「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?