Anime: Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance
Original Run: Jul 11, 2014 to Sep 26, 2014
Genres: Psychological, Thriller, Mystery
Tokyo is shaken up by a series of bombings by a hitherto unheard of terrorist group, Sphinx, which seems to consist of only two teenage boys. Sphinx’s bombings are remarkable not only for the lack of a body count but also the riddles they send to the police prior to each bombing. But while public reaction to the duo varies, the Japanese police are extremely cautious of the obvious connection between Sphinx and the two who stole plutonium from a nuclear plant six months prior to the attacks.
Meanwhile, Mishima Lisa, a meek girl disenchanted with the world, is abruptly drawn into the dangerous world of her two new classmates who are not what they claim to be.
You can find my thoughts on individual episodes here.
Terror in Resonance is a hard one to evaluate. I had high expectations of it and while I would hardly call the anime a disappointment, the fact remains that those expectations weren’t really met. The premise is one that’s undoubtedly interesting. A story focusing on the perspective of two teenage terrorists is one that stands out even amongst the usual anti-hero fare. And to be fair, it delivers in that regard as well. But on the whole, the show has negatives that are only just balanced out by the positives.
The first few episodes that introduce our mysterious protagonists and then turn to the cat and mouse game between them and a dedicated detective are the best part of the show with the exception of the finale. It’s quite engaging to see their careful planning and execution run the police ragged. The teenage duo, Nine and Twelve, manage to seem sinister without crossing the line into outright evil. It’s implied early on that there’s more to their actions than mindless destruction, a fact further reinforced by the telling lack of a body count in the bombings. Shibazaki, a sharp detective who looks anything but sharp, makes a perfect if fairly generic foil to Nine and Twelve.
Things start to fall apart around halfway through the anime, with the introduction of Five, a girl who’s connected to Nine and Twelve’s shadowed past. Much like the show, Five has a lot of potential but the best we get from it is a complicated chess game that only seemed ridiculous in the end. For most of the story, she and her cohorts are almost laughably evil and add nothing memorable to the show. Even Shibazaki is pushed to the background for a while as they focus on Five’s antics and the show suffers for it.
It’s only during the final episode that Terror in Resonance brings back the promise it first showed. It might seem ridiculous that Nine and Twelve went to the lengths that they did for the reason they finally reveal but the emotional aspect of it resonated (hah!) with me. The humans desire to be remembered after death shines through in their final moments. They fight against the system that tried to erase them in order to leave a mark in the world that they truly did exist, and manage to get some revenge in the process. The finale alone is worth the less than impressive events prior to the end.
I do have one more issue with this and that’s the way Mishima Lisa’s character is treated at the very end. From the beginning, she’s shown as a person with her own problems. She finds an escape of sorts in Nine and Twelve. So to see so little of her after they’re gone without anything other than a few lines of information of how her life changed – or even if it changed – afterwards is nothing short of disappointing. She should have been given just a little more attention.
There are only a few characters of lasting importance in this anime and among them, only half are genuinely engaging. The teenage terrorists Nine and Twelve, their accomplice Lisa and the detective Shibazaki are part of this group. Others are not all that impressive or memorable.
Nine and Twelve, long-time friends and self-proclaimed brothers, couldn’t be more different. Nine is the brain of the duo. He’s outwardly cold and calculating but in actuality, he’s kinder than first impressions may suggest. He’s driven towards an outrageous goal that he has only a limited time to complete and his ironclad determination to get it done leaves him intolerant of mistakes or unnecessary setbacks. That said, he can be an unpleasant a person at times, shown mostly in his treatment of Lisa. It’s only towards the end that Nine actually starts smiling or generally acting his young age. On the other hand, Twelve is the brawn to Nine’s brain and seems to handle more of the physical assignments required from them. Though he initially seems more than a little unhinged, he ultimately turns out to be a kind but reckless boy who’s much nicer than his companion. Twelve develops a lot through his interaction with Lisa, even coming to regard her life as more important than their goal.
There are only two women of significance in this story: Lisa and Five. One is an old friend of the boys while another is a new acquaintance. Lisa, whose life at home and school is far from pleasant, is a meek and quiet girl who’s accidentally dragged into terrorism. But her general distaste for the world – her mother is overprotective and disturbingly paranoid and she endures frequent bullying – causes her to latch on to the two of them quite fast. In fact, she seems at times to exhibit an almost childish enthusiasm for destroying the world. But mostly, she’s just a lost girl who seems to find the time spent with Nine and Twelve helpful in her own life. The anime never makes it clear how she’s coping in the end but the final glimpse of Lisa paints brighter picture than the earlier ones. Five, on the other hand, is seven shades of crazy and has no issues flaunting it. Obsessed with Nine and an unfinished chess game, she spends all of her screen time making manic expressions and generally being a pain. Her only scene that has any impact is her death, which has an odd sort of grace to it.
There are a number of police officers who show up to combat Nine and Twelve but only Shibazaki and to a lesser extent, Homura, have any importance. Shibazaki has been forced to give up his badge and work in the archives for trying to do the right thing but the Sphinx case gets him back on duty. Being a second generation survivor of Hiroshima, he has a personal investment in stopping the boys from using that stolen plutonium. Shibazaki is a smart guy and owns the screen whenever he’s on it. He plays a key role in Sphinx’s plan and his own journey to the bitter truth is an interesting one. Homura, a younger detective, starts out as hotheaded and irritating but matures along the way and is a good enough character by the end.
Art and Music:
Terror in Resonance has extremely fluid animation, which is most notable in the first episode itself. While the character designs are nothing special, the dark and muted colors chosen are perfectly suited to the overall tone of the narrative.
The opening theme, Trigger by Yuuki Ozaki, is absolutely enchanting. Both the lyrics and the visuals maintain their mesmerizing quality with each listening, and the track as a whole sounds deceptively soothing. The ending theme is Dare ka, Umi wo by Aimer and though it’s not as striking as the OP, it’s still a good song. The OST is the soft and melancholic kind which the anime makes good use of during key moments.
An anime that had a lot of potential but used only a fraction of it. Despite its faults, the story and characters have enough to them to make the overall experience worthwhile.