A lot of fans have been clamoring for more of a show called Black Lagoon for years. I think said fans can satiate their appetite with Jormungand, a series with a varied cast of characters acting as arms dealers all over the globe. These two series' are so similar in execution it's uncanny, so suffice to say, if you're a fan of Lagoon, check out Jormungand
The series revolves around the introduction of Jonathan Mar (voice of Micah Solusod), or better known as Jonah, to a crew of arms dealers comprised of mainly ex military personnel. When we first meet Jonah, he is being pawned off on the leader of the arms dealers, her name is Koko Hekmatyar (voice of Anastasia Munoz.) Jonah at first glance is a battle hardened, emotionless and stoic Israeli boy. Despite somewhat willingly joining the group, Jonah is NOT a fan of arms dealers one bit due to a horrific event from his past.
Koko works for a shipping company called HCIL (H&C Logistics Incorporated) who moonlight as an international weapon dealing company. She along with her team are deployed on random international trades that almost always ends in some terrific gun play. Along with her for the ride is her second in command, Lehm (voice of Christopher Smith.) Sophia Velmet (voice of Carli Mosier), a woman who's in love with Koko, wears an eyepatch and has a pretty dark past. Lutz (voice of Greg Ayres), the new guy and sniper of the group. R (voice of Ian Sinclair), an intelligence officer and the pretty boy of the group. Tojo (voice of Chris Bevins), Mao (voice of Patrick Seitz), the family man. Wiley (voice of Akron Wilson), the explosives expert who along with Koko is blacklisted by the FBI. Lastly, Ugo (voice of Cris George), the driver of the group and the muscle.
Jormungand follows a very simple formula throughout it's entirety of Season 1. We get two episodes per arc, a bad guy comes in, Koko and her team are deployed to make a weapons deal, the deal is made, the bad guys turn on Koko and crew, Koko ruthlessly murders them. Following the 2 episode arcs, are typically an episode that bridges to the next arms deal, and this is where the series shines as we learn more about the characters these episodes. In these episodes, we're briefly introduced to a man named Kasper (voice of Eric Vale), who shows up and is revealed to have played an important role in Jonah's past and we get to know why Jonah became how he is. However my favorite episodes of the season, is learning more about the back story of Valmet, who once was a peacekeeping officer that was turned into a bloodthirsty soldier after her entire squad was viciously massacred.
The 1st season remains episodic throughout it's entirety with no really overarching plot besides Koko's crew dealing weapons, however the season ends with a surprising hook going into Season 2 that should propel the series to it's end game. Despite it's lack of focus, It's still a very fun season of anime.
+ Amazing action. The action is swift, brutal and awesome to watch, it helps that the animation so fluid.
+ Great dub work, especially to the standout, Anastasia Munoz who plays Koko. This was her first lead role and she absolutely nails it.
+ Koko. She's no Revy, but she is one hell of a fun character to watch and is entertaining to boot.
+ Velmet's sub plot is fantastic! While this stays in the background for the majority of the series, at the points it does pop up, it really shines.
- Too shallow of a show. The series doesn't give us a reason to really connect with any of the characters outside of Jonah, and for every scene he's in, he's emotionless/boring, so it's hard to root for him.
- Underdeveloped characters. With so many main characters, it's hard to balance them all out equally, so some get the shaft and are shoehorned into stereotypes like "I'm the strong guy" or "I'm the awkward guy." There's a big reveal about one of the team member at the end of the season but we know almost nothing about the guy, so why should I be enthralled by said reveal?
- Jonah. Jonah is Jormungand's "Rock" from Black Lagoon, but a lot more boring. We're supposed to root for Jonah, but we learn next to nothing about him outside of his childhood friend being killed. He remains completely stoic and emotionless for the entirety of the season. I understand he's battle hardened, but seriously, give us some freakin character... Why should I feel for him? I'm not ripping on him entirely, he's a complete bad ass in the action scenes and his actor, Micah Solusod, is fantastic in the role.
- Mouth flaps. This isn't a big issue but it was annoying in quite a few places. The dub lines didn't always fit the mouth movements. I don't know if it was the synching process that was screwed up or the translation in general, but it's noticeable in a few dozen instances where the actor is done speaking the line, but the flaps continue on for several movements. It began to stick out like a sore thumb to me after a while.
Video and Audio
The animation quality for Jormungand is amazing at most times with special mention going to the setting shots. The landscapes are fantastically drawn, obviously with a ton of detail going into them. The character designs aren't very unique besides the two leads, Koko and Jonah. I'm assuming not much went into the other characters as they are honestly pretty standard and are rather bland.
For Audio, we have two different audio tracks. The first is a TrueHD 5.1 English Dolby and the second is the original TrueHD 2.0 Japanese Stereo track, as usual I watched the English dub. The audio quality of Jormungand is very good throughout, my only issue is at times the dialogue doesn't particularly match up with the mouth flaps and it can get grating after a while. Despite that, Jormungand has a good dub, and the dialogue is delivered crisply throughout. The soundtrack does a good job with amplifying the action scenes while nicely underlying the intimate scenes. There were no noticeable audio dropouts or distortions throughout the set.
- Episode 1 commentary with Christopher Bevins, the ADR director for the series, he also plays Akihiko Tojo. Anastasia Munoz who plays the lead, Koko, and Carli Mosier, who plays Sofia Velmet, Koko's part time lover.
- Episode 12 commentary with Cris George, the ADR Engineer for the first season along with providing the voice of Ugo. Micah Solusod, who plays the male lead, Jonah Mar, and Chris Smith, who plays Lehm.
- Casting Koko's crew with Christopher Bevins: A 20 minute behind the scenes featurette with Bevins and Cris George discussing how they cast Jormungand, and why they casted who they did for the role. It was an OK feature, but I would have liked to hear from the actual voice actors.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- US Trailer.
- FUNimation trailers.
While I would recommend other series' like Black Lagoon and Gungrave first, If you want a series where you can for the most part shut off your brain and just watch a good bloodbath, then Jormungand is definitely suitable. It's got a solid premise, a decent cast of characters, fantastic gun play, a great setting, and ends with all the cards in place for Season 2. Recommended