I can nit-pick one thing about this episode, so I may as well get it out of the way early – too much recap. I don’t think we really needed to see five full minutes of last season’s Jonah back-story, as great as that arc was. It was certainly necessary to give us some flashbacks to those scenes, but not to the extent of long uninterrupted re-use of old animation. Still – in four episodes, that’s really the only thing I could take issue with in Perfect Order – and that’s a damn good track record right there.
The rest of “Kasper and Jonah”, like the season as a whole, was fantastic. The relationship chart in Jormungand is pretty complicated anyway, but when you start factoring Kasper and his merry band into the equation it pretty much goes off the charts. We got what amounts to our first real look at Team Kasper in the same sort of setting as we generally see Team Koko – in a relaxed, “slice of arms-dealer life” moment. Taking shelter from the rain, getting happy ending massages, enjoying Southeast Asian food porn and showing us their smiles and their non-combat personal peccadilloes. It’s enough to give us the idea that this group might be just as interesting as the main one, and that Kasper might be just as much of a fascinating enigma – and maybe even more of a badass – than Koko. And for the first time in the series, fate is going to intersect the orbits of HCLI’s two top squadrons.
Among the many trends one can pick up in watching this series is this: whenever Jonah’s voice-over narration makes an appearance, something big is going to go down. It’s even more true in the anime, as his first-person perspective being cut back is one of the very few significant changes the anime has made. For Jonah, any appearance by Kasper is important because of course, Jonah’s history with Koko began through his encounter with Kasper in his Balkan homeland. There’s also significant personal stake in this for Lehm, as he’s been married to Kasper’s lead dog Chiquita “several times”. Sadly we don’t get to see any interaction in this ep between these two characters whose GAR levels (note Chiquita’s head/heart shots as Team Kasper leaves their calling card with the enemy) have barely been hinted at, but there’s plenty of Kasper & Jonah – as befits the episode title.
The catalyst for all this is a force that’s trying to drive HCLI out of Southeast Asia, a group that’s vaguely hinted at with references to WW II and brief glimpses of their leader. What Kasper knows is that the group has ties to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, more specifically to Tojo’s old boss – giving one of Team Koko who’s been in the shadows a chance to take his turn in the spotlight. As a typhoon rages over Southeast Asia both Hekmatyar siblings take their teams to Japan to meet – but Koko gets their a few days early to take Jonah (and the rest) to Disney Sea and Tokyo Disneyland (no direct mention of the “D” word) to help them get past the depression over R’s demise. But there’s also the fact that Koko always seems to push the team to have fun when she’s knows they’re going to need all their strength for a major fight ahead.
Jonah, Kasper and Koko – three very complicated individuals in a complicated triangle that’s quite unlike any in manga or anime. Kasper is one of those “dark matter” characters that impacts what happens in a series even when unseen, and he’s had a profound impact on everything in Jormungand. It’s interesting to speculate on the feelings between Koko and Kasper as siblings – for Koko especially this is clearly a difficult relationship but what’s clear is that among the teams, at least, there’s a profound sense of respect. And when the interests of HCLI are threatened personal issues have to be set aside, no matter how deeply ingrained.
Before that, though, Koko makes sure Jonah does have one personal score settled – the fates of his three orphan charges. She makes sure it’s Kasper who shows Jonah their fate – does she want Jonah to trust her brother (though she seems not to herself) or is there another reason? Kasper not only shows Jonah (very responsibly having him sit in the back seat) that the three are living the lives of happy, normal schoolkids but tells Jonah to come work for him “after he leaves Koko” – to which the boy gives a “When hell freezes over” answer (and Kasper an ominous “Who knows what life will bring?” reply). Ultimately this is Jonah’s story, the chronicle of his journey – and the tale of his tragic existence as a child whose innocence has been almost but miraculously not quite burned out of him both by what he’s done and what’s been done to him. Jonah’s nature is summed up by how he handled the situation in this episode – he wanted to see how Maurice, Eline and Jano were doing and grinned happily when he saw their smiling faces – but refused to get out of the car and meet with them. The reasons should be clear and tell you all you need to know about the strange boy with white hair and red eyes, and I’ll say this much – if you don’t find that sequence of Jonah staring at the trio of orphans and then ordering Kasper to drive away heartbreaking, you have a stern and cold heart indeed. For me, it’s the saddest moment in 16 eps of Jormungand, and it’s not what you’d call a happy series to begin with.