Posted by psgels on 27 June 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

Sometimes, a show comes along that has the best of intentions… but just seems to miss the boat by a few inches. Jormungand is scheduled for 24 episodes, this first season covering 12 of them and this seems to be enough time to cover its entire story about weapon dealers who travel all over the world. This should have been an awesome series, but instead this season had more than a dozen better series. So what happened?

Well first of all this season is awesome, that’s definitely a matter of bad timing for Jormungand, but even then there is a reason why it failed to stand out. I’ve seen quite a few comparisons between this series and Black Lagoon, but that’s not quite right. Black Lagoon had a cast of widely varied and colourful characters. Jormungand wants to have a cast of colourful characters, but gets a few things wrong.

The series definitely knows its basics: every episode is dedicated to give background and a story to at least one member of the cast. These backstories and developments are definitely interesting. It also fleshes a bunch of them out quite well, most notably Jonah. The problem though, is that it doesn’t do this with every character.

Now, that on its own isn’t a bad thing: the trick with a series that has a huge cast is to make every character feel unique and part of the story. And that’s where Jormungand falls down, especially with its villains. There is no big villain in this series: every arc has its own antagonists, and they’re all pretty much carbon copies of each other. The creators keep recycling two or three archetypes over and over again: the loud-mouthed complaining boss, the ditzy and spunky female sidekick and the silent soldier. After seeing the protagonists easily beat these characters over and over again with seemingly no effort, things get a bit boring. This series also really likes snarky characters, up to the point at which just about every bloody characters is snarky to some extent.

And that is a shame because a series with this concept is destined for greatness. The places that the characters visit are unique and beyond any cliches, and it really toys with the themes of weapon dealing and morality in a fresh way. And there are definitely interesting characters, but they’re just overshadowed by the unremarkable ones. But here is the thing though: it still has plenty of potential for its second season. It laid out more than enough build-up for that. The second season will have to put in much more emphasis on getting better villains, but there are plenty of hints that it will. There is plenty of interesting stuff in this first season, it just gets held back a bit. Remove that and who knows what you’ll get?

Storytelling: 8/10 – Fun action scenes and good pacing. Battles are too easy sometimes.
Characters: 7/10 – There are way too many similar characters and archetypes throughout the series. The few good characters don’t manage to save this series from being dragged down by this.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Funky soundtrack, its own visual identity and nice animation.
Setting: 9/10 – The most interesting part of this series, with still a ton of potential left for the second season.

Suggestions:
Madlax
Black Lagoon
Mobile Police Patlabor

11 Responses

  1. commenter says:

    This show definitely had ups and downs, but was overall certainly enjoyable. The combat seems sometimes subpar due to the stormtrooper accuracy of the bad guys on occasion, but it’s still leagues ahead of the usual fare.

    I disagree about the little variation between the different characters. While they fall into only a couple of archetypes, the way they play out is often unique. Take the female characters. You have a knife lover psychopath that just wants to be the best at knives, the confused and hypercompetent assassin with traumatic past, the snarky ex-wife of Lehm, the butterfly girl, the two handed pistols assassin that just wants to be appreciated by the old chinese guy and so on and so on.
    They all fit the bill of the spunky action girl archetype, but they’re definitely different in various ways. I think this is just an impression and nothing more.

    All in all, this is not what this show is about in the end, so I personally didn’t really mind whether they were similar or not. I’m here for the plot Coco is up to and of course the intrigue that has been here and there since the beginning. I wonder what Coco is really up to.

  2. wicked says:

    The villain will kick it up a notch in the second season, though every one being snarky is probably not going to change. The original author convey that this is a story about bad guys in a bad world, so few character appears to be earnest.

    Although the characterization is somewhat of a weakness, because pretty much everyone is a psychopath deep down(with the exception of a few characters)

  3. Sei says:

    Totally agree. It is the reason I dropped the manga at the first place. At first it seems interesting, then after a few act things become very repetitive and the characters lost their charm very quickly. However, the saving grace is that they seem to try to build some big story later on, with whatever the hell Coco is doing. The manga is completed, so it might be a good news.

  4. tktym says:

    Now, that on its own isn’t a bad thing: the trick with a series that has a huge cast is to make every character feel unique and part of the story. And that’s where Jormungand falls down, especially with its villains. There is no big villain in this series: every arc has its own antagonists, and they’re all pretty much carbon copies of each other. The creators keep recycling two or three archetypes over and over again: the loud-mouthed complaining boss, the ditzy and spunky female sidekick and the silent soldier. After seeing the protagonists easily beat these characters over and over again with seemingly no effort, things get a bit boring.

