This is review number three hundred and seventy seven. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup, and it’s an Original Screenplay. I hate these shows, and this one is right up there too. It’s Zankyou no Terror, or Terror in Resonance. It’s an eleven episode anime about a cute girl with no real role in the story. Seriously, what the hell is that about? Let’s just read on.
The story is about two teenagers terrorizing Tokyo with bombs and stuff. They’d upload a riddle on a video sharing site, and the police must solve it to stop the bombs from exploding. There is also a cute girl in this anime, and stuff about the Japan-US relations or something. Oh, also, a nuclear bomb. This anime is a mess.
Taking the Pants Off
Hey, how long has it been? Too long, I guess. With the holiday break though, I decided to watch an anime and just unwind. After finishing it though, I realized that I need to review it. Zankyou no Terror started out great. I was fully behind this anime, and I wanted it to succeed. For an Original Screenplay, this is probably the best one I’ve seen to this date. It didn’t have the same problems most O.Screenplays has like short sighted storytelling and an overcomplicated plot. The story is pretty simple, and the first few episodes got me excited. I wanted to see just how far the show can take its concept. Sadly, things took a dive towards the end of the show. While it did manage to stave off certain pitfalls of an original anime, it still had a lot of the same problems when a show is not adapted from another source. The characters fell flat and the story got tangled towards the end. Like a typical Original Screenplay, this anime also had a really stupid ending. I’m kinda used to O.Screenplays sucking, but I really wanted this particular anime to succeed. For me, it felt like Code Breaker and Death Note combined to create a modern day anime about terrorism. Sadly, this show is all flash and no substance. At the end of the day, my excitement died down and I just frowned till the credit rolled.The show follows two teenagers terrorizing the city of Tokyo. They setup bombs to put the city on pressure, and they’d upload a video where they’d tell a riddle and the police must figure it out in order to stop the bomb. The first five episodes where really exciting, and I just kept tuning in wondering how they’ll top their previous terrorism act. I also love the idea of two arrogant teenagers trying to turn the world against them. They want to prove a point, and they’d go to any means to deliver that idea. The anime excited me even more when a disgraced cop would challenge them head on. This cop once got tangled in political red tape, but his sense of duty is now motivating him to stop the terrorists. It’s a hardened cop with nothing to lose against two teenage boys trying to watch the world burn. I love the premise of this show. It instantly reminded me of Death Note and how arrogant Light became as he ascended to the top. With the psychological elements of the show, it really promised something amazing. The riddles felt a bit contrived, but I love the effort put behind them. I didn’t need to understand how the riddles work. I just want the cop to solve it and try to stop the crazy kids. It’s a fun anime, because the story had a lot of good things going for it.
For an Original Screenplay, I also love how simple the story is. Trust me when I say that a lot of original anime try to shoot for the sun, but they always fall back down to earth and splat on the pavement. They always go super convoluted for no reason. I remember Galilei Donna taking its Ace Attorney-like story and turn it into a showdown with robots. M-3 The Dark Metal had a nihilistic story that turned into a nonsensical mecha show about jealous idiotic people. Don’t forget about the Sunrise originals like Valvrave and Buddy Complex, which sucked really badly in their own stupid way. Zankyou no Terror’s story is pretty simple. It has three acts, and it just focused on the two boys blowing up the city. As the show progresses, more things related to their bombings pop up until the show hits its reasonable climax. We didn’t start out with ruling Japan with robots and then ending on a celestial plane riding a dragon to fight a guy controlling the moon. Seriously, original anime can go batsh*t crazy like this unprovoked. It’s because a lot of people have good ideas, but they don’t really know how to properly execute it. I mean, remember Mayoiga? That show was a mess, but it’s indicative of how bad O.Screenplay anime can be. I’ve reviewed too many of them, and I certainly regret them all.
Anyways, Zankyou no Terror is destined to be too. Early on, there were signs that the show has trouble executing some of its ideas. I think the biggest red flag of this anime’s lack of a better story is represented in this character:
She has no role in show. Absolutely no role in the anime. Is she the outsider looking in? Is she the caring but clumsy damsel in distress? Is she the human aspect of the terrorists manifested in a cute body? Is she a terrorist as well? Is she gawd? If she has no specific role, then why is she in this anime in the first place? I actually excitedly waited for this character to fit into the story, but she never did. She really just stood there with amazing frame rate on her facial expressions, but she never contributed anything meaningful to the story. You could replace her with a dog, and it wouldn’t matter. That’s how much she sucks. In the context of the show, she does have a few roles to play to really elevate the story. I am convinced though that the writers just didn’t really know how to fully use her to her very best. It’s a sign of bad writing, and you should prepare for the worst.
