Thursday, 24 May 2012

Jormungand Episodes 1-7 Review

Yes. I'm actually going to review half the series. Because I've been very lazy lately T_T It's sad. I swear. Oh well. Here we go. This is going to be long, so bear with me. If you can't handle it, just scroll to comments!
Top (left to right): Ugo, Tojo, R, Mao
Middle (left to right): Valmet, Koko, Lehm, Wilee
Bottom (left to right): Jonah, Lutz
"The series follows Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer who sells weapons under HCLI, a weapons corporation. As one of the company's unofficial weapon sellers, she secretly sells weapons in many countries while avoiding the local authorities and law enforcements as most of her work is actually illegal under international law. Traveling with her is her team of bodyguards who are mostly composed of ex-military veterans.Her latest addition to her crew is Jonah, a seemingly emotionless child soldier who is skilled in combat yet ironically hates arms dealers. Jonah joins Koko as he wishes to find the arms dealer responsible for his family's death. What follows is Koko and her crews escapades around the world."

Episode 1: Koko personally recruits Jonah, a child soldier, before they travel en route to Eastern Europe where a local government official has kept a shipment of HCLI MiG-29fighter upgrades under lockdown from his country's air force for fear it would lead to regional tension with its neighbors. Jonah protects Koko from the government's elite Voshkod 6 unit with Lehm and Valmet backing them up as Koko heads to the harbor to secure the MiG-29 upgrades which forces the official to give up. Later, Koko is informed by HCLI that a rival arms dealer named Kroshkin is trying to sell Hind-D's to the air force. Koko and Jonah, pretending to be the former's younger brother, visits Kroshkin to dissuade him. In truth, the meeting is a diversion to allow Tojo and Valmet to convince the air force to cancel Kroshkin's deal while Lutz, Mao, Ugo and Lehm kill the snipers protecting him. Realizing too late that he has been fooled, Koko orders Jonah to kill him. Koko celebrates with her bodyguards over dinner where they welcome Jonah into their group. However, everyone except Jonah gets sick after eating his scrambled eggs.
Hello scary face #1

Episode 2: Koko and her team are en route to deliver weapons to a country south of Russia, but discovers that the nation's forces led by Major Pollack and the Russians are fighting over the country's oil pipeline. But Koko isn't the only weapon's dealer as Curry and his team from CCAT are here as well. Koko wants to get out of the country as soon as possible as she doesn't deal with clients who pay on credit, but Pollack wants her to deliver antiaircraft weaponry for his army and he won't take no for an answer. Left with no other choice, she agrees but secretly tells her bodyguards they're going to rendezvous with Tojo and Valmet and escape through the border. Koko is forced to work with Curry after his bodyguards Mildo and Lu killed Pollack's escorts. Valmet also ends up dueling Mildo, who is very insistent on the matter. The former comes out victorious. When Pollack's mountain infantry unit surrounds everyone in the building they're hiding, Koko and her team decides to face the unit, but she betrays Curry by the telling the unit that the people who murdered Pollack's escorts are inside before the group flees. Despite Koko's escape, Pollack manages to build a fake SAM truck to fool the Russian military thanks to Koko's delivery. A day later, Koko, her bodyguards and Curry's team manages to flee the country where Koko watches a news report at the airport of the war having a quick conclusion just as she predicted.

Meet Mildo. She's actually obsessed with Valmet.

Episode 3: In Dubai, Koko has Tojo giving Jonah math lesson while she goes out shopping with Valmet. However, the assassin group Orchestra, composed of a teenage girl name Chinatsu and her mentor Shishio (Master), are hired to assassinate Koko. Koko and Valmet are saved by Jonah from Orchestra after he skips Tojo's lesson. As a gunfight ensues in downtown Dubai, Jonah and Valmet protect Koko from Orchestra while the latter easily kills Dubai Police Force officers responding to the shootout. Valmet is shot in the leg, to which Jonah responds by engaging Shishio in an open gunfire confrontation so as to allow her and Koko to escape. However, Lehm drags Jonah back using a hook and rope and chastises the boy for needlessly sacrificing his life. Lehm has Jonah escape with Koko while he holds off Orchestra. Orchestra soon run out of ammo and retreat to their pick-up truck armed with an M2 machine gun. Lehm concludes that Chinatsu has great observation skills and natural instincts and is able to control the wild Shishio as he and Valmet rendezvous with the rest of the team and try to separate the duo before they reach Koko. Meanwhile, Jonah tells Koko how he thinks guns make people into monsters, and she thanks him for opening up to her.
"A date with Koko!!!"-Valmet
Episode 4:     A flashback tells how Chinatsu meet Shishio. She was a survivor of the Shishio’s killing spree at an opera and he was impressed when she shot him. Back in the present, Koko's bodyguards continue to protect Koko and Jonah when Orchestra performs a driveby using an M2 heavy machine gun in their pick-up truck. The team manages to destroy the truck, forcing Chinatsu and Shishio out into the open, where Lutz snipes down Shishio after he refuses to heed Chinatsu’s warning. Chinatsu vows revenge against Koko before she escapes. Meanwhile, a CIA agent named Scarecrow, who has been hunting down Koko for weapons dealing, tries to have her arrested and deported but due to her father’s connections, the Dubai Police Force instead releases Koko and covers up the shootout, but the chief of police tells Koko that she and her team are to be confined to their hotel for the time being. As she and Jonah head back to their hotel, they have an in-depth discussion about arms-dealing. Three days later, Chinatsu is caught by Koko infiltrating into their hotel with Lehm aiming his sniper rifle on her. As they both answer each others questions, Koko offers Chinatsu to join her team but she refuse and tries to kill her only to be shot to death by Lehm. As Koko closes the eyes of the dead girl, she calls the chief of police to cover up Chinatsu’s death while a hidden Jonah is listening.

