Durarara!! x2 Shou – 10

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I find it best to never underestimate Drrr!!’s capacity to swiftly flesh a new character at the drop of the hat. It’s done it successfully with Ruri and Varona, so I shouldn’t be surprised it did it with the Anri-haired Awakasu Akane as well.

Like Anri, Akane is a strong, gentle, good and decent person. When she sought to stop the bullying of a classmate, she did so not knowing the clout the Awakasu name carried, so she believed the matter was resolved of her own volition.

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When that fiction is broken and Akane learns that her dad is a gangster, it has the effect you’d expect on a good person like Akane: She’s devastated, and can’t live in that house of lies anymore.

She does what girls her age do in such a situation (Google “running away from home”), leading her to Namie and Izaya, who proceed to sic her on Heiwajima, who he says is a hitman targeting her dad. And now we know why Akane was trying to off Shizuo: whatever else her dad is, he’s still her dad.

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Frankly, Namie and Izaya kind of piss me off for not observing the unspoken age limit on manipulating people, but I guess they simply couldn’t resist starting mayhem, and in particular antagonizing Shizuo, who remains on the run his week.

Celty also finally realizes a headless horse and buggy are attracting too much attention, and morphs her black stuff into a black van; but Varona and Sloan are still on their tail.

When Shiki shows Shinra photos of his murdered men, Shinra immediately confirm’s Shiki’s suspicion that Shizuo didn’t do it. When considering who then did it, he remembers those vicious serial murders, which we know were committed by Shizuo’s brother’s new girlfriend Ruri. Small town, this!

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While trudging almost triumphantly about the burnt ruins of Ruri’s family residence, Izaya essentially admits he manipulated Mikado while posing as Kida, and basically challenges him to do something about it, and mocks Mikado for trusting Kida as his best friend so readily. He seems to be trying to rattle the comfy cage Kida’s built around himself, hoping he’ll break out and rejoin the Ikebukuro fray? I’m guessing.

Meanwhile, Chitage and Kodata circle each other, with Chitage wanting satisfaction for the Dollars recent transgressions against Toramaru, and Kodata telling him to bring him on. Even though he has no idea who those rogue Dollars are (that’s the way the Dollars work), he accepts Chitage’s assertion that the whole group is responsible for the actions of the others…though in Dotachin’s case I think it’s because he wouldn’t mind fighting Chitage.

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Sure enough, a colorless Dollar on the school ground spots them fighting and alerts the others, and not long after that, another Dollar sends everyone a photo of one of Chitage’s girlfriends in a cafe, suggesting they kidnap her for leverage.

Izaya is amused, Shizuo (atop the iconic Sunshine 60 tower) is disgusted, and Aoba is displeased: suddenly not everything is going as he’d planned. Mikado took off without giving an answer, and he suspects Izaya is still pulling the strings somewhere. Speaking of strings, he finds a black one on the bike Varona planted in the warehouse, and decides see where it leads.

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It will eventually lead him to Celty. She gets Mikado, Anri, and Akane to a parking garage where they assess their next moves, during which Celty gives Shooter a head far more frightening, in my opinion, than no head at all. When Mikado gets the two messages, he goes running, and when Celty shows Anri, she follows him

Sloan sticks with Celty and Akane while Varona tails Mikado, having a simultaneously accurate and overblown impression of his power and ability. On the one hand, he’s a passive weinie with no appreciable value, skills, or spine. On the other, he’s the reason the Dollars exist at all.

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Durarara!! x2 Shou – 09

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Huh…now why did I get the strange suspicion that almost nothing happened in this episode? While events did take place, the episode came off as a somewhat frustratingly slow-paced incremental step forward, and paling in comparison to episode 4, the show’s best outing to date.

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It doesn’t help that this week’s voice-over is provided by some yakuza guy we’ve never heard of and couldn’t care less about, who repeats “Disturbing” over and over again like some kind of mantra.

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So what does actually happen? Mobsters try to bring in Shizuo, even as Shiki doubts he was the one responsible for wasting his men. Aoba continues to bully Mikado until Toramaru thugs show up, and then Celty gets Mikado out of there, and Varona follows them. Anri and Akane are also accosted by mobsters but Celty and Mikado meet up with them and they all escape on Shooter, who Celty transforms into a horse and carriage.

