Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Jormungand by Takahashi Keitarou

Takahashi Keitarou

Jonah is a child soldier, born amidst the chaotic conflicts that rage across West Asia, his family lost to a war fueled by weapons supplied by the so-called Merchants of Death--international arms dealers. Despite Jonah's hatred of weapons and violence, he employs both extremely well in the service of high-flying arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her band of mercenaries. Their journey through the dark underbelly of the world's arms markets may lead only to damnation, but will Jonah one day make his way back to the light? Only one thing is certain: it's going to be a long, hard road out of hell...

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Here

Rosy's scrawlings on Jormungand
Jormungand is a strange manga that addresses corruption surrounding arms deals and the impact of war upon children, and not just through the character of Jonah. Neither topic is addressed too directly but there's more than enough action and conversation to analyse. In a way this can leave you feeling both satisfied with the story and dissatisfied for its lack of picking a side, depending on your perspective. And it is just this, along with the action, that makes Jormungand such an interesting read.
In Jormungand Jonah is the one to lead us into the world of arms dealing but ultimately we end up following not just his story but that of Koko and her band of warrior guards. Each has been pulled from an unusual life within the armed forces or the secret service or in Jonah's case from his revenge mission for the death of his family. Except Koko, who has been born into the arms dealer life along with her elder brother. Every character within Jormungand is more than a little twisted or damaged and yet they act for loyalty, for a chance to be something more and to survive. Even as conspiracies on the part of various governments, sometimes named and sometimes unnamed, begin to wear at them all they go to incredible lengths to remain together, often over simple promises.
Koko leads her team, along with Jonah whom she's trying to drag out of his shell, through battlefields and various danger filled negotiations with terrorists, gang members and government officials alike. Anyone is a customer, as long as they can pay and if they can't then they're nothing but the casualties of business. Koko is insanely ruthless, self disparaging and surprisingly gentle and caring. She's what her world has made her and her loyalty and trust are not to be crossed. Jonah, in a similar way, is what the world has made him but he has refused to be a victim like so many others. He appears to be mild mannered or even cold and emotionless but underneath is a raging hatred for weapons, arms dealers and the insanity of war. He's one who is both innocent and far too jaded, of a sane point of view but also completely lost to raging emotions. Through such characters, the turmoil of the arms dealer world is shown for all its harshness and for the battlefield it is. Still, there's a lightness to the story telling and an emphasis on loyalty and growth that makes Jormungand palatable.
The art of Jormungand is grainy, scratching and stark, with a balance of darkness and light that draws you in to study the characters. Expressions are key to understanding the characters of Jormungand and their illustration is gently produced, often with sparing lines and an eye to light pairing with sadness and seriousness. Action scenes flow well and they aren't always focused on the twirl of motion, sometimes focusing on the stillness and caution that proceeds the storm of war. In all, the action and the characters pair beautifully through the use of light and dark, movement and stillness.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who love action stories with elements of intrigue involving government and criminal groups as well as those interested in the arguments revolving around gun usage, wholesale weapons sales and gun control.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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