[Police Anime Winter 2017] Like Joker Game? Watch This!

After several cold, dark months (at least here in Tokyo!), spring is right around the corner. Sure, the winter weather was the perfect excuse to stay inside, snuggle up on the couch, and marathon your favorite shows. But as the weather heats up, so does anime season, so before the next one starts, why not spend some time catching up on some gems you might have missed? Specifically, the tense, historical spy thriller, Joker Game. We’re here to give you the rundown on the show if you missed it, and some shows you should check out if you’re already a fan!

About Joker Game

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2016 – June 2016

It’s 1937, and Japan has been embroiled in war in a bid to take control of neighboring territories in Asia. With the war about to escalate to an even greater global scale, intelligence on combatant countries is more valuable than ever before. In order to stay ahead of the curve, the Japanese government established a specialized branch of spies, the D Agency, to infiltrate enemy countries and to gain greater insight on their social and economic weaknesses.

The D Agency is under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki, a spymaster and field veteran once known as the “Demon Lord.” The men in his unit are the crème de la crème; highly trained agents with expertise in espionage, combat, languages, and more. One agent, Sakuma, is sent to infiltrate the house of an American believed to be spying on the Imperial government. What starts off as a simple task becomes much more, as Sakuma learns the ins and outs of the spy game, the hard way.

Like Joker Game? Watch Onihei!

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: January 2017 – April 2017

Based off of a character created by the novelist, Shotaro Ikenami, Onihei takes place in Japan’s old capital, Edo, and centers on the exploits of Hasegawa Heizo. A man who spent most of his youth engaging in carefree womanizing, he took up the mantle of responsibility left by his father by becoming the head of the special police force in charge of investigating arsons and robberies. Known around town and in the criminal underworlds as “the Demon,” Heizo puts his life on the line to keep the streets clean, even if it means getting his own hands dirty. With a few demons of his own, can he balance the demands of his family with the toll it takes to get the job done?

Three Major Similarities Between Joker Game and Onihei

1. Going Back In Time

Although set in a different time, Onihei is also a period piece that takes place in a tumultuous and iconic time in Japanese history. Much like Joker Game is able to realize the atmosphere of wartime Japan, Onihei brings the mean streets of Edo to life in a way which most shows can only dream. Whether it’s the dusty tatami floor of an old dojo, the raucous laughter of a house of beautiful geisha, or the unseen threats lurking in a dark alley, the setting is brought to life by its incredible detail, and the next best thing this side of a time machine. It’s also worth noting that like Joker Game, violence and profanity are heaped in spades.

2. A Spy By Any Other Name

Then there’s Heizo, the gruff protagonist willing to risk it all for the job. Much like the dangerous game of espionage played by the characters in Joker Game, Heizo finds himself in games of cat and mouse with the vile criminal underworld. And just like the spy game, they play for keeps. Heizo isn’t above using his colleagues and bystanders to get to the bottom of a crime, even if it means putting them in the line of fire. After all, it’s not a risk he doesn’t take himself. Underneath his steely resolve is the heart of a man who cares deeply about his family and his community and is honor-bound to do his duty to both.

3. The Tangled Webs We Weave

Finally, there’s the intrigue. Joker Game tells a pulse-pounding, multi-faceted story of deception, where being able to discern the truth from a lie is all that stands between life and death. The case of the week storytelling that drives Onihei forward works on the same level. Heizo finds himself embroiled in complex crimes that appear deceptively straightforward, before peeling the layers back like an onion to get to the truth. What lies at the center is often times humanizing, which makes the world Heizo lives in a nuanced, compelling shade of gray.


Like Joker Game? Watch ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka!

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2017 – March 2017

Based off of a manga series written by Natsume Ono, ACCA: 13-Ku Kansatsu-ka, also known as Acca: 13-Territory Inspection Department is set in the fictional kingdom of Dowa. Divided into 13 autonomous states, Dowa is held together by the oversight of a giant civilian organization known as ACCA. Jean Otus is the second-in-command of ACCA’s Inspection Agency, a department with the enormous responsibility of gathering intelligence throughout the kingdom, and making sure ACCA runs smoothly, lest the wheels fall off. When he can be bothered, that is.

The network the Inspection Agency utilizes consists of ten officers in each of the 13 states, who report back to the central office. As second in command, Jean’s responsibility is to handle the agents in the field and make frequent visits to the capital. While the agency was established in a time of turmoil a hundred years ago, the autonomy afforded by each of the states has convinced the powers that be that the Inspection Agency is no longer necessary. That is until an innocuous inspection by Jean embroils him in a potential plot to overthrow the government.

Three Major Similarities Between Joker Game and ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

1. Spies, Assemble!

The most obvious similarity is the fact that the show centers around a group of spies. Gussied up as an “Inspection Agency,” the seemingly bureaucratic branch of the ACCA is essentially an internal intelligence service. Although Jean looks like a slacker in a pretty cushy position, he’s actually quite intelligent, and has a keen eye for details, as you’d expect from someone in his position. The purpose of the Inspection Agency is to keep things running smoothly in the kingdom, and the best way to do that is to keep an eye on those who don’t know they’re being watched.

2. Smoke and Mirrors

But like the intrigue in Joker Game, what you see isn’t always what you get. The timing of the closure of the agency is just a little too convenient, especially once the government gets wind of a scheme that could have dire implications for members of ACCA. The spies become the spied, and Jean has to utilize all of his intellect to figure out who he can trust since his very life could be on the line. To say anything more about the twists and turns would spoil the fun, but like a great rollercoaster, rest assured that there are many.

3. Not For the Faint of Heart

Finally, there’s the maturity level of the content, as one would expect because of the show’s themes. Just like the other shows featured in the article, ACCA can quickly explode in a shower of profanity and violence. When the stakes are literally life and death, one can hardly be surprised when the latter finds its way on screen. Much like the world of espionage itself, these shows aren’t for the faint of heart. But that same intensity that might turn off some viewers is a big part of what makes it compelling to fans of the genre, and a big part of what keeps the stakes of the show so high.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve had a rundown of two great shows (three, if you haven’t seen Joker Game in the first place), we can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Are there other shows, old or new, that capture the same edge-of-your-seat espionage intensity as the shows on mentioned? If you’ve made it to the end of any of these series’, what did you think of the characters, plot, and pacing? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!

Nick Rich

Writer

Author: Nick Rich

Nick is, first and foremost, a nerd. Netflix on in the background, a drink in one hand, and a book in the other is how you'll find him most days after work. He currently works as an English teacher in Kawasaki, where he lives next to a graveyard with his girlfriend and his unnamed flying squirrel. He hopes to run into Kitaro, late one night.

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