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The Dollars/Toramaru conflict is largely de-toothed this week, which is a shame, because the prospects of an all-out gang war brought a welcome sense of danger to the comfortable environs of Ikebukuro, just as Aoba’s ultimatum put Mikado in a position to actually make a decision on something. Unfortunately, we get neither the danger nor the decision.

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At least there’s some complexity to the conflict, what with Celty not knowing what her role should be (though she doesn’t pick sides when she rescues Mikado) and Varona continuing to stalk her (though Varona is still quite ignorant of the situation; not to mention Celty’s gender). Varona, like us, watches some stuff happen, but it doesn’t really us anything new or exciting. Varona expresses her excitement in the hunt for something her books haven’t prepared her for, but…we knew this already.

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Celty’s rescue of Mikado is a cop-out for what was a pretty tense situation. Anri and Akane’s encounter with the yakuza, who in turn more Toramaru thugs and are insulted by their boorish manners, is a little more interesting, in that, again, it adds layers of complexity to the conflict unfolding. But it’s really only a fragment.

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Previous episodes succeeded in telling cohesive stories within the story, but everything this week simply felt cobbled together and devoid of any payoff. I can weather such episodes as long as actual payoffs are on the way soon, but considering this is only the first of three cours planned for Durarara!!x2, this episode has made it apparent the show isn’t in any particular hurry to deliver further significant developments.

Still, I’d hope that un-compelling transitional episodes such as this remain a rarity. Variably clever dialogue and whimsical coincidences can only make up for a lack of narrative urgency so long.

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Durarara!! x2 Shou – 08

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Masamoi’s sublime life on the run with Saki is made possible by Masaomi’s services as gofer to Izaya. He doesn’t like it, but he has no other means of maintaining such a life. He’s like a pennyless toppled king living comfortably off the charity of those he probably shouldn’t be dealing with if he truly wants to stay out of the fray.

Case in point, shortly after running away, Akane was convinced by Izaya himself that Mitzuo was a hitman after her, hence her preemptive strike. Shocking everybody, Mitzuo is able to lay on that Heiwajima charm to assure the would-be mini-assassin this was Izaya’s idea of a little joke; one he’ll be responding to in kind.

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Last week I opined that Mikado couldn’t stay cooped in that dingy flat forever, but rather than leaving of his own volition, he is instead gently dragged out by Aoba and his goons, who take him to their hideout, one of those abandoned warehouses Ikebukuro seems to be positively littered with.

This happens to be where Varona planted her bike trap, and sure enough Celty is there, looking for Varona, who is watching her from a rooftop. The mouse-and-cat-and-mouse game on display is making Ikebukuro more appealling to Varona all the time.

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Chitoge has another opportunity to demonstrate his impeccable feminism by forcing the proprietor of a non-straight-and-narrow art gallery buy a nearly 2-million-yen painting for his female employee, who was trying to work Chitoge, in a lovely instance of a routine con backfiring in the face of one who recognizes it for what it is.

Whether Walker does too or not, he goes in to complain about the saleswoman’s lack of eloquence in describing the works of his favorite illustrator, only to be kicked out for being blacklisted. Walker, a suspected Dollar, is why Chitoge is there. But he’s always there for a woman in need, even if that need is false.

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With his “senpai” in his clutches, Aoba surrounds Mikado with his chattering, giggling goons, identifying themselves as the Dollars who jumped Torumaru, essentially starting a war under Mikado’s nose, but in his name. Aoba says they’re also technically Blue Square, longtime foe of Masaomi’s Yellow Scarves, and he appoints Mikado as their leader, insisting they’ll follow whatever orders he issues.

In setting all this up, Aoba shows his true colors to Mikado for the first time, and they’re colors as cold and cruel and manipulative as Mikado is warm, kind, and passive. He knows Mikado doesn’t know the first thing about what to do with the power being thrust upon him, and that’s the point: Aoba wants Mikado, who naively founded the Dollars, to reap what he’s sown. He wants to corrupt him.

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Meanwhile, Akane turned out to be an elaborate trap set by Izaya and Namie to frame Mitzuo for wasting three yakuza belonging to Shiki’s company, manufacturing further chaos. But the focus here is on Mikado’ choice, with Masaomi on the outside looking in and increasingly unsettled by the chat room silence.

That’s kind of where this episode falls down, because neither Mikado nor Masaomi are the most compelling characters on the show, especially now that they’re separated. They’ve basically built artificial worlds of passivity and normalcy around them, while their past deeds, no matter how innocuous the intent, remain on the outside, to be utilized by others to stir up trouble.

