In Episode 3, Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) continues barrel forward, presenting a third bomb (and third riddle) in as many weeks. But action takes a backseat as director Shinichiro Watanabe spends much of the episode unfolding pasts and presenting some half-answers to building questions as the plot unfolds.
Perhaps the most identifiable character of the series, and the certainly the one whom the audience can most relate on a moral level, is Shibasaki. We already knew that he was formerly a detective, and a clever one, having cracked the previous riddle, but now we get to know his background a bit as well. Because he refused to back down from a politically charged investigation, and rather delved deeper and deeper into one, Shibasaki was removed from his post and relegated to no man’s land. But according to his supervisor, Shibasaki has never let that go.
But the episode seems to place more importance on another part of the detective’s past as a motivating factor: his childhood in Hiroshima. He spent his summers there (at the very least), and remembers well a town populated by elderly atomic bomb survivors. The summer was a lonely, quiet time for Shibasaki, and the residents refused to go outside, the insinuation being that they were still dealing with the painful memories of the bomb, which dropped in the summer of 1945. Shibasaki takes this hurt and used it as fuel to help him stop Nine and Twelve. His tirade at the end of his message to the terrorists suggest that the pain of the past and the moral fortitude rising from his memories are an utmost part his character.
Nine, too, is dealing with tragedy from the past. Ironically, it’s the more impulsive 12 that tries to soothe 9 as he deals with flashbacks of the experiments conducted on the two and with even younger children (Emily makes an apt comparison of this, along with Lisa’s predicament, to the Child Broiler of Mawaru Penguindrum). Most pressing on Nine’s mind is a white-haired boy who was unable to escape with them, seemingly perishing in the intense heat of self-immolation. Nine can’t shake these images, and it’s these children and the abuse they suffered that drive him.
And so, two of the main components of the series – Sphinx and the police force – are rolling with an unstoppable momentum, both motivated by the same concepts – revenge and justice.
It’s hard to argue against justice. The concept itself is good – the bad receive the punishment they deserve. But what happens when justice, as it so easily can, becomes entangled with vengeance? Nine and Twelve are calmly executing their plan in a violent, though non-murderous way, but still, 9 continues to be haunted by painful memories – will this lead to errors and missteps in his plan? And what of Shibasaki, who though brilliant, might lose the forest for the trees if obsession fully takes its way with him? And which of the two are just, or are they both? Or are neither?
In real life, justice oftentimes brings results and often closure, but in certain travesties, the pain goes on for both the individual and for society. This is what makes reconciliation plans, like those in South Africa and Rwanda, an interesting approach. While doling out justice, reconciliation courts also seek to offer forgiveness and then, restoration. And with this seemingly unjust attitude, letting perpetrators return to the community, these countries have worked toward healing in a way that seems counter-intuitive.
Ultimately, there may not be any type of forgiveness and restoration for any side in Terror in Resonance. “Justice” and “vengeance” seem to be the twin models that propel our characters, not grace and forgiveness. But unlike in Christianity, where a perfect God is the ultimate arbiter of justice, the questions that will continue throughout the series are these: Are Nine and Twelve, still adolescents, really trustworthy in doling out judgments? Is a corrupt police force, even led by an untouchable, in a position to the do the same?
And ultimately, are any of these acts just, righteous, or more plainly, the right thing to do?