「ダブル・ジョーカー (後編)」 (Daburu Jōkā (Kōhen))
“Double Joker (Second Part)”
As one may have deduced from the name, Double Joker mostly serves as a followup to the introductory Joker Game arc, right down to the disguised Yuuki (this time: moustache addition). As it should be clear by now, Joker Game has always been less about the individual spies (who are, for the most part, interchangeable) but the game they are playing (again, the title), and so it’s only apt that a refocus on the main subject should get these longer arcs, to higher expectations from the audience.
It’s actually fairly interesting watching the arc unfold from the perspective of the Wind Agency, since they play the foil to the D Agency that we’ve become familiar with. How to distinguish them, though? Superficially, they are both organisations of young Japanese men that we can’t readily tell apart. They use similar gadgets to do their similarly shady business. What sets them apart, says Joker Game, is philosophy. ‘Kill without hesitation, die with honour’ may simply sound pragmatic at first, but turns out to be emblematic of the fundamental failings of the Wind Agency. Remember back to Sakuma and the poker metaphor from the first arc. While Wind Agency may have the highly-trained men, use the same toys, and speak the innuendo lingo just like the D Agency they, like Sakuma, were from the beginning playing the wrong game, on every level. In their secret competition against the D Agency, they thought that the win condition was to catch the leak before D Agency. But D Agency was not playing against neither Shirahata, the leak nor Graham, the British contact. They were playing against rival spies. Wind Agency’s man focused on snooping out the two targets. But D Agency’s man (Fukuyama Jun) was there to snoop out enemy spies. Wind Agency thought that, if there was a leak, then the leak must be plugged. D Agency instead thought that if there was a leak, the leak can be used. If the Joker Game is ultimately about manipulations, then the D Agency was playing at a much higher level the entire time.
Most egregious is Wind Agency’s willingness to both kill and die for their cause. In the initial Joker Game arc, Yuuki explains to Sakuma that suicide is the worst choice a spy can make, as it attracts attention and investigation. Killing is on the same level it seems—even if you can make bodies disappear, murder is still far too conspicuous. In these two episodes of Double Joker we’ve seen that the Wind Agency has been quite willing to kill their informants and unwilling conspirators to cover their trails. Yuuki scoffs at the idea. Needing to kill to cover your trail means that you left a trail. For Yuuki, it seems, if a spy needs to kill at all then they have already lost. If you recall, he believes that a spy that is suspected is already useless. That’s why spies need to always stay one step ahead. Lesser spies react. The D Agency preempts. For Wind Agency’s spymaster, it’s crazy that D Agency had already planted spy in the Shirahata household a year in advance. For Yuuki, it’s a matter of course. This is the difference between a blunt instrument, and a true master of manipulation.
I know I’ve said this before, but for those looking for a central character to follow in Joker Game, it’s definitely Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki. All the spies of D Agency are extensions of his will and his ideals, such is his foresight and control. Although in Double Joker Yuuki only shows up for a while at the end to act as the Explainer of Things, this arc was completely about him. It was like a chess game, and we were watching a grandmaster (on black, naturally) crushing a lesser player. Throughout the game we’re just watching the moves, and they look pretty normal, until the truth of the grandmaster’s gambit is revealed and we realise his complete dominance in hindsight. It was quite watching Yuuki take apart his rival, and I was of course expecting him to win (because protagonists), but at the same time I sort of pitied the poor wretch whom Yuuki so thoroughly destroyed. Turns out that, Wind Agency were the actual underdogs. Their rival is omniscient. How do you beat that?
I wonder what opposition the D-Agency will face next now that they have defeated the Wind Agency.
Maybe an overseas spy agency who are also pros at the game. Or perhaps internal Imperial Army politics.
How about British intelligence? I’ve noticed the British being mentioned a lot. They also have that strange looking spymaster in episode 5.
What I am wondering about is whether or not there will be a real rival agency at play? Watching Yuuki out maneuver everyone is fun but it can get old if that is all we are going to see.
It is interesting to note that, if Joker Game follows history, Yuuki will ultimately ‘lose’. He obviously has little regard for the military’s war plans, but even Yuuki does not have enough influence to change the direction of his country.
Sad but true, history shows what Wind Agency does is superior to D-agency, KGB is a great example for it.
@Jips: Is it so? In the end the KGB lost, in the world of spying the real victories are never known by the public.
This arc ended faster than expected. This episode also seem to be the first time since Sakamoto’s story where we get a hint of the spies in D-Agency actually working together. Really thought they operated alone.
They are working alone for the most. Yuuki is the master mind and each spy goes out to collect information and report back to Yuuki.
The Wind Agency also, while still calling itself a “spy agency”, is still very clearly thinking more closely to the IJA ideals (which, IIRC, Wind Agency was still made up of those from the army or at least related to it), especially when it comes to killing/dying for the cause and that archaic thinking clearly lost out to Yuuki’s modern thinking.
Honestly, I really wish the D Agency would loose just once. They seem so invincible that after nine episodes it has become somewhat predictable and watching someone who completely dominates the battle field just win. The How is always different, but sometimes it would be good to ask for an If or at the very least see them struggle or win after several backslashs or things have become fully FUBOR.
They are japanese spies during world war two. It would be unrealistic if they always won
In fairness the D-Agency aren’t the ones directly fighting the war, its’ IJA. They can only do the best jobs they can smooth a path to victory for Japan, but it’s the main military which they are under that will determine the outcome of war. So no matter successful the D-Agency is in their it can all be vain if the IJA is too incompetent to make use of the information smartly and decisively.
I think that’s the exact reason why D-Agency is great at what they’re doing. It’s not about them winning or losing. It’s about HOW. And we’ve seen some real struggle (e.g Hatano and Kaminaga).
It’s just that espionage has been thoroughly ingrained in them that even at a dire situation, their minds still look for ways to gather information.
“We kill when necessary”
Bro, you’ve been killing every flipping person you’ve made contact with outside your little circle. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as “excessive”.