With most of Mikado’s allies busy with their own issues, I wonder who if anyone will swoop in to help him, or if if he’s finally on his own, which is what Aoba seems to want. Masaomi is free, and seems to be restless. Any action risks crossing Izaya, and thus threatening his life with Saki. But can a friend who is never around still be called a friend?

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Durarara!! x2 Shou – 07

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This week’s Drrr! is all about the contrasts between similar pairs of people, starting with the Two grizzled Ivans somewhere in Russia, both post-Soviet arms dealers; one’s pretty much fire one’s pretty much water. The water Ivan is Vorona’s father, and she possesses both characteristics, sometimes in sync, but sometimes in chaos.

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When Egor enters Russia Sushi, Simon and Dennis initially suspect he’s there to knock them off, but he’s really there for Vorona over, among other things, stolen anti-materiel rifles. Dennis is doubtful Vorona would use such a weapon in Tokyo unless she was in “a real crisis”, and at that moment it become’s Chekhov’s AMR.

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For all its prolific complex, multi-modal, zig-zagging storytelling, Drrr is just as capable of focusing in one one person an delivering a quick, efficient profile. Vorona’s life as an assassin and general badass began with one of those real crises; an unsavory home invader.

Vorona, armed with a sprawling library full of knowledge in every field, but useful and useless, Vorona answers her sudden fear of being killed with a ruthless plan, luring the burglar into a trap and literally killing him with water (from the bath) and “fire” (from a hair-dryer), executing everything perfectly and precisely like her dad, but also seeming to take a bit of enjoyment from it like the other Ivan.

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Seeing this new side of Vorona for the first time, her dad let Simon and Dennis train her, and she learns quick. These two ex-military guys ostensibly came to Ikebukuro to start new, laid-back lives, but it’s cool to see their old lives on display here, and how closely they’re connected with Vorona, who’s only just arrived.

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Without their tutelage, she wouldn’t be nearly as tough and honed a killing machine as she is when we meet her. But because she’s not just a carbon copy of her father, once she gets really good, odd jobs and small fry aren’t enough for her. She seeks out her father’s rivals and eliminates them to a man, but not for his approval or to help with the family business or because they were an imminent threat. She did it because it was fun.

Her first kill was overzealous self-defense,  armed only with household appliance and her wits. But I don’t think Ivan turned his daughter into a monster by having her trained; he was only facilitating a foregone conclusion.

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That brings us to Vorona’s latest job; capturing Anri. Ikebukuro has been so weak and unimpressive to her thus far, she’s riding a wave of arrogance and invincibility, which rams her right into a concrete wall. Vorona is good, but she’s still human, and coming up against something not quite human is a glass of cold water to the face. Even more than that, it’s something she hasn’t read about in any of her books; an unknown.

Vorona and Anri are a lot alike, in that both are imminently capable and potentially dangerous young women, one of whom choses to explore that potential to the fullest, and one prefers as quiet and normal life as she can manage.

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Armed with her bookish knowledge, wits, resourcefulness, Vorona thrived, but she didn’t fact Anri with as an underdog, but with the mentality of of a favorite. Her earlier success wasn’t success at all; you cannot beheaded what is already headless. Suddenly outmatched by real and frightening aberrations, Vorona returns to that night before she took action, and remembers again what it’s like to fear being killed.

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In other words, she enters the “real crisis” mode Dennis thought so unlikely, whipping out the AMR and firing it right at Celty, blowing her away but obviously not killing her. Having bought some time, and learned more about what she’s dealing with, she’ll formulate a new strategy that doesn’t rely on brute force alone.

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That brings back to Mikado, who has followed Masaomi’s advice and stayed in of a Saturday night. Considering what went down, that looked like good advice. Of course, by staying in Mikado is subjected to another manipulative phone call from Izaya, who understands Mikado founded the Dollars not only to put some excitement in his life, but also to fit in, to belong within the ensuing community.

Just because that community is off doing unscrupulous things like picking fights with rival gangs, that Mikado doesn’t agree with, doesn’t mean it’s all falling apart, nor can Mikado impose his pacifist will on them without destroying the Dollars’ fundamental philosophy of freedom. The Dollars are evolving, that’s all, and Mikado’s fear of being left behind is similar in strength to Vorona’s fears about being weak, unable to cope with threats, or killed.

