Let me paint a picture for you readers out there. It’s mid-summer, the sun making any activity outside unbearably miserable. A faint scent of chlorine calls you towards a small pool, the scent getting stronger as you get closer and closer. Added with the smell is the sound of girls talking, a not-so-friendly banter as a group of three surrounds one, still in uniform, standing on the diving board. Across from the pool, a boy’s head suddenly pops up from the other side of a wall. A conversation ensues, ending as he tops the wall, uniform and all, jumps into the pool with a splash laughing giddily.
One could think of a lot of things at such a scene, assuming most would just reminisce on youth. What one might not think of, however, is in that moment, the girl on the diving board getting bullied to jump in, fell hopeless in love with that boy, and that smiling boy was none other than an infamous terrorist that was about to start a bombing spree that would shake the foundation of Japan.
2014’s Terror in Resonance is another remarkable series that famous director Watanabe, Shinichiro has added to his list of master original works. Following duo, Nine and Twelve, we are thrown headfirst into a domestic terror suspense action series as we watch the pair captivate the world. Carrying out acts against the Japanese government, using riddles to keep law enforcement on edge, and ultimately bringing to light the biggest cover-up in recent memory. Showing the world the horrors they experienced.
Oh, you remember that girl? Well yeah her name is Lisa, and lemme tell you, Lisa has it rough. Outside of being bullied, her mom is a bit clingy, meaning Lisa has not a whole lot going for her at school or home. Running into that smiling boy Twelve (she doesn’t know him as that by that point) during a blackout, he curiously tosses her a stuffed toy, stating that it is a treasured item of his and to be sure she keeps it close to her.
Then stuff starts blowing up. Getting a phone call from Nine, he tells Lisa flatly, either she helps them and lives, or she dies in the building. Deciding to become an accomplice she follows his directions, intertwining their fate forever as this socially awkward girl is thrown into a world she not only doesn’t understand but is woefully unprepared for.
And boy, does she get put through the wringer.
On the other side of the coin, we have metro police, specifically disgraced ace Kenjirou Shibazaki. Shibazaki’s problem is he is too good a detective, so good, in fact, he can’t help but stick his nose in areas where the higher-ups don’t want him. Leading him from the lead detective team to the archives. Catching wind of the first Sphinx video, most blow it off but Shibazaki keeps it in the back of his mind, especially when the electricity gets cut off at exactly 3 pm the following day, just like the video stated. He then doubles down, solving the second riddle but not in time to inform his former boss, but it was a move that landed him out of the archives and right on the tail of the terror duo.
Terror in Resonance is a complicated political action style of shows that I think has a lot of layers. The first being general government corruption and how such dissidence can lead people who were wronged to lash out in their own sense of justice. Though legally and ethically in the wrong, Twelve and Nine are every bit of the word anti-heroes, but with the counterweight being Shibazaki, they aren’t ones the watchers always want to win.
As the police, specifically Shibazaki starts to close in on what Sphinx wants and why they are doing what they are doing he starts to understand all of this is way bigger than anyone imagined.
Then America gets involved, cause we just can’t.
With such involvement, we discover yet another person from Twelves and Nines past, Five. Now Five kinda sucks, in the words of Twelve she is insane, though granted It is safe to say all three of them at a certain level are sociopaths. Hell-bent on beating Nine and with the backing of the US government Five starts her own terror campaign framing it on Sphinx forcing them to act. Unlike the duo Five has no issues with killing people, a single fact thus far Sphinx has kept from doing. With this added challenge the duo now with Lisa has to stop these acts while avoiding getting caught as their original goals remain.
I rather enjoyed this added element minus two facts. One, Five’s odd obsession with Lisa. Time and time again she puts Lisa in this situations where she is bound to die, but that doesn’t add up with Five’s obsession with Nine. Lisa isn’t Nine’s lover, she is Twelves. Meaning time and time again the person that goes out and tries to stop Five from hurting her is Twelve, not Nine. I found this a little on the face, especially the last plan of rigging Lisa with bricks of C4 leading to, you guessed it, Twelve trying to rescue her.
My second is the ending of Nine and Five. Her whole life Five has done nothing but been in the shadow of Nine and it was finally her turns to win, she would not let anyone have him, America and Japan be damned. But when she finally gets him, she doesn’t really do anything. They have this intimate moment that lasts less than 15 seconds and that is it, the whole cat mouse game of Nine and Five is over, just like that. Added with the fact that Five’s actions in doing what she did to catch Nine pretty much fucked any operation that had taken place up to that point.
While this whole game is going on between the three of Five, Nine and Twelve the Japanese police force is pretty much in the dark, giving over almost all operations to the FBI. This naturally doesn’t sit well with Shibazaki who already has a past of looking into his own government when they are up to no good. Going rouge he and a handful of detectives take things into their own hands, equally investigating Sphinx while digging into the very thing the government covered up that lead to Sphinx’s creation.
To call Terror In Resonance good is an understatement. Like most of Watanabe’s work, he takes global political action, throws in heartbreaking moments, a wonderful soundtrack coined by famed composer Yoko Kanno and a finish that makes you stare at the screen well past the credits to really unbox all he put in there. It is fun, it is intense, it is sad, it is quirky, and honestly, it struck a chord that I wasn’t expecting to be played. Much like Carole And Tuesday, I loved this series way more than I was expecting and I can say, again this isn’t his best work, but that hardly matters. If you haven’t checked it out, I cannot recommend it enough.
As always, thanks for the read!