More Than Just A Comrade; Jormungand Episode 11

Wow, this may have been the best episode of Jormungand yet.

It was no surprise that I was slightly disappointed a couple of episodes ago when I thought we were going to get a real look at Valmet’s past- easily the most emotionally accessible secondary character of the show (Jonah is a main character, he doesn’t count)- only to have fallen shorthanded when it was only a peek and not an actual in depth presentation of why Valmet is who she is. This episode offers a more solid ground on that and also gives some great subtle (or not so subtle) development to Koko, who finally wavers in her faith and resolution in this episode.

The fact that Valmet would choose to leave Koko is heartbreaking, but just as Valmet knows Koko so well, Koko also knows Valmet extremely well and sends, of all people, Jonah after her. While at first it seems to be a shoddy decision, it actually works both ways. Jonah is often excused for being a child when he’s much more aware of his surroundings- including people. He’s an excellent tool to keep an eye on Valmet since he is in part, attached to her, as he has grown to be considerate of his team over the months. And as he says himself: he’s looking out for Valmet not just under Koko’s ‘best interests’ but also because he, like Valmet, sincerely cares about Koko (more than he’d like to admit) and they both want the best for her. Valmet already knows she’s betrayed Koko in leaving her, but there are some things she needs to do, and do alone. She knows Jonah is a good kid but he’s also a good distraction so she can keep herself focused and calm- as seen with her apologizing when she loses her temper at him.

Valmet has a good reason for feeling guilty. We finally see how Valmet meets Koko, and what a scene it is! After Valmet’s team was mowed down by the mysterious figure (whom Valmet vows revenge on) she meets Koko in a sort of army basement, who first, plays with her like a child, as she still does even now. Valmet’s confusion turns into awe as Koko extends her arms and asks her- “will you come with me, or stay here in this hole, never knowing your true purpose in the world?” The direction of it is fantastic. Valmet’s disillusionment with her loss of faith in herself, in the army and her guilt at not being good enough to save people is directly questioned by Koko, who has the special ability to look into people’s hearts and see what their true wishes are. Koko offers Valmet the “keys to the world” or rather, not just an escape, but true freedom. A family that you can surround yourself in and have pride in, once again. Freedom to know what you’re really dealing with, and most importantly, equality. Being understood by your leader and having faith in what you are doing. Valmet takes Koko’s hand, and we realize that Koko didn’t just save Valmet- she gave her a new life. She saved Valmet in ways more than one.

While the effect of losing Koko is sad on Valmet’s part, on the other hand, Koko is devastated by Valmet’s leaving. She even goes to  Schokolade and admonishes her, and kicks her own team (though this is more comedic than sad). In one of the more emotionally heartbreaking scenes of the show, Koko looses her cool for the first time in the show and pulls out a gun and kills the person who just made a deal with her.* Even her team is half stunned. Lutz for the first time doubts if what Koko did was right- even if the other crew hadn’t paid Koko in cash as asked, her actions were a bit…over the line? The others still shake their head. The Princess was right, they say. It really shows how much faith this team has in Koko. It’s not just respect, it’s not just admiration. The team firmly and absolutely believes in Koko. They will do anything for her, even if that means crossing the line once in a while. They accept and follow her morale code, whatever that may be.

Koko knows this herself, and finally throws off that smiling mask she’s been holding on for so long. “A Princess should always smile,” Lehm reminds her. Koko looks downward, her eyes shadowed. She is not complete if her team is not complete; but even then, Valmet’s absence is not just a physical loss. Koko says it herself: Valmet was more than just a comrade. She was more than just a sister or a teacher. Koko doesn’t have the word ‘friend’ in her dictionary, being the mastermind and sole businesswoman she is, but if she did, Valmet would be just that. Losing her is losing a part of herself. She needs her entire crew to work, which to me is just a fundamental revelation about Koko, because it shows that while Koko is very much an individual and “fight for myself” sort of person, she relies equally on her crew to make herself work as the crew relies on her commands to work coherently together. Yes, the team does call the shots in terms of general warfare tactics, but Koko is the brain. Her crew is literally her body. One can’t survive without the other. Take a limb off, and you’re vulnerable. (What’s the heart you ask, or the soul? The latter is to be found out, but personally I believe the ‘heart’ is the bonds that the team and the Princess share that are so strong and is what makes them work so well together.) Lehm finally gives Koko the advice she needs and she’s been looking for. You don’t smile for yourself- you smile for your crew, because the moment you lose faith is the moment they do, and when that happens, the crew collapses. That’s the role of a leader too- to inspire and to instill spirit, which is why Koko must always  smile.

Going back to the plot, it seems that we finally have an adept crew of terminators who actually get the better hand of Koko’s gang for once. Their method of destroying her is in complete sync with that revelation: if Koko is dependent on her crew as they are to her, instead of taking out Koko, why not take out the crew, one by one? Rather than go for the head, cut off the legs. Surprisingly, it works, and Koko’s crew is in a sticky position as panic is in the air and Ugo is nowhere  to be found. Communication is such an essential key in teamwork, so when silence is the answer, that more than anything, stirs up fear. And with Valmet gone and Jonah as well, the team is more vulnerable than ever….

*A litte detail that I just loved in the show: Koko pulls out her gun and shoots the dealer, but she allows Lehm to safely carry her away while the rest of her gang kills the other members. To me that shows a lot about how Koko understands the idea of a ‘bodyguard.’ She does what she wants but in the end she’s not going to overstep her boundaries. She’s not super strong, or super fast like her crew. But she is smart, and allowing herself to have protective measures means two things to me- one, that she knows her team’s faith in her and uses that, and two, that Koko doesn’t mind being protected; her team is very much her bodyguard, but that doesn’t make her a damsel in distress. It’s a subversion but even in her calculations of being protected, Koko doesn’t become a damsel in distress. It’s all based on instinct and calculation. That’s who Koko is. And that’s how her team interacts as well.

Enjoyment Level: 10/10

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