Zankyou no Terror – 05

Zankyou no Terror - 05 -4 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -22 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -24

Color me intrigued (and a bit irked).

An interesting thing happened with Zankyou no Terror this week.  The series got sillier and less believable, and became considerably more engaging in the process.  That whole heart/head equation that I’ve been talking up with this series is by no means an either-or situation – some shows are able to connect in both areas, and a great many more manage to do neither.  But so far, with this one they do seem to have an inverse relationship.

However you choose to look at it, even if there were elements of this episode of Terror in Resonance that irritated me, on the whole it was probably the most entertaining episode of the series.  We can start with Lisa’s impact, because that’s what the episode did.  Her relationship with Nine and Twelve is easily the most conventional part of the series, but also its most recongizably human.  This is fairly normal stuff for the most part – she’s a runaway with nowhere to go, lonely and desperate.  Twelve gets emotionally attached and ends up bringing her home, where her physical collapse pretty much precludes getting rid of her despite Nine’s misgivings (which as we shall see, are not misplaced). It’s practically a slice-of-life comedy.

Except it’s not, because as we know life with Arata and Taichi Touji is anything but normal.  And Lisa’s charming clumsy mistakes can have pretty serious consequences, like nearly blowing up the apartment by playing with what she shouldn’t have.  When she turns her attention to cooking, she nearly burns the place down.  Lisa has an innately sympathetic quality to her, and she does bring a level of connectedness Zankyou no Terror when she’s on-screen that the show otherwise lacks.  But I’m ready at this point to start actually getting to know her a bit – at the moment she’s used more as a device than as a real character.

There’s no question now that Arata and Touji are being painted as victims and idealists who prioritize never killing anyone.  I don’t question their victim status but the notion that they could have done the things they have with no one being killed – and that they could believe it was possible – stretches credulity a lot.  Nevertheless that’s what we’re asked to accept, and this week the bomb is inside a fire extinguisher on a subway car on the thinly-disguised Marunouchi Line.  The “FEZ 5889” riddle is a bit of a softball, but that’s on purpose – the boys want to make sure Shibasaki solves it in plenty of time to disarm the bomb and everyone can be safe and happy.  And they want him to connect the fact (which he does) that the placement of the bombs is connected by the heads of the agencies that were targeted – all members of “Rising Peace”, a group supposedly created to further connections between political leaders and the people, and now peopled with numerous corporate titans and heavyweight politicians.

Well, that’s an obvious crossroads moment if ever there was one, and dots are starting to be connected.  Shibasaki finds himself at odds with the secretive powers that be once again, especially when they commandeer the investigation and order that the First Investigative Unit leave the removal of the bomb to them.  It soon becomes clear that no one is removing anything, and both Shibasaki and the boys go off their respective deep ends at this notion.  As this is happening all wireless communication mysteriously goes down, leaving the boys unable to disarm the bomb remotely – and they launch a desperate campaign to do so physically, with Twelve racing towards where the car is likely to be and Nine trying to hack into the subway operator’s systems and pinpoint the exact location.  Why, they’re actually heroes!

As absurd as that is – and I do think it’s pretty absurd – it does make for pretty rousing stuff.  And it all seems to be the work of Five (Han Megumi) who’s blown into Tokyo in the company of a blonde English-speaker (did I hear an Australian accent?) and commandeered the entire police operation. Five is pretty out there in shounen villain territory by first impressions – it seems as if she was an inmate of the same institution that the boys were, and she knows Nine’s moves – she’s one step ahead of him and manages to hack into his system as he’s trying to hack into the subway’s.  There may be deeper motives for her wanting to let the bomb actually explode – perhaps to force the boys into the role of murderers or turn the public against them – but without question the most immediate is to lure them into the trap of exposing themselves by trying to stop their own terrorist attack.  Frankly, they don’t earn a whole lot of credibility points by playing right into Five’s hands, and in the end it’s Nine himself that ends up arriving on the scene just as the bomb explodes, shielding a dozing women with his body (so noble!) in a blast that really should have killed him.