    Yo Psgels;
    This is pretty much one of those “you have to read the manga” things to accurately get this one right. but they will cover that next season.

    Maybe you should wait to give your impressions on a series until its 100% finished?

  5. Hououin Kyouma says:

    I think too, that this could’ve been done on purpouse to build up a major villain for the second part. A bit risky for the overall 12 eps, but they handled it very well with the fortnightly cliffhangers, so it could be safe to say it was entertaining EVERY week, and no single episode was boring or useless. Maybe only the fights could be better by adding more drama or losses…My rate 8.5/10

  6. sato says:

    I’m usually one to complain about things, but in this case I think Jormungand was the best series of the season. The mix of snarky humor and action was pretty much just perfect. And as a comparison to Black Lagoon – that one had an annoying whiny lead (Rock), and took itself far too seriously some times (the arc with the submarine and the Roberta sequel are coming to mind). The badass cast in Jormungand is much more entertaining to watch. Can’t wait for the next season.

  7. commenter says:

    I thought to further add some details about the characters. This story is not about showing off all the different characters. Instead, it’s all about the two main characters. In other words, you’re comparing this to the wrong standard. This is not a show like shiki, but more like witch hunter robin or armed librarians: book of bantorra. They’ll dedicate episodes to show off a single character a little bit more, but it’s essentially about 1 or 2 characters and a big overarching plot.

  8. RABUJOI says:

    Jonah may be the series narrator and he’s not a bad character, but the main reason we watched Jormungand (and will keep watching next season) is Koko Hekmatyar. Aside from having a very cool design (something more suited to a villain in most series), she never lets you forget that she’s not only a born leader oozing with charisma, confidence, and skill someone in her position needs, but also a vulnerable young woman with a very strange upbringing. I’d say the series got the characters they needed to get right right.

    As for the ease of Team Koko’s victories, I like to think this season built up their invincibility intentionally, to make it that much more dramatic when they finally do suffer setbacks and/or take losses. Episode 11 was a nice example of this; it looked like Koko was in serious trouble, but she wriggled out of it, but more serious trouble awaits her.

  9. Nic says:

    I’d actually be harsher than you pgels because I think the problems go far deeper than this.

    Jormungand S1 has a kickass premise, the kind that makes every other series jealous. The problem is that it’s handled by an author that clearly doesn’t know what it’s doing.

    In war/combat settings like this, there are generally two good ways to develop the story. You can either go realistic & gritty or you can go with colourful, glamorized violence (Black Lagoon).

    What Jormungand tries to do is bound to fail in my eyes. It tries to go half-way realistic and then insert humor that detracts for the entire experience to try making them ‘colourful’. To pull off humor in a realistic war setting, you need to be one hell of an author or you’ll fail big time. And Jormungand’s author is a far cry from a great author so it completely failed so far.

    The result is that you have these incredible war settings that are completely wasted because the author tried to mix and match comedy with war. The characters just end up being totally bland and silly because the author is unable to rise up to the challenge of mixing humor in a war setting. Plus, his humor is boring as hell.

    Then, there are 2 more major problems with the series. First, as you pointed out, the lack of powerful villains. I mean, I feel insulted that people compared this to Black Lagoon because Jormungand’s villains are a joke. They never feel threatening, have little to no charisma and after seeing something like Black Lagoon, they’re flat out boring but supposedly ‘crazy’.

    The last major problem is the omnipotence of the main cast and the ‘lol physics’. It’s very hard to take seriously a series with normal-looking characters, that aren’t monsters like in Black Lagoon, but decides to just give the finger to physics and make the characters invincible.

    Episode 10 was the low point of the series in that aspect. They piss off a commander and kill like… 20-25 soldiers and suffer no injuries despite being outnumbered, having no cover and the soldiers have automatic weapons. And then, they make some maneuvers to evade being blown sky-high which basically consisted of ‘Hey, let’s pretend they’re good by making their enemies miss’ followed by launching some sort of powerful cannon mid-air, pretending recoil doesn’t exist and that magically kills all enemies with shrapnel.

    I rank the series 65/100. Episode 11 was the high point. They’re lucky that the Summer Season looks pretty bare because if it looked half as interesting as the Spring Season, I wouldn’t give this show a 2nd glance.

    • Nic says:

      Ah, quick correction. I thought S2 was airing this Summer. I just realized it starts airing in October. In that case, I seriously doubt it’ll be watching its 2nd season because summer seems the only spot where I’d want to watch a show of this quality. Barely any interesting TV shows since it’s the off-season for most shows and less anime shows air as well.

