Thoughts On Terror In Resonance, Watanabe, & Contemporary World Issues – EDITED

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This article series has been discontinued

Zankyou no Terror, or Terror in Resonance in English, is an 11 episode anime from the Summer 2014 anime season. Having been directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, this anime quickly made it onto my radar. However, since I tend to lag behind in what I watch (there are a lot of shows), I only just got to this one recently. These articles are discussion pieces on the anime itself, I will review parts of the show, ultimately giving it a score and recommendation as per the norm. Naturally, there will be some spoilers.

Who Is Shinichiro Watanabe?

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Shinichiro Watanabe

Before I even get into the premise of the anime itself; let’s take a look at Watanabe. Famous for directing Cowboy Bebop, Watanabe has also directed other well regarded shows such as Samurai Champloo and Space Danady. There’s another show he’s known for as well, but I’ll get to that one momentarily.

With each of his shows, Watanabe is uniquely recognize for his blending of themes, settings, and ideas with specific genres of music for each show. For example, with Bebop, the futuristic science fiction setting is offset by themes of the past set to a track of blues and jazz music. Alternatively, looking at Champloo it’s easy to see the contrasting nature of Edo era Japan and modern hip-hop music. This show being set in the past, but taking elements of the future, demonstrates how in many ways, things don’t really change over time.

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Yoko Kanno

Naturally, these are just minor observations that could warrant whole discussion pieces on their own, however, I bring them up to highlight that Watanabe is at his height when working within these music and theme relationships. This is particularly true when he has Yoko Kanno compose the score for the series.

I’d like to briefly mention that Kanno herself is highly regarded in the anime community for her incredible musical talent. She is responsible for composing the music for Bebop, Wolf’s Rain, Ghost in the shell:  Stand Alone Complex, and Terror in Resonance (among others). While I find her work is always exemplary, her compositions for Watanbe’s shows are my personal favorites. I’m not alone on this, as there are several people who find these pieces her best work.

If you are looking for some more analysis on the use of music in Watanabe’s work, I highly suggest you check out RCanime’s video on the topic. I included this video because it is not only interesting, but relevant to the forthcoming discussion and previously mentioned points. A big thanks to RCanime for granting me permission to feature his content in articles! Please take the time to go check him out.

Watanabe follows this successful formula with Terror in Resonance. The deep seeded themes matched with a progressive musical score, done by Kanno, pays off as one would expect. However, there are a few interesting qualities that this particular anime has that makes it that much more interesting. 

Series Synopsis (Minor Spoilers)

This is not going to be a comprehensive summary of the entire anime. Rather, it is meant to highlight the important plot points at various stages of the anime for the sake of discussion. Due to the nature of this synopsis, there will be a few spoilers, albeit nothing too major.

Terror in Resonance is set in an alternate time line, but for all purposes is modern day Japan, specifically Tokyo. The series quickly grabs your attention by having the main leads, who are terrorists, blow up the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. In doing so, the terrorists go out of their way to minimize/prevent any injuries or deaths which is an important fact I’ll discuss fully in a later section.

The leads, 9 and 12, or Sphinx as they call themselves, are the primary focus for the initial setup of the show. These two are the serial bombers using terrorism to push their agenda. There’s a lot going on here, so we’ll table this for now. During the bombing of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, 9 and 12 rope a young girl, Lisa, into their operations. The show calls here multiple things, but for the sake of summary, is a (initially) compelled accomplice. I’ll discuss Lisa’s character a bit more later.

Lastly, in tandem with these events, the police force is introduced. In general, they are of little importance to the overall significance of the discussion outside of detective Shibazaki. He’s the initial force of opposition for our protagonists, making him an important player narratively. For now, we’ll not pay him too much attention.

For the sake of discussion, episode 2 is perhaps the most important episode in terms of understanding the early setup. In this episode, most of the exposition and plot points that are of interest are introduced here. While I will discuss some of these points, Digibro, has done a video discussing how well done the exposition in episode 2 is. He basically spoils episode 2, but I encourage giving this video a watch. However, this video is not critical for the discussion, but I found it interesting, in addition to expanding my brief dialog on the summary of the show.

Thanks again to Digibro for allowing me use of his videos

The first quarter, or so, of the anime is spent as a sort of cat and mouse between 9, 12, and the police. As seen in the above video, or implied through my writing, these early episodes are largely meant to deliver exposition and position the narrative to begin moving towards its end goal. Rather abruptly, this initial formula is changed at the introduction of 5’s character. Her role is to act as the antagonist for the main characters.

While I said mostly minor spoilers, I am going to spoil most of Five’s arc here. Her introduction quickly sets up the audience to hate her. While 9 and 12 deliberately try and minimize injury and death, 5 is constantly manipulating the situation to optimize the death toll at their expense. In this portion I’m not going to get behind her motives, but the fact that she does this is of particular interest in this discussion.

Five’s arc is interesting because it initially seems superfluous. On the surface, she really is just a villain that’s only characteristic is how evil she is. It should be obvious however, that this would be a gross oversimplification of her character. Her arc exists to accomplish two goals narratively. The first being to create problems for the protagonist, this is the straightforward and easier aspect to grasp. The second is a bit more complicated since she serves as a way to deliver additional exposition, contrasting viewpoints, and force character development in otherwise static characters.

Ultimately, Five ends up failing in her personal agenda. This part might have been confusing for some viewers, because it really looks like she should have succeeded when her arc concludes. This gets into her motives though, which I don’t want to discuss in this section, but understanding that she failed, and why is a critical part of understanding her arc. The important part to take away from her arc in the synopsis was her role narratively and that she failed her own personal agenda within the narrative. 

Following her arc, the show quickly builds to its climax and sees the protagonists reach the end game. Here mostly everything is brought to light, with all characters learning the critical facts before bringing them all together for the anime’s conclusion. These final scenes are the most important in the entire show and will be the basis for much of the greater discussion to follow this.

With All This In Mind…

It’s here that I would invite you to actually go and watch the anime for yourself. It’s only 11 episodes long and can be finished pretty quickly. This synopsis is just a basic rundown of what you need in order to follow the rest of my thoughts and observations on the series, however, from here on out I’m not going to really worry about spoilers and delve into some deeper analysis.

For those who have access, Terror in Resonance can be viewed on Hulu. You do have to be subscribed to their services, and it isn’t available in all countries. However, if you can watch it, I do encourage that. If not, then I’m sure you’ll find a way to watch it (though I don’t support piracy, but I get it).

If you don’t mind spoilers and don’t mind not necessarily knowing everything I’m talking about in full context, then feel free to continue. Again, I highly encourage actually watching the show first, but that’s your prerogative.

Since this looks like it’s going to be a decently long discussion, and to give people time to watch the show, this seems like a good place to stop. See you back here for part 2, which I’ll link to when it’s done. Until then, let me know in the comments if you’ve seen the show or not. Please don’t spoil the show though.

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