Ever wanted to watch an anime about clandestine activities? I must say, I’ve seen my share of anime over the years, but I still haven’t viewed a single anime which totally revolved around spying. Until Joker Game, that is.

Joker Game is set in the period of the Second World War. Japan had never really had a proper spy agency as such; the Imperial Army commanders didn’t believe in the act of spying. They in fact thought of spying as an act of cowardice, something which they had no room for in their hearts and minds. Even so, through the machinations of one person, a spy agency was established. The organization was known as the “D-Agency”, headed by the mysterious and enigmatic Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki.

D-Agency operated on one very basic tenet; ‘Don’t kill. Don’t die.’ This was alien to the Imperial Army’s beliefs, who believed in killing and dying for the country as the ultimate expression of patriotism. The final eight candidates who were selected for spy training were all thereon trained under extreme conditions, both physical and psychological. The anime follows D-Agency’s spies and their spymaster in various acts of espionage and betrayal.

Joker Game renders the WW II era more or less faithfully; the steam-engine trains, the now-vintage cars, all those hats everywhere, it’s pretty well done, I’d say. Animation is slick throughout the show. Most of all, it gives us viewers the feeling that we’re watching a true-blue show on espionage, not like those James Bond movies where everyone knows he’s a spy. Only thing is, there is not much emphasis on the characters themselves, except for the spymaster. Yuuki is an amazing character, but the spies are forgettable, in the sense that they do not get much screen-time and we’re only vaguely aware of their being a spy through their actions. Also, most of the show is episodic, many of the plots last just one episode, with events occasionally transpiring over two episodes.

Overall, I’d say that Joker Game is a pretty good anime, and those who like to watch shows about espionage would definitely take to it.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– slick animation
– well-realized setting
– lead character is awesome
– the approach to spying

CONS :
– less screentime for other characters
– episodic nature may not be for everyone

 

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