This post feels like a long time coming in some ways. For now, I am closing out the Shinichiro Watanabe arc on Mechanical Anime Reviews. with Terror in Resonance. You know, until Watnabe creates another series in 4 years or so. Shinichiro always feels like he is on some kind of timer when it comes to his creative projects. This is the only series with Shinichiro Watanabe behind the helm, because I don’t count the Blade Runner short in particular for this, that I haven’t covered yet. This is such an interesting one to talk about too because, besides Kids on the Slope, this is the most Japanese thing he has ever created. Even then there are flourishes to other cultures, Iceland in particular, because Watanabe directing and Yoko Kanno music? This is a case where you know you are in for something big here because it’s Watanabe.
Shout Outs and About the Series
Finally, this is the second time that I’ve watched this short series and I am glad that I did because my first impressions of it were very meh. That was when it was airing and I just feel like I missed out on a lot of aspects that just didn’t work for me back then. Through #AniTwitWatches created by Jon Spencer who are just wrapping up a watch on twitter for Sound of the Sky. A series that I just didn’t love as much as other people, so I didn’t join in at all to watch it again. But people are going through it right now and it’s still pretty fun to see people’s thoughts on the show even if I just can’t get myself to really care enough about it either. Anyway, Terror in Resonance.
I feel like this series is what I feel is Shinichiro Watanabe’s response to something like Death Note and/or Code Geass. To me, there are just too many similarities for me not to say that. It is a series that has people go through different and insane battles of wits. Except this is grounded in a modern world where people have smartphones and can go on live streams. Terror in Resonance starts with two teenage boys called Sphinx, with names of nine and twelve, have stolen a nuclear bomt and threaten to destroy Tokyo. You know, their riddles are solved as they cause one terrorist attack after another across Tokyo. Pretty classic stuff terrorist stuff.
The First Half
Half of the series is a very interesting exchange of information between Sphinx and the detective that came back into the world of crime solving, Shibazaki. A very interesting sort of exchanging of information between them while there is something hidden beneath the surface that we only see a little bit afterwards too. The poor abused girl, Lisa, is also thrown into the mix of this because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go besides the terrorism group. A reason that never came about came across to me until recently. Ok, reasons. One of them feels like Lisa is the last link of humanity between 9, the reserved one, and 12, the more open one, as also a reference to their past too but to me, her true realization occurs in the second half.
I really liked this portion so we can see some cool people play off of each other and there are a lot more hints and foreshadowing in flashbacks of what is to come in the future. Especially since that is a Shinichiro Watanabe thing. He likes inserting important information in flashbacks and you have to pay attention to them, otherwise not many more things are going to make as much sense. Shinichiro Watanabe is a more unique director. Anyway, the main point of this half is that there is a dynamic between different parties going on and then it breaks down once a certain character shows up. It is a pretty cool dynamic that could have just been the show itself, but there are more things going on that need to be addressed too.
The Second Half
As I’ve mentioned already, the dynamic of the show breaks up completely once another number, by the name of five, shows up. She is the girl that is in 9 and 12’s flash backs and she comes with the FBI. The FBI itself wants to put a stop to what Sphinx is doing because, like in a lot of other Japanese media, they feel like they have to be involved. So they take over the case. The difference is that Five has a different motivation and is using that chance to catch up to 9 and 12 who left her behind a long time ago. So there are a lot of heavy things going on even in the same parties. A lot of things happen for a simple 11 episode series.
What I like about this is despite Five taking up more screen time, Shibazaki himself is not shafted by the narrative at all. Even permanently suspended by the police, he is still investigating what 9 and 12 are trying to say through their crimes. He and his crew still continue to break their orders and possibly damage their careers by finding out what is going on and I really like that fact too. One again, that is sometimes an impossible thing to do in an eleven episode series to keep a gigantic cast like this kept going with a good emotional point. It takes a very tight script to do that and Terror in Resonance mostly has a tight script with some flaws in it that way if back a bit. Some things aren’t given the time they deserve to feel fully developed, but this is still a very well written script in general.
The Point of Lisa
When watching this show, people have complained a lot about Lisa or just wondered why she was there. I have a few theories on that which developed in my brain as I watched it on my own. The first one is rather simple, Lisa and Five are similar in a lot of ways. In the flashbacks, nine and twelve see an image of Five and they constantly see or talk about Lisa reminding them of Five before she ever shows up. So obviously, Five looks at Lisa and doesn’t care about her because Five is still similar even in her position of power. Or it’s possible that five doesn’t want to see her past again because she thinks she has moved past it. Maybe both.
One more that gives Lisa a bit more credit and one I formed after Heike Monogatari, is that Lisa is there to keep the story and tragedy of Nine and Twelve relevant or important so no one will ever forget it. Why is she around? She witnessed 9 and 12 at their strongest and weakest moments and can tell their story and keep them relevant by living with them. Very similar to Biwa in Heike Monogatari who tells the story of the fall of the Heike and puts it to music so people will remember their story for generations. Lisa has grown by taking on this role because of the lessons that 9 and 12’s lives should have for the Japanese people.
Watanabe Telling a Japanese Story
There are a lot of pretty standard sort of storytelling regarding the United States’ forceful way they handle things in Japan in Terror in Resonance that can be seen in a lot of anime series and Japanese film. You can watch something like Shin Godzilla, tetsujin 28-Go (2004), Concrete Revolutio in some episodes, some Tomino works, Mamoru Oshii anime, and so many other things too that show the United States in a negative light. The United States occupied Japan after WW2 for a bit and you can see a lot of that feeling of negativity in their media because of that. Obviously, you can feel something about Japanese culture by watching some of their media whenever a nuclear bomb or otherwise is brought into the equation.
All of which connects to the next thing, the secret behind Five, Nine, and Twelve. The secret program that all of them escaped in which children are dying. Shibazaki does the detective work behind all of this from different parties and they were a part of the Athena Project to return Japan to greatness following the events of WW2 where some parties of Japan didn’t see them as a world superpower anymore. How else can they become a stronger nation than creating the strongest children possible. This shows that there was a dying party in Japan from the Japanese empire who still hold a lot of their beliefs too. It’s very interesting to see Watanabe himself go into this because he likes to create unique western styled series mostly.
Wrapping Up Terror in Resonance
Produced in 2016 with a lot of dynamic direction, excellent character animation, and so many good action scenes in cool places, this show looks so gorgeous in almost every episode. In fact, a lot of the direction carries a lot of the weight in scenes where time won’t give them into the show and that is a plus. The character designs are, like usual, very Japanese looking and yet very stylish with a tinge of Watanabe into them too. I just can’t say enough good things about this series form a visual standpoint because it just all holds up so well. Especially when buildings blow up to the most dynamic character talking to each other’s scenes too.
Yeah, I’m glad that I watched this show again. It is very good and so underrated by a lot of people in my opinion. I just don’t think that a lot of people got what this show was going for back then or what it was trying to say because it is a very Japanese story. People have some expectations of what they usually expect from a Shinichiro Watanabe series and it definitely wasn’t that. This story was still very good and excellently put together over all that it easily crosses some cultural bounds because there is a genuine feeling behind this story and what it is trying to say. People being left behind by history and telling Japan to learn from its past mistakes are still things our country needs to do with its own culture. Very good experience overall.