Some of the most intense and well-written series, anime and otherwise, present a strong, overarching narrative that knows precisely where it’s going, but keeps viewers at bay, leading them to only of what’s occurring in the present. Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) accomplishes this by slowly unfolding a calculated story, but creating tension in each episode that keeps us in the moment. It’s not until after episode four that I wondered exactly how all this will end, because I was too busy thinking of bombs, riddles, and Lisa Mishima during the show.
Nine and Twelve continue their terrorist attacks, but this time, Watanabe leads the audience to think that perhaps the police are catching up to them. In fact, they probably are getting closer due to Shibasaki’s investigation, but in the climax of the episode, the police aren’t following Shibasaki’s clues – they are following clues from others in the department, a path which has consistently led them astray. It’s no different at the end of episode four, when a different kind of bomb – an explosion of information in the form of police files – is leaked onto the Internet.
The moment in which the episode turns against the police is when they decide they have enough information to catch Nine and Twelve; they’ve spent their time focusing on the identity of the terrorists and believe they’ve tracked them down, instead of working on the immediate problem – the bomb. A prideful police force thinks they’ve identified the suspects – or at least their place of residence – and in a Grecian hubris manner, take a fall.
Meanwhile, Shibasaki is focusing on the important mission of stopping detonation of the bomb, and the most important maxim of the three he must consider – “know thyself.” Almost to a fault, Shibasaki humbly never considers himself, which of course ends up being the answer to the riddle.
Further, the question of identity is explored through Lisa Mishima, a character who seems not to know herself at all. When questioned by Twelve, Lisa explains that she was hoping to leave what she knew behind. She wanted to be saved from the life and the parent and the person she knows. She wants a new life – a new identity, even if it’s as a partner in a terrorist plot. For all Lisa knows, the two boys could be killing lots of people, and even that is preferable for Lisa above what she now knows.
These garbled questions of identity, I think, are something most of us can relate to, as many of us have struggled in some way with them in our lives. Even now, when we may no longer immediately struggle, we could own an identity that we don’t completely approve of – a prideful one, as with the police; a meek or shameful one, as with Lisa; or a mixed bag, as may be the case with Shibasaki. Knowing thyself – who we really are and what we’re capable of – is a question of utmost significance, and it leads to something even more important, and the question that Shibasaki is continually asking: what now?