Teasing out the Joker Game Timeline

Joker-Game-endcard

Last week, I wrote about five moments within Joker Game that made the show a worthwhile watch for me. However, another factor involved some of the other places where I engaged with it, namely twitter and tumblr. I know that many fans, especially in the West, maintain that there should be no need to engage with material external to the show itself. But whilst I understand the argument that the show should be evaluated on its own merits, expanding my engagement to these other forums helped me enjoy it all the more.

For example, I followed the official twitter pretty early on, and was soon giggling to some of the doodles that its staff were posting after each episode. Whilst the language barrier means that most Western fans cannot do the same, I did find a blogger who posted translations of many of these tweets, including some of the more amusing ones. A separate twitter account was also created by the person drawing the end cards, where he wrote of the influences he used and of the process of creating them. Again, many of these posts have been translated here, and they provide some interesting insights into 1940s Tokyo and the world of intrigue that is depicted in Joker Game. More recently, the manga has also shown up—and the notion of Yuuki being called “The Demon King” had me grinning from ear to ear.

JGA_Shirou_Ep.6-1 JGA_Shirou_Ep.6-2
There are also some amusing fanfics about Emma joining the D-Agency ‘household’.😄

One of the other things that showed up was a timeline, which confirmed that the stories in the show were all out of chronological order. In any case, since several of the spies appear or are mentioned in each other’s stories, the summer and fall of 1940 ended up keeping me entertained—and distracted—one afternoon after episode 11 aired.

1937 Fall: Establishment of D-Agency
1939 Spring: Joker Game (episodes 1, 2: entire cast, Yuuki, Miyoshi, Sakuma — Japan)
1939 Spring: Double Cross (episode 12: entire cast, Odagiri — Japan)
1939 Summer: Asia Express (episode 6: Tazaki — Manchuria)
1939 Fall: Robinson (episode 5: Kaminaga — England)
1940 Start of Summer: Code Name Cerberus (episode 7: Amari)
1940 Summer: Pursuit (episode 10: Yuuki, Tazaki, Hatano — Japan)
1940 Summer: Miscalculation (episode 3: Yuuki, Hatano — France)
1940 Start of Fall: Double Joker (episodes 8-9: Yuuki, Jitsui, Hatano, Kaminaga — Japan)
1940 Fall: Coffin (episode 11: Yuuki, Miyoshi — Germany)
1941 Summer: City of Temptation (episode 4: Fukumoto)

As you might notice from the list above, Yuuki and Hatano apparently dash from Japan to France and then back to Japan, before Yuuki again departs to Europe. Given that they would have been traveling by ship in 1940, I wondered if the timeline was actually possible, or if the writers had stuffed up and made a careless mistake. So I went about researching how long it would have taken them to travel between Japan and Europe back in those days.

First, I needed to know how quickly those ships traveled. The Hakusan Maru that Yuuki named in episode 3 was a passenger/cargo ship with a top speed of 15 knots. The reason it left on its ‘last’ voyage in summer 1940 was that it was commissioned into the Japanese Navy on September 17 of that year, where it served until it was sunk in Battle of Saipan (June 1944).

In any case, next, I had to figure out how long it would have taken that ship to travel between Europe and Japan. Thankfully, there’s a really convenient website for this very purpose, from which I generated the following data:

  • Marseilles to Nagasaki: 24 days 20 hours at 15 knots, 26 days 15 hours at 14 knots
  • Marseilles to Yokohama: 26 days 4 hours at 15 knots, 28 days 1 hour at 14 knots
Joker-Game_ports-2
I assumed they’d go through the Suez Canal.
The opposite way apparently takes about 2 days longer…

These times of travel meant that the timeline we were presented with was just barely possible:

  • Episode 10 (Pursuit), Japan, summer 1940, June
  • ~30 days to travel to France
  • Episode 3 (Miscalculation), France, summer 1940, around July-August
  • ~30 days to return to Japan
  • Episodes 8-9 (Double Joker), Japan, late September
  • ~30 days to travel to Germany
  • Episode 11 (Coffin), Germany, November

Given that Hatano seemed to be in France as an exchange student, it makes more narrative sense that he would have been there for more than a month. And this is barely possible—one month is about the maximum he would have had in France if the timeline is correct… Then Yuuki needed to travel to Berlin by late October/November 1940, to meet Miyoshi. I figured that it would be late fall at the earliest, because of the heavy snowfall in the episode. Present weather patterns suggest that there isn’t much snow—if any!—in Berlin in November these days, but it’s possible that there would have been over 70 years ago. Furthermore, the European winters of 1940-1942 were abnormally cold, so it’s feasible that there would have been the amount of snow we saw falling in episode 11.

