Ah, I’ve been waiting for an episode like this. That is, one dedicated to Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki. You may remember that I noted in previous weeks that it’s my opinion that the ‘main character’ of Joker Game is definitely Yuuki. In fact, he’s the only character of any real import, since his students in the D Agency are shaped in his image and to know Yuuki is, to an extent, to know them all. Thus a ‘Yuuki episode’ is of fundamental importance to Joker Game, and really had to happen before the end of our run.
I had conflicted feelings going into Pursuit, though, because while I was quite curious about the good Lieutenant Colonel and did want to learn more about him, I was apprehensive about what pulling the curtain back on Yuuki’s past would do to his character. Yuuki is the biggest enigma of Joker Game, and the kind of life he lead that would lead to his skills and philosophy is arguably the driving question behind the entire series. Is it alright for Joker Game to (borrowing its metaphor) reveal its hand so easily? And Yuuki, with his preternatural abilities is no mere mortal at this point; would humanising him ruin his mystique? I was certainly fooled into thinking that Joker Game was going to do the tell-all on Yuuki this episode, being too easily drawn in by young Arisaki Akira sharing the same dead stare as Yuuki, and not suspecting that the narrator was unreliable. When the deception was revealed I was at once surprised, disappointed and relieved. Yuuki was the mastermind behind the entire D Agency. Such a consummate spy should be less a man, and more a ghost. A thoroughly fabricated life story is on par with my expectations for him.
Is it all lies, though? I get the feeling that Arisaka Akira’s life story was not entirely fabricated, but in fact Yuuki’s life transplanted onto his incapacitated friend. Or at least that’s what I want to believe, because I do want character development for Yuuki and it would be too unsatisfying if we were to come out of an entire episode with nothing to show for it, having to discard all we’ve learnt in it as nonsense. It’s the same reason why one shouldn’t end a story with, ‘it was all a dream!’ because then there would be nothing left afterwards except a bad taste in the readers’ mouths. So I try to look for the little kernels of truth that may be in this story. That, even in his youth, Yuuki objected to killing. That he went to fight in the First World War anyway, and experienced its horrors. That, even back then, he was faking a limp (or perhaps it got better and he thought it advantageous not to show it). It would make sense if Yuuki’s exotic education and experiences shaped him into the paranoid spymaster he is today. But we’d never know for sure.
Perhaps more telling would be Yuuki’s actions in this episode, specifically the mercy he extended to his MI6 kouhai (assuming it’s true that one of the founders was Yuuki’s guardian). We already know that Yuuki’s thinks that an uncovered spy is less than useless, and that killing is stupid. So letting one go is no big deal. But we would also expect Yuuki to try to turn the enemy agent to their side. Instead, happy ending. Was Yuuki just doing a nice thing as a senpai? Was it collegiality with a fellow professional? Pity for a spy who should have retired long ago? Whatever the motive was, it accentuates a sad truth about the spy business. Genuine, human connections like a loving wife is, to a spy, just a liability. Living a healthy life is mutually exclusive to being a good spy. The real character development for Yuuki, perhaps, is that he can never have real character development. Alias ‘Yuuki’ is not a man. It is the shadow of a man. To be more a spy is to be less of a human.