I’ve been enjoying the way Joker Game tells its different stories each week, but it’s also good that it’s turning its attention back to the spy games after more of a mystery/conspiracy last week. It’s England, 1939, in a time Winston Churchill called the ‘Twilight War’ but was more widely referred to as the Phoney War, and it’s a great time for the spy vs spy back-and-forth that make for the juiciest conflicts in this genre. All was still quiet on the Western Front, and the great powers were still poking around not sure about how to commit to this new European conflagration. And so spies and their work. It makes for an episode more akin to episode 03, and a pretty good one at that—which is to say that Joker Game continues its run of quality. Two things I enjoy about Joker Game I particularly enjoy: it’s attention to detail, and its music. Its rendition of London is the one of most realistic I’ve seen in anime (misspelt store sign aside). A recent example is the portrayal in Unlimited Blade Works, which was very pretty but Joker Game has the real London i.e. rainy and foggy. I’m a sucker for detailed settings, which combined with the excellent score (which reminds me of that Commandos videogame, for those who’ve played it) creates a strong atmosphere which Joker Game makes use of to amp up its thriller aspects.
The spy this week is the one named Kaminaga (Kimura Ryouhei), I think, but as usual his actual identity is not very important because, y’know, spy. It doesn’t really matter who the immediate players of the game are right now—I’m fairly certain macrocephalic British spymaster Howard Marks did not actually exist. As the title of this anime implies, it’s about the game. And the one where the spy is captured and endures interrogation and psychological subversion is a classic. I would argue that this is the first time that the spies of D Agency have had a worthy opponent (i.e. a counterpart agent), and I quite enjoyed watching them play their hands out against each other. While I was fairly certain from the outset that our man was not turning traitor and that he would escape, the process itself was quite gripping—which is a testament to good execution. I mentioned the detailed setting and the music before, but credit must also be given to the use of lighting. And perhaps the subject matter itself played a part, because sleeper agents are spooky. I had thought that was what episode 03, ‘Miscalculation was about, tangentially, but it is in Robinson that the concept is actually named. I do not envy these spies; to have commands that you’re not even aware of buried in your subconscious is a nightmare scenario. What is the sentiment offered in the preview of this episode? ‘Sleep when you’re sleepy; when the time comes you’ll wake up on your own’? In context, that’s actually rather chilling.
It all goes to show what a terrifying man Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki is, the lengths he will go and the amount of control he exerts. D Angency is ostensibly his brainchild, and each of its spies his personal creation. And the number of moves he is ahead by in the game is positively uncanny. I don’t particularly feel a need to know the background of each episode’s spy, but Yuuki is definitely a fellow I’d like to know more about. In fact, I’d argue that, for those who are looking for some central and stable characterisation in Joker Game, Yuuki is the one to look out for. He is the the spy. That Howard Marks chap seemed to know him; perhaps we’ll see more of the British spymaster because of that. Or maybe Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki will remain the man in the shadows forever. But the one piece of continuity behind Joker Game will always be the enigma behind the D Agency.
I had strong Metal Gear vibes from this episode for several reasons:
1.) Marks reminds me of Skull Face
2.) Yuuki reminds of Big Boss in the sense that he was way ahead of Marks in the game.
I seriously thought the spy this week was done for because of what Yuuki said before that once you’re suspected as a spy, you’re finished. That and because Marks was a spymaster and he did mention Yuuki. What I couldn’t believe was a spymaster like Marks acted the way Yuuki predicted. Planting a fake floor plan was brilliant but still Marks did exactly as Yuuki thought and made the spy send false info. I didn’t see that sleeper agent coming even with the allusions to Robinson Crusoe. Interesting too how Robinson Crusoe is supposed to refer more to the sleeper agent rather than the spy of the week. Really impressed that Yuuki has spies even within the enemy ranks and withholds info from his own spies in case of capture.
What I’m still a little unclear of is the reason for the spy to get captured. A Japanese diplomat was leaking Intel and the spy had to be captured to expose this? I was thinking the Goverment would be more concerned if one of their own was leaking top secret info so why wouldn’t they believe their diplomat was betraying them.
My understanding of the diplomat thing is that there’s a leak, the army says the diplomat in London who isn’t encoding his messages is the cause but can’t prove a link so Foreign Affairs ignores them, so Yuuki goes out of his way to prove the link by getting one of his spies captured because of the diplomat not encoding his messages, so now Foreign Affairs has to listen.
Thanks for the explanation. It made more sense. I also rewatched that last part of the episode to make sure. Though I’m still not sure what they meant by encoding their messages. Only thing we need to know is the Japanese diplomat is leaking info.
As I understood next arc will be two-part and taken from the vol. 2 of the novels (4 volumes are published for now).
Except for the ridiculously weird character design of ‘lieutenant colonel howard marks’, I’m quite satisfied with this episode.
The kind of thing I have hope to see from Spy-mystery anime.
I’ve seen people with weird head shapes, so the spymaster didn’t strike as too odd. It’s actually refreshing to have some variety in character design. His design also adds to his intimidating vibe. And yeah, I think this is my favorite episode, since it deals directly with espionage in a relatively grounded way.
Pinky and the Brain…. Mouse.. Brain has also this Skull 🙂
Light bulb head ?? wtf I thought this show is supposed to be realistic.
While macrocephaly is not exactly common, it certainly is a thing. I remember, as a much younger Passerby, playing against someone like that in a chess tournament, and was intimidated by the idea that he might have been some sort of super genius.
Khalid / “I’ve seen people with weird head shapes”
-> So have I.
“It’s actually refreshing to have some variety in character design.”
-> I have no objection to some variety in character design.
“His design also adds to his intimidating vibe.”
I agree. But it also give an impression that he is some typical evil, twisted and mentally ugly guy, which I think to be problematic. It’s problematic because there is hardly any inherently evil thing in what he did in the episode. He just tried to do what he was supposed to do, his job.
Totally agree. Given the context of the show we should root for the antagonists.
Whatever you do, googling ‘macrocephaly’ is NOT, I repeat, NOT a good idea. Stay far away.
I have to say, that is rather inviting XD
All I can say is, prepare to #GetRekt LOLOLOLOLOLOL
Also, I thought of posting this to help viewers keep track of the various individuals that comprise D-Agency, save for Colonel Yuuki and Lieutenant Sakuma.
Spy 1 ‘Miyoshi’ (Shimono Hiro) = Episodes 1 & 2 [Tokyo Episodes]
Spy 2 ‘Hatano’ (Yuuki Kaji) = Episode 3 [Paris Episode]
Spy 3 ‘Fukumoto’ (Nakai Kazuya) = Episode 4 [Shanghai Episode]
Spy 4 ‘Kaminaga’ (Kimura Ryouhei) = Episode 5 [London Episode]
I love the preview of next episode in the anime… so subtle…
This episode was good. Idk why but I didn’t feel any tension during his escape, but most things were spot on
Ah, will segment was also adapted in the movie as well.
For the misspelt store, I wasn’t sure if they did that on purpose or a mistake because the ‘S’ tail at the end made an ‘O’