One of the hardest parts of creating a show, including anime, is nailing its tone. Capturing the right mood for the story being told is crucial, but having plenty of variety is just as important. A series without lighter moments can become difficult to watch, while having too many lighthearted moments can undermine the story the creator is trying to tell. A good example of this dilemma is joker game, a political thriller anime that, while good, failed to strike the perfect tone and is now overlooked by many.
joker game is based on the novel series by Koji Yanagi. Released in 2008, it contained five short stories and proved popular enough to spawn a book series. joker game also got a manga adaptation in 2009, a live-action movie in 2015, and eventually an anime. The latter was directed by Production IG, directed by Kazuya Nomura, and written by Taku Kishimoto. Here’s what the story is all about – and why its tone ultimately let it down in the eyes of many fans.
joker game takes place just before World War II. The Japanese government realizes that information about other countries and their people will be extremely useful and vital, so a new spy agency called D Agency is created. Founded by Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki, a spy known as the Demon Lord during his career, the organization selects only those who can pass the difficult selection exam. Agency D consists of eight members – Odagiri, Fukumoto, Hatano, Kaminaga, Miyoshi, Amari, Tazaki, and Jitsui – who are sent to infiltrate powerful countries and learn as much as possible about them.
However, getting caught would put officers at risk. Because of this, they have been trained and turned into master manipulators to get the information they want – not to mention hundreds of other skills they can apply to infiltrate areas and escape unscathed. However, the life of a spy is not easy and the group soon find themselves entangled in many dangerous mysteries, each episode telling its own story.
joker game is an excellent political thriller full of twists and intrigues. However, he is embarrassed by her tone. The show lacks humor, which can make it a chore to go through. While it’s nice to see the story treat its subject matter with respect and gravity, the lack of tonal variety can cause many episodes to merge together. This is only made worse by the episodes’ individual storylines which vary in quality, with some featuring more intriguing mysteries than others.
If the story of the episode doesn’t draw the viewer in on its own, there isn’t much left to enjoy, which may cause some to drag on. Also, the dark tone can sometimes lead to joker game feel a bit full of himself. Some storylines feel too weird or contrived to be considered realistic, and without any humor to lighten the mood, those moments can feel even more shocking and out of place.
joker game is also heavy on dialogue. While this fits the political thriller nature of the story, the show lacks the wit to make some of the dialogue interesting to listen to. Some conversations are uncomfortable and unnatural due to their dryness, especially in the English dub. Unfortunately, the Japanese and English voices lack the natural charisma to elevate this type of dialogue, which makes many scenes quite boring.
Episodes can often feel like a chore as all the dialogue blends into a single block, meaning viewers miss crucial parts by getting lost in unease. Something only made worse by the fact that the individual characters, while realistic, often lack traits that set them apart from each other, making the full set feel more like variations on the same archetype. . While this style probably worked well in the novels, it just doesn’t translate to the anime medium.
joker game is interesting, because it’s rare to see grounded political thrillers and spy stories in anime. However, it’s a little too entrenched for its own good, which hurts its popularity. Similarly, many modern American viewers associate spy thrillers with james bond and Impossible mission, both of which combine political narrative with intense (and often ridiculous) action. That said, joker game is a truly unique experience unlike any other anime available. For fans of spy thrillers in the vein of Tinker Tailor Spy Soldier, joker game might just be a perfect choice. Those who prefer their spies to have a sense of humor might be better off looking elsewhere.
Joker Game is now available to stream on Crunchyroll.