Anime at a Glance: Joker Game

Before the beginning of the second World War, Japan was quickly finding that its old traditions were holding it back when it came to global affairs. A small agency in the military was sectioned apart and they set out to train a set of individuals as spies, going against the values that Japan had long held close. A soldier would rather die in battle or he would lose his honour and feel so much shame he would have to commit suicide. A spy’s job and mentality flies directly in the face of that mentality, so they were re-trained to understand that kill or be killed was not the only way to accomplish a mission and win a war.

Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki from the Imperial Japanese Army has been put in charge of this agency, known as D-Agency, and trains these soldiers into spies. Once trained, another soldier from the Japanese Army is sent to use them for a mission. His goal is to search the home of a foreign man to recover any ties that he is a spy on foreign soil. D-Agency is dressed up as officers from the military and they ransack the foreign man’s home under Sakuma’s orders and one of the D-Agency members, in order to get the man to cooperate, tells him that Sakuma will commit Seppuku if no evidence of espionage can be found. D-Agency begins tearing the walls apart and searching hard for evidence, and finally they report back nothing to be found.

Several nights before, Sakuma is out playing poker with the agents in their own private game. He ends up losing and as he heads out he tells them that next time he’ll beat them. They tell him that he was the only one in the room playing Poker, they were all playing The Joker Game. Their goal was to determine hidden allegiances of other members in the room and eventually force someone to be the Joker to lose the game.

In this moment Sakuma knows by the smirks of the agents that while he was having them search the house, they were all actually playing The Joker Game again and he was chosen to be the Joker.

I’ve been enjoying this show since the first episode. I’m a sucker for shows where everything is clever and every action that the characters take will add up to a specific goal in the end with subtle hints that link everything together. Joker Game follows that method of storytelling really well, and by linking the show to World War 2 it ties in another common interest for many people. That’s not to say that the show follows accurate historical events, but making a believable story within real life occurrences can be more difficult to pull off and I think it does that well.

As usual, you can watch Joker Game here on Crunchyroll.

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