「柩」 (Hitsugi)

Politics has always been a tricky subject in regards to Joker Game, since it’s a Japanese show of a Japanese medium about Japanese espionage in a war Japan doesn’t like talking about. No matter how they portray any side, I’m sure it will offend someone’s sensibilities. But there’s one group that everybody has agreed is okay to vilify, and that’s Nazis. Nazis will always be bad guys. Especially ones wearing eye-patches—you just know that guy has a secret base on the moon. For those of you wondering what kind of opponent can stand up against Yuuki, then an old Nazi counterintelligence officer who shares a past with ‘the Magician’, who is specifically hunting an old nemesis, is a pretty good one. Pretty cool too; no offense to macrocephalic Howard Marks, but Colonel Wolff, while still defeated in the end, made for the cooler rival. Say what you like about Nazis (and I do—brave and controversial!) but they sure do dress snappily.

I’m surprised to be getting another episode about Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki—surprised and thrilled, because one just isn’t enough. One can only imagine the kind of stories behind the man that lead him to the creation of the D Agency, and it’s a shame that Joker Game will probably never be able to tell it all. Not that it should try to, because the mystery is part of the appeal, which is perhaps why we still don’t know his actual name. But the life and times of the real Yuuki—if there ever was a real Yuuki—is fascinating stuff, now that we’ve seen so much of his agency and his philosophy. We do learn quite a bit about him this episode, not just in his past (like how he lost his hand), but also his character. For one, we’ve never seen Yuuki moved to action quite like this. Sure, he snoops around in disguise, and sometimes even goes abroad, but for the most part he remains behind the scenes, only emerging to pass on instructions, or gloat. It seems that only the most serious of circumstances forces him to take an active hand—when one of his spies die.

Quite the chilling episode this week, and not just because of the Berlin winter (still loving Joker Game‘s sets, by the way). I wasn’t expecting Joker Game to kill any of its spies, though I suppose I should have since that is part and parcel of a very dangerous career. And it was Miyoshi (Shimono Hiro) too (I think), whom we came to know a bit in the first arc. But Coffin is not notable because of any shock factor, but because of the way it deals with death. Miyoshi’s death was a sudden and senseless accident. But he still dies with a smile, knowing that he’s protecting his information. It’s still all pretty sad. ‘Katsuhiko Maki’ died as a spy, buried in a foreign land, unmourned by friends and family. That’s the way of the spy; the MI6 agent last episode had a genuine human relationship, but that just meant he should have retired. Perhaps the one comfort that the D Agency men know is that their handler remembers them. Yuuki, sold out by his country in the past, does not abandon his people. We already know this from episode 05, but here in a spy’s darkest hour, their master is their only peace.

Remember the preview for this episode, featuring Mallais’s Ophelia? Is she alive or dead in that painting? And remember, Ophelia was a Catholic, which frowns upon suicide. Does she find salvation? For the spies of D Agency, Yuuki is unto a god. And Yuuki can at least, through the information these spies risk their lives to collect, have them live on.




  1. I find it amazing that I actually shed a tear for a character who we barely knew – such is the power of Joker Game – and yet I find it difficult to do the same to a character from another show I’m currently watching, despite its much more gruesome deaths. Or maybe that’s the difference between watching week by week (for Joker Game) instead of marathoning a whole bunch of episodes (for the other show).

    1. There’s something to be said for effective execution as well, to be sure, but I think that the fact that we don’t know much about these spies is part of their tragedy. Thus we really know at least some of the story of all of these spies—that they die obscure and uncelebrated. That in itself is rather sad.

  2. This is just too much to take the show seriously. My suspension of disbelief is done for.
    There was a fair degree of Yuuki’s Gary Stu-ism in previous episodes, but his Harry Potter antics this time around take the cake.

    After our Chief Death Eater Spy Master learns of the demise of his subordinate, he magically apparates in Germany, sneaks into the hospital wearing the invisibility cloak, casts Confundus on the nurse, locates the microfilm with Accio and then happily ***s off to the German equivalent of Knockturn Alley (being the Master of Dark Arts he is), unbothered by the Gestapo, the Abwehr, street urchins and whatever you have.

    To hell with this BS.

    Is this the real world? Is this just methadone a power trip?

    How delusional does the author have to be to think that in WWII Germany an Asian old man wouldn’t attract attention everywhere he’d go? That his actions would not be monitored by the security? And German intelligence were (supposedly) such fools they did not strip Miyoshi naked to examine every piece of his clothing? Is the author for real? I-I’m so embarrassed for him!

