Joker Game

Title:Joker Game
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Production I.G.
In 1937, before World War II begins in earnest. Lieutenant Colonel Yūki of the Imperial Japanese Army forms the "D Agency," an army intelligence outfit under his command and tutelage. Army General Staff attaches Lieutenant Sakuma to observe the unit's performance. D Agency casts a wide net to find agents beyond Japanese military personnel, and Yūki establishes D Agency's tenets, which go against IJA doctrine: "Don't kill, don't get killed, don't get captured." With this, Yūki trains a team of operatives who conduct missions against domestic and foreign powers.

12-episode TV anime that premiered on April 5, 2016.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 9 9 7 8 9 Ggultra2764 [series:3172#1552]
Joker Game is a series of stories exploring different agents involved with the spy group, D-Agency, performing missions during 1930s-era Japan as the country entered its militaristic regime period before World War II. Like Senkou no Night Raid, Joker Game depicts Japan's militant period in a less savory light as it shows the flaws of the type of society it created and showing some of the hostilities that Japan conjured up with Western nations due to the country's actions during the time period. The stories also provide enough focus on several of the spies for viewers to understand their backgrounds and motives for being involved with D-Agency, as well as creating genuine suspense out of a number of the situations they are faced with throughout the series. The visuals for Joker Game are also among the better-animated ones I have seen for a TV anime thus far this year with highly detailed scenic shots and character designs that are faithful to the time period they are set in, as well as depicting fluid movement with the characters as they move about. If you are into historic titles with elements of spy-action, Joker Game is a worthwhile recommendation.

Last updated Friday, June 24 2016. Created Friday, June 24 2016.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:3172#628]
(Three episodes watched):

I had low expectations for this show, being set in the era of expansive, militaristic Imperial Japan—perhaps it would be like an anime from a number of years ago which tried to excuse Japanese actions in China by twisting the subject into a supernatural battle against evil forces. But I got the feeling fairly quickly that maybe Joker Game wouldn't be the same sort of blatant propaganda, much like a wartime war movie. The show remains within the real world (though 'unrelated to actual events'), and perhaps most critical, it didn't take a 'we are perfect while the enemy is despicable' tone. At least it didn't take the 'we are perfect' part, because the depiction of an American is pretty offensive (and quickly gives away the answer as to whether he is guilty of the crime he has been accused of or not). Lieutenant Sakuma considers the spy trainees he works with to be 'monsters' and at the end of the episode suspects that they may have betrayed him. This suggests there will be some depth to the story and characters. The philosophy that these eight men follow could have been made more clear, and I still don't get a feeling of just where the story is going, but it doesn't seem like it will be utterly shallow and predictable. Also, the artwork is nice. So I guess I will watch some more of Joker Game to see if it continues to grow or if it quickly reaches it's limits and stagnates.

In episode two the show fervently denies that it is based on history or genuine characters and events, but it is clearly a sort of alternate history, which is identical to established history in every sense except that all negative elements--like militarism, aggression, etc, have been purged and here Japan is the underdog, forced to engage in things like spying only because other countries (America in particular) are spying on it. It reminds me of stories I have read about a campaign of historic revisionism that is underway in Japan today, in which leaders refuse to acknowledge the war crimes that were once openly admitted--like the conscription of Korean women to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military. Or the Japanese Prime Minister being willing to visit a shrine where the ashes of convicted war criminals are interred. Perhaps Joker Game was meant to appeal to such people. At any rate, the show seems modestly interesting but not brilliant. Episode two was largely about cleaning up incompetence within the army, and the tricks that were used to expose an inept officer (and be a spy in general) were sort of neat.

I had assumed that the show would be about how Lieutenant Sakuma interacts with the spies, but episode three takes place in France and Sakuma plays no part. Why Japan feels it needs to get an idea of what's going on in the infant French resistance movement is beyond me, but the episode was modestly interesting. I had been thinking that this would probably be the last episode I would watch, but now my thinking is perhaps not. Still, it doesn't thrill me; I don't get particularly excited and the climaxes of episodes don't surprise me all that much.

Last updated Wednesday, May 11 2016. Created Thursday, April 07 2016.

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