Joker Game (Spoiler Free)
Well. I guess that is it. The irony of Joker Game is that it held its cards close to its chest. It gave the illusion of having something to play. Then we reach episode 12 and we realize it was bluffing all along. It had little to offer and what it did reveal was given to us in piecemeal. I can’t bring myself to call it a terrible anime, yet, when I think about what it could have achieved I only feel disjointed.
Suspenseful spy thrillers are few and far between in anime so really no matter what direction Joker Game went in it should have felt new. But there is something inherently lacking in the direction it did choose. In the spirit of espionage Joker Game didn’t want you to know the characters. It didn’t want to settle on one story or location. It wanted to keep you guessing. Yet with all that said and done it failed to form a connection with me. It’s hard to talk about an episodic show in general but when I think back on the storytelling, it was telling us things that we needed to feel a connection about in order for us to care, which the anime actively worked against.
How can I relate to the crisis this unidentifiable character is in if you won’t open a window into his personality? or get me to pick a side in the conflict? or have lasting consequences beyond this episode?
These are the sorts of questions Joker Game got me asking. Honestly I think we can largely agree that these are the wrong questions for a show to leave it’s audience with.
While there are more elements to this show such as the soundtrack, animation and its portrayal of 1930s culture that deserve praise, ultimately I feel the lack of attachment I had with Joker Game limits the weight I can give those aspects in my critique.
Whether it aimed to be or not, Joker Game is an anime that will be quickly forgotten. A shame.