Jormungand: Perfect Order – 05

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Make no mistake about it – the “other” HCLI squad takes a back-seat to no one when  it comes to kicking serious tail.

[gg]_Jormungand_-_17_[1E5A702C].mkv_snapshot_02.22_[2012.11.07_22.09.42]Kasper Hekmatyar was much more of an off-screen presence than on in the first season of Jormungand (though his urinal confrontation with Jonah was certainly a memorable part of a memorable arc) but it’s remarkable how well it feels like we know him in spite of that.  What we’ve seen of his relationship with his sister is the tip of the iceberg, and barely that – every moment they share on screen is full of subtext, and to call what exists between them complicated would be an understatement.  And while only Chiqitua among his squad has had enough screen time to carve out an identity (and what an identity) episodes like this one paint a picture of a team every bit as skilled and loyal as the one that surrounds Koko.

[gg]_Jormungand_-_17_[1E5A702C].mkv_snapshot_04.43_[2012.11.07_22.12.03]In substance this was very much an episode in Jormungand’s comfort zone – heavy on politics, espionage, violence and superhuman feats of dexterity in urban combat.  The character stuff mostly took to the back burner but it was definitely there, most noticeably with Jonah.  This is really the first time we’ve seen Jonah so openly displeased at the notion of combat – the fact that he’s in the country he hand-picked to send his orphan charges to for their safety has something to do with it, but you can’t help but wonder if seeing them again gave rise to even deeper emotional causes for his uncertainty this week.  By appearances it seems the first time he’s openly considered the possibility that their might be another way of living than the one he’s currently engaged in with Koko.

[gg]_Jormungand_-_17_[1E5A702C].mkv_snapshot_05.05_[2012.11.07_22.12.25]Japan is indeed a “safe country” as a whole, but the notion of the “SR Squad” headed by Col. Hinoki Yosuke (Nakamura Hidetoshi) isn’t so far-fetched as one might think – many of the organizations mentioned in the episode are real ones, and secret organizations lurking under the cover of the JSDF have been a reality in Japan since before the Vietnam War.  Tojo is very much the man caught in the middle here – between an old boss in Hinoki who’s worked his way through the secret underbelly of the Japanese military to become the most powerful spy master in Japan (selling nuclear tech to Iran and then selling intel about it is a neat trick), and another old boss in Kasper who fully believes in his divine right to do business where and when he wants, and to kill anyone who gets in his way.  Tojo’s exact role in all this is still a bit unclear, but Hinoki certainly feels as if he has his old subordinates number (and not just his prepaid mobile).

[gg]_Jormungand_-_17_[1E5A702C].mkv_snapshot_05.59_[2012.11.07_22.13.20]It could be argued that Koko is caught in the middle too, but as she says herself, the one hard and fast rule between the Hekmatyar siblings is that they always help each other out in matters of the family business.   Tojo describes his two old superiors as being very much alike, inflexible as rocks and stubborn, and it seems neither has much interest in settling things peaceably.  Hinoki himself goes to see Koko to “negotiate”, while sending an assassin dressed as a figurehead from the dummy corporation SR uses for cover to try and take out Kasper.  There’s a lot you could take away from that scene, but one thing’s for sure – Chiquita is seriously talented.  After saving Kasper from the assassin’s katana with a well-timed kick she takes out a squad of SR commandos with automatic weapons using nothing more than her blade – though she does use her sidearm to finish them off (one head, two heart) once they’re down.  Lehm is the most skilled in the series with weapons, and Chiquita in close combat – it’s no wonder they were married several times.  And divorced, too.

[gg]_Jormungand_-_17_[1E5A702C].mkv_snapshot_07.53_[2012.11.07_22.15.13]What seems certain now is that Jonah’s desire to avoid a “bloodbath” in his safe country is doomed – what’s not is how he’ll react to that.  Hinoki and Kasper indeed seem incapable of compromise, and neither takes kindly to being showed up.  Hinoki sees this conflict with HCLI as a chance to “go legit” – to blow the cover off the SR Squad and assume his rightful place as the power broker in the Japanese military.  And as for Kasper, if Chiquita’s skills jumped off the screen this week what stands out for Kasper is his sheer, cold implacability.  His smile never leaves his face, but it’s a different sort of smile than it is with Koko, and it hides different things underneath it.  More so than at any time so far, it feels as if Koko is at the mercy of events, not controlling them – this is not her fight, but she’s in it up to her neck, and so is everyone on her team, Tojo especially.

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  1. e

    Chiquita's perpetually smiling attitude scares me. So very much.
    Kasper scares me too, but I had to laugh as he toyed with the katana. His expression was infectious somehow.
    'Lehm is the most skilled in the series with weapons, and Chiquita in close combat – it’s no wonder they were married several times. And divorced, too.' The mental images. Ooooh boy.

    There is a tiny distinctive detail – visually speaking – in Jormungand that caught my attention since the beginning, and was apparent especially in the last two episodes: unlike most people IRL and most anime, the characters here don't have eye highlights. The eyes and iris themselves here instead have a colour gradient and the upper lid shadow giving definition to the gaze while also avoiding the dead/flat eye effect, but the lack of a white dot of light/reflection still gives the gaze a subtle unsettling quality. Most of the professional characters in-series are like this, Hekmatyar siblings included, and Jonah (in his case with the notable exception of his emotional moments like last week gazing at his friends from inside the car – said friends having 'normal' eyes too btw -). Mrs. Katana Assassin had the light dot this episode too but he was pretending to be a civilian and a bumbling nervous one at that. Interestingly enough, among the regulars both Valmet and Lehm have bright eyes.

