「Castle of Lies phase.2」

If there’s one thing I consistently mention regarding this series, it’s how it always runs me out of words discussing it. With the coming of this arc’s end, I really just have to tip my hand to those working on this series, because I’m already struggling to find words to describe what transpired this episode. But try I shall!

Needless to say, this arc lulled me a bit into a false sense of security. After the last episode, part of me was anticipating this arc to be a kind of throw back to the first season… one of those times where we were just going to be given a few episodes of ass-kicking, just to give us a small break following the extremely serious “Dance with the Undershaft” arc. But darn, was I mistaken. Quoting loosely from this episode: “nothing happened the way I thought it would.”

To be honest, I definitely expected more of a fight on part of the SR Squad. But as it turns out, my expectations were well off the mark. Rather, this was actually one of those scenarios where “the outcome was decided beforehand,” where the SR squad was doomed to its destruction from the beginning. Because unbeknownst to Tojo and the rest of HCLI, the SR squad was no longer what it was before. Changed by arms selling business, the organization turned out to be exactly what the title says—a “castle of lies” built up from illusions of grandeur imparted on it by its secretive nature and wide reach. In the end, Tojo was actually right in his original prediction… but contrary to the view shared by him and Kasper, Hinoki proves himself to be one of the rare people that can and did change. And to say the least, there’s just an innumerable amount of things to discuss from this.

For one, it’s an interesting commentary on the importance of both being able to change and to resist change and knowing when to do which. HCLI, under Koko and Kasper have been able to expand their operations greatly because of their unique tactics, great talent, and the knowledge that there’s a limit to the things you can do at one point. To succeed is to plan ahead and tread slowly, rather than what the SR Squad does, which was allow itself to be consumed by its own operations and caused the organization change so fast that it couldn’t keep up with it. Ultimately, it led to the creation of a group that was merely dying a slow death, a group far removed from its original ideologies, and one that could only be released via the conflict with HCLI. In a way, it could be argued that the whole conflict between the two groups was a kind of merciful death… one orchestrated by a leader who knew there was no longer anything he could do.

In the end, it’s easy to paint Hinoki as an incompetent leader (which in many ways he was) and just hate on his inadequacies, but if there’s one thing this series knows how to do, it’s make people more than just black and white. There’s just so much more to everything and it’s something that’s difficult to even discuss. I mean, from the context of the episode, it looked like that Hinoki tried his hardest to keep his organization intact and to fulfill the wishes of those that served under him, all despite knowing that the organization was no longer anywhere near what it was before. Despite the fact it was his fault that this occurred in the first place, one does feel for him knowing the situation he went through and decision he had to make to “stop the bleeding,” so to speak. In some ways, the Colonel actually is a pretty good person… despite the actions he led, and it’s just a testament to this series’ ability to make the bad guys seem good and vice versa that make this series just so complex and fun to watch.

Notably, the thing that gets lost behind everything until the end of the episode is the dynamic between Tojo and Hinoki as well. At the point of Tojo’s departure, it can be argued that the organization was already beginning its fall. The departure of Tojo and Hinoki’s acceptance of it (as well as his bird analogy later on), indicated that Hinoki knew what was happening and that he knew Tojo was right in leaving. Hinoki however, did not have the option of merely leaving the squad, nor disbanding the group. As a result, Tojo would be seen as a traitor by the “others who did not leave the nest,” despite the fact that he was actually the smartest one of them all in terms of leaving while he had the chance, instead of blindly sticking with the group. His leaving of the group (and then Kasper later), just tells you so much about his character and in combining this with the fact he responds so strongly to being accused as a traitor, he’s just a darn complex character.

Really, the show just wows week after week for one reason or another and the second season’s really upped the ante in terms of character development. It’s hard finding a series that manages to do so much and give so much background to each character despite the number of cast involved and it just makes Jormungand a special treat. And that’s not even mentioning the continued awesome implementation of comedic moments within it all, including Tojo’s face as he flashbacks to how he was only unemployed for 20 minutes and Koko’s interactions with Tojo at the end where she demands he stay with her in the future. On that note, I just have to also say… I can’t help but think that Kasper intentionally made events happen the way they did in order to get Tojo to leave and on his side… the sly devil.

Either way, just another great (action-packed) episode to say the least. I knew the second season would most likely pack a bigger punch than the first, but I really never expected it to be so much more so. Sadly, it’ll be another week until the next episode.