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It’s a New Day in the Dollars, and Mikado can’t stem the tide. Aoba, Izaya’s heir apparent arrives at his door the next day, as if to herald that fact. Simon’s voiceover returns, and he mirrors his earlier comparison of the two Ivans with these two Taros: one who is Mr. Nice Guy, and the other who uses nice guys.

Will Mikado evolve, or dig in and let the wave crash around him, leaving him alone and left behind, his greatest fears realized? Such a scenario suggests there’s no one around of like mind to help him resist that wave, which is untrue. But in that case it certainly points to some kind of conflict. Mikado can’t very well stay holed up in that room forever.

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Jormungand – 17

As per their family pact, Koko agrees to help Kasper in his dealings with the SR Squad, a rival arms dealers who work in the shadows. Tojo contacts his former bosss, Colonel Hiroki, who confirms the SR Squad provoked HCLI. He arranges meets for both Kasper in Jakarta and Koko in Japan. Kasper meets with his representative Ms. Kurosaka, but she turns out to be an assassin, whom Chequita swiftly dispatches. She and Kasper’s other men fight their way out of the hotel, and the battle begins.

When Tojo started talking, we were worried whether he’d ever stop. Even the episode acknowledges it’s quite a bit of exposition, as Jonah, Lutz, and others start to get antsy and nod off during the briefing. Why the talk is being held out in the airport parking lot and not a hotel room is also weird. But the result of this is, we now know what HCLI’s up against, though Hiroki and his SR Squad switch up their methods, deciding to come out of their shadows and hit hard, perhaps in an effort to scare off or beat down HCLI quickly.

They make a statement in their first strike with a friendly assassin with a flexible katana hidden in her belt. Chequita proves she may be the toughest, craziest of all the tough crazy women in the series, operating as a both a lightning-quick shield for Kasper and a one-woman SWAT team cutting and shooting through the SR Squad like butter (Ever shot at butter before? Not as fun as it sounds). The burst of action in the end makes up for all the dull exposition earlier on. As for Valmet undressing a drunk Koko and suggesting they shower and sleep together – their evening ends…ambiguously, so it’s anyone’s guess what ultimately happened there.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Car Cameos: Colonel Hiroki drives (himself!) in a Nissan Cima (F50) AKA Infiniti Q45, whose elaborate “gatling gun”-style headlamps were groundbreaking when the model was first unveiled in 2000. Other cameos include a Suzuki Wagon R, Toyota Prius, Toyota Vanguard, a Toyota AlphardVolvo S80 (not Koko’s) and a couple Toyota Hiace vans and trucks.

Jormungand – 16

Kasper, Chequita, and his team are in Jakarta, attempting to meet Colonel Nualkhair, but they’re stood up. They go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where he laments that a “phantom company” is trying to edge them out of southeast Asia. He orders an assault on Nualkhair’s son’s compound, which is made to look like an accident but will be seen by the phantoms as a declaration of war. The company based in Japan, which is where Koko and her team are headed. During the flight, Jonah reminisces about his previous life. They meet up with Kasper’s team at Narita, and Kasper takes Jonah to see his three orphaned friends at an international school. Kasper asks to speak to Tojo, who once worked for the Defense Intelligence HQ or SR Squad, whom he believes to be the “phantoms”.

With R and Hex dead and Bookman currently hand-less, HCLI moves on to other things, as they’re threatened to be pushed out of SE Asia by a mysterious company that’s messing with their would-be clients. Kasper, who is essentially a beefed-up, more ruthless version of Koko, isn’t going to take it sitting down, and seeks the wisdom of another one from Koko’s team, Tojo. Both teams are so eclectic in their composition, it’s not surprising that they all may have past connections that may prove useful. Tojo is more brains than brawn in ops, so we may be in for a more cerebral arc than the one with R and Hex – though the tidy raid on Nualkhair’s pad was a powerful statement that Kasper doesn’t play around.