Taken collectively, for me all that means Zankyou no Terror has gotten considerably more outlandish and the three main characters all leveled down in terms of competence.  Yet it was also somehow more fun than any of the earlier episodes, and Five’s presence does frame the central mystery in what seems like a very interesting light.  And maybe seeing the boys stumble about a bit humanizes them in a productive way, though I find their horror at the idea of “becoming mass murderers” utterly preposterous.  But maybe there’s a silver lining even in that, and for all their freakish abilities Arata and Youji are typical teenage boys who think they know everything and have a completely unrealistic notion of how the world works.  As for that institution – surely connected to Rising Peace – Five’s presence suggests a breeding and training program for super-kids to serve the super-elites (which she’s currently doing, seemingly) and a profound desire to keep that hidden from the general public.

Zankyou no Terror - 05 -9 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -10 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -11
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -12 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -13 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -14
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -15 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -16 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -17
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -18 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -19 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -20
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -21 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -23 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -25
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -26 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -27 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -28
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -29 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -30 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -31
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -32 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -33 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -34
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -35 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -36 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -37
Zankyou no Terror - 05 -38 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -39 Zankyou no Terror - 05 -40


  1. j

    I don't think 9 and 12 are avoiding casualties because of some moral high ground. Assuming that their terrorist activities are to send out messages, it would be much more prudent to do so without public outcry labeling them as murderers, not to mention civilians are not their target. They are also blowing up infrastructure owned by people involved in shady business, people who they have a bone to pick with. Ideologists, sure, but hardly heroes, and I don't think the writers are trying to make them seem that way anyways. I saw the "heroism" of 9 this episode more as a desperate attempt to maintain their "clean record," as far as terrorists go.

  2. Do you think bystanders in the Government building and beat cops in the Roppongi HQ should be held responsible because the heads of the agencies that administer them are shady?

  3. A

    This is getting into the territory of that discussion in 'Clerks' about the contractors on the second Death Star!

  4. That was a war. This is not. Anyone working on a military base during a shooting war accepts any possible consequences as far as enemy attack.

  5. I

    Whatever way you see it, or whether it was their intention or not, the result of this episode pushed the boys in the audience's eyes, a little more out of the realm of ambiguity, and more into the role of protagonists.
    Once we are given a more centrally evil character and organization to hate, and thus act like clear antagonists, then the boys are no long that bad in our eyes.

    To think of it in terms of comparison, the general audience would rather connect with and think well of a pair that would risk their own lives to stop the bomb (even if they had set it themselves), rather than a person or (organization) that doesn't care if it blows up and kills everyone, as long as they make their point. It's just human nature.

    Also, I don't particularly agree with the whole ulterior motive you think, in regards to why the boys don't want to kill anyone. Even if someone was killed, the public wouldn't be surprised, and they would be angry at the police more so than the terrorists. Through the files that were released, it was clear that the police aren't close to catching them. With the fact that they gave the police a riddle to solve that everyone saw, if someone had died, the outrage would have turned more against the police and that they were too incompetent to save people in time. Nine and Twelve would have known that, if they were simply all about public perception. I think they saved the lives of the people on the train because that is not their goal. Every bomb site, despite it's incredulity, the boys have set it so no one dies. This seem to be a central part to their nature. They want to reveal something, not kill people.

    If anything it was simply to show that they are on a different moral compass than someone like Five and the people she works for, who will do anything in order to keep their secret.

  6. j

    How the general audience views 9 and 12 does not change how the show is written. Shibasaki is willing to play their games, but he's said it before: they are not playing with toys. They got away with not killing any civilians with the previous explosions/bombs, but this episode their plans fell through.

    Here's the thing, 9 and 12, 9 especially, are very exacting in not killing. Does that mean they are empathetic enough to consider other ramifications of their actions? Nothing in the show believes me to say so. They're both very broken humans, they don't understand what "normal" is. Minus the return of 5, their plans pretty much made it "fail-proof" in their eyes so people wouldn't die. It was something they never considered to be a problem. It's not so different from a reckless driver who is confident that he will not crash into someone or end up killing himself: in his mind nobody is going to get hurt.

