The stories begin to tie together as Koko gets ready to challenge the world.
What They Say:
The child soldier Jonah continues to protect Koko while she brings the boom to cities across the globe. When the international arms dealer ramps up sales, her hired guns are targeted by government agencies, warmongers, and assassins – leading to some devastating betrayals and losses.
Amid all the gunfire and grenades, Koko begins to work on a secret project in South Africa: Jormungand. But when she finally reveals her master plan for the future of war, not everyone is happy with the plot. As the body count starts to explode, Jonah will have to decide if he can stand by and watch his employer’s blood-soaked plan for world peace unfold, or try to put a stop to it.
Contains all 12 episodes of season 2.
The audio presentation for this release is pretty standard but works well as we get the original Japanese language in stereo and the English adaptation in 5.1, both of which use the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The series is one that does do a lot of dialogue driven material as there’s plenty of banter to be had and some more intense moments as well, but it also has a good bit of action as well. This hits up some of the good material as we see the way that the bullets come across, the impact, the explosions and the driving action in order to utilize the forward soundstage well. These moments are fairly regular with the way the stories work and most every episode has some good action with plenty of attention to the smaller bits which fits in with the way the show tries to keep things serious and intense. Dialogue is definitely clean and clear throughout and the show has a solid presentation without any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes of this season are spread across two discs with eight on the first and four on the second. Animated by White Fox, the show has a really good look overall with a lot of detail and attention paid to the real world aspect of the machines, the equipment and all from that part of the arms dealer world. It looks good and definitely adds to the realism of the series. Similarly, the backgrounds are strong with some good designs to it that also works to really set the atmosphere of the show, which also translates into some good character designs that have a really good look with the detail to them and the flow of the animation of it all. The main issue with the show is that they made a stylistic choice with it in that there’s a persistent layer of grain, which gives it a bit of a theatrical feeling in some ways, but adds that layer of noise that can be distracting for some people. It didn’t bother me all that much and I felt for the most part it fit the show well in giving it a little more of an earthy feeling.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case which also has an O-card slipcover that replicates the case artwork itself, albeit with a little more pop and color to it. The front cover goes for a darker approach compared to the first as it has a sunset feeling to it as we get Koko and Jonah paired off together again, though there’s a wall thats forming between them at this time. It’s a bit more moody than the first one but it fits the nature of this season well The back cover goes for a darker approach with an almost black design that has the logo along it and a decent if brief summary of the premise, which works best for this kind of show. The left side breaks down a few shots from the show to highlight the characters and we get a good breakdown of the extras as well. While there are no show related inserts to it, we do get material on the reverse side that’s pretty nice. The right side breaks down the episodes as a whole while the right has a subdued shot of Koko and Jonah together.
The menu design for this release goes with the simple and expected route where we get a navigation strip along the bottom which has all the standard selections, and doubles as the pop-up menu to good effect, while the rest of the screen plays clips from the show. They’re done with a bit of a filter on it which adds to the kind of darker feeling of the world that exists here and the overall look is decent, though fairly forgettable when you get down to it. The layout is easy to navigate and submenus load quickly during regular playback with ease. The release does come with locked language tracks so you can’t change anything on the fly, which cuts down on sampling the language tracks easily.
This release comes with a few extras above the basics which is nice to see, as well as a bit of a change from the norm. We get the solid usual pieces in the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which are pretty good here. We also get an audio commentary which lets the cast talk at length about the characters and the production. We also get a pretty interesting extra on the second disc where there’s a ten minute video piece as Christopher Bevins talks with the two lead actors about the show and the cast as a whole with a bit of animation from the show interspersed throughout it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Admittedly, while I enjoyed the first season of Jormungand a lot, it felt like it was missing something to really make it compelling. The show did a lot of the usual things you get in a season like that with introductions, setup and exploration of how the world works and it handled it well with the two episode per story structure. That gave the stories room to breathe and it never felt rushed, though it was fairly predictable in some ways. There’s a good sized cast to the show and some interesting connections that came up as well as a few threads that were tied throughout it, from Jonah being our point of entry into the world of Koko and arms dealing to seeing separate aspects such as the CIA man Scarecrow and the Bookman character who seemingly had a bigger role to play but was constrained. The second season plays with the structure in much the same way for the first half, adding more detail to Koko and her crew, but it shifts it up in the second half to truly reveal itself.