This episode was a little weighed down by frequent flashbacks that amount to clips from the first cour’s fifth episode, chronicling how Jonah ended up with HCLI and Koko. This smacked of recapping, which we never like to see in regular episodes. The clips didn’t really reveal anything new, but only served as a large, padded segue to Jonah asking Kasper about the kids he promised would be cared for in Japan. He sees them, and their clean clothes smiling faces are a striking contrast to the abject misery of that wretched base. But Jonah just sees them; he doesn’t meet them. He’s almost confirming that he deems his existence incompatible with normal life and other kids in particular. He couldn’t bear it if the sight of him changed the look on their faces from contentment to fear.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Jormungand – 12 (Fin)

Gregoire gets the jump on Ugo, but Lehm is able to incapacitate him, while Liliane is dealt with by Koko herself. Ugo drives Koko out of danger, but Dominique follows and a chase ensues, ending in Dominique’s car being wrecked. Koko lets him go if he tells her who hired him, and he does. Meanwhile, Valmer drugs Jonah and asaults the refinery on her own, cutting her way through Daxinghai until she reaches Cheng and kills him. Later, Karen catches up to and shoots her, but Jonah shoots Karen back, and gets both women help in time to save their lives. Valmer vows to stick with Koko henceforth. A CIA chief with many nicknames meets in Paris with R.

With Valmer and Jonah out of the picture for the time being and Lehm, Lutz and Ugo in deep shit, Koko & Co. looked decidedly vulnerable last week, but to our surprise, Team Dominique is dealt with in the first five minutes, and no one is killed or maimed. Huh. So much for lasting consequences! The balance of the episode was about Valmer. She’s a big strong Finn on a mission to avenge her comrades – and her eye. We like how she tries to keep Jonah out of it, but he’s a harder kid to shake than she’d thought. Her rampage through Daxinghai’s refinery is thrilling, especially, because it’s such a cathartic, cleansing event for her.

It’s good that Valmer can put (the majority of) her past behind her, because new threats are on the horizon that spell trouble for Koko in the future: the fact she has a CIA mole in R is most disturbing – up until this point, we’d assumed everyones’ loyalties were secured , if not by Koko’s reaching out to them (as she did with Jonah, Valmer, and Ugo), but by the big bucks she pays them. Alas, there’s a chink in her armor. That mitigates the ease with which she dismissed the threat of Dominique (though he and his are still alive). There’s a lot more to cover in the second season, which won’t arrive until October. We’ll be waiting anxiously.


Rating: 8 (Great)

Jormungand – 10

Koko’s men take out the Dragon’s escort force without any difficulty, but Dragon manages to escape with the injured Dr. Riviere. The Dragon mobilizes more men to mount an antiaircraft assault on Koko’s plane, but they’re ready for it, with infrared jammers, flares, and a 122mm gun mounted to the back of the plane by Mao. After depositing the doctors near the refugee camp, Koko calls Scarecrow and Chocolade offering the Dragon for the $5 million international bounty, they agree. Lehm, Wiley and Mao ambush the Dragon’s convoy and retrieve Riviere, then leave the dragon tied up for the CIA to pick up.

One criticism that can be leveled against Jormungand thus far is that sometimes it feels like Koko’s band of merry men have it a bit too easy; that they’re a little too perfect, and that the outcome of any particular mission is never in serious doubt. Furthermore, all their success has led to an atmosphere of warm comraderie that has yet to feel the drama or sting of serious losses. It’s been ten episodes, and not one of Koko’s ten bodyguards have been killed, or even seriously wounded. So…DO they have it too easy? In our humble opinion, no. We’re having a blast watching them succeed. They succeed because they’re pretty much the best at what they do, and those they’re up against usually aren’t.

Take this week’s adversary: the “Dragon.” He’s just a spoiled little shit whose position was handed to him by his father. He has a militia of guys who likely fight for him to put food on their families’ tables and because they fear him. Meanwhile, Koko has a squad of elite special forces who fight for her because they love her, and (with a couple exceptions) simply love fighting, too. They’ve got the skill, resourcefulness, experience, and toughness to defeat just about anyone when they’re humming on all cylinders, and Koko makes sure they always are. The daring aerial escape was the perfect exclamation point on the notion that you do not fuck with Koko, unless you want to get burnt. She’s a Dragon too.


Rating: 8 (Great)


Car Cameo:
The Dragon may command his own militia, but rather than splurge on an S-Class or A8 or hell, a camo’d Lambo, he has a relatively modest Mercedes C-Class (W203).

