The Spring 2016 anime line-up had some great series this season, one of them being Joker Game. Joker Game is seinen series that takes place during World War II where information was of the highest value but also the most difficult to obtain. Based on a novel series by Koji Yanagi, the series was adapted into a live-action film (which I have not watched) and an anime series.
The story follows eight agents of the “D Agency”; young men who have undergone rigorous training meant to break their body and mind. Those who passed the exams are given a new identity and sent around the world to complete missions while becoming as invisible as they possibly can.
What’s interesting about the series is that it is not one story arc, but rather episodic stories that span up to two episodes at the most. Not all stories follow the main “spy”, but they link to a made-up historical event and the mission ranges from infiltrating terrorist groups, collecting information, exposing corruption, and even being exposed as a spy! The spy can either be the main character or a side character, but this doesn’t lessen the story in anyway. In fact, not following a main character is what makes this show so intriguing.
The stories themselves are also very clever. The first episode shows the mind games the spies are capable of, but as the series progresses their expert skill and prowess comes to light. The spies are able to maintain their secret identities because of their vigorous training in even the most intense situation so you can’t help but wonder how the event will play out.
What I loved the most was how believable each story was. None of the stories are based on any actual events, but they’re portrayed realistically (well, maybe except for the super spy aspect) that I’d believe certain events were absolutely plausible.
The art style is very close to seinen series, but not so rough. It’s appealing, in my opinion, to all audiences.
I think the series also does a wonderful job capturing the historical aspect of the show down to fashion and locale. I felt I had been removed from the 21st century and placed into the early 1900’s. The underplayed colors set the tone for the World War II era.
When I first started the series I was confused about the nature of the anime since I thought it would follow the main character of the first two episodes. When he disappeared and never referred to again I was at a loss of what was going on. I think the short run time (only 12 episodes) and episodic story telling makes the series forgettable.
Despite that, I really loved the series. It was fun to jump into the world of spies with made up missions and tales of espionage. Joker Game comes highly recommended for those who enjoy historical, seinen anime. You can find all 12 episodes now on Crunchyroll now.
Did you have a chance to check out the series? What did you think? Which was your favorite episode? Let me know in the comments!