Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) arrived with a bang this season, full of mystery, sentiment, and crumbling buildings. The first episode was gripping and fascinating, as anyone should expect, coming from director extraordinaire, Shinichiro Watanabe, who on a personal level, solidified my love for anime as much as anyone.
The series also opened with a fistful of questions. We’re introduced to our main characters – the icy cold and calculating Nine/Arata; playful and energetic Twelve/Toji; and bullied and depressed Risa. Each has back stories and secrets that beg to be unraveled. On a greater scale, the very actions in the opening episode beg us to ask both “what’s happening?’ and “is this okay?”, as we’re brought into a world where the audience is asked to feel sentiment toward teenage terrorists who level a public building with bombs, which tumble to the earth in a way that can’t help but be reminiscent of 9/11.*
Is it ever right to do wrong?
A question that I think we’ll be contemplating throughout the series is whether or not Nine and Twelve’s actions in the short-term are morally okay because of their goals in the long-run. I’m not sure what Watanabe has in store for us. How many will have died from episode one’s fallout (any?), and, regardless of the death count, is terrorism ever okay? The answer seems easy to give, but the plot of this series will certainly muddy it for us, especially as we find out more about Nine and Twelve’s past.
Christian viewers will approach the series with possibly a different mindset. The answer here should be clearer – what you do to get to your goal means every bit as much as accomplishing the goal itself. If you trample on people to ultimately help them, you’ve missed the point. You’ve misunderstood motivations, love, and grace, and ultimately, you’ve judged yourself too high, becoming prideful and thinking that your methods are better than God’s, and thus putting more trust in yourself than in Him.
As for the series, it seems to be too simple for Watanabe to create a background for the boys so horrific that the audience will root for them to use terror in their goals. There are going to be complications – and I wonder if they’ll develop almost as lessons learned, demonstrating that one must be careful not lose their heart along the way to doing something important.
What are our motivations?
Another question arising from episode one is “what is it that moves each of us?” On an immediate level, motivations in the episode were fairly clear. Nine and Twelve steal nuclear material to make a bomb. Twelve befriends Risa because she reminds them of those in their past. Risa chooses to become involved and later leaps out of building because she wants to live.
But what drives us deep down? Family, friends, career, comfort, religion? Part of the fun with this series will be in learning exactly what the boys’ motivations are. What happened in their past? And how do they intend to rectify/take revenge for it? And possibly more fascinating, what are Twelve’s motivations? Does he feel as deeply as Nine does, or is he just following along at a whim (or out of devotion toward his compatriot)? And is Risa going along with the boys partially to move forward from her own tragedy?
Who is the true you?
As the story unravels the above-mentioned motivations, the audience will also learn more about the true Risa, Nine, and most fascinating to me, Twelve. After this episode, it’s probably the enigmatic Nine that we seem to know most about, as it is he who dreams of the past and is upset by it (and not for the first time, as Twelve indicates). Although Risa thinks to herself more than once that Nine has an icy look to him, he comes off as the warmest of the three characters by episode’s end. In his heart, Nine is not at all who he seems.
Twelve, on the other hand, seems like the playful, naive character we’re used to in anime. Everything about him, most pronounced by his hair, indicate that he’s this way. And again, Risa immediate sees him as being warm like the sun. But grins often belie something more devious. And though I would be surprised to find that Twelve is circumspect, I imagine there’s more to him, too, than meets the eye.
Finally, Risa is certainly more than she seems to the girls in her class. An easy target, Risa is shy and awkward. But almost certainly unbeknownst to her classmates, something is haunting Risa, which has led her to this state. And perhaps unbeknownst to Risa, as demonstrated by her decisions both to live and to leap, there appears to be something stronger within her that wants to rise (by symbolically “falling,” I might add – which is by the way the title of this episode).
I think most of these questions I’ve asked will be answered sooner rather than later in the series. Still, these are significant questions not only in terms of the show’s plot, but also to ask ourselves. And maybe there are a couple more, too – when it comes to motivations, morals, and our hearts, in the end, what’s so different between us a couple of teenage terrorists? And ultimately, does that change how we think about ourselves and the world?
* Watanabe likes to destroy tall office buildings. I’m reminded of similar destruction in episode 22 of Cowboy Bebop (“Cowboy Funk”), whose airing was delayed by several months in America, as it would have originally aired shortly after the events of September 11th.