We’re still very much in the feeling out stages with Terror in Resonance, I think, which is interesting for such a short series. I’ve been trying to decide who the main character or characters of this show are, but that’s probably the wrong question because there doesn’t seem to be a single center of focus. Rather, we’re seeing a study of a chain of events (almost in the form of a recollection from some point in the future) from three main perspectives – Sphinx, Lisa, and Shibasaki. Each of them brings their own particular viewpoint to the process, and the tone of the series shifts quite dramatically depending on whose head we’re inside at any given moment.
While the narrative structure of this episode was somewhat similar to that of last week’s, this one was very much focused on filling in the blanks with Shibasaki. In many ways his story is quite cliched – a slightly roguish and eccentric former ace cop (“The Razor”) who’s had his career wrecked by poking his nose where the higher-ups don’t want noses poked, only to be recalled to the front lines when the cops aren’t able to handle the crisis. We have seen this many, many times in many mediums (including anime) but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be brought off successfully if it’s told with a measure of panache and the protagonist is an engaging personality. And so far, I’d give Zankyou no Terror pretty high marks on that score.
We got another video from Sphinx, another Oedipal riddle, another bomb and another battle of wits this week, and normally I’d be pretty worried that the series might be falling into a weekly pattern. I don’t want to see this repeating itself over and over, but I’m not overly concerned because my sense is that this is a transitional episode, one which brings the setup phase of the story to a close and ushers in the next. If I’m wrong it could be a bit of a problem (and I would feel better knowing who’s doing the writing) but I don’t think I am. We’ll know one way or the other next week.
The revelations about Shibasaki’s background – that he was exiled to the archives for refusing to accept the “official story” (it doesn’t get any more cliched than that) about the suicide of a Diet member – seem to suggest he’s the perfect casting for what Nine and Twelve are looking for. What seems destined to happen is for Shibasaki to follow a trail of breadcrumbs the boys leave for him, a trail which leads back to the institution from which they escaped. Rather than being upset that Shibsaki solves their riddle about the ancient (pre-Shinto, in fact) Japanese God Arahabaki and and the Shirahige Jinja next to which they’ve hidden their latest bomb, and the fact that the police have connected it to the Plutonium theft, the lads are genuinely pleased. One might posit that they’re simply eager to get into a fun battle of wits with a worthy opponent, but I think it’s more likely that they were trolling for someone smart enough to help them expose something the government is presumably extremely anxious to avoid seeing exposed.
The issue of morality as it applies to Nine and Twelve is both the most fascinating aspect of Zankyou no Terror and its biggest potential problem. There’s been a determined lack of focus on the loss of life from their first two bomb attacks – in fact it was expressly stated that no one died in their destruction of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (which is preposterous). If this is nothing more than what it appears to me, I have to call BS here for trying to have it both ways – no matter what mitigating factors the boys have in their past, these are terrorist acts and innocent people will have died from them.
What gives me hope that Watanabe (or whoever is writing this series) understands this is Shibasaki being from Hiroshima, and thus quite personally connected to the notion of using the threat of a nuclear attack for personal and political means. He’s not going to soft-pedal what Nine and Twelve are doing, but the real conflict in the series may come when Shibasaki uncovers the truth of what the boys endured (and that seems quite brutal and inhuman indeed) and must weigh that against the evil that the boys themselves are perpetrating to expose it. He and Lisa are both going to be caught in the middle here most likely, albeit in different ways, and that seems destined to to drive much of the personal drama in Zankyou no Terror.
Plot aside, you know you’re going to get superlative execution in this series every week. With Yoko Kanno’s unusually wide-ranging soundtrack a constant but subtle supporting presence, Watanabe as always tells a story with pictures, managing in his particular way to be unobtrusive and minimal yet incredibly distinctive. I especially loved the way he presented Shibasaki’s memories of his childhood in Hiroshima, a “city full of old people” who disappeared in the summer, leaving the streets lonely and desolate for the child Shibasaki, as well as his low-key yet chilling depiction of the horrors the young Oedipus endured – left to die by his father in the forest with a nail through his foot. It’s no coincidence that Arata and Touji chose him as the centerpiece of their first two riddles, and their story promises to reveal dark and terrible details with each passing week. Let’s hope it ends more happily than the original did.