A miscalculation within the realm of possibility


Joker Game, episodes 1-3

  1. This is a spy thriller set during World War II, and I don’t think I was alone in being apprehensive about how it would handle sensitive political topics. But right at the outset of each episode, it presents a remended that it’s a work of fiction. Sigh of relief — if it was going to pander to Japan’s jingoistic right wing, it wouldn’t bother with that disclaimer.
  2. The first two-part story confirms this is no propaganda piece. Sent to find evidence against a foreign diplomat, Sakuma finds it hidden behind the Emperor’s portrait. The military police are so deferential to this icon of their god on earth that they don’t dare touch it. Right from the outset, Joker Game presents ultranationalism as unintelligent and in fact a threat to national security. These two episodes set up the competing interests, and give us some idea of where the spies fit in.
  3. The third episode moves us into a real story, set in Vichy France. There is a real change of pace with some great action scenes, which look great and show off the D Agents’ training. The amnesiac plot is pretty cheap, but this guy gets KOed more often than a pulp detective, and it’s good to see there are consequences in this world.
  4. The highlights of the episode were the quick thinking of the protagonist. The explanation of how he identified the turncoat was clever and plausible. His MacGyver-style improvised explosion, although I find it implausible that people living in a French town in the 1940s would be unaware of the concept of dust explosions; flour mills were (and still are) dangerous places.
  5. Actually, the way Joker Game treats its audience was generally disappointing. The dialogue is crammed with explanations of basic concepts. “We’re with the Resistance.” “You’re members of a secret underground opposition to the German occupation, you mean?” Yes, obviously. “You’re a collaborator? A German spy sent to infiltrate the Resistance?” Come on. Even if people aren’t familiar with this terminology, it’s not hard to pick it up from context. I hope that dies down in future because it kills the flow.

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