Teasing out the Joker Game Timeline
July 28, 2016 8 Comments
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.
|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
|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.
|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!