First Guest Review Wednesday of the Year! I have basically said everything I have to say about Jormungand but, as Jormungand: Perfect Order is streaming legally and free on Funimation (as Episodes 13-24 of the series. Registration is required,) I felt it was worthy of a decent review. And so here is Mara with a very decent review. Please welcome him once again to Okazu! Take it away, Mara…
I remember picking up the Jormungand manga right off the shelf of a comic shop with completely zero expectations, as I usually do and being firmly impressed. Here was a half decent action manga with two protagonists that have hilarious chemistry. So it was fantastic to find out it was getting an anime.
The anime of Jormungand was aired in two half season segments and with a thirteen week break between them. This gives the production team a sliver of extra time to make sure that we do not see too much quality slippage over the whole run. A sensible idea for an action heavy show such as Jormungand where if the motion is not there on the screen to an adequate quality the show will suffer. It is a good thing too as Jormungand: Perfect Order starts right at the R/Hex arc where we have a big set piece climax.
The problem is while Jormungand’s action scenes work very well in the manga, they have not been transplanted so well into the anime in places. In a way they were moved into the anime too well with no attempt to change them to suit the animated medium. This means a lot of static shots of the characters firing with bottomless magazines while exposition goes on. Very noticeable in the street fight between Koko’s group and Hex’s group, it sadly sucks a good deal of the tension out from the action.
Despite that minor gripe, I still loved the action in Perfect Order. The stand out point for me would be the tunnel chase sequence in Tojo’s story arc; an exciting and energetic chase scene that improved upon the manga and used everyone in Koko’s group.
So, sadly, you may be thinking that as we had Valmet personal arc in the first season of Jormungand there is not much Yuri to talk about in Perfect Order. Well, it is true that Valmet fades a bit into the background now she has had her revenge. Valmet becomes Koko’s yes-woman for the most part. We do have a small scene in episode twenty where Koko messes around with Valmet to show off to Minami; but nothing is made of it afterward.
In fact, the major Yuri moment is more of a what we might call ‘Yuri goggles’ variety, but not of a relationship. No, I would suggest that we should turn our lily-tinted lenses to the group of four women who end up creating and wielding the power that changes the world: Jormungand. That while Koko gets the world, the girl (Valmet) and the adorable boy (Jonah), Dr Minami, Koko’s co-conspirator, gets her own elite science harem.
Firstly she easily secures the then unemployed Karen Low and easily pulls her into her own unique working environment. Then when Elena Baburin gets kidnapped from her kidnappers by Koko’s team she seems really distraught, who would not be? But then when we get a very jarring bathing scene later on we see that Elena is totally okay we working on Jormungand… now that she has met Minami! Later Rabbitfoot is also kidnapped out of a different kind of captivity to work on Jormungand, Koko makes it clear that she does not really like Rabbitfoot due to her previous conduct. Someone however finds Rabbitfoot’s single-mindedness cute… Dr Minami!
Frankly for me, it did not take much effort to see the whole of Perfect Order as having a sub-plot of Minami ensuring her retirement in a toy factory in South Africa, with three differently beautiful women who are all geniuses in their fields and her own personal open air bath. Not to mention she also gets her own cool high-backed chair among the four people who will ensure peace in the world for the foreseeable future. Minami makes out of this show like a bloody bandit.
Even if you don’t agree with me on that, it is still pretty sweet that the four people who will put an end to war, something that has often been used as an excuse to suppress women, are four women who are super geniuses in their respective fields. At the very least it gives me a feminist power fantasy high.
Speaking of the end of Jormungand I do feel like I have to mention the run up to the ending. In the last few episodes Koko finally reveals her plan to everyone and to Jonah. Sadly Koko, who to this point seemed so in control and genre savvy, seems to do a complete one hundred and eighty and simply delivers a speech about the sacrifices Jormungand will require, like she was a villain in a less interesting manga. It does not help that all of Koko’s ideas hinge on a very pessimistic and conservative viwew of people and of changing the world for the better. It is a real shift in tone for Koko to go from: ‘This is right because I’m awesome’ to: ‘This is right because it is the most cynical possibility’. A trope that I am getting sick and tired of being used as a crutch.
Now this was not an out and out character assassination, but this did not fit the standard of Koko’s actions up to that point and there was little attempt to show Koko’s turmoil as we immediately focus on Jonah and his thoughts for most of the rest of the series.
The writer clearly tries to distract us from this with a bit of fanservce that actually seems aimed at me for once. Koko cuts her hair to above shoulder length and starts wearing a black suit, plus the official reveal of the aforementioned lesbian cabal that will rule the world. Yay and all, but that does not distract me when the even greater fanservce of Kasper giving the best villain speech I have heard this year to Koko; thus highlighting that Koko, a character I fell in love with because she does awesome and cool things, has not done a cool thing in the last episode of a show about her.
The end, though, is very sensible. A reconciliation is achieved and the anime ends on a point where we know where everything is going and does not continue beyond that; sensibly preventing us from being disappointed.
Jormungand was a fantastic manga about a woman who though her own will and ability changes the world. Not for someone else but for her own aesthetic ideals. The Perfect Order anime was a fantastic adaptation of the last half of the manga. Such a good adaptation I will hold it up as an example of all the good and bad you can do by being perfectly faithful to the source material.
Art – 5, every third character looks flat like they are in a different show
Characters – 10, best part of the whole thing
Story – 7, Good but points off for dithering
Yuri – 5, Valmet is awesome but needs a spine, everything else is just in my head.
Service – 10, Let’s see, suits, abs, eye patches, adorable guys and butch ladies. Can’t give this any other score when I am the one scoring it.
Overall – 8
Two points off for dropping the ball with character models and for forgetting at the end that Koko needs to be the coolest person in the room. Other than that as close to perfect in this genre as I have seen in a while.
Erica here: Mara you hit the nail on the crumpet, IMHO. I also saw Minami’s ‘true’ plan. Laudable, I thought. ^_^ Thanks for the review and for being the one that got me into Jormungand in the first place!