This is the story of some very blonde people. The name of the anime is Jormungand and it was based on the manga of the same name by Keitaro Takahashi. It is full of spoilers but I have tried to keep the most important stuff properly refrigerated. It made 7.81 on MAL and I would have given a bit more.
White Fox studios produced it. Some of the other shows they have done are Girl’s Last Tour, Akame ga Kill, Goblin Slayer, Stein’s Gate, Devil is a Part-Timer and Re: Zero. They are not anime lightweights.
In Norse mythology, Jormungand is the Midgard serpent. It is a giant aquatic snake that is so long that its body wraps around the entire world. The day of Ragnorok will begin when there is an exceptionally bitter winter and Jormungand will rise to the surface to escape the icy conditions. This will cause massive earthquakes that allow Hel and Fenrir to escape from their prisons. Thor will defeat the beast but he will die soon after from its venom.
It may be our historically great consumption of fossil fuels is really a secret plot to keep Jormungand comfy and warm in his deep-sea home.
Our story begins with a boy, Jonah. His home was in a war-torn area of “an undisclosed western Asian country having a border dispute with Russia.” He is a beautiful dark-skinned boy who is otherwise as blonde as blonde gets. Women constantly comment on how cute he is.
Jonah is also the survivor of great misfortune. He is the only survivor of an airstrike that killed his family. To survive he became a child soldier. Jonah hates guns and killing but you do what you gotta do to get by. He’s assigned to a unit. The unit happens to have some war orphans they are keeping around and Jonah befriends them and sneaks them food.
Then he discovers what they’re being kept for. Some supplies land at the edge of a minefield. The commander takes two of the children and sends them into the minefield to clear a path. One of the children dies but the supplies are retrieved. Jonah is enraged. He carefully makes a plan and then kills the entire encampment, including the arms merchant.
Another somewhat important character in the anime appears. His name is Kaspar Hekmatyar. Kaspar is the son of Floyd Hekmatyar, the world’s biggest shipping magnate and a member of HCLI’s Europe/African Weapons Transport Division. IOW, a very high-level arms dealer. He arrives with his team of bodyguards only to discover his customers are dead.
Jonah is easily disarmed by his top bodyguard, Chiquita, and is locked in a shipping container with nothing but water for a few days to give him a taste of fear. However, Kaspar sees great potential in the boy. When Jonah is let out, Kaspar reveals to him that his family was probably killed with weapons he sold. He further explains that he didn’t mind the base being massacred because with them gone he could now build a pipeline through it. He asks the boy to now work for him and in exchange Jonah negotiates that the surviving orphans be well cared for. Kaspar agrees and child soldier Jonah now has a new boss.
This doesn’t last long. Kaspar’s sister Koko is also a member of HCLI. Koko is more impetuous and hot-blooded than Kaspar but every bit as devious and ruthless. She is a stunning platinum blonde, not quite an albino. He delivers Jonah to her almost as a gift and Jonah agrees to hire on as her bodyguard. Koko is the second main protagonist of the show and the real story begins.
All this is presented in flashbacks. The story begins with Jonah being incorporated into Koko’s team. It starts out as an arms sale/battle of the week show and eventually eases into the overall series arc in season 2.
Of most import is the tall woman with an eyepatch. Her name is Valmet. She was once a major in the Finnish fast reaction force. Her team was killed and she lost an eye in Africa. Koko heard about her and picked her up after she was dismissed from the army, promising her the opportunity to find who did it and get her revenge. Valmet has worked insanely hard after the loss of her people to become the most powerful fighter to be able to gain her vengeance. She is in love with Koko and the attraction is often played for laughs.
All of the members of Koko’s team get a little bit of backstory… except for Koko. All we know about her is that she was born at sea in international waters and she hates her father.
There are also a couple of CIA officers keeping an eye on her. Bookman, CIA director for Europe, is monitoring her to see what her plans are and if the CIA might be able to take advantage of them while another, Scarecrow, a field officer, is looking for evidence to get her arrested.
So, what is this anime all about?
Jormungand reminds me a bit of Madhouse’s Black Lagoon. Revy and Black Lagoon are a kind of family. So are Koko and her team. She gave them all a second life after being discarded, dismissed, or discharged. Here we’ve climbed up to a higher level from Revy and her crew. While Black Lagoon were at the bottom of the criminal international food chain, Koko and HCLI are at the top. It’s still the same business though. Selling death and killing people who try to kill you.
Where does Jonah, only eleven years old when first forced to be a child soldier, fit into all of this?
Practically, a child with such phenomenal weapon skills would be extremely useful. The other people Koko goes up against are adults. A child would be written off as a nuisance at most. A child could be one of the rugrats in the background in any city. Since Jormungand isn’t set in your typical shounen anime world, nobody expects a little kid to be on par in combat with a professional soldier. That mistake is often made with fatal consequences.
There’s more to this. Koko’s interest in the kid goes beyond the professional. She takes a liking to him, even feeling affection. Jonah doesn’t return any of the physical affection she gives him as it would interfere with his ability to protect her. I consider that to be a kind of love. According to R, one of her men, Jonah is her “limiter.” She keeps him around to keep her humanity and not become a monster.
Towards the latter part of the second season, this relationship turns into something else. There’s a bath scene where she joins him and it rather escalates from there to something a bit more than just sharing a bath. She is an international criminal, a merchant of death, and not a part of any social order. Jonah is more mature than most adults she knows and the two have been working together closely in life and death situations for a couple of years now. I could see her romantic feelings building up for the entire show and was expecting something like this.
What of Jormungand itself? It doesn’t really become clear until season 2. And that’s something you’ll have to watch the anime to find out yourself. I leave it to you to decide if it was worth it.
July 25, 2022 at 09:50
There’s some great characters in this, but Valmet is easily my favourite. She is tough as nails, but still manages to appear soft and goofy at time. Her arc with Jonah was one of my favourites.
July 25, 2022 at 06:11
I will admit, I have a lot of love for this series. I had asked one of the staff at my local book store if they could recommend a manga that wasn’t set in high school, or entirely about high school age characters. Jormungand was the one they recommended. I thought this was a great adaption of the manga.