P.S. How about that bullet castle of lies?




    1. Mmm, at least it did kinda make sense. Tojo had the first shot at the guy. The other guy was hit as he bought up his rifle, so it just glanced Tojo’s right side. He did take two bullets to the shoulder though eh.

    2. not just that. the guy was no more than 30 feet away from jonah and he started spraying bullets at the stairs. ran out of bullets, changed magazines, and unloaded everything on tojo who was no more than 10 feet away from him. yup, them SR guys are really special.

      professor farnsworth
  1. If everyone could get a job as fast as Tojo did, we would all have a far lower level of unemployment 🙂

    Awesome episode! I do have to say though that the Kasper fight last episode was more bad-ass 🙂

  2. I can see what Hinoki did there… he was as dismayed as Tojo by CR squad going from undercover intelligence into near-criminal arms dealer outfit. But he refused to walk out the way Tojo did. He stayed with the unit, slowly orchestrating conflict with HCLI as “suicide by cop” (or by Koko and Kasper, this time).
    As for the Tojo, I can se him eventually replacing his mentor as a Japan’s secret spymaster – if only because Koko was so desperate to try and force him to stay with her forever. I am also happy to see Tojo avoid the death flag (I thought he was going to be killed by that autopistol assassin to protect Jonah) he set up last week by being next man after R to get ravaged by Valmet…

  3. fuck, it was stupid of Tojo to turn down Hinoki’s offer…he would have been a fine spymaster…(though basically this CR squad was authorized by the government, right? even if Tojou decided on accepting Hinoki’s offer, how would he explain his return? [if my memory serves me right, he was declared dead in his last mission in the squad…)

    1. Yeah, SR Unit was raised with American backing. And you’re right, most SR Unit personnel are legally declared dead in Japan (and to whoever they can contact with like immediate relatives) so that their work isn’t hindered.

      And given how SR acted in the past two episodes, I doubt the Ministry of Defense/Defense Intelligence Headquarters would do it again. And given how the JSDF operates in the 21st century with Article 9 backing it, there’s no way they can do it until the West pressures Japan again.

    1. In a way yes.
      Hinoki was displeased with what the SR Squad had become, but he couldn’t just disband it. So he planned this to give the members a fitting end instead of just abandoning them and give himself the chance to move one with his life without any hassle, as the “records” now show that the SR Squad was just wipped out by HCLI.

      I do admit, it stumped me a little too at first. ^_^;

    2. the way i see it Hinoki didn’t abandon the SR squad to save himself, rather, like the guy himself said, he gave the SR squad what they wanted, a chance to fight in the open instead of the shadows.even though he knew tht it would probably destroy the SR squad, who are used to operating in secret, he couldn’t stop them, thts why he said tht he couldn’t stop the organization from changing.

  4. so koko & crew going meet place turned out be a trap so tojo rescue johan going gun to gun point shots vs SR members give shoulder ow save johan.

    cue car tunnel chase long enough for helicopter back-up down goes SR people & look at tojo’s past from life as SR member to meet with kasper.

    & now meet tojo’s ex-boss with all doing throw in the towel get back to his wife & daughter with saying one of these tojo will be back in SR with drunk koko make sure tojo stay.

  5. Yonah cleaning his gun without taking it down, that never happens in real life. You take the gun down to slide, spring, receiver and barrel and clean the powder burn out of the gun. The chopper scene is also confusing, you have three team member shoulder to shoulder firing their ACR. The chopper has unbalanced weight distribution on the left side a crash waiting to happen, not to mention hot brass into each others face.

  6. Oh btw, in case there are people who saw this with the sub where Hinoki tells Tojo that ‘In the end, everyone hated you’
    He actually said that ‘everyone was jealous of you.’

    Changes the context a bit. 🙂

  7. Love the post, Z, but I’m going to take issue with your characterization of Hinoki as a “good person”.

    Why did Hinoki set the SR Squad up for a fight that they had no chance to win, and leave them to die while he whisked himself and his family off to The Bahamas to recline on the beach and wait for Tojo to find him? I think this amounts to nothing more than a glorified form of Hara-kiri by Col. Hinoki – and it was Seppuku by proxy, as he made sure he himself was nowhere to be found when the bullets hit the fan belt. he knew in his gut that Tojo was right – the SR Squad had become a sham, a mockery of what it once was. He’d set it up to be the premiere intelligence agency working for the glory of Japan, and it’d become an arms dealer and glorified death squad, a tool of the CIA and organizations under its sway. Whatever else you think of Hinoki’s motives and the ideals that the squad was created under, he was once a patriot – in his own mind, anyway – and the squad felt that what they were doing served a nobler purpose.