Despite a few badly written characters, there are some impressive things about the show though. First of all, I love the riddles. They tie in with the story of Oedipus, and it is really well constructed. The riddles are inspired by mythology, but it goes beyond that. The terrorists would use modern technology to carry out their plans. They’d take advantage of blind spots in cameras, fake servers and social media. I love how they’d upload a video first to tell the police where the bomb is. The news outlet would then air it over the big TV screens of Tokyo, and you can just feel how grand of a scale the stage is. We really are in a big city, and the terrorists are moving in it with ease. I also love how their methods are untraceable. Some of their weapons can be bought in any ordinary stores, and they’d cause havoc by simply putting their brilliant minds to good use. Sure, you’d have to suspend your disbelief in some of the ways they carry out their plans but it really doesn’t matter. The anime has sold how effective they are as terrorists, and it just sets up good things moving forward. With how the terrorist acts are introduced, finding out how the police can stop it makes it a really fun part of the show.
The detective character really brought this anime together. He doesn’t have that big of a role, but he kinda represented everything great about the show. He can go toe-to-toe with the terrorists, but he is also fully aware of the incompetence of the police department. He doesn’t say anything and he won’t go rogue cop anytime soon, but seeing him just care so much makes you want to root for him. When he taunted the terrorists after he succeeded in stopping their bomb, I really had goosebumps because the entire scene was so well done. It hyped you up to how the show will handle the story afterwards. The detective didn’t just make the terrorists known of his presence, but he also engulfed himself in political red tape the moment he decided to send a message out to them. So it’s a cop roaring to take down two smart terrorists, and how does the show follow this wonderful build up? They introduced this character:
And then the flaws of the show started to really show. You can only suspend disbelief for so much, and it’ll eventually pile up to the detriment of the show. Much like the cute girl in the bath tub, this character also didn’t have anything meaningful to add to the show. In fact, she kinda ruined the anime. Her appearance changed the direction of the anime drastically, and the show couldn’t transition well. I actually like the idea of a terrorism suddenly being used as a tool by the US government to take advantage of the Japanese government. It’s a big WTF moment that could’ve nicely made for a great third act for this anime. It is all the more special considering someone is hiding a bomb up their sleeves. It drums up some history between the two countries. Sadly though, the US is represented by a character so pointless that her entire existence is a bit of a mess. She seems to have a grudge, but she’s also a political pawn or something. It’s very confusing. It does reveal the major flaw of the anime. This character highlighted the glaring plot hole of the show. Everything, from the terrorists to the cop to this US agent, lacked purpose in everything they’re doing.
It’s a fancy way of saying they lack real character or any semblance of character development. Towards the rest of the show, I kept asking myself “why are they doing this?” I understand they have a purpose to go to the lengths they’ve gone, but why exactly are they even doing so much? I look back to Death Note. Can you imagine if Light didn’t explain his intentions? The anime just opened up with him holding a Death Note and killing people. When it happens, you immediately want to know why, but they never explain it. They never bother to tell that Light has a gawd complex and his misplaced sense of justice is driving him to go down a path that is just unsettlingly dark. Explaining his actions gave the character conviction, and it gave the audience a reason to care. The character in Zankyou no Terror did not have any scenes dedicated to their motives or their source of convictions. They really just do sh*t. When the terrorists placed bombs and put up riddles online, they never explained why. The closest reason I can gather is that they want revenge, but never to a specific person that the anime will reveal later on. They might also be trying to avenge someone, but we never see anyone close enough to the characters for them to become terrorists. They could also just want to expose the truth about their circumstance, but the anime never really dedicate time to tell what exactly happened to them. They really just want to blow sh*t up, I guess.
