While the first episode of Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) introduced us to and focused on the terrorists, Nine and Twelve, along with their new accomplice, Lisa, episode two largely moves the focus toward the police. It’s an interesting shift, especially with the terrorists playing good bad guys and the police playing the role of bad good guys.
Little by littke, Shinichiro Watanabe begins to unravel a story while burdening the audience with evermore questions, particularly as they have to do with Nine and Twelve’s pasts – who are they? What was done to them? Why? Who were all involved?
And whatever “VON” is, it’s quite shady, judging from the terrified looks on the faces of various characters in-the-know. They’ve done something mightily wrong. And this episode is all about showing that the police – and perhaps larger forces involved – have it coming to them. The variation of the Riddle of the Sphinx emphasizes the judgment the guilty must pay, ultimately ending in judgement upon the police at the end of the episode.
These ideas of justice, revenge, and karma are found in heavy doses in Watanabe’s works (think of almost all the episodes involving Spike and Vicious in Cowboy Bebop). In fact, they figure prominently in many anime – no surprise seeing how deeply ingrained these ideas are in Japanese culture, history, and religion. Of course the bad guys must pay for their evil deeds at the hands (or on behalf) of those that suffer. That’s justice.
Christianity, on the other hand, doesn’t work like that. The Bible, through and through, demonstrates that even the righteous suffer greatly (Job most famously). There is often no justice on earth, an idea that rings true if we’re honest enough to admit it. The most defenseless and weak are often the ones who live and die, unjustly and forgotten.
The thing about Christianity, though, is that it also doesn’t guarantee karmic retribution even in the afterlife. God judges us against a perfect measure of goodness, and thus, we all fall short, with our lies, theft, hate, and everything else condemning us.
Instead, we’re ultimately saved not by our own attempts at goodness – we’re saved only because God loves us and offers us a way to salvation.
But wait – that doesn’t sound right! A God should be an arbiter of right and wrong, not loving, caring deity. That characteristic almost feels very anime of Him (and not this anime, but a moe moe one).
Indeed, in Terror in Resonance, the tone matches the story’s seriousness, and the ground is set for a revenge tale. It certainly looks like as if the series will turn into a case of this karmic retribution against a corrupt municipality that hurts the weak (though our anti-heroes will encounter difficulties and conundrums along the way). But if many of Watanabe’s past works (Kids on the Slope, Samurai Champloo) are any indication, little grace notes will accompany justice, and maybe even overwhelm that more vicious theme.
Only time will tell.
And only God – and Shinichiro Watanabe – know.