    In the end, everyone is a little broken. 5, 9, 12, shibasaki, lisa. From the very beginning the show has been cold, and every character no different. What I like about the show is that it's stayed relatively nonjudgmental of it's characters. Everyone has their own motivations and goals, but nobody is straight given the good-guy role. This show is nowhere near as good at displaying this, but breaking bad comes to mind. Walter White was also the protagonist, he also had 'evil' adversaries to outsmart. But in the end, he was just as bad. He risked his family's safety by essentially becoming the next drug kingpin. But did he care? No, because in his mind, he was safe, his family was safe, and Skylar should shut up and accept the money.

  7. I

    No matter how a show is written, if the writer cannot convey that to the audience, then he has failed. It is the audience for whom this was written and it is for them to interpret it. If the audience fails to see what the writer wanted them to see, then he has to make do a better job of conveying that. If not, then he has failed in his job and all that is left is the audience's impression.

    If the writers truly wanted to continue to make them ambiguous and continue for 9 and 12 to remain shaded, then they should not have written in that they had killed ZERO people. That is not an accident and was deliberately written in. They could have easily have kept the two boys as ambigious by having the fatalities stay small, but instead, they have painted the boys as victims of an organization that are trying to reveal said organization in the only way they think can work, all the while said organization is trying to stop them and will kill as many as they need too in order to do so.
    The writers could have the boys just let the bomb go off and then have blamed the police for not being smart enough to solve the riddle. Again, the public would have blamed the police more than the terrorists. However, the writers instead have the boys not give up and had them race all over the city on bike and foot to stop people from being killed. This resonates with the audience, and the writers have made sure of that.

    So, all in all, I think we differ in what we think the writer's actual intention was.

  8. j

    Yes, they killed ZERO people because it was their plan not to kill anyone. What kept their morality ambiguous was the fact that they showed very little concern for anything other than keeping the number of casualties at zero. People still got hurt in the process of their terrorist actions (this was mentioned on the news regarding the first bombing, and we saw people sustaining injuries this episode as well) but I have yet to see 9 or 12 show any sort of remorse. After the explosion this time, 9 didn't seem to be too concerned about all the damage that was caused around him, he only seemed to be concerned that 5 was on their tails.

    Does the show paint the Rising Peace Academy as a villainous organization? Yes.
    Does the writing somehow justify every action 9 and 12 take to fight them? Not that I can see.

    Regarding 9 and 12 racing around looking for the bomb, this actually supports my opinion that they took the lives of humans too lightly. Before 5 came along, they were so sure of their plans working that the price of humans lives were pushed to the back of their mind. The sudden shift in momentum against their favor caught them off guard: "Our actions can actually kill people, this is actually happening." It shows that while their intentions may be "good" they didn't fully comprehend the damage they are capable of causing.

  9. s

    so im assuming it was nine and twelve's seeming portrayal as "good terrorist" that irked you? I dont think that's what this series is trying to do per se; there's been plenty of points in which this show has highlighted that regardless of the harm they are minimizing, what they are doing is still bad and that they are not heroes. Their plan just doesnt involve killing civilians. Oh, and if you watch closely, nine was not enveloped in the explosion, just the heat tampering of the explosion got to him.

  10. H

    It doesn't really explain why they placed an active bomb on a civilian train if their purpose was minimize that risk in the first place whilst sending a message to MPD. If the bomb had been high-jacked by Five though…

  11. s

    its as you said, the bomb was highjacked by five; it was never active to begin with. The cops was suppose to find it and that was all that was meant to happen.

  12. That certainly wasn't how I interpreted the situation. Why would the boys be talking about disarming it remotely if it didn't need to be disarmed in the first place?

  13. g

    Well, they have to be believable as terrorists, still. If they were fake bombs (or bombs, which made harm to ants only), they would be taken as teenagers, who are making terrible jokes. Do you think somebody would investigate deeper or Shibazaki would be called out from his den? But when bombs can do harm, they can demand "Investigate further or else!".

