Based off of the manga series by Keitaro Takahashi, Jormungand is a middle of the road action series, that is bound to enthrall some and bore others. The series follows Koko Hekmatyar, an arms dealer that sells to various evil elements all across the globe. We begin her story, as she picks up a new recruit for her mercenary team, an African child soldier named Jonah. Along with her business guise, a shipping company called HCLI, Koko and her team travel all across the world, selling everything from guns to helicopters and manage to butt heads with mercenaries, governments and even other arms dealers. Directed by Keitaro Monotanga and headed by Studio White Fox, Jormungand is a bullet riddled affair, that is worth watching, but doesn’t break any new ground.
The series feels reminiscent of Black Lagoon, with the audience having to follow some pretty fringe characters. While there’s most certainly some charm to Ms. Hekmatyar, there really isn’t anything that makes her stand out, aside from her albino appearance. The best characters are Jonah, who we closely follow as he’s initiated into the group and Valmet, a former FRDF Major, who so happens to be in love with her boss. We get back stories for a few of the team members, but most of them are just around and provide gunfire and back up, during the hairy situations that come with being an arms dealer. There’s plenty of action and gunplay galore, which is one of the best aspects of the series. There’s a really great knife fight, that’s teased in the intro of the show, that does showcase how there are a few merits to seeing Jormungand.
If there is one major complaint that I have with the series, its that its hands down the cheapest thing to come out of Studio White Fox. Granted, I haven’t read or seen the manga at all, but the character designs for the show are so flat and dull, that they just don’t make any of the crew memorable. Not only this, but the backgrounds, the limited animation and plenty of other aspects that have to do with the production of Jormungand, show that this series was made on a shoestring budget and while they make it work, the shoddy animation work can easily turn people off of the show. Both Studio White Fox and Director Keitaro Monotanga did an excellent job with 2010’s Katanagatari, but that was a shorter series and managed to cut corners through all of its intense dialog sequences.
The presentation that Funimation has present in their release of Jormungand is a pretty solid one. The first season comes in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, that has a nice reversible cover. The video on the set comes in a AVC encoded, 1080p transfer, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. While the HD source looks pretty nice, it really exposes the poor elements that make up the production of Studio White Fox. The audio is presented in two Dolby TrueHD sources, the English 5.1 track and a Japanese Stereo track. For everything that I’ve said about the Japanese production, Funimation has made it a point to make this show salvageable, through its fantastic surround track and stellar dub. While I feel that Koko isn’t a compelling character, Anastasia Munoz does an great job at delivering a performance that is both funny and graceful, to make her feel more alive. The addition to the surround mixing and use of it during battles makes for an engaging experience that makes the show more lively that it actually looks. The extras on the set are two commentaries with the English cast, a behind the scenes look into casting the series, with Christopher Bevins and Cris George, textless intro and outro songs and a few trailers for other Funimation shows. The behind the scenes is rather interesting, due to the fact that they didn’t have an actual casting process for the show, but just decided to look at previous auditions for other shows or just cast people that they thought were right for the project. It most certainly paid off, seeing as how the English dub is the way to go on this release.
Jormungand is a solid show, especially in the English dub, but its poor character designs, bland production work and middle of the road story make tough to get through. If you like action shows or enjoy many of the English actors that are part of the dub, then maybe Jormungand may just be worth your time.