Well, there we have it. Jormungand, the show billed for two seasons before it had even started airing, has recently showed us its twelfth and final episode. While it's certainly considered to have a sizable manga following, I think there were a lot of us that decided to watch it purely because it 'looks like Black Lagoon'.
That's not a bad reason, by any means. It does look a lot like Black Lagoon, but with this being a Final Impressions, I'll tell you whether or not it's similar in other ways too. When Jormungand is compared to a show as popular as that from the get-go, it certainly gives itself a lot of work to do! Join me after the jump, where things will get a little bit more loco.
Oh, there'll be spoilers, so skip to the last two paragraphs if you haven't seen the show yet!
The premise is relatively simple; Koko is an arms dealer and she's hired a bunch of ex-military folk to help her do her job. There is also Jonah, a child soldier who joined the group after a run-in with Koko's brother, who also happens to be an arms dealer. It's about as simplistic as plots can get, but don't let that fool you! There are plenty of stories behind each of the characters, plus everyone has their own charms to add to the mix. It shows that they are a bunch of mismatched people, but on the other hand, they also seem to work perfectly together.
There have yet to be any 'arcs' of sorts, but rather stories that span one or two episodes. Valmer was the source of what you could argue was an overarching story, though it really only had two episodes dedicated to it. Some anime work better this way though, we obviously don't need to have Bleach-esque run-ins with a show like this. My opinion? It works pretty darn well. There's enough to keep you salivating for the next episode, and not too much to bore you in the build-up.
That's not to say that this show is perfect, either. The last two episodes of this show in particular were slightly disappointing to me for one main reason, and that's is how they skirted death. The rest of the series deals with death as you'd imagine an arms dealer would deal with it, and while it was sometimes gruesome, it was just another part of the show. When two of Koko's men are shown to be dead/dying at the climax of the penultimate episode, I was literally floored. Seeing the military folk caught off-guard, seeing Koko panic in the dark... it was fantastic. To have this essentially reversed without consequence at the start of the next episode was more than a disappointment. It happened again with regards to Valmer in the final episode, and put a damper on what could have been a great first season conclusion.
Still, that's the source material for you, as the animation itself has been top notch all the way through. Most of the character designs are very typical of gun-centric shows, though they all seem to have very unique facial expressions. Koko has probably the most obvious of them with her strange-shaped mouth, but they all seem to have odd quirks with their smiles and glares. A good kind of odd, I might add! The music and sound was also very well done, but perhaps that's the Toaru Majutsu no Index/Shakugan no Shana side of me detecting Mami Kawada. No glaring errors either, so I think it's safe to say that White Fox put their all into animating this. If you were wondering, they also animated Katanagatari and Steins;Gate, so you can just about smell the quality already!
I mentioned the Black Lagoon similarities before, so I should probably address them! Koko and her group of military personnel definitely give off the same vibes I get from seeing Rock, Dutch, Revy and Benny go about their business, but besides this, they are pretty different shows. There's obviously 'arms dealers' versus 'mercenaries' if you just want to state the differences, but the overall tones and themes are what make these shows significantly different from each other. Of course, if you like one, try the other, but know that there will be plenty more to see.
So, the final verdict! Personally, Jormungand was my favourite show this season. It may not be a deep enough anime to make all of you agree, but it deserves considerable mention for keeping itself fresh and exciting. Sure, it was a little rough in places, but man was it entertaining! I'll be jumping on the second season when that airs, so I suggest you watch this in the meantime!
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