Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Jormungand - Episode 1

Our child protagonist begins this opening instalment of Jormungand by airing his hatred for the arms trade and all those involved with it, from the creation of these weapons of destruction all the way through to their use.  It's a hard point to argue, especially coming from the mouth of a kid whose parents were killed by just such a weapon.

Why, in that case, is this very same kid teamed up with an arms dealer the next time we meet him?  While the obvious answer is a thirst for revenge, we get little time to ponder this as the arms dealer in question, the enigmatic and energetic young Koko Hekmatyar, races about her business with our protagonist, Jonah, in tow.  With important deals in the offing and some decidedly violent opposition to those very same deals, we soon see a flip side to Jonah as he proves himself to be an accomplished child soldier while acting as Koko's personal bodyguard.

In league with the rest of Koko's varied (and largely oddball) cronies, Jonah next finds himself involved in a mission to prevent a rival arms dealer from getting the upper hand in a deal - a situation which shows both the lengths Ms. Hekmatyar is willing to go to in terms of both using her personnel and when it comes to putting herself in danger.  Thus is born the rather odd but seemingly somewhat genuine relationship between arms dealer and the child soldier who hates everything that occupation stands for - an intriguing mix that will be doubtless explored further during the course of the series.

As it's the obvious comparison to make, let's get it out of the way early - "oh hey, this is a bit like Black Lagoon!"  Indeed, from its opening titles through to the way this episode handles itself for the most part, such comparisons are certainly fair as they go about setting up their strangely loyal and lovable underworld groups before setting a cat amongst the pigeons by throwing a fish out of water into their midst.  Beyond that, Jormunhand's opening gambit is decent if unspectacular - Koko is a fantastic character right from the off who carries this episode with her enthusiasm alone, and Jonah's world-weary, sullen personality works in tandem with that extremely well.  However, the series is going to have to do a whole lot more world building to really ratchet up our interest in its underworld arms trade - Black Lagoon (sorry, here I go again) succeeded in investing us in its band of pirates right from the off, whereas Jormungand's "bad guys" (or rather, Koko's opposition) are largely faceless and not particularly interesting.  Add to that some action scenes which feel a little low budget for a show of this nature, despite some great moments, and there's a whole lot of room for improvement here - thankfully, my interest in where the show and its story can head from here fills me with at least some faith that those improvements will come about, as Jormungand at least has a solid groundwork to build from thanks to the elements which this episode did get right.

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