Jormungand (ヨルムンガンド) is one of the most action-filled and grown-up anime that were aired during the last year. Based on the business responsibilities and relationships of a family of arms dealers and a young girl’s dream of a world without war, this show was meant for greatness. Alas, although its perfect first half and great idea, this anime adaptation managed to disappoint. It turned a great idea of the size of a mythical giant turn into a small bug the size of any other failing action anime there is.
Jörmungandr, as many of you probably are aware of, is the name of Loki’s child-serpent that he’s had with the giantess Angrboða. Currently, the serpent is circling around the planet. This is also the basis for Jormungand. But did it really make sense?
I have to admit, even since the show was announced, I was really pleased with how things looked. Of course, I read the manga as well. I was hopeful that they won’t copy as strictly the manga so that those who’ve read it won’t need to have constant déjà vu. The animation was not as cute as the original illustrations and it was way short on blood and action. This said, the déjà vu lacked most of the time. The story of Keitarou Takahashi’s original manga, which was serialised in the Monthly Sunday Gene-X magazine from 2006 until 2012, follows the arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her 8 subordinates, the closes of which is the youngest and newest member of the group – Jonah. He is a child-soldier with a grudge against arms dealers, however, a deal with Koko’s brother Kasper (also an arms dealer) makes him agree to protect her.
As time goes by, we get to know that Koko has a great plan – she will cause chaos in the world in order to re-establish the planet and make people forget about war through a censorship on communication and weapons. The plan includes a lot of effort form the best in robotics in the face of Dr. Minami, the master of computing that is hacker Rabbitfoot and the greatest physicist – Elena Baburin. They all have to work – sponsored, cheered and protected by Koko’s financial and influential forces – on creating the most powerful computer that would be able to command all of the necessary satellites that will be sent into space. These satellites will be Miss Hekmatyar’s Jormungand and their ability to cancel all communication and electronic, radio and all other signals is her Perfect Order.
The first 12 episodes of the anime adaptation of the original manga showed to the fans of Black Lagoon and Canaan that there is still hope for them and the female-centred seinen genre. Lots of action, suspicious manoeuvres and a lot of conspiracies between international law enforcers and armies helped Jormungand win the hearts of many. It was just what the anime world needed – a different story. It was something that said “Hey, you – enough with the moe! Here you have a shota that has lost his parents in the war, is loved by an arms dealer and makes deals with the devil. Enjoy life!” Gladly, I accepted the invitation and enjoyed life through the eyes of animation studio White Fox.
There were many differences from the illustrations in the manga – the faces were not as Japanese, the blood was gone, the story was slowed down and more leisurely. As a whole, even in the graphic novel, blood is not as important, but the scenes themselves leave a much active impression in the reader than the series showed. This was rather a big disappointment that came solely with Jormungand: Perfect Order.
Jormungand: Perfect Order as a whole was a big no-no. It was slow, lacked the mood of action anime and showed a big difference than season one. In addition, the speed and acceleration chosen by the screenwriters (led by Yousuke Kuroda who was also leading the team for this season’s Btooom!) was a failure. Want me to elaborate? Then here you go: when your story bears a specific title such as this one, it is vital to have the viewers and readers know what it means before they forget about it as a whole. Can everyone recall when they stopped wondering what the title meant? Essential planning is needed to make this work – having all the development in season two and with this anime it just didn’t glue. The information about Jormungand should have been mentioned and noted throughout the entire anime and not just the last few episodes. This practice that we saw in this show is typical for 13-episode-long shoujo adaptations of otome games where action is happening during the last five episodes as well.
Also, a time jump in a 24-epsode anime? Seriously? Not suitable. At least not when you’ve decided to spread all the important action into the last 12 episodes and introduce a number of new characters in the span of 10 episodes when you’ve had 20 to do it. Moreover, it is a dreadful thing to see everything end so… peacefully and according to plan. Why did no one try to attack Koko in the last part of the series? Did everyone get so scared from her secret plan they can’t know about?
Pace is this anime’s main issue and it shall not be forgiven. Yes, the story in the manga is very close (almost identical) to this one, but people can read as fast or as slow as they wish. One of the specific needs for a directing and screenwriting to be well-made is to arrange the speed accordingly. Perfect Order failed at that.
The story of season two disappointed me, it left a bitter taste in my mind and I will probably remember it for a long time. However, even with a mediocre and quite badly spaced part two, it was a fine show to have followed.
Another thing that took off some of the negative emotions about Jormungand was the animation and the great choices of crazy facial expressions. It was well-thought of and turned out priceless. These shots reminded me of Death Note and the first Naruto series’ awkward camera angles. The OST of this series will also be remembered for quite a long time to come with the catchy “Her name is Koko, she’s Loco, I said Oh, no!” coming out of a lot of websites and forums. Another positive effect is that the great manga will get more fans. Unfortunately, there is no canon action to be adapted, meaning that the screenwriters won’t have a chance for redemption. Too bad.
Images: ©2012 高橋慶太郎・小学館／ヨルムンガンド製作委員会
Official Jormungand Website