Blow it Up; Jormungand: Perfect Order Episode 19

I’ve complained that the one thing Jormungand lacked was insight and the history of Koko’s team, but so far, it seems like Perfect Order has been answering most of my prayers, including this one with Episode 19.

Flashback episodes can be a bit tricky – on one hand, they serve as exposition dumps and give us a peek into some solid character development as we finally find a base for the change, but on the other hand, they also can tend to become a bit tedious or boring. This week’s Jormungand walks the fine line between these two sides, but manages to carefully tread its way through to becoming something much more exciting and serious than the blockbuster jam it was back in Season 1. Not only did we get some great information about one of the folks on Koko’s team, we also got information on some of the others as well – including Echo! And Lehm! And that other dude I can’t remember his face but he’s pretty cool at sniping! Now that’s a development!

If we all thought Koko was the most outrageous, sassy, delightful and terrifying monster dragon out there, well, we were wrong! Jormungand decides to take a spin on things to my delight as it opens up the ever so-silent and mysterious Wilee, who is much more dangerous and creepy than we thought. How? Well for instance, he likes to blow up things. I don’t necessarily mean just BOOM, there goes a car, I’m talking about LET’S DESTROY ENTIRE BUILDINGS FROM THE INSIDE OUT bombs, or bombs that ONLY destroy one floor but not the next, or you know, suicide bombing your villains. Wilee is so twisted with bombs he’s on the FBI’s Most Wanted List with Koko and all the lunatics in this show as well as Lecter. “Ridiculous!” you tell me. “Is this just another show that makes a minority character some overdramatic stereotype?” And to an extent, it seems that way. Wilee’s motto is giving people a taste of their own medicine. Which, to be fair, is logical – on the battlefield, it’s only natural that at the least, you’d give an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Wilee in this perspective is more or less, as depraved as the ridiculous villains and enemies we’ve encountered in Jormungand so far.

But here’s the thing. Wilee isn’t like the villains we’ve seen. Wilee has a twisted moral compass, no doubt, but he still has one. He likes Jonah! He wants to keep giving him lessons. He admires Lehm and his team, and fights for Koko not out of some horrible slavery motif that most drama shows would use, but because he’s charmed by her, like the rest of us. He can have a good laugh not out of mercilessly killing some stranded, helpless people, but in relishing his past (haircut) with his team. There’s no doubt that Wilee’s sense of justice is skewed – but it has every reason to be, and when you’re in the job of killing people, where blowing up stuff was your thesis paper, well, you’re going to be a bit mad, yeah. But he’s not off the scale, and that’s wonderful to see.

He is also black, in case you didn’t notice. It’s incredibly rare to find a minority protagonist given such care and proper treatment in anime, where minorities don’t get the attention they deserve (see: my major qualms about how Magi refuses to have any brown characters, but that’s not for today) and/or are whitewashed. Racism is still prevalent even in animation, and while Jormungand isn’t necessarily groundbreaking in any way, the way it treats its females as well as its people of color is so very important and refreshing. Sure, it may not be realistic, but it tackles its subjects and characters relatively well and dares to go to some borders anime doesn’t touch enough these days. And that, my friends, is what makes the show great.

Next week seems to be the last arc of the show – something I’m anticipating as well as biting my lip about, because I don’t think I’m quite ready to say goodbye to such a fabulous series just yet.* Either way though, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that Jormungand is heading for one big blast, as some familiar come back from the looks of it: Kaspar, that old actress, and the butterfly enthusiast. How many times have I said buckle your seat belts already? Well, double buckle them. It’s time for one last ride, folks.

*Jormungand Episodes 20-21 will be one post, sorry about the delay!

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