As of yesterday, June 21st, Joker Game has completed its 12 episode run, and I must say, I was not disappointed. Though I am upset that its over and not likely to get a second season. Since I’ve already done an Impression piece on this series, linked below, I’ll try not to retread, but to be quite honest all my thoughts on Joker Game still hold up so I think that might be next to impossible.
So, for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with Joker Game or didn’t read my Impressions article, let me break the plot for you:
“Joker Game is set in the later 1930's as World War II is just beginning. In Japan, the clandestine spy agency, D-Agency, is founded and trains 8 recuits to be the perfect agents of espionage. This agency is not a branch of the Imperial Army and thus its members do not subscribe to the same philosophy. The story of Joker Game follows the members of D-Agency as they’re scattered across the globe.”
I gotta say that the format of this show was pretty interesting. The first two episodes which followed Imperial Army member Sakuma, served as an introduction to D-Agency. It set the members up and the philosophy behind it all. And then at episode 3 it takes a sharp turn. From that point forward each episode stars a specific member of D-Agency as they go about their assignments.
Now, some people may be put off by the fact that the character designs are very... generic. So generic, that you usually won’t recognize them when they’re mixed in with a crowd. This is part of the fun of the series though because you’ll be following this story that isn’t being told from the perspective of the spy and wondering how they fit into all of this if at all. And then suddenly it all fits together and you have an “Ah ha!” moment. This also lends itself very well to the whole premise of the show. Spies aren’t supposed to stick out like a sore thumb. If they do, then they aren’t doing they job correctly. So the fact that they blend in and become inconspicuous works out great.
There really isn’t much to say about the art. I’ve already commented on the character designs so you know my thoughts on that. The only other thing left to mention is the general style itself and honestly its pretty decent. Its clean, sharp, and well animated. Don’t expect a lot of color though, at least, not very often. This show loves its dark shades.
In an effort to not repeat myself ad nauseum, I won’t be posting the opening or ending in this review. The opening is in my Impressions article. As of right now, 2:30am on June 22nd, the official soundtrack has not yet been released, or at least, has not been uploaded to Youtube for me to listen to. So that’s why you aren’t getting a musical piece to go along with this review. I can, however, comment on the soundtrack as heard in the shows 12 episodes. And I must say, I expected nothing less of Kenji Kawai, the master of atmosphere.
This show is not a James Bond flick. Looking for action? You won’t find too much of it here and if there is any, then I can’t say that it’s the flashiest action you’ve ever seen and it definitely isn’t over the top. Its just enough to get across that these spies know how to handle themselves if everything goes tits up. The music reflects this. Its never bombastic. It’s subtle, nuanced, made to evoke an emotional reaction. And it does its job. Its background music and that’s what Kenji Kawai is good at.
Joker Game is a highly underrated show. I read a lot that its viewer count isn’t as high when compared to shows like Sakamoto, Kabaneri, Re:Zero, and even Tanaka-kun, which is why I have little hope that a second season will be made. And that saddens me because its these more nuanced shows that I absolutely love and want more of. This show has its faults, like being just a tad too slow at times or just being plain confusing at times. In fact, the episodes are out of chronological order, something I didn’t pick up on until the last two episodes, and that could throw a lot of people off.
All in all, I definitely recommend that you at least give Joker Game a 5 episode try. Its a solid show and I can’t recommend it enough for those looking for something that isn’t bouncing off the walls like Kabaneri.