  10. Tanz says:

    Enjoyable is the way to describe this show. I find the humorous aspects of this show to be the most memorable rather than the life lesson it was trying to convey.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:50 AM)
    Still would have preferred dorohedero adaptation than gangsta though but I can dream…
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:46 AM)
    Reading over the impressions post for Ranpo, reminded me, has anyone read the Junji Itou take on that story?
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:43 AM)
    …crap, that post went on a lot longer than I was planning it to. Got a bit excited over the series. =P
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:41 AM)
    Ha, yes the characters are unique aren’t they? How often do you see a deaf gangster.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:40 AM)
    I would lying however if I said I wasn’t keen on that Worick fella though and the prostitute girl.
    I am hoping that the series will go more into their relationship with her.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:38 AM)
    I think this could be the best of the season and I’m glad it’s being covered on here and thanks for putting me onto it with that season preview/first impressions post.
    Where the scans left off was a frustrating cliffhanger =<
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:38 AM)
    I’d worry about the anime, there might be a chance of censoring later on (although so far that isn’t an issue) and the anime is only 12 episodes long so that’s a problem right there. After a good opening chapter I did feel it took me a little bit before I fully got into it.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    It has a feel of dogs-bullets and carnage, which was an alright manga, this seems like a step up/better thing of it.
    However I’m not that big on the tonal shifts, the comic reliefs not great, slight bit of filler, don’t overly care for the side cast as much, their a bit forgettable some of them.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    The action scenes are enjoyable enough, gritty and gory, its competent, time/boredom killer stuff so long as you turn your brain off. That I like the art style also helps. I liked how in one scene the prostitute at least did try to stand up for herself. I can see that a jormungand/black lagoon fan might go for this however I’d warn people to not have their expectations THAT high.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jul 4. 2015 05:37 AM)
    I watched the first episode of gangsta, but I decided to go on and marathon all 6 volumes in one sitting. For the most part this has a page turner quality to it, the three central/main characters backgrounds are adequately handled and theres a development they keep teasing I hope they get more into. I’m glad to has a series with adult characters like this. Theres a kind of bromance in there somewhere.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Knights of Sidonia S2: Battle for Planet Nine review – 73/100

The second season of Sidonia makes a number of mistakes that a lot of second seasons do. That namely being that the anime slows down and introduces characters and conflicts that are often resolved in a undetermined to exist, third season. A new antagonist is introduced, whom does very little in the season and only […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 12

Tanikaze’s rendezvous with Benizumie looks to have been cut short as Izana interrupted with some hacker magic. The entire sequence being as uncomfortable and disturbing as you could imagine. I still wonder just what was her goal in doing all this to Tanikaze. Was it some method of killing him or just some really kinky […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 11

It’s quite the coincidence that both shows I am covering have decided to use their last episodes to make up for the season’s shortcomings. This will be a short post as while action packed episodes are great to watch, they make it hard to bring up topics to talk about. Guana look to be imitating […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 24

Now this is more like it. Well as they say, better late than never and this was at least the best moment to bring back the quality. All I ask is where this was three episodes ago which it could have made all the difference in the world. Admittedly this episode has made me a […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 10

Unfortunately this wasn’t the time for Izana to become an ace pilot though she did at least show some ingenuity in her escape from gauna. Instead the spotlight falls once again to Tsugumi and Tanikaze. A lot of the fight scenes before the challenger appeared was to shown that Tsugumi and Tanikaze have great teamwork […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 23

Sometimes it’s hard being a veteran anime fan and a huge Fate Franchise fan. I sit down to watch the latest episode of this series and I want to shut up the cynical critic in the back of my brain pointing out everything that is wrong with this episode. But as events I adored from […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 9

Though the majority of the episode was of the same antics I have been complaining about in previous episodes, it’s nice to see Sidonia get back to what it does best. Dire situations and sci-fi mecha action. Izana being pushed into the role of scouting with a new weapon has to be the best path […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 22

A fairly uneventful episode this week.In some ways for me that’s good as it allows me to go into detail about the nature of the ever so popular CGI dolpins. But first let’s speak about what happened. Our three heroes had a strategy meeting discussing how to deal with Gilgamesh and the grail while all […]

Knights of Sidonia S2 – 8

I think something is wrong when I consider a protagonist from a movie these characters are watching a more compelling lead than our current one. I was surprised when starting the episode to see a sudden rise in visual quality only for it to turn out to be a movie within an anime. Actually I […]

Latest Reviews

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]