In autumn of 1937, as the coals of World War II are beginning to smolder, Lt. Col. Yuuki of the Imperial Army secretly establishes a spy training organization called the "D Agency." Those chosen as members of the agency, in opposition to the national trend toward reverence of native-born soldiers in the army, are civilian university graduates who pass the superhuman selection test with flying colors. Under the resourceful Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki, they learn not only how to work with gunpowder, wireless communications, vehicles, and airplanes, but also various skills essential for spies...
Joker Game (Part 1)
Joker Game (Part 2)
City of Temptation
Double Joker (Part 1)
Double Joker (Part 2)
XX (Double Cross)
EDIT: Nothing changes through the end of this anime. This anime is an anthology and not a series. Had it been billed as such, I may have enjoyed it. Hoever, it really grated me that eh first few episodes promised something they couldn't deliver. FULL DISCLOSURE: Dropped at Episode 6 of 12. Joker Game starts with great promise. It's first and second episode sets the stage for a season of a psychological thriller with spy action. However, we quickly jump into the story of another member... then another... and I stopped there for I fear that another will be after, and I fear that the enitire season will be devoted to introducing characters and having no "real" overarching story (other than they all belong to a spy organization). Should any of this change, I will finish the season and update this review. Story: 5 of 10 As of episode 6, it seems as if there will be no overarching story. Instead, Joker Game will explore each character in sequence and be more episodic. These individual stories are good, but it's not what the first two episodes promise. Animation: 5 of 10 The character designs begin to get a little weird around episode 4, and the action sequences don't seem to flow so well. Sound: 8 of 10 Solid soundtrack and VAs. No complaints here. Characters: 6 of 10 We get to know each character individually (if what has occurred continues to occur). So why the low score? The opening episodes show these characters as a group… I'd rather they fulfill that promise and show us development in terms of group dynamics with flashbacks. Overall: 6 of 10 Joker Game is fine and even enjoyable, but it promises to be something that it isn't. I just couldn't get over that. Baccano, a similar series, does a much better job of introducing individual characters and tying them into a larger picture. If I had a guarantee that Joker Game was a 24 episode series and that it would attempt the same thing, I'd recommend it. As it stands, I'll pass.
I don't really know what to expect from this show, but it has in my opinion high potential and in changes from these "school harems" and "stuck in a strange world" series (which can be good but are over used). In this first episode, the animation and art seemed to be really good as well as the soundtrack (I really liked the voices). Not much to say about characters right now, exept for the spies who are just amazing.
Positive *My first positive point was something that I already noticed in the trailer of JG and that was the animation and more specifically the art style. I think I said this already back in my Spring 2016 Update video the I had only seen the PV, but the art style of the final product of JG was really good. I loved the smoothness and the realism that was put into the animation. It gave, through its realism, a very good mental image of the world back at those times. Also the used color palette played into that with the use of very simple colors. The black, brown and grayish colors helped invoke this realistic image and also set the atmosphere of that time. JG takes place in a timespan from 1936 till 1942, the period in history when the second world war was looking around the corner. So that was not a happy time and JG recreated that atmosphere by using these dull colors. For a video review, check out my Youtube channel. Link on my profile page. *And the realism was’t only used in the artwork but also in the stories of the episodes themselves. The different storylines used here gave a very good picture of what it was to be a spy in those times both on the methods that were used and the dangers that came with the job. JG even introduces us to some of the “gadgets” that were available in those times. But nothing in this anime went over the top, everything was kept true and realistic which was very positive for someone like me with an interest in both spies and the second world war. Negative Now unfortunately I’m already switching to the negative side of this review because I had quite some problems with JG. *My first and by far biggest problem with JG was the lack of an overall storyline. Now if an anime is completely episodical and there’s no trace of an overall storyline I usually don’t have a problem with this. Anime’s from the past season like Sakamoto desk ga? and Flying Witch are made to be episodical and for that reason I don’t have a problem with that. But JG was different, here I was extremely frustrated that there wasn’t a main storyline despite it being an episodical anime. I was so frustrated here because JG missed a golden opportunity to write a very intriguing story that could have been one of the best ones this season. When I finished the first 2 episodes, I thought that we were going to move further with the main character from those episodes being Sakuma. I thought that he was going to be the MC of this anime and that the story of JG would resolve around some kind of mission or task that he had to complete together with the other members of D-agency. But then the anime decided not to do that and gave every member of the agency his own episode. And that felt like an extremely big missed chance because now the intensity that would have come from a main storyline revolving around Sakuma was gone and replaced with confusion. *Another thing related with this, and that also was extremely frustrating, was that the concept of the Joker Game wasn’t used. The Joker Game gets introduced in the first 2 episodes and it was very cleaver and intriguing concept of deception and lies. That could have been the foundation for the suspense that this anime could have had. But again unfortunately the concept of the Joker Game disappears in the 3rd episode never to resurface again. *Alongside with the episodicalness and therefor the constant switching between characters came the problem of the non existing bond between us the viewers and the characters. Every episode had another main protagonist and that’s why I couldn’t bond with any of them. I don’t even remember one name of one of those spies, we just don’t get any chance to bond with them. And if I can’t bond with characters than I simply don’t care about those characters. *Now there’s one character that appears multiple times during JG and that’s Yuuki. Now for him we do get flashes of a backstory but still we know very little about him. That is part of his character being the founder of the D-agency but still if I don’t understand a character I can’t care about that given character. Why did Yuuki raise the D-agency? What is his position in this entire political game because it seems that he has quite a lot of power? Lot’s and lot’s of questions about this character that I didn’t get to ask about all the other ones. Conclusion So as a conclusion, I would lie if I would say that I’m not disappointed in JG. I’m actually really disappointed in this anime. JG could have easily been my anime of the season if it hadn’t screwed up. Now I’m going to rate Joker Game at 3 stars and that’s really generous of me. It still gets a 3 because of the good writing of the individual episodes and for the art style. But story-wise this was one my biggest disappointments of the last months.
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