The End of Jormungand: Is Koko Really Loco?

I wrote about Jormungand a little while back, and now that the series has finished up I wanted to weigh in on some of the issues discussed there (and in the comments).

This time it's serious O.o

Koko means business this time around, so I guess I gotta get serious too.

Concerning motivations, I’d say that the motives discussed previously are largely borne out – Koko’s plan does seem to be a way to get back at the world. But there’s a twist – now I’m not sure if it’s completely out of spite. Compared to Kasper, Koko shows herself to be much more of an optimist (or at least an idealist). Her “I hate the world” speech contrasted beautifully with Jonah’s “I love the world” statements just an episode back…but perhaps she does love the world after all, just in her own, twisted way. While the emotional components guessed at were never explicitly discussed in the show, they were heavily implied in the last episode, leading me to think that Koko motivation has indeed become very Jonah-centric. Not in the sense that she won’t go forward with her plan, but that his acknowledgement and support means the world to her (literally). Most noticeably, although she is able to activate Jormungand for some time (a few days), she delays it until Jonah calls out for her to take action.

Jonah's reunited at last!

Jonah’s reunited at last, and Koko’s team is ready to move into her New World together.

Now of course, we come to the actual plan itself. The introduction of Jormungand into space is a clever move, and it does allay my fears of a surprise attack throwing her plan to hell. Leaving aside the technicalities of “imposing” the global no-fly zone (since Koko seems to have done a thorough job), we see that the end result of initiating Jormungand very much is open for debate. And of course, the two possible end results are discussed by the two Hekmatyar siblings (woohoo parallelism!).

Kasper embodies the cynic: he believes that humanity is inherently dark and violent, and that Jormungand will only temporarily thwart our desire for war. Our violent urges will instead lead to different types of war (land and naval-based, ultimately ones more profitable to arms dealers) within Koko’s New World. He believes arms dealers will always have a place in this world to serve the violent impulses of humanity – as messengers of Life and Death. And I think he enjoys what he does.

"If I can't sell aerial weapons, I'll sell naval weapons. If I can't sell battleships, I'll sell tanks. I'll sell guns. I'll sell swords. I'll sell hatchets. If you seal away iron, I'll sell cudgels. Such is the nature of an arms dealer."

“If I can’t sell aerial weapons, I’ll sell naval weapons. If I can’t sell battleships, I’ll sell tanks. I’ll sell guns. I’ll sell swords. I’ll sell hatchets. If you seal away iron, I’ll sell cudgels. Such is the nature of an arms dealer.”

Koko embodies the optimist: she believes that there is some good in us (or at least that shame/humiliation will override our violent impulses), and so Jormungand will cause us to sit back, reflect, and ultimately work together towards a brighter future. She hates being an arms dealer, but always manages to keep her emotions hidden under a mask. And with the (hopeful) demise of war through Jormungand, her role will be over. Koko even refers to herself as a “former arms dealer”.

"Like I know what the future has in store! But think about it. The sky will regress from modern times. The modern sky and the retrogressed sky. In reality, that difference will be the result of humanity closing off their skies after constantly fighting in the air that they once soared through freely. When they look up at the dawn, when they look up at a bird, they will always see the "humiliation of humanity"  constantly hanging over their heads. Do you think that humans will continue to fight despite that? I don't think they will. Humans can't take humiliation. That's the one thing that separates humans from monkeys."

“The sky will regress from modern times. The modern sky and the retrogressed sky. In reality, that difference will be the result of humanity closing off their skies after constantly fighting in the air that they once soared through freely. When they look up at the dawn, when they look up at a bird, they will always see the “humiliation of humanity” constantly hanging over their heads. Do you think that humans will continue to fight despite that? I don’t think they will. Humans can’t take humiliation. That’s the one thing that separates humans from monkeys.”

Koko’s attitude parallels the resolution in Code Geass (referenced last time), but rather than martyring yourself to end the chains of hatred in order to help humanity “bury the hatchet”, you simply shame them into it. Both involve an individual crazed enough to seek some form of world domination. However, similar to Lelouch’s solution in Code Geass, I have to wonder whether Koko’s solution will be enough, and how long it might last. I do have to agree that shame is indeed a powerful (and often underestimated) emotion, but I’m not sure if I share her confidence here.

We can see that Koko’s plan is still in a way childish, in the sense that it depends on the belief of inherent “goodness” in other people – but ultimately I feel I was too harsh on her in my original post. Especially once we take the (likely) impending wars for water and natural resources into account (something I had completely overlooked, although it’s more apparent in hindsight, and perhaps eerily prophetic…), Koko’s plan no longer seems nearly as brutal or outrageous. And we notice that after the time-skip in the last episode, casualties have already surpassed those she would be responsible for from the activation of Jormungand. The world proves Koko’s point for her, and all Jonah can do is sit back and despair.

