Jormungand is a type of anime that doesn't come along all too often these days. It seems we are bombarded every year with new shows that are themed around shounen/moe/school days/rom-com/comedy and the action shows never seem to live up to expectations. Jormungand is about a child soldier named Jonah, his village was destroyed by a small military faction and he absolutely hates guns and those who sell them. Ironically Jonah is put into the hands of a gun dealer named Koko who is accompanied by a team of expert mercenaries. Through the story we see that Koko has a special interest in Jonah and her crew work hard to help the seemingly unaffected boy live a somewhat normal life when he is sorrounded by death and destruction. The show sometimes gets too wrapped up in the action and is very graphic. Too often shows like this spend too much time pondering the strategies of an unrealistic gunfight as if it were a game of chess and this show is not immune to those kind of cheesy sequences. Like "Hey! that guy needs help from his accomplice to know where and when to shoot at people, maybe if we seperate them we can defeat them!" when in reality its just a fucking gunfight and every bullet has the potential to kill.
The action sequences still are fairly spectacular I must say. Beyond the action the show takes itself very seriously but the interactions between the characters provide some comic releif. There we moments in this show (although few) where my face lit up with laughter.
The show also dwells on some philosophical questions. Unfortunately it doesn't do this extremely well but it does succeed in forcing viewers to ask questions of morality. The idea of moral absolutism vs. ethical relativism is a recurring theme. Jonah hates all guns and gundealers, while belonging to a gun dealer. It begs the question of who's at blame here? Is it right that chickens are held in 6inch by 6inch steel cages stacked on top of eachother in wherehouses for their entire lives? They're fed hormones and live their lives being shit on by the birds in cages above them and the unsanitary conditions make it necessary for them to be sometimes washed in bleach before being killed for their meat which we eat. No, this is not right, not moral to many people, but who is at fault? Is it the people who run these operations? If they had free range chickens they would never be able to compete. So is it the fault of the corporations and fast food chains utilizing these facilities? Or is it our fault, the consumer, because we blindly eat our chicken nuggets without a care of where it came from or how it got here? Jormungand deals with a similar dilemma with gun dealers. Is it the gun dealers fault for the destruction their goods cause? Is it the fault of the politicians and countries whose misteps foster such horrible conflicts? Or is it the fault of the people using the guns for whatever cause they fight for?
It doesn't do a bad job of asking these questions, but it really puts the philosophical implications of the stories premise behind the action and quirky characters. And in my mind, maybe the show should have reorganized its priorities.
Every character has a back story and the show tries to show the viewers that these killers are people too, some with families and regular lives. The most interesting theme among the characters is the relationship between Jonah and Koko. Jonah is a yound boy who hates guns and violence but has become so desensitized to it all killing is almost second nature to him. He can kill and not lose any sleep over it. Koko sees this and in a way wants to bring the humanity back to Jonah and harbor an environment which he can live a somewhat normal life amongst the chaos. Koko herself is cunning and charismatic but at the same time very turned off to the world. She wears a mask which smiles and makes light of every situation but we learn that it is exactly that, a mask. I would contend that Koko sees herself in Jonah in a way and as a result she fights to save his humanity. Its like she doesn't want Jonah to end up like her; turned off to the world. This relationship develops throughout the series and I'm extremely interested in seeing it continue in the second season this fall.