In a way, I look at Jormungand as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. The first season had to do the work of shaking all the pieces out of the box onto the table, but it’s only now that we get an appreciation for just how beautifully they fit together. I think of Death Note as a good trashy manga posing as high art and Jormungand as high art posing as a good trashy manga, and that’s really coming through with the work White Fox is doing with Perfect Order. In this theatre of the absurd we have an outlandish plot full of extraordinary and unbelievable events that in and of itself is intricate and brilliantly conceived, but the real genius of the series is that way it uses that plot to shed insight on the human condition the way few “realistic” series – anime or otherwise – can.
The collision of forces we saw in this episode was inevitable based on the events we saw in the last two weeks, and we saw each of the principals behave in a manner consistent with who they are. Bookman continues to believe that he can manipulate everyone around him to his own ends – to “make them dance until they’re out of breath” as he says about Koko. Bookman is a formidable and brilliant operator, but there’s perhaps nothing more dangerous than a fat old man who gets his rocks off sending healthy young people to die at his behest – and somehow, the notion that he was a failed soldier himself comes as no surprise (as is the case with most of the revelations in Jormungand, which we only realize after the fact were foreshadowed with exactitude).
As for Renato and his relationship with Koko, again I don’t think his actions come as a surprise because they’re consistent with where we’ve seen his character going. From his declaration that sacrificing Jonah was “out of the question” in the pre-open it was obvious that he would betray Bookman if it became necessary to protect the little lady and the boy soldier. What’s interesting is that what Bookman took as a flight of fancy, a thinly veiled attempt to intercede on Koko’s behalf, appears to have been an accurate assessment of Koko’s state of mind. By his greed at wanting to make everyone dance to his tune Bookman, as he says “lost both his arms” – when in fact if he’d realized sooner that Hex was a lost cause he could at least saved his right. And even with his loyalties in question, R would certainly still had value for Bookman.
Koko’s character is as opaque and mysterious as the Marianas Trench, of course, and still riddled with mysteries like bullet holes in the car she and Jonah hid behind – what’s with all the missiles, and what’s her master plan? But R’s assessment that Jonah was her “shackle” – her hedge against becoming a monster and her trapdoor out of her life as an arms dealer should anything happen to him – seems obvious enough on reflection. It’s the dragon inside her that she fears the most, and in her moments of clarity – as in her “How can I be wonderful? I’m an arms dealer!” outburst at Valmet – she surely realizes how deeply her Karmic debt has piled up. As always she behaves in the most outrageous manner – grinning madly and fondling Valmert’s oppai as a “tribute” to R – when she’s in the deepest pain.
As far as we know, this is only the second time Koko has lost a man on her watch – the first being Echo, whose death we saw last week – and R’s demise can’t have come as much of a surprise to viewers under the circumstances. We see many sides of Koko and wonder which is the real one, but there can be no doubt that even after his admission of guilt her grief was genuine – and we’re free to speculate on whether or not her pledge to keep Renato on board and protect his secret was as well (I believe it was). R, of course, never had any intention of surviving – once Jonah-bo was out of commission R’s fate was sealed, and his final request to Bookman was certainly made with that in mind. He died a hero’s death, as good as a soldier could hope to die. The culmination of the battle – and just how easily Team Koko finished off Team Hex, a group of trained CIA operatives – should give you an idea of just how good Koko’s boys really are (especially Lehm, who only rarely gives us a glimpse of just how ridiculously skilled a soldier he is).
The ending was certainly epic – Bookman’s “Watch yourself” warning to Hex, which turned out to be pointless as she was about to find out what happens when you really piss off Koko Hekmatyar. Koko’s straight face when Bookman condescendingly met her at R’s grave, giving away nothing of what she’d done, and then Bookman’s reaction when he discovered the truth – not blind rage, but almost a perverse joy that there was someone out there as batshit crazy and talented as Koko Hekmatyar to challenge him. Say what you will about Bookman, but he’s got balls of steel – and he’s going to need them. Meanwhile the name of the next arc is “Kasper and Jonah” – so if you had any doubts as to whether the epic was going to continue, you can safely set them aside. Board up the windows and make sure the pets are in the house.