The most unfortunate thing about Jormungand is the fact that it’s so reliant on Koko as the gimmick that keeps it from falling to pieces that it’s horrible at setting anything up that doesn’t directly relate to her. It’s the creative equivalent of having godly superpowers that only work while hemorrhaging blood out of your eyeballs: Yeah, it isn’t immediately a death sentence, but eventually the loss of blood will more than make up for the lack of any real injury. At this point the loss of proverbial blood is having a very noticeable effect on the overall quality of the show, but the spastic flailing that it’s doing more than offsets the damage with surprising entertainment value.
There’s a degree of magic that Jormungand has lost the longer that it’s gone on; it worked best in the first few episodes because it took a look at how arms dealing impacts the world outside of our little group of characters, something that most shows don’t tend to do with their chosen subject matter. The way that Jormungand focuses on the big picture while having it accentuated with gunfire and Koko’s eccentricity is refreshing, if light on characterization, and allows for a train of thought that Black Lagoon simply can’t facilitate with its 80’s action movie aesthetic. The pacing is often a bit screwy as a result, but it has the charm and smarts to make up for it.
Since I can say that characterization is easily the weakest part of the show, the more insular path that Jormungand has taken doesn’t exactly have me begging for more, mostly because it’s done through clunky character interaction that refuses to show much of what happens. This was the biggest problem with the Orchestra arc, since it played up Toothasaurus and Deer Hunter as two psychotics that were sympathetic, and you only know they were sympathetic because they had an ending shot dedicated to their forgettable, brief appearance. There was a golden opportunity missed to bridge the gap between concert house massacre and fatal shootout with Koko and co. It could have shown why they were sympathetic, something that would have done a load of good for the show… or at least that’s what I thought. It seems that Jormungand had the clairvoyance to address my complaint with how it doesn’t bridge the gap between Points A & B with this episode, but it didn’t seem particularly thrilled to do so.
First, the good points, because there are a few worth mentioning. Though unfortunately lacking in spectral puns and rhymes, the introduction of Koko’s brother Casper is competently executed, and his personality is distinctive enough to set him apart from the collective grey pap of Koko’s crew. And now for the analysis of how this episode trips over itself, which eats up significantly more of its content. It’s Jonah-centric, almost nothing but one long flashback elaborating on how he met up with Casper and was eventually scooped up by Koko. It basically involves Casper trying to get rid of a compound that Jonah was imprisoned in, and him doing so at any cost. And by saying “at any cost”, I mean he’s not at all responsible for one of Jonah’s friends becoming cannon fodder, even though Jonah thinks he is. As can be imagined, this creates tension between the two that lasts well into Jonah’s tenure as Koko’s bodyguard, tension that seems a bit misplaced at times.
This definitely could have worked were it done differently, but afterward I didn’t feel like I learned anything about Jonah that I didn’t know before the flashback began. I can’t quantify most of what it did wrong, but I feel that the same result could have been achieved by watching Koko go on another adrenaline-fueled escapade to peddle her wares in a war-torn country, or by watching Koko go on another adrenaline-fueled escapade to peddle her wares in a war-torn country while making ghostly puns about her brother. It’s a plot-centric episode that gives off the unmistakable vibes of filler, which is a pretty glaring demerit.
Overall, the action remains the main reason to watch Jormungand since everything else is executed with the grace of a skydiving porpoise. Even though Koko is the main draw, she’s still not so much a person as a walking bundle of peculiarity and bushy eyebrows, a gimmick that will surely run its course if the show doesn’t find some kind of consistency to latch onto. And for what it’s worth, I think that consistency is to be found in the first two episodes, where extremely clumsy characterization wasn’t the main goal.