Joker Game


Episode #1

Joker Game (Part 1)

Joker Game is a Japanese novel series written by Koji Yanagi. The series has been produced by Production I.G. This first episode takes place in 1937, during early Japanese occupation of Manchuria. The vast majority of this episode takes place in the “Greater East Asia Cultural Society.” This “society” functions as a front for the Japanese spy agency, called the D agency.

The D agency

The D agency trains spies for infiltration into other countries. The agency trains the spies in foreign languages, medicine, pharmacology, physics, communications. They hire “professional thieves and safe-crackers,” to teach them their techniques. Gigolo’s teach them the “art of seduction.” All information regarding their actual identities  is top secret and unknown to even each other. They in turn use code-names.

The Agents

Kaminaga
Stands 173 cm tall, at first glance he gives the atmosphere of a mischievous, happy-go-lucky playboy. He is also proud and prideful. Like Miyoshi, he works overseas. – wikipedia
Odagiri
Heights 172 cm. Graduated from military academy and cadet school, he is unique compared to other members of D-Agency. He is appointed as the second lieutenant. He rarely laughs and is somewhat distant to the other D-Agency members. – wikipedia
Amari
One of the oldest along with Kaminaga, he is 175 cm. A man with a sociable and caring personality, he is like a big brother to the other agency members. A very carefree man who is good at handling women. – wikipedia
Hatano
He has the shortest build, standing at 162 cm. While he is said to be charming with his pride, he has a cheeky personality. He also masters martial arts and agility. – wikipedia
Jitsui
He has a friendly personality, even to Sakuma who was antagonized by most of the members of the agency. He is soft-spoken and caring. But sometimes when he is against a hostile other, he shows a sadistic side. He is 165 cm. – wikipedia
Fukumoto
The tallest of the group, standing at 178 cm. While he is goofy and quiet in nature, he gets along with Odagiri. He can cook. – wikipedia
Tazaki
He is 173 cm. He talks calmly and gives intellectual atmosphere which makes him sounds older than he looks. He has the habit of playing magic card when he is thinking. – wikipedia
Miyoshi
Standing at 170 cm, he is a narcissist with a little bit of arrogance. He often talks in a sarcastic tone. Like Kaminaga, he often works overseas. At first, he acts bitter towards Sakuma due to his fixed thought about the military. But this soon changes after the incident in Gordon’s house. – wikipedia

Main Protagonist

Sakuma

Sakuma is the main protagonist of the series. He is the liaison from the Imperial Japanese Army. It’s clear that he initially despises spies in general. He sees them as being dishonest and manipulative. He also questions their patriotism.

The Joker game

We are introduced to the concept of the “Joker game.” Sakuma plays a game of poker with several of the agents. He “loses,” but Miyoshi quickly tells him that he was “peeking” at his cards. With the help of the other agents “signals.” He tells Sakuma that they weren’t “really” playing poker.

He explains that the “poker game, was a charade.” The intention to get people on your “side.” However, their actual allegiance isn’t certain. The signals can be false or you might alter your hand based on your opponent’s signs. The purpose is to “convince the enemy spy to betray his side and join yours.”

Sakuma questions the purpose of this, “game.” He says its “cowardly.” Lt. Col. Yuuki of the Imperial Army challenges Sakuma on his views. He asks him to image that he’s in Washington at an “international political meeting.” He says that if “your information is leaked, you’ve got no hope of winning.

Finally, asks Sakuma “if he were a spy that was discover, what would his reaction be?” He response that he would kill or commit suicide. His answer resulted in the agents laughing. Lt. Col Yuuki tells him that would be the worst decision for a spy. He said it would only lead to a criminal investigation.

Opinion

This series has been highly regarded for a while. I think the hype was well deserved. I generally gravitate towards more action anime. However, this series has peaked my interests. I enjoy the complexity the series seems to be heading for. Base on Sakuma, I think the spies are to set up to appear “bad” initially. I do think they will eventually become more highly regarded, both by the viewer and Sakuma.

One standard I have for anime is animation. This series is beautiful. The color pallet is muted, but feels like it is appropriate for the time period. The characters look realistic and so does the background. Overall, I love the series so far and will recommend it.

 

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2 thoughts on “Joker Game

  1. I also really loved the first part fo this series. My problem with the series is that it hasn’t progressed beyond what it offered in episode one. It still looks good, it still has a reasonable pace to each story and it introduces a wide range of interesting characters but the overall plot just feels stagnant. I’m hoping that things are starting to pick up as we close in on the end of this series.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this series.

    Liked by 1 person

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