The lack of motivation and conviction is also present in the disgraced detective. The anime explained in an exposition heavy scene that the guy messed with the wrong people. This event seems to explain a lot of why he wants to stop the bombings, but the important life changing event for this disgraced cop is never revealed. It’s all just vague flashbacks with no real detail. Wouldn’t it be cool if we saw the process of his demotion happen in a flashback? Imagine a cop who believes in justice and the government, but he is suddenly screwed by the very thing he upholds the most. It could explain his “I don’t care” attitude when talking to other cops and his higher ups. The terrorist attacks could just be away for the cop to recover what he lost, and wouldn’t that be an interesting backstory for him? Sadly, the show never really put in the effort. It didn’t have short sighted storytelling, where individual episodes are given more importance that an overall story told in the progressing episodes. Instead, this anime is on autopilot storytelling. The girl will now be a hostage. Why? Just because. This girl will now be consumed by her personal grudge and it’ll compromise her standing in the system. Why? Just because. It doesn’t matter why, because autopilot storytelling just goes from one point to another until it ends. It doesn’t put in the work to make the story any meaningful. Things really just happen, and developing the story or the characters doesn’t matter at all.
The anime just whimpered to its last episode, and it really just doesn’t feel right. There were so many things the show could’ve done, but it felt like it just gave up halfway through. You know the most interesting thing about Zankyou no Terror? It’s like V for Vendetta. I’m talking about the movie, because I don’t read comics. It’s my one iron rule. I remember critics hating this movie, but I absolutely love it. I recently watched it on TV, and the sentiments of the movie seem close to becoming a reality. The upcoming Trump presidency seems to mirror the movie, and it’s scary. Anyways, the movie is about a terrorist that blew up a building, and he urged the people to join him next year when blows up another building. Before that, he befriends a girl and he made her see that the system doesn’t work. He also killed a bunch of people for his revenge, and a cop withdrawn from the system soon realized the terrorist might be right all along. Soon, the girl experienced hell just like the terrorist did, and then the finale ended with a building exploding as he promised. The anime works the same way, except it lacked proper development. It’s also about a terrorist out for revenge, and he also befriends a girl. The terrorist is being chased by a cop withdrawn from the system, and he also uncovered the horrors of the system. Yeah, something also exploded in this anime and the comparisons just made me hate this anime a lot more. This anime could’ve utilized strong manipulations just like the movie. It could’ve given us a narrative so strong that it’ll forever be remembered, and some of the plot holes won’t even matter. I know for a fact cleaning up and making a subway work is damn near impossible, but I didn’t care. The movie was just too awesome to let small details like that ruin it. The anime felt the same way, except the flaws were big enough to ruin everything. This anime didn’t really need much. It just needed character development and a few well-placed flashbacks. It’s kinda a standard in anime nowadays that it bothers me so much that no one took time to actually make this show whole. This is a classic original anime with a great premise, and the creators thought it’s enough to make a half-baked show out of it. I was fooled by mecha vampires before. I was fooled by a bus with thirty people in it. I was even fooled by skimpy half naked magical girls. It’s safe to say a solid theme needs more in order to really be special.
The anime was even going in the right direction, but it just didn’t really put in the effort. The political red tape concerning the Athena project is pretty interesting. The top level person working on it and the disgraced cop trying to track them down was a good change of pace for the show. If the anime took time to actually give us flashbacks of what went on in the project, then the entire endeavor would’ve meant a lot more. The damsel character also had the same potential as Eevee from V from Vendetta. She’s shy and reserved, but if she got caught and she got a taste of the system the cop and the terrorists are aware of then she could’ve transformed into something a lot more meaningful. The US agent also had a wonderful backstory. Being a sole survivor, she can help paint a picture of what happened through flashbacks. She can also explain why her grudge is so deep and why the terrorists are seeking revenge or whatever. It’s all there. The anime could’ve been a solid nine out of ten if it really cared. I would personally take five points off though, because of the awkward ending.
Can we just talk about the ending? My gawd. It sucked. I’m good with the illogical bomb stuff, but the characters suddenly splashing water in the place where their trauma started just felt so very very wrong. Like seriously, why did that happen? Is it because of the thing that happened afterwards? It felt so contrived though. It really didn’t make sense. It bothers me so much that I just can’t accept that it happened. Oh gawd, why did I return to this site?!
Characters are all awful. Let’s not get too in-depth with them. They just sucked. Some are underdeveloped, some are crying out for attention and others just exist without reason. I don’t even have a character I truly liked. I guess the most competent one of all is the guy in the archives department. He just ate food and did random sh*t. Yeah, I like him. The most insignificant character in the show is actually the most interesting. A lot better than this girl:
I feel a bit ashamed that I have a stockpile of screenshots of just her expressive face. I also don’t understand why she’s animated so fluidly when she doesn’t really matter in this anime. Is she fan service? She needs bigger boobs for us to get over how stupid this entire show is though.