Joker-Game_snow
Since I also started my On Anime ‘Writing’ project last season, it also struck me that this is probably the kind of stuff that writers (and their assistants, going by Ri-chan/Diesel in SHIROBAKO) do. (^^; )

So these are some of the other ways that Joker Game kept me invested in the show and its characters over its run. Checking out the Joker Game merchandise when I was in Japan recently also told me that I wasn’t alone: quite a few items were sold out, especially all the stuff featuring Miyoshi. Thankfully, I managed to get some phone accessories…but at the same time, I’m somewhat afraid. For whilst I really don’t have the time for this at present, it seems that Joker Game will be keeping me entertained for quite a while more!

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist in training. I also love musicals, photography, travel and believe it or not, the game of cricket. よろしく!

8 Responses to Teasing out the Joker Game Timeline

  1. sikvod00 says:

    Jeez, karice. Your attention to detail is scary… like a detective.O_o

    If I were one of those writers\assistants tasked with ensuring real-world accuracy, I’d be happy to know that at least one viewer took the time to verify notice my effort. ^_^You can bet that 99.9% people who saw that timeline didn’t stop to consider if the trips fell within the date\times.

    But to be honest, this is a big weakness of mine. My observational skills suck. I miss out on so many little nuances and details in shows because of it. I tend to “zone out” frequently during various scenes. It’s especially true in shows with mystery elements, like ERASED. In the show’s thread on AS, you were discussing a certain timeline and how it was easily obtained via calendar…. yeah, that flew by me. Didn’t even notice it until mentioned by you, lol!

    I know that many fans, especially in the West, maintain that there should be no need to engaging with material external to the show itself. But whilst I understand the argument that the show should be evaluated on its own merits, expanding my engagement to these other forums helped me enjoy it all the more.

    It’s cool (and funny) to enjoy a show because of factors other than the show itself. I would definitely enjoy Macross delta a bit less if it wasn’t for reading those cute radio episodes you provide. Western fans maybe only want to focus on the show because the external material is less accessible. Translators like yourself and frog are doing a great service for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • karice says:

      Haha – I don’t actually notice things like the calendars in Erased the first time I watch through a show. What happened in that case was that I did notice one or two of the calendars, so when someone brought up the question of how much time had passed, I just went back to check. But there are a few other tricks to telling the time of the year in anime that overseas viewers won’t necessarily know–I’ve put down a few thoughts on this, so there’ll be a post on it sometime this year, probably ^^

      (edit: also, I don’t actually know whether the details were given by the original novel writer in the novels. That would make more sense to me, but I just don’t know at this point whether the anime staff changed any dates slightly, which would have necessitated the kind of detail-checking I did. However, it’s clear from a number of interviews I’ve read–and SHIROBAKO–that there is a lot of background research that goes into writing manga and anime, even if viewers barely notice any of it on the screen.)

      I think that one of the reasons I notice details that people like yourself might not is that I don’t have to look at subtitles. Sometimes, I’ll even watch or rewatch shows without subs just so that I can pay attention to the animation and the sound (though this is a more recent thing). And of course, I’ll follow the official twitter accounts, and listen to the radio shows etc etc. This is one of the reasons I watch relatively few anime each season, as per Frog-kun’s last post–the level of engagement I need to have in order to really appreciate the shows means that I simply don’t have the time!

      Glad you enjoy the radio show summaries! Must admit, I’m curious if you’ve tried listening to it, because I wonder what it’s like to know broadly what they are talking about without actually understanding what they’re saying…

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  2. Raven says:

    (re:engagement with external material) IMHO it’s less to do with the tendency of East/West, and more with the personal level of investment in a given show. In our (Eastern) fan community, majority of people just prefer to enjoy the media in itself (and of course there’s nothing wrong with that), while only those who are particularly invested in a given series/creator would research further and supply external information. Personally, I really enjoy having material that already come with creator commentary & notes (Kenta Shinohara’s Sket Dance, for one), but I rarely look for them myself unless I really need to clarify something or for criticism purpose. That applies to both local and foreign media I enjoy.