  14. s

    @enzo and Gilraen. The bomb was not a dud or fake; im saying that the bomb wasnt meant to go off as in it would not have gone off if it wasnt for five. Yes, they talked about needing to remotely deactivate it but that's because they could remotely set it off. The bomb wasnt active to begin with as in there wasnt any set time for it to explode. The bomb didnt need disarming until five intervened

  15. H

    Actually there was a set time – Nine was at the ready with phones to deactivate it if the Police failed. They gave the higher ups a set time to figure out and remove the bomb, but Nine trusted Shibazaki alone to figure it out. The boys already sent out the message that they mean business weeks ago, this fourth attempt was merely meant as a message to connect the dots. There was no need to place a real bomb there, just like last week's "info bomb".

  16. H

    But yes, Five did highjack the situation somewhat. But I think it would have been more credible (and dramatic) on the writer's behalf if Five/MPD higher ups replaced the boy's "fake" bomb with an active one.

    I mean, that'd be OMG insane thriller. And really draw a clearer divide between "good" and "evil" players.

  17. s

    very true I missed that part of the ep due to the source i was watching it from being a bit wonky; i was just about to correct myself haha. But either way, the bomb being hijacked was the main problem. Their contingency plan would have progressed swimmingly otherwise. Like Gilraen said, they had to sell the severity of the situation by placing a live bomb in the train

  18. H

    Yeah, I'm just saying they already demonstrated to the public/police their "severity" with the previous bombings. Last week the managed to sell their faux info bomb as a real one.

  19. s

    but this is a different situation; last weeks "bomb" had a different purpose. Cant get repetitive on your enemies now can you? 🙂

  20. H

    There's definitely been a deliberate pattern to their riddles. Sphinx's drive isn't to murder innocents but communicate pieces of a larger message. Perhaps setting a live bomb says something about the boys' arrogance or deluded sense of omnipotence. Five was a right kick in the arse in that case.

  21. There are several crucial points here, but it all stems back to this – if Arata and Taichi thought that they weren't risking lives by doing what they were doing, they're wrong. If indeed no one was killed in any of their stunts, it's pure luck.

    The key for me, really, is how the story treats that fact. If it's presented that they're two clueless child geniuses who had no sense of just how reckless they were being – and that recklessness is called out as a major plot point – then I have no issues. If it's ignored, and we're simply expected to treat them as noble victims who never intended to hurt anybody and did nothing wrong, that will be a huge blunder in my view, and undermine the show's credibility in a big way.

  22. s

    @Hangman and Enzo
    and that's what i meant in a previous comment when i said that i feel that the series is not trying to portray them as "good terrorist" (even shibasaki/shibazaki's comment about terrorism this ep sort of highlight's my point). These kids are essentially using the "gifts" they received from that institution as payback for what they felt those higher-ups that they are targeting took away from them. It's a sort of vengeance that they are trying to reap upon them but they are slowly (with this ep) starting to learn that they cant control everything, and that there's more at stake with their little game than they originally thought. They come off more as ignorant geniuses who are victims of the hubris and with barely any perception of just how reckless they are being (having actually given more thought to the previous eps that have passed, they are a lot of layers to this narrative that are easy to miss in regards to the plot)

  23. B

    Well, Watanabe did say that he wanted to highlight the immaturity and volatility of teenagers in line with the show's theme of adolescence, so I think you're on the mark on that one. I think the boys' warped idealism can be attributed to their rather twisted upbringing and their (over-?) confidence in their own abilities (and Shibazaki's). I think this (over-) confidence (I think this has been highlighted a few times especially with regard to Nine) is also why they succumbed to Five's trap- at that point she was an unknown third party that nobody expected. Pride comes before fall, I guess.

    I was ready to suspend my disbelief after episode 2 pretty much stated that the lack of casualties was intentional on the boys' part. I figured something as jarring as that would become a plot point, and from what I've seen it's been used to good effect. So I'm not complaining. I don't think the show has become any less intellectually engaging than it was, because, the series requested for a lot of our suspension of disbelief from the near-beginning.