After all he's been through, Jonah is unable to throw away his gun.

After all he’s been through, Jonah is ultimately unable to throw away his gun.

Now, the question of whether the world would prove Koko’s point is one that’s up for debate. The series obviously shows the end result if we keep up with the status quo, and most of the scenarios are quite believeable given today’s current state of affairs. But of course this also assumes that we will not band together and fix our problems, even on the verge of World War III, until Koko does something as drastic as this. I mean, our track record currently isn’t so hot, but there’s always hope, right?

I mean, America isn't looking too hot right now...

I mean, the US isn’t looking too good right now…so that’s not too encouraging (taken from CBS).

And the Eurozone is also a smidgen unstable...

And the Eurozone is also a smidgen unstable…but they’re at least agreeing on some things, right? (taken from the Financial Times)

Of course, Koko’s not a normal happy-go-lucky optimist – this is Jormungand after all. There’s a reason she’s shown sitting on a chair reminiscent of a throne when she’s talking to Kasper.

Yep, that one.

Yep, that one.

This second season (the last episode especially) has also given us a glimpse into Koko’s madness.  Here she truly emerges as the physical personification of a dragon (possibly even Jormungand, the World Serpent). Ultimately, she just wants to create the new world – the issue of world peace or the end of conflict, or any overarching moral high ground, seems to have become secondary in her quest to at least try and reinvent the world. Is this because of Jonah? Does she simply want to create a new world for him, together? Kasper’s detailing of Jonah’s tortured psyche, a hatred a violence and weapons but a taste for them, might be hinting at this. I don’t know – this could all be over-speculation on my part, and the show doesn’t delve too much further into their relationship (nooooo – my shota!).

Jonah asks, "Will that truly bring about a peaceful future?" Koko responds, "Like I know what the future has in store!"

Jonah asks, “Will that truly bring about a peaceful future?” Koko spills her tea, bursts out laughing, and responds, “Like I know what the future has in store!” before going into her

So who is crazier: Koko or the world? I guess Koko really is loco after all, but who’s to say the world isn’t any stranger? Like most of the cast of Jormungand, I too must be caught up in her madness, because I might actually look forward to seeing her tantalizing New World. In any case, this is probably the end of the road for the series, since the manga wraps up at the same point. Personally, I’m satisfied with the open-ended ending, and really enjoyed the show for its full two-season run.

Image credit: All images except the first were taken from Anime Aura. The first was taken from the MAL discussion forum.

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12 responses to “The End of Jormungand: Is Koko Really Loco?

  1. Jormungand is amazing as a revolution anime, however subtly put and convoluted in its ideals. It’s a shame it’s ended already.

    • Definitely. Although I would’ve liked to see the show give its own answer to the larger questions it poses at the end, I’m quite satisfied with it leaving the outcome up to the viewers.

  2. Pingback: Brave New World; Jormungand: Perfect Order Episodes 22-24 | Isn't It Electrifying?·

  3. Honestly, I agree with Kasper. I know I shouldn’t. I know I should have more faith in humanity or hope for the future and all that jazz about the potential of our species to overcome its own limitations, to reach beyond ourselves, beyond our petty differences and ambitions. But in my heart I know that a crippled lion is still a lion and so I agree with the guy that points out busting its leg isn’t going to suddenly turn it into a sheep.

    I think Koko is nuts, definitely and the thought of sacrificing people for a chance at changing the world makes me feel the same way as Jonah, but again like Kasper I feel like it works out better that way (maybe not for the same reasons mind, but there you are).

    People are going to die either way, the fact that they die for humanity’s sake wouldn’t be any comfort at all to the people that loved those folks, but at the very least it buys humanity a timeout from brutally murdering itself. Like Koko said about the money (blood money) this is blood time and if nothing else maybe people would stop to think about what exactly it cost them to have it. Maybe.

    • It’s hard to say who is right here, and the fact that the majority of viewers/commenters seem to agree with Kasper actually tells us a lot more about ourselves then it necessarily does about the underlying thematic conflict here. The abyss always seems to stare right back.

      I also agree that Koko is pretty nuts, and I was most impressed with the originality of the solution that Koko ends up going with. While a ton of people try to take away the weapons and guns, impose order by force, or otherwise attempt to pacify the population by monopolizing sources of violence (or eliminating them altogether), only Koko seems to want to try and work past that by shaming the population into introspection. Maybe it’s just a false hope, in the same vein as the “proletariat revolution” needed to bring about communism, but as you said, at the very least it would buy us a little “blood time”.

