On September 11th, 2001, our world as we knew it, changed forever. The most horrible terrorist attack in our world’s history was committed, and with it, a sense of safety that we always seemed to have up until that point was taken away. Which is of course exactly the point when it comes to such an attack: to create fear, or in other words a sense of terror. It’s almost inconceivable that this is an event that is now almost twenty years in the past. Since then, the world has moved on, as always happens no matter how much grief that terrible day has cost us. Either way we will never forget it, and nor should we. Sadly terrorist attacks are still a part of every day reality, as we often see when news casts show us yet another country where innocent people have become injured or even worse died. With the world as it is today, in the midst of a horrible pandemic, and terror attacks that sow the seeds of panic, one could almost believe the end times are truly near. It’s best not to go down that road though, and always keep hope alive, as well as a positive outlook on life. Because the day we stop doing that, is the day that they will win. Terrorism is pretty much always senseless, disrupting the lives of ordinary people such as you and I. But what happens when it’s not senseless? What if by creating terror, you try to call attention to an even greater atrocity? In the anime series Terror in Resonance, it’s this concept that is at the heart of this remarkable series.
At a remote nuclear processing facility the unthinkable has occurred. During a daring raid some plutonium has been stolen and it’s whereabouts as well as any clues as to who is behind the theft have so far eluded the authorities. A strange three letter word, VON, painted in red is the only thing that has been left behind at the scene by the perpetrators. Six months later in Tokyo, a ominous video gets released on social media by two teenagers that announce themselves as Sphinx 1 and 2. They are threatening the public with a total blackout as well as an explosion set to happen the following day. It’s not taken all that serious though, especially not by a demoted detective called Shibazaki. Lisa Mishima a young highschool girl, so far is unaware of these events and has problems of her own. The target of bullying as well as having a mother that seems to not have all her marbles straight, she is constantly faced with loneliness and trying to keep her head above water. One day though, right in the middle of another attack by her tormentors, they get interrupted by a mysterious youngster who introduces himself as Twelve. The young man stops the bullies from continuing their harassment, and Lisa though yet totally unaware of who the guy is, immediately seems to form a connection with her would be rescuer.
One day later, the events that had been foreshadowed in the video are coming to pass. It all starts with a blackout, and at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building young Lisa is caught in the middle of the panic when the building is being evacuated because of the fire alarms that are going off. Rushing out of the building, she is surprised to find Twelve there as well. He gives her a stuffed animal, and then runs away from the scene. Things become deadly serious though, as not much later she gets a phone call by someone who calls himself Nine who presents her with a choice: to become an accomplice, or die. That is of course not a choice at all, and the young girl makes the decision to live. Moments later, just after she gets picked up by Twelve on a motor cycle, the building that she vacated explodes. This is the beginning of a reign of terror that will shake the very foundations of Tokyo. Shibazaki, who curses himself for not having taken the threat more seriously, is brought in to help with investigation and catch the terrorists. However things are not all as they seem, and young Lisa is caught right in the middle of the terrifying events. The mysterious Twelve and his friend Nine, have a goal. And nothing and no one will stop them from reaching that goal: no matter what the consequences….
A series like this once again proves that anime is not kid’s stuff. The themes that are explored in this 11 part series are very mature, and right from the start there’s this atmosphere that leaves any doubt about that far behind. In fact there were several times during this series that I kind of forgot I was watching an animated series in the first place. While this series starts off with a bang, both literally and figuratively, it is, especially during the first few episodes a slow burn. That’s not to say it’s boring, just that it takes it’s time to really get into overdrive so to speak. In effect it’s setting up it’s players on the board, introducing both the characters, and the many story elements. When it does take off though, the tension level gets cranked up to it’s maximum levels. While it’s strange to find enjoyment in a series that’s basically about terrorism, it’s not something that hasn’t been done before. In the realtime series 24, where we follow the exploits of federal agent Jack Bauer played by Kiefer Sutherland battling terrorism in all it’s forms, we were on the edge of our seats for most of the time during it’s run. Those tense moments were certainly present here as well. Without giving things away, especially during episodes 6 and 7 I found myself gasping for breath because of the events that unfolded in some extremely terrifying and tense scenes.
The script of this series is highly intelligent, and contains both many puzzles to sink your teeth in, some great twists, but also some obvious moral dilemmas. How far does one go to make a point, and at what moment are you crossing a point of no return? While terrorism in any form is undoubtedly very reprehensible, in the case of this anime, there is a certain motivation behind it all. As detective Shibazaki says at one point: these are not normal terrorists. It’s what makes this show such a fascinating watch, and where you as an audience have to decide whether to sympathise with Nine and Twelve, or to reject them for what they are doing. It makes for some great food for thought, as well as some great discussions. This anime also had some very mixed responses to it, at the time of it’s release, and I can imagine that might have something to do with it’s subject matter. What we have here is an exciting and thought provoking series, but also one that can at times make you feel uncomfortable. With all the praise I have so far been giving this anime, where I felt the show was lacking somewhat is on the part of character development. Both Nine and Twelve’s characters, while being basically the two leads of the series, were kind of flat. I would have loved to find out a bit more of their history, but while we do get glimpses of that, it just fell short of the mark.
That’s not to say that they weren’t interesting though, and the show does get it’s point across as to what drives these two youngsters. Lisa’s character is one I could really sympathise with, as I can understand with the life she had been living up until the point she first meets Twelve, she really yearns for something new. That said, I loved how her character stayed innocent and pure during the course of the show. Detective Shibazaki was the one I liked the most though. I enjoyed his intelligence, his humor, but also his drive to figure out exactly what is going on, and not jumping to any conclusions. This review would not be complete without mentioning the terrific voice acting, the high level animation style as well as it’s amazing soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. One of my favorite composers in the first place, some of her music, especially in the later episodes is absolutely breathtaking, and manages to create a very dark atmosphere that is perfect for this series. Terror in Resonance is a anime that, once you have completed it, no matter what you might think of it in the end, will be sticking around in your mind for quite some time. It shows that sometimes not everything is as simple as it seems, and there can always be a different side to a story. Whether or not you sympathise with that side though, is a question you will need to answer for yourself.
I give Terror in Resonance a 9 out of 10 score.