    I think the squad members felt that way right to the end, but Hinoki knew better. They hated Tojo because he refused to hide from the truth, and Hinoki knew the “traitor” was the only one telling it like it really was. Some might call Hinoki noble for giving his squad a chance to “die with their boots on”, but I call him a coward – his noble sacrifice wasn’t good enough for him, because in his mind he still has a destiny to fulfill, and believes Tojo will be at his side to fulfill it. As for his squad, they were expendable – it was more important to Hinoki that they die with honor than be tainted with the truth of what they’d become. I find Hinoki rather sickening for what he did to them, to be honest, and I don’t see an ounce of honor or nobility in it. Nor do I see the fact this his “cover” wife was actually a real wife, with whom he had a daughter as a mitigating factor – I’m sure some of his squad members had families, too.

    1. Oh yeah, I definitely see what you mean. I mean, I did consider things along this route and I do feel that the way Hinoki ended handling things was underneath his capabilities (as well as not something that should have been done)… but at the same time I felt there was more to it than just calling him a flat out “bad guy” (though there is a lot to support this, definitely).

      To me, I feel like the fact he stuck with the organization despite the fact he could’ve theoretically just left them hanging way back when Tojo left earns him a bit of credit eh. As for the sacrifice of his squad and it becoming “more important to Hinoki that they die with honor than be tainted with the truth of what they’d become,” I agree with the examples you put up and how they make him a bad guy and a coward… but I guess the view depends on who you are as a person eh. I’m more of a person who believes that Hinoki’s choice was potentially better than leaving his squadmates disillusioned upon the realization that their once great organization was a shadow of their former selves. Many of them may have had families and what not as well… but at the same time, sending back someone who is depressed, disappointed, and a shell of their former selves might end up doing more harm than good. And with the mention that practically of them were ghosts that were thought dead… I don’t think many of them had families aside from Hinoki eh.

      In the end I mean, it’s just dependent on who you are I suppose. My views are different regarding this just because of who I am… so I guess we’re probably going to have to agree to disagree on this, XD.

      The one thing we can probably agree on though is how darn great the series is to both include such potential moral dilemmas to begin with and implementing it so well too. 😀

      1. Agree to disagree, indeed – no problem with that. But let me ask you this – is it Hinoki’s place to decide whether his people would be able to adapt to the truth and go on living their lives? Perhaps for the sake of their families? Because that’s effectively what he did by deciding they were better off dead.

      2. Hmm… I could see arguments for both ways. On one side, as a leader of a group like this, there’s that innate trust that people have to Hinoki. In that sense, the people are giving Hinoki the “place to decide” so to speak and as a leader, he’s responsible for making that decision.

        Of course, there’s the flip side where you can argue that no one person should be able to decide such a thing for so many others, as well as the fact that a good leader would’ve prevented the circumstances in the first place etc.

        Personally… while I do hesitate to say any one person has any right or place to decide on such a thing with so many people, the culture of the organization–mainly the strict military hierarchy in place and the huge belief from the members in the leader’s ability to make his decisions–make it feel like he does have the place to do it… via “implied consent” (probably not the best term…).

        Though say we’re given another scenario where there’s a group of people collectively making decisions and what not, I’d say no though… so it would just be this circumstance particularly for me.

    2. the way i see it Hinoki didn’t abandon the SR squad to save himself, rather, like the guy himself said, he gave the SR squad what they wanted, a chance to fight in the open instead of the shadows.even though he knew tht it would probably destroy the SR squad, who are used to operating in secret, he couldn’t stop them, thts why he said tht he couldn’t stop the organization from changing.

      i just copied my post from above because it addressed the same issue, just want to add,

      i don’t think for Hinoki it was ever about giving them a honorable or noble death rather he was merely respecting and granting his subordinates wishes(at the same time he felt he had no choice in the matter because, well, everyone knows if you keep holding someone back eventually they will turn on you), who were overconfident in their abilities and the organization they had created.

      as for Hinoki being a good person, well tht depends on your point of view, personally i don’t think i’ve seen any characters in this series tht i felt was actually a good person.


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