  4. As a Computer Scientist, I’ve got to say… Koko is truly loco if she thinks her idea is going to go her way. I mean, I like her lofty ideals and intentions, and Kasper is a douche, all true, but really? Shut down the skies? Lol.

    Give it a month, maybe two, before she pushes the entire world to adopt post-quantum cryptographic practices. Many hashing schemes and symmetric key schemes that don’t rely on integer factorization problems (okay, TLS is gone, boo hoo) are already resistant to the quantum menace. Scientists everywhere will salute her for forcing an evolution of physical cyberspace as virtually every single computer system on Earth is upgraded to be resistant to Jormungand. Let’s not even start with the hackers that will inevitably break into Jormungand and have their way with it. To say nothing about the ability of manned flight WITHOUT COMPUTERS (think Wright brothers). Plus, if I want to go to war with my neighbor, I’ll just go to his house and beat him with death with my fists. Or buy some bows and arrows from Kasper. I don’t need missiles to wage a holy war.

    Koko has only succeeded in sharping man’s stick, not forcing him to put it down. Kasper has it right. Her Jormungand will usher in a new age of war with horrors the likes of which the world has never seen, and he’s going to get RICH.

    Nice job breaking it, hero.

    • So I feel like this pretty much misses the whole point of the end of the series. There is no sure-fire way to somehow disarm humanity, and any reader/viewer should see that Koko’s solution would realistically at best buy time and at worse end up forcing things to become even more sophisticated (regardless of specifics). I personally would’ve been surprised if the author had somehow found a viable solution, because he would’ve solved a problem that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time.

      Kasper’s point is the same one you make: humanity will wage war regardless of the circumstances. Koko, however, isn’t working within that framework. The question is not whether you will have the capability to (because you always will, one way or another), but rather of motivation and morality, which is ultimately the real thing that Koko is hinging her plan on. It’s meant to make people re-evaluate their attitudes towards a whole host of issues (flight, most pressingly, and technology and globalization by extension plus others) and by doing so their attitude towards modern warfare and more broadly each other.

    • Of course you don’t necessarily have to possess misiles to wage a brutally destructive war, and of course you can use man and small scale diesel powered aircraft hehe (good luck there transporting 5(and higher) ton nuclear warheads Mr.Wright, I wonder how many hours and how many people you need to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a flying bike xD), but seriously, do you really think that the remaining 3 minutes in the Doomsday Clock are worth whining in cynicism about probabilities instead of actually eliminating any possible way to something as horrific being created in the future? Besides, it is implied that the satellites have enough precision as to shoot anything down up to supersonic missiles and anything humanity can throw at them in the foreseeable future.
      But there are the options of mass bio and cyber warfare as you readily pointed out.
      As for the overtaking a satellite, I’m not by any means as well versed in IT as you are but here (http://www.happyhacker.org/gtmhh/sathack5.shtml) are few common sense things that would greatly difficult doing that in a world with multispectral 24h/day surveillance at least 4 times more reliable than currently deployed GPS, equipped with lethal (GIANT LASERS xD) force that is designed to strike anything suspicious within milliseconds. Oh, and should I put into perspective that the only thing you pointed out is that currently there are means of guarding yourself AGAINST an assault performed by a quantum computer. But how hacking INTO two quantum supercomputers or 126 satellites simultaneously??Not to speak of an individual I think it is still a feat that even in a quite few years from now would require a few average countries’ technology and brainpower in an alliance to accomplish. And take into account that people on the other end are not idiots either; it is not like Koko will sit there idly waiting to be hacked. She is a worldwide class warlord after all. And about biological warfare. Try deploying a virus in a targeted area hundreds of kilometers away without ships (yup, you can detect submarines with a satellite) and airplanes, and without anyone suspecting your involvement in the matter with the conditions given above. It all intertwines quite beautifully, I think, to give us a world without large scale UNCONTROLLED planet devastation. Please don’t misunderstand. Humanitarian crisis and casualties are something BAD and it is not right to filter it through “scale” and “death and wounded count” as the news are sooo accustomed to do, to judge how bad it is. But I like to think about it in this way: (knowing that some people will consider me a horrible person) If you can save 3500 people in two towers from dying as a result of YOUR decision of shooting a plane with 250 passengers down, wouldn’t you think that the best possible choice (in the moment) is one that the utilitarianism suggests? Instead of waiting until it is over for 3750 people and saying after it: There should have been a better option, let’s think about an ideal far far away world.

  5. Kasper made a point there that wars cannot be prevented even if the sky is shut down but Koko’s real intention was to make humanity think about stopping modern warfare. I still think Kasper’s point was best tho because we can also fight with stick and stones as our weapons and even our fists so being an arms dealer would sure be profitable. I don’t think Jormungand will really control everything because technology evolves.

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