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Koko is hired to smuggle by air a group of humanitarian NGO doctors called ODH into Republic T, Autonomous Region X, where a brutal, petulant militia general known as “The Dragon” holds sway. The Dragon arrives to inspect the cargo hold after the plane touches down, but Koko won’t allow it. Riviere, leader of the ODH, comes out to try to reason with the Dragon, but he is shot in the shoulder and cheek for his trouble. Koko orders her men to open fire on the Dragon’s militia.

A good arms dealer always has an escape plan in place just in case things go sour. Koko is good at dealing arms, which is why both she and her crew are weary of aerial missions. A plane can get to remote places with ease, but it needs time and space to take off and land, and these are resources that can all too easily be taken away. Koko, Lehm, and others continually mention how they have a bad feeling about this week’s doctor-smuggling mission…and they turn out to be absolutely right.

As Jonah has learned, for all her weariness about flying missions and shrewd business acumen, Koko is also a risk-taker who’s often reckless with her well-being, which explains why her force of bodyguards is so numerous and fierce. But far from just the military thugs they often go up against, many have a bit more nuance to them, like Mao, for instance, who even has a family back home he’s supporting. But when things indeed go sour and the country’s Number One Asshat shows and sticks his nose into Koko’s business, she isn’t the slightest bit cowed. She trusts her people to keep her safe, even if she sticks her head right into a dragon’s jaws.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 08

In England, Koko leads a HCLI bid for Predator UAV sales to “Country B.” She’s up against Euro Group, represented by the accomplished former actress and heiress Amalia Tolokohovsky. Amalia gets a head start on Koko, closing deals with nearly every potential client. Annoyed but undefeated, Koko holes up in her hotel room and orchestrates numerous deals at the 25th hour that flip all of Amalia’s customers. The tables now turned, Koko meets with Amalia. Third-party snipers by angered clients are neutralized by Lutz. Amalia announces Euro Group will pull out of negotiations, and then agrees to a buyback at a 5% premium. Koko is victorious.

Arms dealing is simple business: show your wares to the customer, they buy some, and you go on your merry way, right? Well, not exactly. With past episodes focusing on the prowess of the bodyguards Koko surrounds herself with, all of them were bystanders for her not-so-little UAV war with Amalia, who started it by getting greedy and trying to outmaneuver Koko. That was enough to fire Koko up for some serious laptop-piloting and junk food-munching. Arms dealing at this level is less a simple transaciton and more an intricate Swiss watch with millions of moving pieces, and she simply manipulates those pieces better than Amalia this week, and at the right times.

It’s fun to watch her initially get stood up at client meeting after meeting, and then see her bear down and do the hard work that’s necessary to defeat one’s adversary. She utilized her new CIA friend Chocolade, kept her eye on the prize, and showed former actress Amalia that she’s a pretty fine actress herself, when she needs to be. Her efforts result in pulling a stunning, absolute victory from the initial jaws of defeat, and nobody is hurt or killed in the processs. It’s no wonder why everyone seems to love working for the “princess”. This episode aptly demonstrated what happens when she harnesses her potential.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Car Cameos: Lots – this series doesn’t skimp on recognizable vehicle models. Team HCLI seems to have adopted the Volkswagen Touareg as their go-to car, though they also ride in a Mitsubishi Montero. In one scene a Toyota HiAce drives alongside the ‘Reg. Amalia travels in a white Mercedes-Benz S-Class (a W221). There are also lots of recognizable cars in the airport parking lot: A Subaru Forester and Legacy wagon, a Peugeot 406, Toyota Prius, Lancia Delta, Mitsubishi Montero and Lancer EvolutionToyota Progres and a Volvo C70.

Jormungand – 07

Valmer breaks formation and goes straight after Karen; the two duel in the snow with guns and knives. In the meantime, Jonah suggests they stay quiet until their inexperienced foes come out of hiding so they can pick them off. In the city, Koko enjoys a Chinese dinner with Chang, while Hugo has her back and both Scarecrow and his sidekick Chocolade eavesdrop. Chang asks Koko to join forces; she refuses. When Valmer is finished with Karen, all of Chang’s men are dead, and they phone it in. Koko tells Chocolade about a trap waiting for them. In exchange for her warning, Scarecrow lets Koko and Hugo escape with them. In the end, Doctor Miami gives Koko the slip once more.