    Hunter x Hunter have a similar trick as visual clue, but inverted. Most of the cast have regular bright 'alive' eyes unless they go BSOD or freak out or are borderline KO (happened to Killua in assassin mode, Gon while overwhelmed in fights, recently Kurapika ).
    Silva, Zeno, Illumi and Hisoka instead have the 'no light dot' eyes as default look. The few times Hisoka got a light in his eyes so far have been mostly – if not exclusively – in episodes 16, 35, 36.

    In a nutshell: ye watchers pay attention to characters losing the light in their eyes and when, but beware at least as much of those characters getting a light in their eyes when they usually don't.
    Simple but effective :).

  2. e

    EDIT: 'both Valmet and Lehm have been shown with bright eyes sometimes'. <— he was talking to Tojo here right after the latter had called colonel Hino. There are some educated guesses that can be made at his reaction here, aren't there?
    Interesting show for sure.

  3. D

    One can safely state that I have a massive character crush on Chiqitua for some reasons. It's baffling since she's barely featured in the past 17 episodes and her lines probably less than 15 total. But it's also safe to say I've been waiting this arc to be animated ever since I read the manga's counterpart!

    This only confirms that she is the strongest female character and arguably stronger than Lehm himself. Enzo and many will have an issue with this and think of it as sacrilegious since she's after all a bit character and Velmet & Lehm is clearly the main action figures. But here's my reasoning: assuming that a parent loves his children equally, which is true in most cases, why Koko (his dauther) gets Velmet + Lehm+ Jonah + 7 (now 6) other stooges just to protect her life while Kasper (his son) gets ONLY Chiqitua + measly "3" stooges to protect his? Chiqitua is basically single-handily doing what Velmet+Lelm+Jonah+4 stooges are doing. Also Lehm did marry Chiqitua "multiple" times, meaning more than 3 times at least. Once and twice are reasonable, but multiple times? That must be something that made Lehm, arguably strongest character in Jormungand world, compel do (or at least agree to do) that. I dunno, perhaps, being attracted to her insane killing strength?

    Anyway on that last note, I suppose my character crush is evidently shared by quite a few, at least in Japan:
    That's right, Chiqitua, the least featured character to be top 5 from the official 2012 Jormungand fan favorite contest in Japan!! And she even beat Lehm (take that, old man!). Velmet and Jonah being 1 & 2 are understandable, so is Koko being 4 as they're freaking main characters. Only Schokolade (no. 3) is another bit character, but since she's the only pretty girly girl character in the anime, her apparent popularity is understandable -also being a ditsy blonde with bib boobs doesn't hurt her chances, either. But this only proves that Chiqitua is quite some lady.

    BTW, Enzo, how far did you read the manga? Do you already know how this show will end & what character(s) may die? I've only read up to the current arc, so no spoiling, but was just curious… they'd better not kill off Chiqitua.

  4. Oh, I finished the manga long ago.

    Why would I find it sacrilegious that you find Chiquita the strongest female? I don't care one way or the other what someone thinks to be honest, but it seems self-evident that she's stronger than Valmet. As for Koko, she and Chiquita are strong in different ways.

    I prefer to think of Chiquita and Lehm as complementing each other perfectly, as their skills are so different. It only makes sense that one would be with Kasper and one Koko, as they're by far the two strongest bodyguards HCLI has. As for the reasons why Koko has a larger team, there are factors that go into that but I think it's better if I don't discuss them.

  5. A

    Excellent episode as always. Koko still looks very affected by R's death. She seemed overly cautious throughout the episode; trying to escape helping Kasper and giving her team the maximum gun power. She barely ever smiled (Genuine or not). She was also making sure Tojo wanted to go through with the mission. He is after all going up against a group he worked for and since R died against the group he worked for, Koko doesn't want a repeat.

  6. S

    Chiqitua is scary. We knew that, but, yeah, scary. And Kasper's fascination with the katana was really great. Though I thought Kurosaka was going to last longer in the arc, drat. I liked the design a lot.

    This has been a great arc so far, and I have a bad feeling the 3 kids Jonah saved are going to get involved in this. If they do, I put money on Jonah putting a few bullets through Hinoki's head himself.

    Also, Tojo needs to keep the explanations a little shorter, haha. :)

  7. A

    Is there some kind of a weekly ratings system for anime like Nielson's for TV shows in America? I would be interested in how my favorite animes are doing?

  8. There's a "Weekly Anime Ratings" thread on Animesuki, and the info is available around the interwebs. But it's a bit spotty, especially if you don't read Japanese. And for late-night shows like Jormungand, ratings are generally nowhere near as important as DVD/BD sales and manga sales bumps (and there Jormungand does decently for a show of this type, about 3500-4000 BD/DVD per volume so far).

  9. T

    What I've always liked best is Chiquita's smile. It seems to have everything that Lehm's smile has — foresight, distance, experience — but governed by one central trait: a tightly controlled insanity that strains at its edges. It comes as no surprise that we'd see her explode down a hallway, make a sharp turn, and run through her opponents as if everything she did was built from a lifetime of OLY lifts, box jumps and perpetual waiting.

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