and driver, Ugo, was a member of the mafia when Koko ordered for them to be killed when they wanted to pay her in drugs, leaving Ugo the only survivor. When asked why did she leave Ugo alive, she replyed that she liked the fact that Ugo looked away in disapproval when the mafia showed the drugs.
Koko is a force of nature, one of those rare people who can become anything they put in mind to be, however, Koko instead chose to be part of the dangerous underworld. She was born at sea, thus not having a place where she belongs, but because of that she feels unbounded, being able to feel freedom at another level. In norse mythology, Jormungand is called the "World Serpent" because he grew so large that he could surround the world and grasp its own tail. That may be a metaphor for Koko, who has the ability to feel free everywhere she goes in the world, thus by following her, she gives other people who strive for freedom, the chance of feeling eliberated.
We also meet her other subordinates which are people who survived wars and conflicts. There is Lehm, the always calm and collected veteran soldier and mercenary who is very compelling as a character. There is also Valmet, a skilled war combatant from Finland who still pursues revenge for her murdered comrades. As Koko once stated : "She's her teacher, her friend and more than that".Another member of Koko's team consists of Lutz, who serves at times the role of a comic relief, being shot in the ass several times, however showing superior skill as a sniper.
The character of Jonah is very interesting to watch as he develops, at the beginning showing a strong loathe of guns and the criminal world, after joining Koko's team he finds that things aren't as black and white as he initially had thought, people like Mao, for example, who have a family and are good-natured individuals, but still have to kill because of their job.
However, there are problems with the characters as well. The portrayal of the characters as being the “good guys” is highly unrealistic, because of the profession they have. Seeing a sympathetic law-breaker is acceptable in anime format, though. There are also interesting supporting characters but they aren't developed, which is quite a pity. I would also have liked to see more of Jonah's experiences as a child soldier and how they affected him. That would have been very interesting for me to watch, but unfortunately, it was totally discarded.
I enjoyed this anime, I recommend it to those who watched Black Lagoon as well as those who like action scenes and imaginative combat styles.
NOTE: Before i start my review, i'd like to say that the excellent Shane Smith from VICE has done a reportage from a major arms dealing convention. So if you want to see some Jormungand-style gunrunning in real time, then you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJct-kBqIKA
My understanding of arms dealers came after watching the excellent film "Lord of War". Nicolas Cage plays a Ukrainian-American arms dealer who sells guns like AK-47s, M-16s and a M-60 Machine gun to warlords and rebel groups. The movie is great as it portrays a balanced view of the arms dealer, and how inane our world is.
Arms dealing is rampant
in this current age. With the Drug War across Latin America along with Middle Eastern revolutions and a Taliban insurgency in West Asia, the need for arms dealers is higher than ever, and these wars gave rise to people like Viktor Bout who sells AK-47s to dictators like Charles Taylor and Muammar Gaddafi. It is evil, manipulative and horrifying and his recent arrest became a morality tale about the nature of war and how people like Viktor Bout are making the world a worse place to live.
Jormungand came a few months after Lord of War, but it's also excellent. And the anime adaptation aired the same month Viktor Bout received 25 years of prison in the United States. So it's pretty co-incidental that both the manga and anime came at a time when stories of arms dealers reached the news.
The story is about a group of arms dealers led by a Genki girl named Koko Hekmatyar (Shizuka Itou). Her ragtag crew is like the A-Team of arms dealers, and their ways of running the business is as carefree as the Googleplex, but with more explosions.
The series begins with Koko bringing a new member of the team: A former child soldier named Jonathan. He's about 10, hates guns but joins an arms dealing group to find the dealers who killed his parents. Koko, along with Jonah and her crew of badasses go around the world selling guns and partying. It's k-On! meets Lord of War and Micmacs, and that's the best summary of the story.
Animation wise, the animation's nice. Pretty sunny, but since it's by White Fox then the lens flare is expected. The character designs are done by by the key animator from Steins;Gate and it shows.
The direction is pretty good, especially when it's directed by the director of Katanagatari and School Days. Yeah, about that: Keitaru Motonaga should stick to directing for White Fox since all his other works are pretty bad. His career reminds me of Martin Campbell's career: a hit or two in a resume of crap.
The music's nice. The OP sounds like something from a Prodigy/Pendulum concert, and the ED is done by the excellent Nagi Yanagi. The entire score is done by Taku Iwasaki who remains great at what he does. His attention to surrounding and action makes him great, which is why he's the best action anime composer ever, since he does stuff like Gurren Lagann, Yakitate Japan and Ben-to.
The one flaw about this story is character development. So far, Koko, Jonathan and Koko's colleague Valmer (voiced by Sayaka Ohara) has given us a glimpse of what they are and recently we get to see Jonathan's backstory and Koko's brother. And that's about it. There is a backstory about the most recent villain group in the series, but that was not as exciting as it should be. I wanna see more of that Lehm guy (voiced by Unsho Ishizuka) and more of William Nelson (voiced by Kenji Nomura). The series could have been better if each episode revolves around two characters hanging out with each other, like Community. But we get to see more of others later in the series which helps improve character relationship. We also get to see interactions with people outside the arms bubble, like the "Medicines Sans Frontieres" guys later in the episode.
Overall, Jormungand is a decent anime about arms dealer. It's not as great as Lord of War, but it's good for lots of action and a great staff which makes the series much more enjoyable.
This was probably one of the best shows that I have ever watched. This anime rocks to the very core!
The story was great. It shows the reality of what an arms dealer does. I have known some in real life. And they are indeed such kinds of persons who are in this anime. They hire people to defend them, they fuel wars, they compete with other dealers, they kill their enemies, they partner with those they can't handle and most of all they are good in economics (supply and demand lol). It was also somehow realistic in the sense that quantum computing could be dangerous.
In fact, such kinds of technologies are existing right now but are currently suppressed or controlled by the governments. To wrap up, the story is outstanding as it never fails to show how reality looks in this kind of game(arms-dealing).
The art is also good.. Not too showy unlike other military genres which have too much explosions and crap that hurts the eye.. The fight scenes are naturally shown and are quite enjoyable.. it's pretty much like how real gunfights look.
The characters are also very cool. Each member has different personalities that were nicely portrayed in the show. Not to mention that the show was also able to show most of the stories of each member (their pasts and their struggles). The anime never failed to describe each of them.
Overall, I give this one a 10. This is one of the best animes that I have ever watched and this is the very first time that I have given myself a chance to create a positive review here in MAL for this anime really deserved it.. :)
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