We like Sophia Valmer. She’s a complicated lass; simultaneously infatuated with her beautiful young boss Koko and haunted by voices and images from her bloody past. In a way, she reminds us of Roberta from Black Lagoon, only before she went totally apeshit crazy. She makes surprisingly quick work of Karen, who’d we’d only seen in action against small fries, and whose gunblades proved ineffective against her older, wiser, stronger opponent. Valmer didn’t get a lot out of Karen, but she did see a little of her younger self in her, and gained a new enemy who will try to kill her when next they meet. Let’s face it, you can never have enough off them!

We liked the A/B stories running in tandem, cutting from the cold night in the mountains to the warm, luxurious restaurant in the city. Koko and Chang are really only sitting back and waiting to see whose team will be left standing. We like the addition of Chocolade to provide a pragmatic voice to Scarecrow, and Koko’s little meeting with her in the toilet stall was pretty funny way to confide. We also like how Hugo had to keep an eye on how much Koko had to drink. As for Doctor Miami, she was able to stay a step ahead of all the arms dealers for another day; at least in this two-parter, she was merely a McGuffin.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Jormungand – 04

After a car chase in which both cars are wrecked, Orchestra ignores Chinatsu’s warning and goes out in the open and is shot by Lutz with a sniper rifle from 900 meters. Chinatsu manages to escape on a passing truck. A CIA agent named Jerry Schatzberg AKA Scarecrow arrests Koko, but her father has connections with the police, and she is released. Something Scarecrow says reminds Koko she’s being hunted, and after an evening stroll with Jonah, she correctly predicts Chinatsu showing up on the roof of her hotel. She offers Chinatsu a job, but Chinatsu goes for another gun, and Lehm kills her.

Both episodes in this assassin two-parter have had very effective, efficient cold opens. Part one’s showed us exactly who Koko & Co. would be dealing with, while part two’s showed us how Chinatsu met Orchestra. The latter is not for the faint-hearted; Orchestra literally murdered every single person in an opera house, including Chinatsu’s family. Only Chinatsu survived, and picked up a gun to try to kill him. That warmed him to her, he took her under his wing, and she bonded with him through the trauma he caused her. When he’s killed – in a very well-orchestrated sniping that left no doubt – she is alone again, with nothing left but her hate for Koko.

We were kinda surprised the series wasn’t going to keep these two around, but we suppose it has other, bigger fish to fry, and certainly other assassins, organizations, and governments who’d like Koko in pieces (including Mr. CIA, who automatically loses points for sucker punching her). After Chinatsu’s final explanation for why she always goes commando (psychologically, it made her a better shot), followed by Koko telling her why she deals arms (which we can’t hear, but startles Chinatsu), she too is killed, and Koko instantly moves on to other business. We also liked her talk with Jonah, about how kindness is a weakness, and how 60% of the worlds weapons are in the hands of civilians. The more you know!


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Jormungand – 03

Unhinged assassin and self-described “musician” Orchestra and his sidekick Chinatsu target Koko while she and her team are in a middle east city (probably Dubai, from the look of the police cars). They get the jump on Koko when she and Valmer are shopping, but Jonah, having escaped Tojo’s lessons, foils their initial attack, leading to an extended firefight. Lehm provides backup, allowing Jonah to lead Koko away. Orchestra and Chinatsu run out of ammo and retreat, but plan to complete their mission.

Being an arms dealer is no picnic, as “you get free hatred for everything you sell”, but Koko manages pretty well with her positive attitude and upbeat outlook, both of which are infectious, and are probably a reason why she and her team work so well. But Lehm warns Jonah that it might not be wise to get too close to Koko & Co. if he intends to continue hating arms dealers for all eternity for callously selling “demonic” weapons that turn even peaceful people mad. Of course, Jonah is finding he doesn’t hate Koko, and goes out of his way to tail her in case trouble brews.

And boy howdy, does it ever brew. Fresh off another job in Oman (in a very violent and unsubtle cold open), Orechestra and Chinatsu arrive on the scene, and they’re quite the characters, content to spray copious ammo in the general direction of their targets, and not above launching grenades at the cops. If arms are a drug, they’re straight-up junkies. They’re a tight duo, and pretty much as good at surviving as Koko & Co., which explains why the showdown is only half-over by episode’s end. But Koko is her usual cool collected self, and she’s confident she and her beloved team will get her out of this mess.


Rating: 9 (Superior)


Car Cameos:
The Dubai (?) cops show up in a BMW 5er, but it doesn’t last long. Orchestra and Chinatsu regroup in their Big Red Truck, a GMC Sierra