The Gilded Lioness; Jormungand Episodes 7-8

Jormungand has been messing with some pretty explosive stuff lately.

I was surprised to see that episode 7 didn’t actually touch on Valmet’s past as much as I had hoped; instead of a proper flashback they only essentially spit out the information regarding how she lost her eye- but even that, at most, was scarce information. Logically speaking, the show still has time to deal with this properly, though I was hoping for more. Despite that however, Valmet still proves to be a formidable opponent- she knocks her target out easily just using some flashy knives and excellent maneuvering. What’s really the shocker then, is when Valmet, who is full of bloodlust and curiosity about the attacker’s style and how it’s connected to her past- drops the lust, regains control over herself, and then leaves her alive. Talk about a double sided coin and bringing an edge to the theme of this show!

It doesn’t stop there, when Professor Miami remarks that her obsession with butterflies and technology was on an idealistic level when she used her robots to try out to help humanity and instead ended up helping destruction.  The greatest irony, as she remarked, was when a robot designed to help children ended up becoming part of a massive bomb. This has only been going on since the beginning- the sides of the coin representing humanity’s worst and its best. One flip and it can take a sudden change, and Jonah is the symbol of this as he hates using weapons, but ends up working for an arms dealer out of kindness- killing out of kindness! Jonah’s naivety clashes smack down with his otherwise, mature and stiff nature and dismal look at the value of life and death. Miami’s rather innocent obsession with butterflies conceals a rather twisted image of how she views humans as indulgent, lazy and greedy beings who aren’t worth caring about in comparison to animals, who are honest and “true”.  It only goes to show that people are more than what meets the eye. Morally complex is one thing, but while Jormungand seems to deliver the usual tropes for bad guys, underneath all that explosive material are some really intriguing things to look at.

What this all comes back to is then Koko, whom we finally get to see a layer of in episode 8. I have to go against my usual preferences here and say that in this show, I prefer the two-episode arcs over the one episodic ones, because this episode did feel crunched up a bit and the political lingo kind of went over my head when I watched it for the first time. Koko is forced to face a formidable opponent-Amalia, an old retired actress who’s just as good as lying and faking than she is. While this brings up some good, solid entertainment, it also offers us an opportunity to see behind the mask of Koko- something I’ve been wanting to see ever since the show has been hinting at (and concealing) her so called “dream”. When Koko finally confronts Amalia, she reveals some interesting information about herself. It’s nowhere close to a sob story or personal information about Koko but it does give a very good look at the sort of character Koko strives to be in a business where you fight tooth and claw for what you try to get. Amalia first says that “two people facing off is a battlefield” to which Koko first asks: “How do you know what the battlefield is like if you have never participated in it?”

Koko isn’t talking about the political business here; she is talking about the fact that an arms dealer has to live and bear the knowledge that the tools they are selling are instruments of war. There is no good coming out of a bomb or guns. Destruction is the inevitable end for those who use these arms, and Koko is literally asking Amalia, who is new to this field, if she can handle the fact that unlike acting, where everything is about yourself, arms dealing is confronting the fact that you are in essence, responsible for killing thousands, or millions of people. It’s a heavy burden to bear- and so far, the only people we’ve seen who are arms dealer are greedy, money-seeking bastards. Is Koko different? Is Amalia? Amalia does it for the adrenaline, the rush and the intensity. To her, it’s playing out the perfect role and having control over your stage- a sense of intrigue and power hungriness we all share as human beings. While Koko’s reasonings have yet to be seen, the conversation shows us that indeed, she might be little different than the demons she’s been handling in the past few episodes.

What comes to the climax of this episode then, are the few lines Koko delivers as advice- but come back to give us a little knowledge of what the real Koko is like. “One of my employees told me that I should always smile…My father told me to put a ‘steel mask on your face and armor on your heart’….because if you walk into the battlefield and sell weapons, your heart will rot in time.”  Sorry to bring in other references here, but this struck me as a line Cersei Lannister would say, and it makes perfect sense. In a business dominated by male authority, Koko is delivering this line to a female business dealer- one of her own gender, because you have to make do with what you have. And as a lady, men are going to treat you abysmally (as seen in previous episodes with Koko) and while Cersei Lannister in no way uses her sexuality or femininity like Mine Fujiko from Lupin the Third, she does have to struggle more on a level because she is a woman, fighting in a male’s business. Koko and Amalia are no different- they shield themselves with acting, with lies and deceit, and come out of it stronger and as the winners because they learn the tricks of the trade (Koko even wears a tie but wears a short skirt- a clash of female attire with the professional attire of a salesman). They fool people with the expectation that they are to fail because they are women who are emotionally vulnerable and unstable; they bite back because of the same reasons and end up winning. Koko uses that against her foes (along with just being very good at her job and predicting the nature of her opponents), and while she did win against Amalia, she admits that it was only out of experience, and that once Amalia gets the hang of it, she’ll be a formidable opponent for sure. While Jormungand otherwise hasn’t given me any sort of feministic traits here and there, we have to remember that it does focus on a female lead who deals with other arms dealers- all who have been male so far. And that’s why Koko gives Amalia advice- it’s not even probably out of pity; Koko has no space in her heart for pity when she’s selling tools of mass destruction. Koko sees Amalia as a former version of herself. A newbie, whose heart is too exposed- and exposure makes you vulnerable. Because in the battlefield, where everything does get dirty and depends on a single move you make (so you can’t make mistakes), you do have to armor your heart. Those who don’t survive in this line of work. It gives us a clear picture of how Koko really looks at the idea of arms dealing. It’s not easy on a physical level, using tactics to beat your opponents in the game of selling. But it’s not easy on a mental and emotional plane either. You are the on the devil’s side when you are selling weapons. Koko knows that and embraces it- and even might like it a little, which brings us back to square one when we realize that this is a show dealing with humanity’s worst but in a brighter light.

One last thing- I’ve mentioned that Jormungand is a reverse harem, but as the show goes on, I feel more of a family vibe rather than each member of Koko’s gang falling head over heels for her (though I’m sure to an extent, they do love her very much). It brings us to ask, how did these people met and fell for Kok0? What initiated the strong bond between them- and working with a woman like Koko, who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to get (or sell) what she wants, how do they remain so faithful and devoted to her? That’s not something that can be bought with money or wishes. There’s obviously something much deeper here, much like the rest of Jormungand– and that’s something I’m itching to find out.

Enjoyment Level: 8.5/10

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