Reviews of yesteryear: Jormungand

Sometimes I get a review request and have no idea what to expect. Jormungand is one of those times. I’d barely even heard of it when I got the request and the name tells me nothing aside from that there’s a possible connection to Norse mythology. From what I can tell, the manga was written by Takahashi Keitaro and the anime was brought to us by Geneon and White Fox. It’s not a whole lot to go on, so let’s just dive in and see what the anime is about.

I quickly discovered to some minor disappointment, that Jormungand has nothing whatsoever to do with Norse mythology. No, I will not hold that against the anime. I may be highly critical, but that would just be taking it too far. There isn’t much in the way of story in Jormungand. There’s an arms dealer named Koko, who is loco as the series is fond of telling us, and travels with a group of bodyguards, including a child soldier, an ex-mafia agent and several former soldiers. Most of the episodes have very little to do with each other. Rather, they show the group undertake different missions. There are both good and bad things about this approach. On the positive side, it allows for a variety of situations and locales. It also allows for more of a character focus. On the downside, since things jump around there isn’t a whole lot that has any lasting impact. And, although it isn’t an issue in the first season, the lack of a plot could easily lead to the episodes getting repetitive. It also has to rely heavily on its characters in lieu of a story.

So, does Jormungand have characters capable of sustaining it? I would have to say that it does. It has a very compelling, and awesomely quirky group. Koko is a lovable nutter. Valmet is both a total badass and quite adorable. Even the more secondary members of Koko’s group are well done. Unfortunately, I did have one pretty substantial problem with the characters. And that’s that the dynamic between Koko and Jonah, the child soldier, seems like its moving towards romance at some points. They had a great opportunity for a spectacular cast of characters and they compromised it by forcing the audience to question whether or not the main protagonist is a pedophile. What the hell Takahashi? Did you just not realise that that would be a problem? Were you trying to create a completely unique dynamic and just didn’t notice how it could be construed as problematic? To be fair, it isn’t entirely clear in the anime whether she has an over-zealous platonic affection towards him or an attraction, but at the same time this isn’t something that should be open to interpretation. I really hope that they better define Koko and Jonah’s relationship in the second season and that it isn’t supposed to be romantic. As it is, it’s pretty suspect.

Looking at the art, I can’t say that I care for it that much. The characters tend to have bizarre faces and there are several who look just about the same. Don’t get me wrong, the only real criticism I have for it is that it really is hard to differentiate between some of the minor characters. I just personally didn’t care for the style. The action sequences are really good. They manage to combine over the top elements with semi-realism in a way that really works.

I really enjoyed the voice acting. Now, there are some major moments of over-acting but they all work in context and they do refrain from going overboard with them. Itou Shizuka Ohara Sayaka, Ishizuka Unsho, Koshimizu Ami and all of the other actors all do spectacular work. I wasn’t nearly as fond of the music. Some of it’s really good and does a lot to enhance the mood, but some of it falls pretty flat.

The yuri factor is easily a 6/10. Koko seems to attract quite a few other women, especially Valmet, who is unfailingly awesome.

My final rating for Jormungand is a 7/10. Most of my problems with it are pretty minor and the biggest issue I have is more of something that’s questionable than something that’s definitively gone wrong. If you liked Black Lagoon, this is your type of anime. If you’re looking for a good cast of characters, it won’t disappoint. If you’re looking for an impressive story, you should look elsewhere because there’s not much here.

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