    I believe that this episode pretty much crystallises that the fact that there's a certain ambiguity to the three leads that I really appreciate. In a lot of show, the characterisation is usually such that you get a grip on the character's personality within the first three episodes, but here their actions often leave you wondering. One moment, Nine and Twelve are behaving like adults beyond their years, the next they acting like the immature teenagers they would be if they'd been raised normally. Lisa, too- a sweet, vulnerable girl who's ironically happiest with a pair of terrorists. She was practically chirpy this episode. And the transition is smooth enough that you never get the feeling that they're acting out of character. Human nature is- as my Lit teacher would say it- amorphous, and the show displays that very well.

    And Enzo, don't be too mad. The fire knocked Nine out and gave him several small burn marks, so it's better- and more realistic- than him coming out unscathed.

    (Also, I know that I'm just being petty and probably paranoid about this one, but the fact that you said that they've been levelled down bothers me. The implication is that they've been dumbed down, and I don't think that what happened here- they've just met someone who's more than capable of matching them toe-for-toe.)

  24. On your last point, I think the way they danced helplessly to Five's tune definitely levels them down in stature from where they were. For me, no doubt about it. As to the explosion, the reason I called that out is that it made me wonder if these kids might have some superhuman physical abilities we haven't been made privy to yet.

    I think the key to connecting the circuit here is indeed accepting the notion that these kids are intentionally being portrayed as much less unusual than it first appeared – just a couple of boys in over their heads who happen to have some exceptional ability to wreak havoc thanks to their strange childhoods.

  25. A

    I think the reasons Five was able to outwit Nine and Twelve so easily are probably down to these. Firstly, she's had years more training/indoctrination/whatever in that institute than they had. It's very probable she has superior skills.
    Secondly, she's supported by a powerful secret organisation which can order the police to leave the bomb alone and is not above allowing a bomb to go off in the underground to make their enemies look bad.

    So it's not that surprising she was able to outwit them, although next time she won't have the element of surprise.

    I'm also interested to see where Shibazaki goes from here now he's joined up the dots.

  26. I

    I don't know if it's the fact that she better or smarter than them, I think it was more so that she caught them unawares. At the time, remember they eased up because they wanted the police to solve it and the police have been having a hard time lately. However, they never expected someone with their same skill level, to come on the scene. Despite Shibazaki's skills, he is still "not one of them", while Five is.

    Interesting that at the end, neither of the boys seem surprised that Five is alive. They just kind of realized and accepted that she'll be facing them now.

    As for Shibazaki, with the Rising Peace Academy and the Americans taking over, what will he do? We'll have see if maybe he can outmanuver them.

  27. R

    And here I thought that Terror would give me a straight out breather episode. That humor in the first thirst is nice though, as it really give some nice emotional ground for the latter part, especially the fact that even Nine can make grave mistakes.

    One thing that I am concerned about though is Five's introduction. Not that she is a bad character, but I am a bit worried as to where her plot might head to. It could turn out into something of a Light Yagami vs. L sort of deal where she go on an extended battle of wits with nine, which might overshadow Shibasaki's role.

  28. I see people all over the place comparing Five to L, and I just don't get it – it makes me wonder if they watched either show. L was the good guy in Death Note, even if a lot of viewers never figured that out. Maybe Five will end up being the good guy here, but that dynamic sure isn't presenting itself yet.

    It's my sincere hope that Zankyou doesn't go down the Death Note path – not that I dislike DN, but it's entertaining pulp IMHO rather than anything especially memorable or brilliant. But if I had to compare anyone to L, it would seem that Shibasaki makes a lot more sense.

  29. R

    I don't see the comparisons between Fivr and L either, it's just that that scenario is the first one that pops out here. But I would agree with you that Terror is better off staying away from the Death Note route. it already has plenty of intriguing themes set up here and I want them to explore those fully rather than just doing a detective chase story.