One of the more important character stories hits here early on, after giving us a standalone episode that showcases Dr. Minami a bit more as we see the kind of tight bond she has with Koko that will become important as it progresses. The first two part story works the idea of getting Koko taken down with a few different forces at play through a mission that’s eventually called Undershaft, but it’s not a surprise to see that Koko is always a few steps ahead of her competition. What becomes fascinating with this story is that we get a good bit of back story on Renato and learn of his time spent with Bookman, which in turn reveals that he’s a spy within the group who has largely been won over by Koko. It’s not exactly clear what kind of intel he did pass on, or just how much Koko truly knew about it, but his story is really well done in exploring why he went this route and how he makes it clear to Koko that he’s totally on her side. It’s a bit of a tragic arc, especially when tied to the larger operation Undershaft, but it starts to set up the pieces for Bookman that makes it clear that she’s working on a whole other level than him.
Kasper starts to play a bit of a bigger role in this season as well as the different arms of HCLI interact a bit more and we see some time spent in Asia where while in Jakarta, a bit of a history lesson comes in with regards to the Special Research Unit of Defense Intelligence had been about supplying weapons under the table decades before but ended up becoming a far different beast as it took on the name of the SR and found itself engaged in a lot of different things. Kasper’s operations there aren’t going smoothly and Koko gets drawn into it as we see a lot of connections there with some of her players. With it following up an episode in Japan which was amusing to watch because of gun laws and the way they had to carry themselves amid a seemingly peaceful country, going into something more rough and tumble certainly worked well. Part of the appeal here is getting some good time with Tojo and his past with the SR unit but also seeing Kasper at work and how his bodyguard of Chiquita definitely provides him with something that makes the pairing a whole lot of fun to watch.
But all of this is just leading towards the bigger arc that takes up the last five episodes after we get an absolutely beautiful episode about Wiley and his past. We’ve seen Koko doing a lot of unusual moves and her work with Minami has been curious but largely unexplained. There’s been a kind of controlled crazy about Koko from the start and we get a lot of nods in this season as people try to figure out both what she’s up to and what Jonah means to her plans. Minami wonders if Koko’s gone soft by keeping him around, thinking of him as some kind of limiter that will stop the two of them from their larger plan. Others see him as a trigger in which she’ll completely cut loose and go ballistic if he ends up killed. Jonah just doesn’t know what to make of Koko even after all this time, especially after the way she’s involved in launching over a hundred rockets into space in a move that’s not explained for awhile.
Koko’s plan is a bit of an interesting one, especially when you see so many modern references in the show that are surprising, particularly the Plame reference, but what she’s orchestrating is something that would radically change the world but come with a cost she’s prepared to pay. The idea of taking a significant chunk of weaponry out of the world picture by removing man’s ability to fly the skies is one that is an odd approach to take, but they express it well within the show by making it clear that it will alter the dynamic of how wars are fought. Which is true, since even as large scale wars have fallen by the wayside, a lot of the big moments are done through aistrikes and transportation of equipment and people. With Koko and Minami having come up with a way to wrest control of the skies and space from the nations of the world, which is shown in a couple of smaller maneuvers along the way for those that wield the tools of modern electronic warfare, it’s made clear that she can follow through on it.
But it takes an interesting approach as it progresses and all the pieces fall into place. We get the fascinating moment of Bookman realizing what she’s doing and how far ahead of him she is which leads him to wanting to see what kind of world she’s going to create rather than fight against it. But the whole thing has a delay factor to it that plays into Jonah’s part, where he’s the one she wants to see that the world must change in this fashion after his life as a child soldier. He can’t bring himself to agree to it when she reveals her plan because of the cost of life, even as she talks extensively about how the world and wars are about to become really intense as it shifts from fighting over oil to fighting over water and other natural resources. The cost is high up front, but the cost of not acting is even higher. And she needs someone like him to agree to it in order to do it. Unfortunately, we get a two year leap because he’s unable to for some time and when it is time, we never truly see the results, which would be a fascinating work unto itself. But like many shows, it’s always about the journey to the moment and not the impact of it, so it’s not a surprise that it falls short in this area.
The first season of Jormungand was thoroughly enjoyable, but it’s this season that feels like it really delves into a couple of more complex and interesting characters before it goes to showing us what Koko really wants to do to the world. The sad part is that we don’t get to see the changes to it and what she would have wrought. But we do get the intriguing lead up to her actions, which draw you in more and more as you want to know what she has in store, what she’s doing with Minami and how it will all unfold. The combination of the two elements of this season helps to elevate it a bit more than the first season, but viewed as a whole between the two you really can come away with a strong appreciation of it. It’s a very technically well done series with some striking animation and attention to detail and it all draws together in a way that surprised me. With it coming out after the manga had ended, it does provide the right amount of closure here overall and left me feeling very pleased with a largely complete story with very interesting characters.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentaries for Episode 4, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 18th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78;1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.