Brave New World; Jormungand: Perfect Order Episodes 22-24

[gg]_Jormungand_-_22_[9B30FB30]_Jan 12, 2013 5.58.29 PM

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.

– Aristotle

In terms of what Perfect Order has set up, I don’t think I could have asked for a better final arc. And in terms of what Jormungand has been about since Day 1, I don’t think I could have asked for a better ending.

The final arc of Jormungand could be argued as the most important and encompassing. You could say it’s the most pointless, from one viewpoint. You could also say it’s the most anticlimactic or ridiculously built-up out of all the ones we’ve seen so far. There’s only one gunfight, which happens in the beginning of the arc; there’s also little use of Bookman and That Guy in The Glasses! The ending is completely open and up for interpretation, which may conflict with the sort of basic, hand-it-on-a-plate-to-you schematics Jormungand has been about since the first episode. And it’s true; all complaints in one way or the other are valid. But to me, these three episodes are the ones that really defined the show and what it stood for. So many questions were raised along with important ideals and characterization the show has been building up so carefully, and it all came to a very well done and executed finale in the end.

These three episodes are a battle of ideals. Jormungand has set up that conflict permeates the entire spectrum of human nature. Episode 22 is a preset to this, as Koko and Jonah’s views finally clash in what’s most likely the most emotional message of the show yet. What Koko desires is not just a supercomputer, as we find out. It’s something much more personal, something much more mighty – something only a true Beast or God could envision, or even accomplish. What Koko desires is peace in the world; that corruption, the same corruption we have seen for 21 episodes, would vanish into thin air. Of course, it’s a wish that doesn’t come with easy answers, if not personal motive.

It’s haunting and sad. I’ve said before that we have had rare moments where Koko’s mask cracks and we see the naive girl hiding behind it, but this is the most vulnerable we’ve seen her since R’s death. At that time, Koko’s vulnerability was only a mere moment covered up by rage as she brutally killed Hex. Here, she reveals the true her. And it’s ironic in a way: Koko and Jonah, all this time, have been opposite sides of the same coin. They are joined at the hip with their one-faced, kind optimism. But whereas Jonah’s pleas to save the world from evil and war is based on an innate desire to protect and a pure hearted love for humanity, Koko’s pleas are to save herself from the fate she’s been thrust into. Koko hates the world because of what it’s done to her, if not other people. Jonah might see love despite being unable to tear himself away from a gun in the end, but Koko can only see the lives she’s ruined and the imminent destruction of the world. And thus, she offers to rebuild it anew, destroying the one thing all weapons depend on: technology. This is the first answer Jormungand offers us: the side of Cynical Romanticism. Do we take the gains of corruption to overthrow it? Is that the answer to all the war in this world?

Jonah can’t answer. Instead, he runs and joins the only person he can join – Kaspar, who offers a different sort of perspective on the world.

Enter the Pragmatic, or Cynic, depending on which term you prefer. Kaspar is the true essence of an Arms Dealer; where there is money to be obtained, he will gain it. In Kaspar’s eyes, corruption is inevitable; a stain of humanity that can never be washed away. What better to do than to profit from it? Kaspar could care less about the deaths he creates, or the lives he’s saved. And so Jormungand offers us the vision that the world will never stop being wartorn or a battlefield; it is the way of life.

If the show were to end here, it’d be too nonsensical for our ears. Only two answers, at the opposite ends of a spectrum? What about our main player? Two years pass, and Koko’s instincts, like always, come true. The world is on the brink of collapse.

Sing it with me: it’s the end of the world, and we know it….

We could stop here and say that realistically speaking, this sort of apocalyptic setting would have happened in more than just two years, if not 20 or 50 years at the least. Thus this is all completely unrealistic and dramatic! But that’s the point. Jormungand is a distorted, dramatic and skewed reflection of our reality. It is a world where an arms dealer is a hero; where magical supercomputers exist, and where 150+ satellites can be launched into the sky by one corporation. Either way, it doesn’t matter: the message is clear. Corruption is rampant in the world. Humans are vicious beasts, slaves to their own needs and desires. As nations begin fighting over precious materials, war erupts and even Jonah – innocent, naive, and kind hearted Jonah – cannot escape the fact that this is happening now and that the number of solutions is slimming down to none. Desperate and lonely, he calls out to the only person he knows who can help and rejoins her side, facing the same question with a new answer based on the world he has seen in these passing years.

It’s not like Jonah’s idealism has totally vanished. But he’s grown up. The boy who willingly sacrificed his own life for the safety and happiness of his fellow child soldier friends is replaced with a teenager who understands that there is a price for all things, and respects Koko as the only leader who makes the most sense in a world that is incomprehensible and has gone to the dogs. Don’t take this as an optimistic answer though; as Enzo says in his review:

“…but if there’s anything hopeful in what’s frankly rather a depressing ending, it’s Jonah’s words when he comes back to Koko. Jonah never accepts the right of what Koko is doing – for him, this is purely a personal decision.  The world makes no sense, and the only thing he knows is that Koko is the person he loves (in what sense, it’s left to interpretation).  But it’s still a tragic ending, because Jonah’s loss of innocence amounts to an admission that there are no good answers, only compromises we make to try and keep ourselves sane.”

It is Jonah’s idealism that has been the heart of Jormungand, and thus it is Jonah’s growth that matters the most. His will is the last side the show offers us. It’s not practical, nor is it romantic. It’s a little in between both, as Jonah settles for the ending that he can understand, as Project Jormugand is finally initiated and the show closes on an open note.

Also admirable is how faithful of an adaptation this last arc was, right up to the point where Koko raises her hand and hits the button.

Is there a defense? I can’t say if Koko’s plan will work. In fact, I don’t think it will, despite Jormungand actually being quite a brilliant plan (control of technology and thus weapons). Human conflict is the root of humanity itself, and while idealism and power may be convincing, it won’t be enough to save the world. Guns, weapons and supplies of destruction are only the symptom of the problem. Is Koko creating more water and resources for the world? No. So conflict will still exist. That’s what the cynic tells me. And yet, I, just like everyone – even Bookman – in the show, can’t help but admire Koko’s heart and follow her as she steps into a brave new world with her team. The aftermath is left entirely up to the audience’s vision. Maybe Koko saves the world, maybe she doesn’t. That’s not the main focus of Jormungand. Koko isn’t a hero. She isn’t built for world domination – only world creation here, and while the full story of that role is for another day, and another time, Jormungand is the story of Koko as an arms dealer. It is her last attempt to sell her idea to the world – a commodity that cannot be bought by one person, a vision that cannot be realized by one woman. This idealism can be only told through an arms dealer, her experiences,  and her team – her faith, which is a single boy and his love for the world; a story that’s beautifully told through a montage of all the characters we’ve met and a French ballad with facts of corruption seeping into its lyrics.

The truth is, Perfect Order isn’t about the Order Koko will establish. It’s about the Order she dreams of, and her journeys. Koko is both a Beast and a God. It’s what’s made her so damn likable and this show so well-executed, if not intelligible at times. And I couldn’t have seen a better way of the show telling me so than through these last few episodes. It’s been a great ride, and I’m going to really miss our Little Princess’ schemes. Perfect Order has been a joy from beginning to end – so thanks for sticking along!

A little note: I was listening to the Perfect Order soundtrack while typing this review up, and I can say it’s brilliant. That’s Taku Iwasaki for you, I guess.

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