  30. C

    Note for future articles: it's ShibaZaki 😉 (I noticed that you wavered between S and Z in the last article before going full out S in this one, haha)

  31. That is incorrect. I have only used "Shibasaki" – any references to "Shibazaki" have come from the commenters.

    The second Kanji in Shiba***'s name – 崎 – is normally pronounced as "saki" rather than "zaki" and that's how it sounds to my ears. It's been Romanized both ways on various websites, but the normal pronunciation would be "Shibasaki" and that's what I'm hearing.

  32. C

    Hmm, you're right — I could've sworn you said "Shibazaki" before but I guess I was mistaken. Either way though, the last episode has him type him "Shibazaki" to get the password. And while I don't really speak Japanese, especially compared to you, I thought the initial voiceless consonant has a tendency to turn into a voiced consonant. For example, Kamogawa = Kamo + Kawa, but turns into Kamogawa… and the surname Aizawa (相沢) = Ai + sawa. But at the same time, Aisawa exists ( with the same kanji), and so does Shibasaki… But since the man himself types "Shibazaki," I'm assuming that's the canon version he chose. 🙂

  33. j

    The Zankyou no Terror official website unambiguously gives his name as 'Shibazaki', in English. Couch Tomato's point about voiceless consonants becoming voiced is also valid.

  34. Tell that the thousands of "Shibasaki" living in Japan. And Miyasaki… And Kawasaki…

    Nevertheless, if the official website lists it as Shibazaki I'll switch to that. Not that they don't make errors in romanization on official websites all the time, but they usually end up becoming canon anyway.

  35. Z

    Let's just call him Detective Dude.

  36. Z

    Or SleuthmasterG.

  37. S

    This may seem a bit far stretched, but it reminds me of Nelson Mandela's autobiography, where he described how the Umkhonto we Sizwe of the ANC operated, by planting bombs against the South African government. I guess depending on the viewpoint, it is easily understandable why people saw their cause as "righteous" and why the government labeled them as terrorists. Mandela himself really emphasized the fact that they tried to avoid as many casualties as possible, but this is of course just wishful thinking. This was the only thing that really left a bitter taste in me in his otherwise amazing achievements and beliefs.

    Imho playing along this kind of game only lets you stay on the righteous track as long as no one is hurt. But with casualties as a consequence of one's own actions, the whole thing just turns plain ugly. It may seem in retrospect that such actions were justifiable, but this is strongly influenced by "the winners" of any conflict, which then decide what is right and what is wrong in the end. And in most cases of course the own responsibilities and crimes are simply washed clean and labelled as necessary sacrifice.

    I'm kind of curious how this anime handles this theme. No matter how good this anime is, its kind of ridiculous that they are planting bombs all over the place and still no one was killed so far.

  38. S

    What I should add: By no means I am saying that their actions are justifiable in this anime (even if there are no casualties so far), since if you go as far as planting explosives, its nothing more than attempted murder of random bystanders. I am criticising how "innocent" these boys are still portrayed, by letting them not facing the consequence of murdering someone with their actions.

  39. Z

    "Her relationship with Nine and Twelve is easily the most conventional part of the series, but also its most recongizably human."
    See this is what I don't like, conventional feel good elements getting in the way of doing something bold and new. Lisa's lack of skill in the kitchen is really not endearing herself to me.

  40. l

    I agree with this.

    I was a lot more interested in Lisa when she was an emotionally broken teenager. I feel most of her behavior this episode made her appear rather like a 'generic cute heroine' cardboard cut-out.

    I get that the writers are probably trying to create a character to stand opposite to the boys and all their smarts. Sadly, I got the impression of her being a bit dumb this episode (whereas previously I just felt that she was shy and didn't care about anything – including herself).

    I'm hoping this bad impression will disappear with future episodes.

  41. m

    This show is starting to remind me of Spiral, which is never a good thing. Overly "special" kids with the ability to set up the most ridiculous of scenarios down to calculating the most minute details and the most random of variables battling it out to expose an evil conspiracy. I don't think they are supposed to be "terrorists" or "evil" or even just relying on luck and being overconfident. I think the problem is that they are supposed to be "just that damn good" to the degree that the only one who could even catch onto their plans is Shibazaki, and even he is just playing into their hands in doing so. The only match for them: well obviously that would just HAVE to be another one of the "special" children. This is quickly approaching the point of me dropping it, which is bad since I've never dropped a show after the halfway mark before.