    (unless what you meant by ‘fan’ is more in the vein of ‘critic’/’reviewer’?)

    Anyway, Joker Game! I’m not as big into the show as you obviously are, but I did enjoy some parts of it. I’ve seen that narrative timeline while I was watching the show, and yeah, that helped clarifying some questions I had in mind at the time. Stumbled to an episode of audio drama stuff on YouTube (basically just the boys chilling out and pissing on each other) with English transcription, too. Definitely interested to see that OVA episode depicting the training days, and maybe even read the original novel series should they ever got published here. I’m really curious to see if there’s some politically sensitive material that doesn’t make the transitional to the anime, in particular.

    Like

    • karice says:

      (re:engagement with external material) IMHO it’s less to do with the tendency of East/West, and more with the personal level of investment in a given show. In our (Eastern) fan community, majority of people just prefer to enjoy the media in itself (and of course there’s nothing wrong with that), while only those who are particularly invested in a given series/creator would research further and supply external information. Personally, I really enjoy having material that already come with creator commentary & notes (Kenta Shinohara’s Sket Dance, for one), but I rarely look for them myself unless I really need to clarify something or for criticism purpose. That applies to both local and foreign media I enjoy.

      (unless what you meant by ‘fan’ is more in the vein of ‘critic’/’reviewer’?)

      Ah, I knew I should have clarified! I’m the same way — I only invest in the shows I’m really interested in, though the greater constraint is time rather than lack of interest on my part. However, I feel that there’s a slightly greater trend amongst Western fans to watch as many shows as possible, whilst more Eastern fans are likely to find that one/two shows to really engage with.

      Admittedly, this is probably a skewed perspective, one based mostly on the anime blogging community and forum-going fans. The vibe I got from the conventions I used to go to was that quite a few attendees were really into just a few series as well, which is why they’d spend so many hours drawing fan art or making cosplay costumes.

      That said, in the West, I know of people who’d call themselves Trekkie fans, or Marvel fans, or LOTR fans etc etc. But the idea of being a straight-out anime fan is more akin to being a ‘fantasy fan’…and I feel that there’s some kind of difference between those points of focus. It becomes about the genre instead of about a particular property, and that’s a very different experience of ‘fandom’ to me…

      Hm…but it is something I should think about and read about more. There are studies about ‘fandom’, aren’t there…?

      Anyway, Joker Game! I’m not as big into the show as you obviously are, but I did enjoy some parts of it. I’ve seen that narrative timeline while I was watching the show, and yeah, that helped clarifying some questions I had in mind at the time. Stumbled to an episode of audio drama stuff on YouTube (basically just the boys chilling out and pissing on each other) with English transcription, too. Definitely interested to see that OVA episode depicting the training days, and maybe even read the original novel series should they ever got published here. I’m really curious to see if there’s some politically sensitive material that doesn’t make the transitional to the anime, in particular.

      I am planning to read the novels eventually (when I’m done with my studies early next year)–I’m going to have to find the time to check those drama CDs and the OVA out too… oh, if only there were more hours to each day!

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      • Raven says:

        Ah, got it. I do feel the online anime fandom in particular has stronger tendency of going ‘broad’ instead of ‘deep’, which is probably a natural byproduct of the seasonal cycle and current culture of aniblogging/anitwitter/anivideoing. Just a desire to keep up with the current conversation and… I dunno, sometimes I got the vibe of “I want to delve deeper into this show, but that’s so last season, there’s a bunch of new things to catch up with!” from fellow fans. In a way, that may contributed to the relative lack of interest toward external material, especially those that have passed their pop culture expiration date (which nowadays is like three months, I guess).

