Terror In Resonance / Zankyou No Terror Review

Terror in Resonance, or Zankyou no Terror, is a 2014 anime by the famous Shinichiro Watanabe, famous for Cowboy Bebop, one of the greatest shows of all time, Samurai Champloo, Kids on the Slope, and other things (probably). Yoko Kanno also returned to team up with Watanabe to work on the music for this, she’s the mastermind behind the music of Cowboy Bebop. One of the few dynamic duos out there, like Scott Snyder and Greg Copullo. It was produced by MAPPA and ran for eleven episodes. The whole thing clocks at about four and a half hours. I actually watched it in two sittings. I was so excited to watch it because of Shinichiro Watanabe’s and Yoko Kanno’s involvement, they are two of the best people working in anime. But after watching the trailer I was even more intrigued, the art style was way different to Cowboy Bebop, it was also really polished, and even looked quite different to any other anime coming out at that time. It was a really well-done trailer and only made me want to watch it as soon as possible.

I will be touching on spoilers.

The show follows a pair of terrorists named Nine and Twelve. They go about exploding big buildings, but what’s intriguing is that there are no casualties. This makes it easier for the audience to get around having their protagonists be terrorists as they aren’t just heartless murderers, but also raises questions of their motives. They go by the name Sphinx (Sphinx one and two) in their YouTube Videos, where they would announce the location and time of their next attack, and some puzzles for the police to solve in order to diffuse the bombs. It’s when an anxious schoolgirl named Lisa becomes entangled in their deadly shenanigans, by accidentally staying in a building after everyone has evacuated and which is also set to blow up by Nine and Twelve, that the story kicks in.

Meanwhile a bunch of detectives, one Shibazaki mainly, are working on neutralising the threat that is Sphinx. Shibazaki, former detective demoted to the records division then promoted back to being a detective amidst the heat of the situation for his talents exceed the abilities of everyone else. Why demoted? Questioned the involvement of a politician, originally from the police department, in a conspiracy behind the alleged suicide of some other politician. Turns out he was right, and it had some significance with the backstory of Sphinx, but that happens in the end and doesn’t really matter, probably does, can’t remember.

Nine’s and twelve’s backstory were hinted at through Nine’s PTSD induced flashbacks, but it becomes evident pretty quick the true nature of their origins, especially with the introduction of a new character named Five. Turns out that all three of them were part of a government experiment where high IQ orphans would be placed in an institution where they would be given drugs and such to enhance their intelligence in order for Japan to create smarter personnel to someday reclaim the independence taken from them in the second World War. They explained it in the show where it made way more sense.

Nine is supposed to be the more serious one of the two, Twelve being somewhat of a goofball, though his character does get more serious after the halfway point. Nine obviously has a closer connection to their motives because of his seriousness. The character Five, who was also experimented on, is a bit confusing, well most of the show doesn’t make much sense to me anyway. I don’t really understand her motives, she’s got something to do with the United States FBI and keeps messing with Sphinx with her mind games.

I don’t really understand Sphinx’s motives. At first, it seems they are committing these acts of terror in order to gain the attention of the public so they can shed light on the subject of their origins, the whole experimentation and everything else. But even when they’ve already caused a big enough scene, they still keep going. They’re not nihilists or anything, they still act like there’s something that they have to achieve, but I can’t wrap my head around what that would be.

My problem with the show is that there’s not enough of a lot of things. The show seems to hold back on its themes. The message, if there’s any, isn’t clear enough due to not enough focus. It’s not like Cowboy Bebop where less is more. Not enough focus is given to a lot of things. This show would’ve benefited more if it was longer or if they reduced the number of characters and plot points. There’s a lot of characters. The show seemed bigger than it should have been. I felt it should be more personal because that’s where the show shines.

That does not mean that this show doesn’t have anything to offer. The show is pretty entertaining and what I complained about isn’t really that big of an issue. In fact, this is one of the better animes I’ve seen.

But there are two qualities to this show that really separates this from the rest. The animation and the music.

The show is among one of the most beautiful I’ve watched. It could even hold a good stand against a feature anime film, but it will lose inevitably. The show is so unique in presentation. There’s a sense of grit in every frame. There’s a stylistic approach to the black outlines that make it more noticeable. The animation rarely ever looked stiff. The landscapes are breath-taking, and the buildings are given so much care in the detail. The use of colour is also really good. Really feels like summer in the day and the night also feels like night.

The character designs are also unique. Sure, it still looks anime, but there’s something to it that sets apart from the rest. Turns out it’s the same character designer for Samurai Champloo.

The soundtrack is just a masterpiece. Yoko Kanno really outdid herself with this one. Von and Birden are one of the best tracks in an anime OST. For a show so short, the music varies quite a bit, though a lot of them are quiet, sombre ones. It’s so different from what you will find in anime. It’s almost hypnotic, like it puts you in a trance.

The dub is also pretty good. I recognised Aaron Dismuke who voiced Alphonse Elric in the original Fullmetal Alchemist when he was a kid. Everyone did a good job.

The show is just directed really well. Scenes stay with you for an eternity, such as the bike scene. It’s the smaller moments that you won’t be able to stop thinking about. The characters may not have gotten the focus they deserve, and they might not have been as clear as they should’ve been, but you can get invested in their story, and you might get attached to them. The fact that it’s so different is almost reason enough to watch it. If you really are looking for a show to watch, give this one a go. I do recommend it, not as highly as Vinland Saga, but it’s really good. It could’ve been more. Had the potential to be one of the best shows of all time, with it’s older brother Cowboy Bebop. A good time nonetheless.

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