This anime only reaffirms my theory that Shinichiro Watanabe is an “idea guy”. He isn’t a director, but more of a guy that just think up cool stuff. George Lucas is like that, and then the prequel happened. Shinichiro is the same. Cowboy Bebop isn’t solely done by him, and most of the ideas he claimed in that show are really just that. They’re ideas and nothing more. I do applaud the guy for trying to create a decent O.Screenplay anime, and he’s been doing original for a long time now. I’m not sure if it’s driven by ego, but I sure hope he struck gold sometime soon. It’s kinda depressing seeing Yoko Kanno’s talents wasted on his ideas. This anime was presented by MAPPA studios, and in 2014 they were still fairly young. Right now they have Yuri on Ice, and people are going mad over it. I’m stuck in 2014 so I can’t really say anything much about them. Before this anime, they gave us Shinichiro’s Kids on a Slope. They’re a fairly decent studio, I guess. They also have Shinichiro with them, so I guess this studio will be busy for a long time.
Sight and Sound
Kazuto Nakazawa designed the characters, and he is known for his designs in Samurai Champloo. I love the contrast of his male/female designs, and I also appreciate his wide range. Most of his girls have round heads, and it’s almost a bit minimalist. He focuses a lot of details on the faces, and just look at female characters with no role in this anime. They all look great and the design carry over their personality. The timid girl is absolutely beautifully designed, and the US agent looks arrogant and standoff-ish. She truly is, and a good character designer knows how to pull it off effectively. The male characters are pretty great as well. The police characters are nicely designed with a bit of grittiness to them. The terrorists are absolute bishies though, and it’s really impressive how varied the designs are. He mixes in some of his freestyle design like in Samurai Champloo, but a lot of characters are still just have clean minimal designs.
The animation is all over the place. It’s inconsistent with some episodes looking stunningly fluid while some are rough and heavily lined. Of course, the first episode has impressive animation but it goes downhill from there. Some of the movements feel a bit off, and the scarce fight scenes aren’t that impressive to look at. There was a chase scene towards the end, and it didn’t look good. It’s a combination of piss poor directing and subpar animation. It could’ve been better, but the show really lacks vision. I do admire the way they over animate the expressions of the timid girl though, but the rest of the characters aren’t so nicely detailed. Shinichiro’s weak directing also shines when exposition heavy scenes aren’t given much thought. Some of the scenes involves just two shots back and forth, and then some close ups. It looks cheap, and it could’ve been done a lot better. The atmosphere of the show is also a bit sedated, and I’m bothered by it as well. It’s an anime about terrorism, and it just doesn’t really feel that exciting. Even the bombings look a bit subdued, and this is really the director’s fault. It could’ve been better, and I’ve seen it done a lot better actually.
I know Yoko Kanno provided the music for this anime, but I really didn’t notice the music much. It might be because a lot of things bothered me, but I do remember some of the music really pumping energy into the show. If you’re going to watch it, do tell what scenes standout in terms of Kanno’s arrangements. Anyways, the OP song is “Trigger” by Gallileo Gallilei. I do believe this is composed by Yoko Kanno, and it’s a weird song. I think it’s synthpop, and I really don’t like it. I love the voice of the singer, but the lyrics are really weird. It’s as vague as the anime itself. I do love the visuals of the OP sequence. It features all the characters in a stylish montage as they run around the city. It looks great, and it’s enough to really make you sit down and watch the show. The timid girl is also heavily featured despite having no real role in the anime. What is up with that? The ED song is “Dare ka Umi no” by Aimer. This is, again, composed by Kanno. This is a lot better than the OP, and I actually like it. It’s a song about the timid girl’s loneliness. In the anime, she has this thing with her mother and bullies and the ED song kinda captures that. It’s unsettling but also calming, and the singer’s voice really add a lot to the song. The ED sequence features the timid girl and a bunch of flying crows. I like it. It’s like a weird dream sequence, but done in a smart artistic way.
6/10 “It had a solid idea behind it, but the show couldn’t really execute it properly.”
I think the anime went downhill at around episode six or so. Before that, the show is pretty good. The lack of character development and a more fine-tuned story really does hurt the overall experience. It had some good moments, but the rush towards the end is really really bad. For an Original Screenplay, I would give it a pass. If you like some anime about terrorism, then you might enjoy this. Don’t get your hopes too high though, or it might explode up in the stratosphere.