I have to admit that this week’s arc was weaker than last time’s, but then again, who could really top off an episode like fifteen?
For starters, I was expecting more of a dramatic showdown between the SR Squad and Team Hekmyatar, but the show had its reasons, and I’ll give it that. What I was disappointed in was that Episode 16 and 17 raised my hopes about getting a perspective on Kaspar and the sort of man he is, only to fail in Episode 18 which switched back to Tojo. I know backstory on Koko’s men has a bigger priority than her brother, but all the same, I was really looking forward to some interesting tension between the two of them. All I got out of the three episodes was Koko admitting the fact that Kaspar was someone she had to always help out, whether she wanted to or not. And forget about Koko and Kaspar’s relationship – we barely got any information on Kaspar himself, as he continued to evade everyone from his true personality and only give us a gleam of his interesting relationship with Badass Chequita™.
This was also hindered slightly by the interesting Hinoki, who proved to be a different sort of villain as it turns out that he couldn’t keep up with the team’s changes in his organization and let….them go off to their deaths. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about that decision; clearly, there are far more understanding and realistic ways of trying to come to a middle ground when reaching a conflict with your team, but Jormungand has never been realistic when it comes to these things. Even then, I still feel like Hinoki purposelessly slaughtered the men he spent so long trying to raise, and it comes off as clumsy writing to me. Had there been more of a solid scene where Hinoki argued with his soldiers, I think I would have let this point go, but there wasn’t and so the meaning and intent was missed out. Contrast this with the last half of the episode, which focused on Tojo getting some closure from Hinoki, which ultimately portrayed Hinoki in a good and admirable light, and you’ve got me even more conflicted. Jormungand has been pretty good in introducing characters who lack a straightforward moral compass, but Hinoki was one of the shoddier characters when it came to that sort of construction. I did like the end part where it turns out that Hinoki had a child and wife though. That was a sincere addition to the complexity of his character and it’s those kind of inserts that the show does best; not blatant try-hard characterization like the majority of Episode 18.
Tojo was also given a lesser role in this arc as R did in the previous arc, which is probably why I feel like he lacks that sort of substance R did. He wasn’t given a fleshed out backstory, and we never really got to see why he left Kaspar, though we can probably assume it was because of Kaspar’s nature and/or he reminded Tojo of his past boss. It’s still a shame though, because Jormungand has had so many missed opportunities to flesh out Koko’s team, and so far I think only around a good half of them have been given some kind of backstory, but not enough to really strike me as something interesting or new. The good thing about this episode however, was the confrontation between Tojo and Hinoki, which I did enjoy, excluding Hinoki’s long winded monologue about why he killed his team off. I think it was good closure for Tojo and a way to kind of peel away his bias against Hinoki as this ruthless overlord – he might have been once, but now he’s no more than just an old man seeking some kind of end to his career – and it goes to show how people and organizations are extremely flexible. Tie this back to Koko’s gang: Koko is no doubt the leader of it, but the effectiveness of her team relies both on how skilled each individual is, as well as how each individual contributes to the group. There is a difference between a group and an autonomy; Hinoki was striving for the latter and ended up with the former, which only led to his ruin. This is where Koko truly suceeds – she’s incredibly adaptable to the environment, but more than that, she changes with her team, and vice versa. Koko’s heart lies with her group and nowhere else. The minute things change from good to worse is the moment her team instinctively acts, and that is why she wins, and that is also why Tojo will never leave her. I don’t doubt that Hinoki’s relationship with his group functioned in a similar way (something I wish had been explored more) but Hinoki to his group was a leader. They worked in the shadows; Koko works in both light and dark, and it really helps her win.
Next week is a flashback from the looks of it, and I’m excited to especially see a younger Lehm, who has always been a sort of father figure/mentor to Koko in times of crisis. I’m also hoping for more backstory (as usual), so let’s see how this goes! Hopefully it won’t be a disappointment like this arc was.