I’m going to keep this pretty brief, as I’m starting to see Zankyou no Terror as a bit of a broken record. Just how much this week’s episode resembled last week’s episode is pretty astonishing: really good first half featuring Shibazaki, and then a ridiculous tangent when Five gets involved. At least we know there’s no danger of that happening in the finale.
That first half was indeed quite good, and it’s become absolutely clear that this series is far and away at its best when it involves Shibazaki talking to a suspect and political intrigue. The conversation with Mamiya Shunzou was another interesting one, and it reflects the emerging point of view in the series – one that seems to condemn both American and Japan in pretty uncertain terms. Mamiya’s words certainly echo those of nationalist zealots like Mashima Yukio, the writer and director who committed seppuku along with a young assistant after a failed coup in 1970 – views that seem strongly in favor with the current administration of Shinzou Abe. This is the part of the series that seems least unrealistic – “changes to interpretation of the constitution” were even specifically mentioned this week. To be blunt, the notion of this administration getting it’s hands into something like the Athena Project and secretly building nukes doesn’t seem at all far-fetched.
As to the Americans, they come off more of less as cloddish bullies here – pushing the Japanese authorities around with a sense of entitlement on their own soil. There’s an obvious glee in depicting them twisted around Five’s little finger (though ultimately her tactics prove too roguish even for them), but it certainly makes sense that their interest in this case is primarily in catching the Japanese government red-handed with clandestine nukes. Their role in the story is something of a cross of big bad and comic relief.
As to the second half, it was a disappointment – but by now my views on that subject are well known. I’m just really disappointed in where the story has gone with all of the major characters bar Shibazaki. And when Five gets involved, things get so ridiculous that the story loses all credibility almost instantly. And in the end, I really don’t see what point she even served in the story – her presence feels like a gimmick. Was she in love with Nine? Was she doing all this to finally “beat”him? Did she stage her Rambo raid at the end with the specific intent of freeing him? Right now it just seems like a waste, more or less – I fail to see any way in which she meaningfully advanced the plot or any of the characters arcs, much less in a positive direction.
At this point, at least, we shouldn’t have a Five-induced action movie ending – though we might get one anyway, just without her involvement. I’m still interested in the ultimate fate of Nine and Twelve, though not as much as I’d like to be, and I’d like to see the lid blown off the Athena conspiracy. I think an obvious question is whether Nine and Twelve are ultimately fated to be struck down by whatever illness – presumably fatal – afflicted Five, as has been strongly suggested. My expectations are pretty muted at this stage, but there’s still enough potential here to have hopes for a good finale.