    1. I’m not familiar with Harry Potter’s term but I think I agree about your points that Japanese guy would be pretty stood out in that time and why German soldiers didn’t completely search Miyoshi’s body.

      But for why he was able to be in Germany, went in and out of the hospital and found the microfilm, well maybe he was already in Germany to received report from Miyoshi like he did in earlier episode with Hatano. He went in and out of hospital hiding in plain sight considering that time with huge accident like that, the hospital would be quite busy (although the animation didn’t depict this) and he was there so fast because Miyoshi just came back from meeting with him. And he was able to find the microfilm because Miyoshi marked it with his blood before he kicked the bucket.

      These are just my own speculations anyway and yes, I also agree that this require a lot of suspension of disbelief.

    2. I feel like you have both a degree of misdirected anger and misconceptions about what kind of show Joker Game is. This is not a shounen battle anime where the protagonist gets beaten and then has to level up to rinse and repeat. This is more akin to a mystery novel, where you know the detection is going to solve the crime, but the motive and schema behind the crime is the important part. Joker Game, in particular, is deeply psychological, so the driving question in an episode like this is not whether Yuuki succeeds, but whether he comes to Berlin at all, and why.

    3. Uh, did you even watch this episode? Because you got pretty much everything wrong.

      Yuuki already was in Germany, because he was meeting with Miyoshi. That’s the plot point. That’s why it matters on which train Miyoshi was. Because he was on the train to meet with Yuuki and give him microfilm. That’s why he had microfilm on him. Apparently sewn into his shirt collar – this is why he stained it with blood, to mark it for Yuuki. Getting news about train crash and getting intel about victims whereabouts are rather trivial, as every single newspaper would have extensive story and any info helping families of killed and wounded find their relatives.

      The nurse weren’t with Gestapo. When one old man come looking for his friend – another old man, what do you expect her to do? Call secret police, or point her to the right room? Remember, train crash just happened. Dozens of casaulties. There would be someone looking to identify somebody about once every fifteen minutes. Again – that’s the plot point. Yuuki got there BEFORE they set up the watch. In that scene where the young subordinate of Wolff is moving the Miyoshi body and setting up the shop we see Yuuki already leaving. With microfilm in the pocket. Also, remember, that he can with little makeup pass up as very believable Caucasian.

      Last, it’s not WWII Germany. It’s pre-war Germany. I’d guess 1936, before signing Anti-Comintern Pact. That would explain unofficial character of news about being “friends” with Japan. That would also meant that 22 years that Wolff is mentioning would refer to Siege of Tsingtao. In 1936 Berlin was still before Kristalnacht, rather multicultural and international city. Still full of jazz clubs and foreigners. Some Asian guy wouldn’t make anybody bat an eye.

      The only point I can agree on, is that careful enough search, one involving ripping every sew on the clothing of supposed spy, probably would find microfilm. But it’s actually another plot point. Before Wolff realised what’s going on, he was already defeated. Small oversight, but huge consequences. If Wolff himself moved his ass instead of relying on less experienced subordinate – or trained him better – maybe he’d got his prize.

  3. Nazi uniforms were designed by German fashion house Hugo Boss, which is still operating today.
    It explains the general trendiness of the uniforms, although the founder himself, Hugo Boss, was stripped of his voting rights and heavily fined after WW2 for his Nazi support.
    (He died in 1948.)

  4. I thought it was brilliant that we were conditioned to think that everything is just as planned and will work well. I was waiting the entire time for the big reveal that Miyoshi was not actually dead but to be hit by reality when the preview of the next episode rolled. Though I feel sad (to the point of crying), I liked it. Since Miyoshi was presented to be a top spy from episodes 1-2 but ended up being killed in the most unexpected and simple way a spy could die, an accident. Regarding that part with his question on the preview of last week’s episode “Is she alive or dead?”, I think Miyoshi feels the former, because the satisfaction on his face that he was able to carry out his mission was really beautiful.

  5. RIP “Miyoshi”, or whatever your name really is. Didn’t see that coming at all.

    Got to question when exactly does those events in the preview happen. It always feels like they were reminiscing the past. So, I was always under the assumption that they all survived till at least the second half of 1941.

    The next episode seem to be about trouble with women.
    Looking at the timeline, at least he doesn’t have to worry about a little girl and her dog yet.


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