  42. m

    It's just going way too over the top for a mindgame suspense show, and going into Mirai Nikki levels of ridiculousness, but without all of the things that made that show awesome. So basically as I said before, it's Spiral. Not to mention including lines like "If you use the plutonium I won't forgive you!" Oh, ok. Good to know guy I never met before who I'm using as a pawn. I'll totally reconsider my whole approach now. I wouldn't want you to not be able to forgive me…..just pathetic writing there. I know it's nitpicking one single line, but it's just absurd. And the addition of 5 is not working for me. She just reeks of clichéd lines and bringing things to an unacceptably ridiculous level. At least with 9 and 12 you could say their whole "we don't kill civilians bc we are the good guys" thing was nothing more than hubris on their part, and that would even tie into the whole Oedipus thing they have going on. But for their hubris to only be shown, and their plans foiled (almost), by another special kid from the same program they were from is bad. It's as if the writers forgot what they were intending to do and just started adlibbing.

  43. H

    You know, I don't think Shibazaki expected them to take him seriously when he said that. It was just a moment of him losing his emotional restraint, that all. Nothing else, really. And I don't think you should dismiss Five when she's only had about two lines in this episode.

    Actually, I'm surprised that all the complaints about the show's lack of realism are just starting to surface. It's been stated since episode 1 or 2 that the boys intend on having zero casualties, and that they went to great lengths to make sure the number of people harmed was minimised. I can understand the unhappiness, but I was expecting it to have been expressed sooner and to have died out by now.

    What you think the writers are trying to do depends on how you interpret the story, I guess. In an interview, Watanabe said he was essentially going for a thriller with an underlying coming-of-age theme. I certainly see hints of that, but whether it's been weaved nicely into the narrative is highly dependent on opinion- this seems to be one of those shows where objective judgement is ridiculously difficult. The writing isn't perfect, but I think it's been decent so far. This is admittedly my first Watanabe show (Bebop came out when I was still a toddler, Champloo didn't really appeal to me, and I'm on the fence about watching Space Dandy), so I came in blind and with no expectations whatsoever. If the show wants suspension of disbelief to tell a good story, I'll give it that for the time being and see how things turn out in the long run.

    All in all, even if the show flops both commercially and critically (I hear it's not doing too well in Japan with regard to the former- Enzo, can you shed some light on the matter?), I think it'll be hard to deny the sheer ambition of this series. You don't see shows that deal with terrorism, Iet alone openly talk about the World War 2 bombings and make thinly-veiled acknowledgements of events like 9/11 and the 1995 Tokyo Subway sarin gas attacks. Perhaps Watanabe has bitten off more than he can chew,but he's certainly passionate about this- he's been working on this since 2007.

  44. m

    I' can accept that argument at least enough to give that a pass. I'm not too keen on that line, but as I said it's nitpicking and it hasn't happened frequently yet so you're right it prob wasn't meant that way. Still not great, but doubtful that it was intended as such. It just worries me that it's indicative of more to come (especially with 5 out there), but that's pretty baseless until it happens.

    I've also never seen Bebop/Champloo, but he's also been a part of Kids on the Slope (which I loved) and Working (also loved). I'm willing to take Bebop's popularity as a realistic assessment of it's quality, and give Watanabe all the credit he deserves, but this show isn't doing it for me. The previous 4 eps left me with no attachment whatsoever to the characters, which is usually the opposite of shows that I like. I would rather have bad plot than bad characters. If he truly is going for a coming of age story here, then he's doing a poor job of setting the 2 main guys up.

