Jormungand Series One DVD review

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With an array of intense, action-packed battlegrounds and bullets continuously firing through dark and sometimes apocalyptic looking landscapes, Jormungand came as a pleasant surprise, offering up all the goodies that you would expect from an anime of this particular genre. Jormungand follows the story of Jonah, an eerily soulless child soldier whose life becomes intertwined with the notorious and rather eccentric arms dealer; Koko. What follows is the story of Koko and her crew of bodyguards darting through various locations across the world, dealing in the secretive and often illegal arms market.

Screenshot (258)The team continuously become involved in battles, chases and even assassination attempts of all kinds in their aims to avoid and escape the local law enforcement and authorities, giving the creators plenty of room to boast fluid and engaging scenes of gunfight and conflict. Although the structure of the story can seem quite repetitive; mission aims, some kind of obstacle, nice slice of action to overcome said obstacle, onto the next mission, the series did a good job of making each episode that little bit different, which managed to keep my interest overall. As if the story wasn’t interesting enough on its own, secondary protagonist, Jonah, is forever sworn to his hatred of weapons and arms dealing. However with quite the contradiction, the kid appears pretty confident and skilled in his combat and usage of weaponry (the irony is very real). Whether you’re looking for something a bit darker, something with a good helping of guns and action or just a good ol’ adventure with some very lovable anti-heros, then Jormungand is a series you shouldn’t quickly write off.

jmg1I found the animation to be fluid for the most part within this series, however one thing I can say is that the overall look and art was very dark and often bland. This is coming from someone who is a fan of the art style in series such as Kuroko’s Basketball and Hunter x Hunter, both having very bright and vivid colours in all aspects of design. Perhaps in line with the more serious and obscure theme of Jormungand, the scenery was often dingy and underexposed, not just the fact that a lot of scenes took place during night time, but the settings in general used very unsaturated brown and steel colours. Tying this up with the bland character designs (excluding Jonah and Koko, who were both exceptionally appealing characters), I occasionally found it difficult to remember which character was which with the lack of distinctive colours or features. That being said, the style suited its purpose, to create realistic characters that almost reflected the appearance of a ‘normal’ person. It also did wonders when directly contrasting the flaring brightness of non-stop gunfire on colourless backgrounds. Again, displaying a sense of realism and allowing the watcher to sink into what does feel like a true arms-dealing world with the highly detailed weapons and backgrounds creating a very synced appearance. Although I cannot deny that it suited the story, I feel that with more exciting visuals, it would have personally kept me more engaged throughout. I must admit, there were quite a few parts, including long-winded speeches and explanations, with jargon-type words that I struggled to understand (given my knowledge, or lack thereof, of guns) and without anything eye-catching to keep my attention, I could catch myself missing a line or not understanding what was going on.

Screenshot (256)As for the characters themselves, I was thoroughly impressed with the representations. When dealing with ex-veterans, weapon dealers and all-round badass characters, it becomes easy for an anime to lose sense of an all-round personality and instead turn to the very stereotypical Mr. Big Guns. However the mixture of combat skills and true personality and intelligence within Jormungand displayed a perfect balance. Particularly in Koko and Jonah themselves. As a female, arms dealing protagonist it was nice to see that there was more to Koko than the expected ‘I’m so cool and cute because I’m a girl who deals with big men and big weapons’. I found her to be both a very intelligent woman as well as childishly hilarious. Again, the anime knows how to find a great balance between the extreme stereotypes. Jonah on the other hand was occasionally a little harder to deal with. Purely based on the massive contradiction that he was living. And the fact that he was a child, I feared he would be weak and useless. However it quickly became clear that Jonah was the exact character that the anime needed, to show a contrast, a progression and an individual’s change throughout the story. Jonah was not weak and nor did Koko babysit him or treat him as a lesser. He was part of the team. Koko is talkative, dramatic and confident. Jonah appears as an opposite with similarities, appearing very quiet and emotionless so as to compliment Koko’s personality. This contrast made the two characters very enjoyable to watch, which is sometimes hard to find when you have a duo. I usually end up hating one or the other. So I have no complaints.

Screenshot (257)As for the extended variation of characters, I was continually impressed and without giving away any backgrounds or information, each character is much more than just a ‘team member’. Each has a story and a role and a background that will easily connect you to them. Aside from the realistic diversity, I was also surprisingly intrigued by the voice acting. Just to clarify, I was watching in Japanese audio with English subtitles. Voice acting is usually not something that jumps out to me in anime, unless the characters have very distinct or unusual voices and even so my opinion will only go as far as: ‘I quite like that voice’. But Jormungand was one of few anime where I genuinely enjoyed listening to characters interact on a much more attentive level. Particularly Shizuka Ito’s performance of Koko, she delivered the versatility of Koko’s personality to perfection. I did also have a quick listen to a few episodes in the dubbed format and aside from the always cheesy American lines, I must give credit for the cultural difference recognition.

Whilst on the topic of the stream of loveliness going through my ears I have to mention the music, which pretty much made this anime. Good music in a series = happy me. The mixture of techno styled rap beats juxtaposed with some gorgeous classical yet still intense tunes really did heighten the tone and scenes. When you’ve got heart-pumping music engaging you further and further into a battlefield full of guns and violence, you can’t help but feel completely submerged. And I was. Not to mention the fact that a lot of the music was also very culturally diverse, making it stand out and make you hear it. The times of talking where I would switch off and wonder if this anime was for me were completely obliterated when I was thrown into the exciting battles and chases, which is simply what this anime is all about.

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In all the series was surprisingly easy to watch. As someone who is not much a lover of action, Jormungand provided a variety in all aspects of art, characters and plot that made it a series for anyone to enjoy. Obviously if you’re a fan of action and guns and whatnot then this is something you pretty much need to watch. But if you’re more on the swaying side, unsure of what you’re really going to think, just give it a go. With the easy to follow structure and added elements of complexity, the series is able to offer a serious and believable story and setting with just the right amount of simplicity and comedy to keep it on the light side.

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1 Comment

  1. Julz M says:

    I agree with you on the character designs, and it did take me a couple of episodes to remember who was who, but you’re right that it suited its purpose. The action sequences are so well animated and Koko is such an entertaining character that it all worked for me. This trailer for season 2 looks so good! I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

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