        This is also purely anecdotal observation, but I did note one thing that seems unique to the Western fandom: the necessity to rank things. I mean, you could see character popularity polls or rankings in manga or anime magazine, but not in the exact serious nature and frequency that the Western fandom does. I don’t think it’s inherently a good or a bad thing, but that may have some causal relationship with the whole ‘broad not deep’ thing. This actually extends beyond just anime fandom, as I often see similar practice (‘Power Rankings’) in Western sports fandom and even major media outlets like ESPN, where they made additional subjective/abstract rankings in addition to actual performance-based rankings. Kind of baffling when I first encountered it.

        I don’t think I’ve seen one, but yeah, it’d be interesting to see a study on modern fandom; whether comparative or of other nature.

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        • karice says:

          Sorry for the late reply! Been really really busy lately!

          Just a desire to keep up with the current conversation and… I dunno, sometimes I got the vibe of “I want to delve deeper into this show, but that’s so last season, there’s a bunch of new things to catch up with!” from fellow fans.

          Haha. That does seem to be the vibe, doesn’t it? I know that a lot of people have moved on from the forums that I personally tend to use, and there, people move on within weeks of a season ending. Unless a show is big enough that people will click when someone posts about the extras that come with the BD releases etc, though you might not notice it if you’re not in the circles that do so–for example, a lot of fan translations seem to be posted on tumblr, but that’s far too decentralised for me to keep track of!

          This is also purely anecdotal observation, but I did note one thing that seems unique to the Western fandom: the necessity to rank things. I mean, you could see character popularity polls or rankings in manga or anime magazine, but not in the exact serious nature and frequency that the Western fandom does. I don’t think it’s inherently a good or a bad thing, but that may have some causal relationship with the whole ‘broad not deep’ thing. This actually extends beyond just anime fandom, as I often see similar practice (‘Power Rankings’) in Western sports fandom and even major media outlets like ESPN, where they made additional subjective/abstract rankings in addition to actual performance-based rankings. Kind of baffling when I first encountered it.

          Haha – very true! I remember wondering what the heck “APRs” were when I first saw them on twitter. But when I finally figured it out, I realised straightaway that I simply wasn’t watching enough anime each season to be able to join in, anyway. I’m also not entirely sure I see the value in it, because my initial reactions to any episode can change with a second viewing, or even a few episodes down the track. For example, Kabaneri‘s opening episode left the biggest impression on me last season, but I watched it again as the series wound down and wondered if I’d be able to remember the effect it had on me for my 12 Days of Anime posts!

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  3. saras says:

    Joker Game is a gift that keeps on giving, if one follows all the twitters and tumblrs that explain, tease out, or interpret different parts of the show!

    This is why I enjoyed seeing how you investigated if the voyage timeline was actually feasible. Thanks for doing the research.Although the timeline was only barely feasible, I appreciate it when shows do their research and are historically accurate. Kudos to the writers, researchers and dedicated fans. Do share us your insights and thoughts on Joker Game, Karice, when you find the time🙂

    I do wonder how much the novel actually touches on sensitive political matters though. I can understand not wanting to delve into or explore those issues, which doesn’t mean those issues are not worth exploring. It’s just that personally I need different approaches to enjoy fiction purely as entertainment or fiction as serious commentary and I’m wondering if the Joker GAme novels are more the former than the latter. Ah, but of course, you are welcome to enjoy the novels however you like!

    Also, Yuuki in the 1940s was a busy guy…some mental and physical stamina he must’ve had.

    Like

    • karice says:

      Apologies for such a late reply! Been really busy lately…

      Although the timeline was only barely feasible, I appreciate it when shows do their research and are historically accurate. Kudos to the writers, researchers and dedicated fans. Do share us your insights and thoughts on Joker Game, Karice, when you find the time:)

      To be honest, I have absolutely no idea if the writing staff did the research! Though I’d like to think they did, because it was the first thing that struck me when I saw that chart on twitter, like “is this actually possible??” ^^;

      I don’t really have any more thoughts and insights on Joker Game, unfortunately, because I really don’t have the time to go looking through all of those blogs and twitter accounts! But if I ever get around to the novels, I might write a post on that.

      Also, Yuuki in the 1940s was a busy guy…some mental and physical stamina he must’ve had.

      I think that traveling by cruise ship is a lot easier on the body than traveling around by air is today. I mean, they had weeks at a time to focus on themselves–reading, thinking, breathing in the fresh ocean air etc. As long as they didn’t get seasick, of course!

      Like

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