    I agree also that the show was very ambitious. I like that they reference old Greek Mythology and Greek tragedies that I've studied in school. I also love a good suspense thriller and having your main characters be terrorists is a very unique and interesting starting point. All the references you listed above are things that I liked. It's cool to see him touch on things no one else is willing to even acknowledge have happened. The problem is trying to make them pure "good guy" and it coming off as them being either too perfect, too naïve, or both. It's ok for them to think they could avoid hurting innocent bystanders if that was a plot point. If that "hubris" (keeping with the Oedipus theme) led to a big mistake it would've been interesting and would've humanized the MC more than stopping 5 did for me. I would've liked to see that bomb go off and watch the characters have to deal with the serious consequences of their actions. Instead it's used to show how skilled these "special" kids are, and how heroic the "terrorists: are in being willing to sacrifice themselves for civilians. That was a poor choice because it pigeonholes the whole show into being something it shouldn't be. I don't want to say shouldn't as if I'm the judge of such things, but into something not as good as it could be. Plus 5's ability to know every single thing is way too much for me to swallow. I know she knows 9 well, but it's borderline "I was able to fool you bc I knew you would eat exactly 8 grains of rice on your third chopstick bite at exactly 5:05:04.34 which would mean your glucose levels would fall at exactly…" you get the point I'm trying to make without the sarcasm.

    It just seemed like he was going for a realism of sorts, and now with 5 the craziness of the kids skills is being jacked up and it's losing all semblance of what it looked like it was doing before.

  45. I must've missed something – what does Working have to do with Watanabe?

  46. s


    your argument almost makes it sound that you think these kids intelligence and ability is being over-exaggerated in relation to the narrative to which i would have to disagree. Besides some things here and there, the show has not jumped the shark in terms of what these kids can do and they have not been portrayed as perfect OP characters like something out of Mahouka or something. I dont know, but i cant see how those critiques you have made factor into making the narrative and direction weak. Not that this series is perfect as i have my own nitpicks but yours make it seem like the narrative and directorial effort is making the cohesiveness of the series fall apart and i just dont see that or how those critiques you made would factor into that. Maybe i,myself am just having difficulty understanding what you are trying to drive at, to which if that's the case then that's just a fault completely of my own.

    Oh, and did you mention WORKING because it could be argued that it's has a sort of coming-of-age vibe and you are comparing that to Zankyou, rather than implying that it's a work of watanabe?

  47. m

    I don't mean the direction is what's bad, but the whole setting of these kids being that skilled is crazy. In the setting the fact that no one has died yet wasn't luck, but bc they planned it out that well. It seems like they know everything that everyone will do down to the most minute of details. There's a difference between knowing someone, and knowing every single move they will make. That could easily be my own misinterpretation of where the story was going from the beginning, and it could have always been meant to be completely unrealistic. If that's true then, while not being something I enjoy, it wouldn't be a case of bad narrative. It just seemed like they were attempting a bit more realism (I don't mean to say it was ever that realistic) but these kids are starting to resemble Jason Bourne, and I thought they were supposed to just be regular kids with a grudge. It seemed as if it were going to be luck that they were successful in not killing up until now, but now it seems to be trending towards the special kids all being that overly skilled at everything. 9/12 are so good that the entire country of Japan has no way of getting close to them, but then one from their "group" completely thwarts their every move? How are they not overly skilled? To make the point as concise/clear as I can it seemed (to me for whatever that's worth) that it was headed towards them just being intelligent kids with the element of surprise on their side that were about to be in over their head. Now instead of writing it that way (which would be a difficult) they have taken it in the direction of now there's this "academy" or whatever it is that churns out perfect beings who no one can possibly match up to….except other kids from that same place. It feels like weak writing bc now you can explain anything or go anywhere without limits based on them just being that good.

    Haha no I wasn't trying to say that. I had been watching Working again, and for some reason I guess it just got in my head while I was all over the place commenting on different eps that Working had something to do with what I was saying. Which still makes no sense, and I'm not sure how that popped in there, but I appreciate the stretch you made to try to save me there Sonic. Unfortunately that was just me being retarted.

  48. w

    Isn't this that case where less-competent characters are always more endearing? Fallibility goes a long way..

    I'll admit, I've finally come round to actively enjoying Zankyou. I kind of like that Shibasaki seems to constantly go to his gamer buddy for counsel. There's something slightly Holmes/Watson-y about it.

Leave a Comment