Jormungand Volume 8

Written by Keitaro Takahashi
Illustrated by Keitaro Takahashi

When Koko's brother Kasper runs into interference from a secretive quasi-governmental operation in Japan, he calls in his sister's crack operatives to give him an advantage.  Run by Japan's "one and only spymaster" and prided on being ghost-like, can even Koko's band eliminate this elusive competition?  And will Tojo, a former employee of the spymaster, be willing to do whatever it takes to help out his new boss Koko?  It's a battle in the shadows in Jormungand 8!

I was really looking forward to this newest volume in this series that is an unlikely favorite of mine, but I have to admit, I left it feeling disappointed.  I'm not a huge fan of Kasper, and his involvement here serves only to slow down the fun action scenes with character development of Jonah, who was (rightly I think) relegated to more of a side character role as the series moved on.  In addition, the plot hinges not so much around Koko's genius and her ability to stay one step ahead of the competition as it does Tojo's knowledge of his former organization.  In the end, neither Koko's schemes nor Tojo's knowledge matter much, as it turns out that the spymaster is playing everyone in order to get what he really wants--peace at last.

The whole feeling is rather anti-climatic, and there's only one major action sequence, which mostly involves a car chase and some fighting inside a building.  For whatever reason, the stakes didn't feel as high this time, nor did the action build on itself.  There wasn't a moral lesson to be imparted or implied, other than maybe be careful what you wish for.  Worst of all, the feeling of dangerous (or inappropriate) fun felt lacking here.  This wasn't A-Team in its pride so much as latter-day Magnum, P.I. (where they went over maudlin scenes of Viet Nam memories), and I'm hoping that isn't a trend.

Takahashi's visuals remained as strong as ever, and the action was clear, if a bit boring for my taste.  There are a few good lines and scenes, but overall, Jormungand 8 was not as good as I think it could have been.  I am still sticking with the series, but as we move into the ninth volume, I am seeing a few warning signs about sticking around for the long term.  Volume 9 comes out in the US in June.  Hopefully, it will be a return to form.  Unless the actions in this story link up in a big way later, this is a volume you can probably skip.