Jormungand (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 18-Feb-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-X 4
Featurette-Casting Koko’s Crew (20:18)
Featurette-Team Koko – A Look Inside (10:34)
Trailer-Series trailers x 2
Trailer-15 + trailers for other anime titles
More…-Textless Opening Song x 4
More…-Textless Closing Song x 2
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 569:32 (Case: 600)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Keitarô Motonaga
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Shizuka Ito
Anastasia Munoz
Mitsumi Tamura
Micah Solusod
Sayaka Ohara
Carli Mosier
Unsho Ishizuka
Christopher Smith
Kenji Nomura
Akron Watson
Toru Nara
Robert McCollum
Case ?
RPI ? Music Taku Iwasaki


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, at the end of episode 24

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Jonah (voiced by Mitsumi Tamura / Micah Solusod) is a young boy whose parents were killed by weapons supplied by an arms dealer. As a result he hates weapons and arms dealers, but by a quirk of fate he becomes a boy soldier, travelling as one of the bodyguards of arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar (Shizuka Ito / Anastasia Munoz) who works for an organisation called HCLI. Koko is unusual: she is young, very pretty, calculating, ruthless, complex, full of contradictions and occasionally loco and her team includes the female Valmet (Sayaka Ohara / Carli Mosier) who has a thing for Koko, an older sniper Lehm (Unsho Ishizuka / Christopher Smith), explosives expert Wilee (Kenji Nomura / Akron Watson) and driver Ugo (Kiyoshi Katsunuma / Cris George).

     The series Jormungand consists of Koko and her team traveling to diverse regions in Europe, Africa and Asia to sell and deliver high tech weaponry to various countries and groups. This in itself involves a fair amount of conflict, for other groups of arms dealers are seeking the same market and trying to disrupt Koko’s plans and delivery. Rivals include the Chinese group led by Chen Guoming (Takaya Hashi / Jerry Russell) and his deadly female bodyguard Karen (Saori Kato / Shelly Calene-Black), the British of President Curry (Katsuhisa Honki / Kent Williams) and female mercenary Milido (Ayumi Tsunematsu / Caitlin Glass) or independent operator Torohovski (Gara Takashima / Lydia Mackay). Circling Koko’s world are also her elder brother Kasper (Masaya Matsunuma / Eric Vale), himself an arms dealer and his bodyguard Chequita (Yumi Touma / Clarine Harp), CIA agent Scarecrow (Toru Nara / Robert McCollum), intent on bringing Koko down, his offsider Schokolade (Ami Koshimizu / Brittney Karbowski), a woman with a big appetite, and Koko’s friend the decidedly loopy inventor and butterfly tragic Dr. Miami (Megumi Toyoguchi / Gwendolyn Lau).

     As can be seen, Jormungand has a huge cast that drift through the various episodes together with other members of Koko’s team, more assassins, soldiers and other arms dealers. The series, like Koko herself, is full of contradictions with full on action sequences in deserts, snowfields, in cities and at sea juxtaposed with dialogue questioning the morality of selling weapons and the use of weaponry to settle disputes. Koko is an intriguing character: she can be coy and girlish one moment, hysterical the next, followed quickly by ruthless and calculating, all behind a smiling mask. But she cares for Jonah and does not usually handle weapons herself, leaving it to her team of bodyguards who seem to trust and adore her. Season 1 includes some information about the backgrounds of some team members and ends with a settling of scores, a new adversary for Koko in the CIA director codename “Bookman” (Tsutomu Isobe / Mark Stoddard) and the reveal of the undercover agent placed within Koko’s team. As season 2 (called Jormungand - Perfect Order) gets under way Karen has found a new employer, Koko’s master plan starts to be revealed and a number of new protagonists are unveiled.

     Jormungand is an ambitious and complex series that is frequently loud, colourful and exciting but which does not always work. This is because there is too much of everything for the series to hold together; too many characters, too much plot and in season 2 especially a number of quite talky episodes with lots of exposition. The series frequently introduces interesting characters, like the Orchestra assassins, the deadly female CIA black ops specialist Hex (Aya Hisakawa / Jamie Marchi) or a Japanese secret government group led by Hinoki (Hidetoshi Nakamura / Bill Jenkins), only to have them quickly defeated and dispatched, while there are a number of assassination attempts which become a bit repetitive. Other characters, such as Scarecrow and Schokolade, appear and re-appear a number of times, their characters not really adding much to the storylines. It is only with the final 5 episodes of the series that that Koko’s plan for world peace is revealed and the series hurries towards its conclusion.

     Jormungand looks unusual. Some of the sequences feature full on deep colours, such as the red of sunsets or the blue of the ocean, some have a lovely watercolour look, but most scenes are animated to look very, very grainy which makes a lot of the background detail quite indistinct. I found this distracting at first, but I guess I got used to it!

     The premise of Jormungand is ambitious: human nature and world peace no less, and the characters of Koko and Jonah are complex and contradictory. However, a number of the other characters feel undeveloped or unnecessary but the series is undermined by too many repetitive side issues such as assassination attempts that did not advance the central ideas. Mind you, some of these action sequences were spectacular animation and I suppose balance the sections of exposition and explanation.

