The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Terror in Resonance

Title: Terror in Resonance aka Zankyou no Terror
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: MAPPA
Format: 11 Episodes
Dates: 10 Jul 2014 – 25 Sep 2014

Synopsis: Two youths, referring to themselves as Nine and Twelve, do not exist on any records anywhere. They do, however, reveal themselves to the world as a terrorist organization entitled Sphinx. They offer no demands and no ideologies, only the knowledge that they’ve planted explosives throughout Tokyo. However, none of their threats are without clues as to the bombs’ locations. With each comes a riddle, which former detective Shibazaki has taken on the responsibility of solving. The more puzzles he solves, the more he is cued in on the intention behind Sphinx’s suspiciously surgical attacks, and more pressing, their possible connection to a stolen plutonium bomb. 

The Highlights
Presentation: Refreshingly logical and intense
Animation and Music: Compliment each other perfectly
Characters: Initially interesting though unsympathetic 
Mystery: Teeters towards underwhelming the more that is revealed

It probably goes without saying in the world of anime that Watanabe Shinichiro defines style. A master of making animation and music a single entity; where synergy is the prevailing element in Watanabe’s works, then what ascends him as a director it is his precision with detail that could piece together a shattered vase as if it were pristine. In Cowboy Bebop, it was a Tarantino-esque ability to blend genres, plots, and motifs. For Terror in Resonance, it is the thoroughness and detailing that goes into the scenario. The world unsettling tangible at times, he gave an intricate experience worth watching, less so, however and unfortunately, a story worth telling. 

At Terror‘s most engaging is the dance between the youths and the police. The methods of Sphinx may go beyond what even the brightest are capable on their own. But it is grounded almost entirely in actual contemporary criminal techniques whether online anonymity or explosive rigging. The riddles themselves, with solutions ranging from to gematria to existential prompts, often try credulity. However, they follow a logic which refreshingly exists beyond the mind of the writers. The payoff in the dance between Sphinx and the police becomes ever more satisfying as the genius extends beyond simply the direction. 

But Terror in Resonance doesn’t just function like the actual 21st century, it feels it too. There is an underlying atmosphere of vulnerability, that even the slightest glimmer of openness or trustfulness puts everyone in jeopardy. This plus animation, a caliber of which I had once thought impossible on TV, makes it easy to forget at times that one is watching something drawn. More impressive, though by no means unexpected, is how each scene gels seamlessly with a refreshingly Icelandic inspired, soundtrack. I can no less believe that Kanno Yoko scored this anime to match the animation as I can that the animation was directed as such to fit the score. 

Mentally satiating and visually absorbing as it is, it’s unfortunately hard not to feel an emotional disconnect to Terror overall, and our protagonists play a lot into the reason. Ability to limit collateral damage aside, little changes the fact that Nine and Twelve are unambiguously terrorists. I would assume we are expected to sympathize with enigmatic duo in light of this. This turns to be problematic, however, less because of their actions, and more due to the script doing little to make anyone particularly sympathetic. Were the two more loathsome or flamboyant, they could have been as compelling as other anti-heroes. But alas, everyone here is more or less blank and limited in terms of emotional range. The chess allusions throughout are rather apt since at best the cast are the scenario’s pawns.

Being said, it’s thus unfortunate that the realization and resolution come off as disproportionate to one another. At risk of spoiling, for an anime which captured the post 9/11 mindset, it falls back on an all too familiar post WWII mentality premise. With respect to Nine and Twelve, the more we learn of there past, the more roundabout and overkill their methods become. For a pair of geniuses, they can’t seem to look past their own hands to the obvious.

The fun of Terror in Resonance could be likened to a sophisticated Rube Goldberg machine where a clever setup of incendiaries is undermined at the end when its entire function is to make dry toast. Spectacle is a given from Watanabe and should be reason enough to give a try. It’s a shame the series falters at the questions of why. But how things unfold is a trail worth some merit. 

The Rating: 6

6/10

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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