Jormungand is quite the fitting name for this series.
Episode 5:   While on a HCLI-owned cargo ship en route to Africa from Dubai, Jonah watches R and Lutz test fire a XM8 rifle when Koko is informed that her older brother Kasper will be arriving to see her from another HCLI-owned cargo ship. When Wiley is instructed to "hide" Jonah by teaching him English, the latter heads to the toilet to relieve himself. However, Kasper heads to the toilet as well where Jonah attempts to kill him, but his bodyguard Chiquita stops Jonah and disarms him. A flashback reveals how Jonah met Kasper three months ago in Western Asia. Jonah was a child soldier in an infantry base where he took care of four orphans. But when he learns how Marka, one of his orphan friends, died being used as a human probe to clear a path filled with land mines, Jonah goes on a rampage and kills everyone in the base, including an arms dealer. Soon Kasper's team arrives and disarms Jonah. As Jonah is locked up in an empty cargo container for days, Kasper visits the weakened boy after learning his identity and tells him he was the one who sold weapons that killed his parents. Desperate to save his friends, Jonah makes a deal with Kasper where he will send the orphans to Japan to live peaceful lives in exchange that Jonah becomes his sister's bodyguard in Europe. Back in the present, Koko makes Kasper leave her ship after hearing about what happened. Koko apologizes to Jonah for Kaspar's actions and tries to comfort him by giving him a hug. Meanwhile, Valmet is reminded of her past as the cargo ship approaches Africa and Lehm tells her not to worry.

Brother and sister. The resemblance!
Episode 6:  Koko and her team are en route to South Africa when they are ambushed by Somali pirates. After Lehm and the team defeat them, Koko heads to DIESA, a local arms fair, to meet with Doctor Miami Amada, who does not show up. Koko learns from Dr. Miami's assistant that she has gone off to the mountains to find butterflies. Later, Koko meets with Chen Guoming, the head of the Daxinghai Company, and accepts his invitation to dinner. Meanwhile, Lehm and his team head to the mountains to locate and protect Dr. Miami . On the other hand, Karen Lo of Daxinghai is covertly deployed to the mountains with a small team of Daxinghai contractors to abduct Dr. Miami due to her extensive knowledge of robotics. Jonah starts the battle when he ruins the ambush of the Daxinghai faction by randomly firing his assault rifle, causing a Daxinghai contractor to panic and return fire. This gives Lehm and the others the advantage over Karen's group. When Karen executes her subordinate for panicking, Valmet recognizes her combat stance and weapons of choice and has a flashback of the time when she was still a UN peacekeeper.

Meet Dr. Miami. Butterfly obsessed genius.
Episode 7:  While Koko and Chen are having dinner in Port Elizabeth, Valmet engages Karen in close quarters combat with Lehm and Jonah taking on the surviving Daxinghai contractors. Valmet eventually gains the upper hand, seeing Karen as a reminder of herself when she had been severely wounded in Afica as a UN peacekeeper. Lehm intervened to stop Valmet from further harming Karen because they are not alley thugs. Eventually, Lehm and the group were able to secure Dr. Miami as she was catching butterflies. Furious that his Daxinghai contractors were defeated by Koko's team, Chen orders the assassination of Koko and Ugo in Port Elizabeth but Scarecrow's assistant Schokolade manages to persuade her boss to help them escape on a SuperHind Mk. V chopper after Koko talked to her. Koko and the team eventually arrives at Heathrow airport in London, but not before having a minor problem with an airport security metal detector when Jonah insist to the guard that he had been shot in the butt a long time ago. 
Chocolade. What an odd codename.
Commentary: Overall, Jormungand is a very interesting and entertaining series, this, for both people who enjoy weaponry and those who care not for them. It has a vast array of characters with different personalities and views. I would say that Koko and Valmet have always been the most interesting ones for me. Specially Koko, with her slasher smile face. You never know what she is thinking, and when you think you do, it will end up being the exact opposite. She is cunning and very clever.

Given the fact that I've read the manga, I had trouble adjusting to the voice acting at first. But by episode 3 I had gotten used to it. It's not to say the voice acting is bad. I just had another type of voice in mind by reading the manga. Itou Shizuka and Ohara Sayaka do marvelous jobs for Koko and Valmet respectively. Overall, I have no complaint about the voice acting. The music is rather odd, but in a good way. It's quite badass in fact.

The art is to be noted as different. I found it odd at first when reading the manga, but then...I realized that it's different in the way CLAMP art is different. Which means its interesting and attracts you. Specially the constant slasher smiles. They are eerie and yet very enjoyable to look at.

Valmet vs Karen. Time for some ass kicking.
Allow me to say, if you are looking for something like Black Lagoon, most people will say to watch Jormungand, but I would advise against it. Though they have similarities, they are clearly different. If you go into Jormungand thinking it will be like Black Lagoon, you will be sorely disappointed. 

So far, if I hadn't read the manga, I'd have given this an 8/10. But I'm biased. And I know S1 will end with Valmet's arc which in itself is already 200/10 worthy. I will probably give the end series a 10/10. But for the sake of this review, I'll say 8.5/10.

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