「滅びの丘 phase.2」 (Horobi no Oka)
“Hills of Ruin phase.2”
THIS EPISODE. THIS. EPISODE. I don’t even… Words cannot…
Ahem* Anyway… now that I’ve gotten my bearings back a bit, let’s move on shall we? To say the least, this was a pretty spectacular episode in a week full of them. Really, at this point, I’m wondering if there was some collusion going on in the anime industry this week, because there were just some darn awesome episodes this week all around. No? Too farfetched? Fine. But, on a serious note, it just goes to show how great of a season this was (perhaps the best one in years)… and Jormungand plays a fairly large part in giving it that distinction.
For the most part, this episode picks off exactly where the previous one left off, leaving us wondering as to the ultimate fate of Ugo. I had been pretty much anticipating his death all of the first few minutes, but seems like that was a bit unfounded this time around. It definitely looked quite grim for a moment there, but thanks to a timely chair smash from Lehm, Ugo’s subsequent tackle of Grego through a wall, and Koko taking things into her own hands… it’s turns out to be just another day in the life of employment under Koko. I reckon some people were ultimately disappointed that Ugo (as well as Karen or Valmet—more on that later) didn’t die this episode and would go saying that Jormungand’s “once again being totally unrealistic”, but there’s nothing to complain about in my book. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that the series is intentionally unrealistic and uses that element in an attempt to tell a deeper story. In addition, this situation allowed us to see a nice glimpse of Ugo’s past and how he got employed by Koko, as well as Koko in action to top it all off. And to me, that’s more than a fair exchange for a few extra moments of non-realism. Still, if there’s one thing this situation showed, it’s that Jormungand is going to be one of those shows that will continue to defy expectations. In addition, I get the feeling this is just the author saying that you should be prepared to see any of the characters die at any given point in time, which is something I see happening in the future. And this just hammers in how skillfully he designed Jormungand and how great the director is to be able to adapt this to the point where they’re able to easily play with our emotions and establish a scenario where he can do virtually anything and everything and not seem out of place.
Moving on, the next key part of this episode involves Koko sparing Boss Dominique and the rest of the assassins in exchange for knowing who hired them in the first place. Not only does this emphasize perfectly just how calculating and awesome Koko is, but it also helps set up the foundation for the second season, as it seems the CIA is ultimately behind everything… with R seemingly being a mole in Koko’s group as well. R OF ALL PEOPLE! THE MAN WHO DARED TO TOUCH VALMET’S…! Anyway, that last reveal at the end was just a big surprise and it’ll definitely be interesting to see what R’s angle is, as well as how he’ll factor in the second season. I was half expecting that “Readman”/”Saw”/”Chief Black” was actually meeting up with Boss Dominique and would get gunned down by Koko per the usual, but seems like that wasn’t the case at all.
On a side note, I couldn’t help but feel that the chief’s nicknames were intentional references to Read or Die (“Readman”) and Ghost in the Shell (“puppeteer”). As such, it makes me also wonder if there are any deeper meanings to the references, rather than just being references/tributes. It could very well turn out that the chief is/becomes a literal puppeteer behind the scenes of some of the events in the 1st season and/or future ones in the 2nd season. Oh yes, before I forget, that comment from Koko—”I think running a restaurant would fit you better than being assassin—was just superb. Not only does it serve as a direct insult to his abilities as an assassin, it also mentions the wish he had with the rest of his group and serves as something to just melt him down to the point where he’d actually give her the information she wanted. Way to mix in an insult and make your offer more persuasive at the same time!
And here we are at the last key part of the episode… Valmet’s “expedition of revenge”. We get Valmet trying to drug Jonah in order to ditch him and well, it just serves as a nice character development tool that shows how she is as a person underneath everything. Not to mention it gave us a nice moment of comedy, seeing Jonah sprawled on the table like that… while also making half of the fandom and pretty much all of the characters in the show jealous by giving us a scene with Valmet kissing Jonah before she leaves. As expected though, Jonah’s not to be denied his moment in the limelight and comes back to save the day, taking out Chen Guoming’s new second in command before he can snipe out Valmet. Combined with his screaming of “RUN, RUN VALMET” in order to get her more pumped up and to refocus on her objective, it just shows how great of a character Jonah is. Yes, he’s a child soldier with amazing abilities regarding guns and tolerance to tranquilizers… but at the same time he’s a person who has now come a long way from his “just give me a target and shoot” persona at the beginning. No doubt this is due to Koko’s ridiculous antics that are anything but those of a normal arms dealer, but it just demonstrates how great and complex each and everyone of the characters are in this show. Nothing feels out of place in terms of the actions everyone does and it’s just great to watch them and their interactions with each other.
Continuing on, the sequence following Valmet’s successful infiltration to the base and her face-to-face with Chen Guoming was just dripping with greatness. But no, I’m not talking about the great action scenes. I’m talking about the quality dialogue. We get Valmet yelling out quotes such as “Avenge your fallen comrades at the place of their death!” and the Finnish battle cry of “Hakkaa Paalle” (lit: Hack on them or “Cut them Down”), as well as Chen Guoming and his petty attempts at trying to shake her with comments like “You should thank me for becoming the soldier you are now” and “I couldn’t find you back then because you were busy hiding underneath the corpses of your own men”. It’s just a spectacular sequence dialogue that sucks you into the situation and forces you to feel emotional about it. And it gives us some great character development as well, emphasizing just how much the death of her squadmates have affected her up to now and the effort she’s put in to try and obtain revenge. At the same time, it shows just how much Chen Guoming has fallen since then and just shows how much he now pales in comparison to Valmet and her resolution. Furthermore, I can’t help but feel that the author’s trying to put in some additional underlying philosophy behind everything… that it’s okay to do anything to survive, as long as (in Valmet’s case) you don’t waste the life you preserved, remember those who gave their lives in the process, and live on for those for passed on.
There’s just so much additional connotations that seem to be here, as well as throughout the episode, that it’s just too much for words really. I mean, there’s the part where Karen comes and seemingly kills Valmet and her getting gunned down by Jonah after she screams out “I hate this world”… The part where Koko talks about how she and Valmet are an extraordinary force of evil and how Valmet managed to bring back the souls of her lost comrades to Finland… Everything just reeks of hidden meanings about the world we live in and the many viewpoints people have. And it just shows how deep the series is and how amazing it is to be able to incorporate such elements while also maintaining the fine line between not bothering to put in such elements and putting in too much to the point where it seems like the show’s actively lecturing or preaching to the viewers. In addition, it gets even more amazing when you realize that even with all these complex elements, the show’s still something that let’s you enjoy it even if you’re just tired one day and want to watch something that doesn’t need much thinking and is just entertaining.
In the end, I’m sure everyone knows at this point how much I loved the first season of Jormungand. It’s just so good, so deep, and so enjoyable that there are times where I’d even say it’d be able to stand up on its own as the best show of the season. It’ll be a crazy wait until Jormungand resumes in the Fall (which already looks like it’ll be an awesome season by the way), but I hope to catch you guys again then. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage—as well as the series itself—up to this point. It was a wild ride to say the least and I couldn’t have done it without knowing that you guys were out there giving your time to read my posts day in and day out. So, while I bid thee adieu for now… I must also say thanks to all you viewers out there for helping me get through my first season of coverage here at Random Curiosity. Really—thanks!
Full Length: 21