OP: 「Borderland」 by 川田まみ (Kawada Mami)
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「ガンメタル・キャリコロード」 (Gan Metaru Kyariko Rodo)
“Gun Metal – Calico Road”
Prior to every season, I typically make a quick list of anime that plan to watch and the expectations I have for each. This time around, there were a quite a handful of shows that made it to my “high expectations” column, and one of them was Jormungand. Based on Takahashi Keitarou’s graphic novel about a child soldier named Jonah (Tamura Mutsumi) who joins a group of arms dealers lead by the charismatic Koko Hekmatyar (Itou Shizuka), the premise itself just oozes potential greatness. A dark and serious atmosphere, protagonists that seem anything but typical, animation done by White Fox (the studio behind Steins;Gate), and a Black Lagoon vibe— what more could you ask for? After watching this first episode, it’s quite clear the answer to that question is: not much.
I mean, when you start a series with such a bang, you just can’t help but be awed by it, especially when you consider the many paths this first episode could have taken. For one, it could have merely introduced the characters. With such a sizable cast, it’s not hard to imagine such introductions taking multiple episodes and detracting from the series in the long run. Luckily, Jormungand doesn’t do that. Rather, the episode itself revolves around demonstrating how Koko’s group works, following them through an operation to reclaim military armaments seized by customs, and a second operation to counter a rival arms dealer’s attempt to encroach on their dealings. Sprinkled in between, we see how each member of the main cast responds and acts in various situations, how they speak to others and among themselves, and how Koko and her group do their jobs. With this, we get a good feel of the personalities of each member of the main cast, without spending too much time explicitly doing so. Basically, what Jormungand does is throw you right into the action, while seamlessly integrating both character introduction and development in between. Suffice to say, the fact that it’s done so well plays a major part in allowing the episode to maintain its hectic pace. The pacing in turn, is key to series in the Action genre, as well as a reason why this episode was so great.
As for the characters themselves, they’re exactly like what Guardian Enzo said in his preview excerpt. The characters are larger than life and not much in this show turns out to be what you expect. I for one couldn’t have foreseen just how crazy each of the characters are, let alone the fact that each of them have so many sides to them that only show up during certain situations. What makes it even more crazy is how you’re able to realize how deep each character is in just the first episode, without any explicit focus on introductions. I know it’s only the beginning of the series, but I’m darn sure that at least one, if not a few characters from this show will be in my list of favorites before all’s said and done. I mean, when you have crazy characters like Koko Hekmatyar, who’s motherly one moment, acts as kid, then turns outright insane a moment later, it’s hard not to fall in love with the characters in this show. And this is without mentioning other characters like the suave, leader figure Lehm (Ishizuka Unsho), and the virtually emotionless Jonah, whose developments and interactions are sure to be aspects to keep an eye on as the series goes on.
Another great aspect I noticed was the random insertion of comedy, which is done in such a subtle way that it doesn’t detract from the seriousness and intensity of the story, yet still gives you a nice chuckle from time to time. The series itself though, remains mostly serious, as it touches upon potentially controversial aspects such as child soldiers, war, and arms dealing. In a way, there could be more to talk about Jormungand in terms of the aspects it touches upon, rather than what happens in the episodes themselves. That’s not to say the episode wasn’t great or the series isn’t worth talking about, but merely goes to show how deep and how rooted in reality some aspects of the series are.
Moving on, the first episode just gets better and better the more I look and talk about it. White Fox comes in with some gorgeous visuals in the animation department and the well-known Iwasaki Taku takes the reigns for the music in Jormungand, creating some awesome, blood-pumping compositions that just match perfectly with the atmosphere. The OP by Kawada Mami, while not quite different stylistically from some of her previous works for Shakugan no Shana, does a great job in matching with the opening sequence. Furthermore, the lyrics are perfectly catered towards the story itself, and the song’s pacing preserves the adrenaline rush you get from the moment you start watching. The ED by Yanagi Nagi in turn serves as a great contrast to the opening— a calm, but haunting ballad that eases you out from the torrid pacing of the episode and truly emphasizes what an ED theme should do.
Overall, as you can see, I absolutely loved this first episode. Granted, the fast pace might not be something everyone will like, but I still have no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the top series this season. In fact, out of the 11 shows I’ve watched this season, this is one of the best first episodes. I’d say Jormungand is second only to Fate/Zero at the moment—higher than even Sankarea and Accel World, whose respective first episodes were quite amazing in my book. Unless dark shows with violence aren’t your thing, you owe it to yourself to watch Jormungand.
ED: 「Ambivalentidea」 by やなぎ なぎ (Yanagi Nagi)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