     Jormungand ran for two seasons on Japanese TV from April to December 2012, a total of 24 episodes, each about 24 minutes in length. Jormungard – The Complete Collection includes all 24 episodes on four Blu-rays.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Jormungand is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The images are cleanly drawn and strong but, as noted above, while some of the sequences feature beautiful deep colours or a lovely watercolour look, most scenes are animated to look very, very grainy which makes a lot of the background and shadow detail quite indistinct. Blacks are solid.

     The end titles of season 1 have deliberate vertical scratches and grain, and in some towards to conclusion of season 2 scenes the lines do wobble fractionally with motion.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

     The English subtitles are in American English in a clear white font. The subtitles are burnt in when the Japanese dub is selected so cannot be removed for Japanese speakers. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 or English TrueHD 2.0, quite a change for Funimation releases which often feature an English 5.1 dub while keeping the original Japanese in 2.0. I listened to a number of episodes in each dub (it cannot be changed on the fly with the remote – you must go to the set up menu) and I must say that the English dub is actually quite good. It is also recorded at a slightly louder level.

     Both audio tracks are otherwise similar and surround encoded. Dialogue is clear and centred. Gunshots, explosions and shell casings hitting the ground are crisp and the rears did feature music and effects such as gunshots. There were also some directional effects, such as helicopter engines. I did not notice anything much directed to the sub-woofer except a few explosions and rocket engines.

     The score by Taku Iwasaki is diverse; it includes operatic sections, hip-hop, rock, electronic and orchestra music with quieter, reflective pieces and is very effective.

     I do prefer to listen to the original Japanese audio but this is one of the better English dubs.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The extras are spread over the four discs.

Disc 1

Start-up Trailer

     A trailer for Robotics;Notes (1:37) plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.

Commentary – Episode 1

     US ADR director and voice of Tojo Christopher Bevins joins Anastasia Munoz and Carli Mosier (the voices of Koko and Valmet) to laugh and chat about almost anything except the series, such as the size of the characters’ breasts, travelling in Europe and Halloween. This commentary was recorded before the second series was completed and is mostly inane.

Disc 2

Start-up Trailer

     A trailer for Aquarion Evol (1:27) plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.

Casting Koko’s Crew with American Director Christopher Bevins (20:18)

     US voice director (and voice of Tojo) Christopher Bevins and US ADR engineer (and voice of Ugo) Cris George talk about how the audition process was skipped for Jormungand and how various people were cast. Includes a lot of series footage but is still quite interesting.

Commentary – Episode 12

     US ADR engineer (and voice of Ugo) Cris George joins Micah Solusod and Christopher Smith (voices of Jonah and Lehm) to watch the episode and mostly laugh, make jokes and funny voices although they do talk a little about creating voices. Again, this was recorded before the second season.

Textless Opening Song “Borderland” (1:32)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song “Ambivalentidea” (1:32)

     The closing song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song “Shiroku Yawaraka na Hana” (1:31)

     The alternate closing song (episode 4) without the credits.

US Trailer (1:11)

     The US trailer for the Blu-ray.

Trailers

     Trailers for Appleseed XIII (2:02), Akira (0:55), Dragonball Z (0:17), Eureka Seven AO (0:43), Black Lagoon (1:08), Anime Classics (0:56), Psycho-Pass (1:15), and Funimation.com (0:32).

Season 2 Disc 1

Start-up Trailer

     A trailer for Blood-C The Last Dark (1:12) plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.

Commentary – Episode 15

     Christopher Bevins joins Jamie Marchi, Ian Sinclair and Mark Stoddard (voices of Hex, R and Bookman) to watch the episode and make jokes, laugh and chat about things such as collecting and firing guns and owning a one eyed dog. Any reference to the series is probably accidental.

Season 2 Disc 2

Start-up Trailer

     A trailer for Dragonball Z (0:17) plays on start-up. It cannot be selected from the menu.

Team Koko – A Look Inside with the American Director and Cast (10:34)

     Christopher Bevins plus Micah Solusod and Anastasia Munoz (the voices of Jonah and Koko) talk about the moral ambiguities inherent in the characters of Koko and her team. A lot of series footage, but quite interesting.

Commentary – Episode 24

     Christopher Bevins again, this time joined by Anastasia Munoz, Micah Solusod and Gwendolyn Lau (the voices of Koko, Jonah and Megumi). They still joke around a lot but do say a few things about their characters. I suppose one should not expect any insights into the ending!

Textless Opening Song “Under/Shaft” (1:32)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song “Laterality” (1:32)

     The closing song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song “Shinjitsu no Hana” (1:31)

     The alternate closing song (episode 15) without the credits.

US Trailer (1:13)

     The US trailer for the Blu-ray.

Trailers

     Trailers for Robotics: Notes (1:37), Eureka Seven AO (0:43), Black Lagoon (1:08), Aquarion Evol (1:27), Psycho-Pass (1:15), Anime Classics (0:56), Akira (0:55) and Funimation.com (0:32).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our local release of Jormungand – The Complete Collection is the same as the Region A US version including the FBI piracy warning.

Summary

     Jormungand is an ambitious series, full of ideas and complex, interesting characters. It is frequently loud, colourful and exciting but in the end there are too many ideas and undeveloped characters for it to be completely satisfying.

     The video is unusual, the audio fine. There is a range of extras and we do get what is available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, April 09, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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