Terror in Resonance
by Gabriella Ekens,
The week begins with Nine, clad in the wings of justice, walking up to the Tokyo PD and turning himself in. He's set the timer on the stolen atomic bomb, and now he's holding the public hostage until they accede to his still unclear demands. Shibazaki, meanwhile, has gotten to the heart of the Athena Project - an old man named Shunzu Mamiya who, confined to a bed in his perpetually shrouded mansion, is this show's image of bureaucratic evil. Finally, Five commits her final act of destruction by derailing Nine on the way to the press conference he mandated, forcing the counter on an atomic bomb that nobody can control. There's one Terror in Resonance left, and the stakes couldn't be any higher.
The first half of this episode is really good. It starts out with something uncharacteristic for the show's cinematography - long, lingering shots of the characters' faces, as though they're bracing themselves for whatever's about to occur. The overcast sky casts a grey veil over Tokyo, emphasizing the momentary abatement of action before the impending storm. The Shibazaki stuff continues to be solid. However, all this talk about parts of the episode being good can only mean one thing… that something in this show failed for the first time. And it failed hard.
Terror in Resonance missed a beat with the conclusion of Five's story, which was, frankly, jarring and lazy. She drags herself out of a hospital bed in order to crash Nine's police escort, crashing his van on the way to the press conference, kisses him and then commits suicide by throwing herself in a gasoline fire. I think I know what they were trying to do with her character - make her into something like Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion. They're both girls driven into frenzied, violent desperation by institutions that use them as tools. (This episode's direction also invokes Evangelion. The shots of Nine sitting in a chair and surrounded by darkness during his interrogation are reminiscent of Evangelion's infamous last two episodes, while those of Five comatose and hospitalized echo End of Evangelion.) But while Asuka had a thoroughly established interiority before her critical descent into full-on madness in the show's conclusion, Five hasn't been given any time to herself at all. She's just "smart dangerous lady who SPHINX is scared of and who really has a thing for Nine." They were building her up into a tragic figure - a version of Nine and Twelve who didn't escape and was integrated into the machine, at the expense of her soul - but this turn of events killed the momentum dead. It feels like there's a missing flashback that explains the particulars of their relationship. The show even contradicts itself at one point when describing their relationship. In an earlier episode Nine claims that Five always defeated him, but in her final rampage she says that he was the one she could never beat. We need some more clarification, but the time for that seems to be over. It just never answers the questions - Why is she really obsessed with Nine? What is the core of her humanity? And all of the characters associated with her suffer for it.
I still like the ideas in Terror in Resonance, and think that they're cohesive so far. It's ultimately a critique of Japan's increasingly isolationist and militant foreign policy, saying that Japan should get over long-held WW2 paranoia and stop traumatizing the children. In terms of filmmaking, this is executed just about as well as it possibly could be. Where this show doesn't reach the same heights is in the plotting, which has moments of relying on the idiot ball, and Five's character arc, which missed the landing strip so hard it left a five-mile streak on the sidewalk. I hope this half-episode misstep doesn't bode badly for the conclusion.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. She writes at animeintrospection.tumblr.com.
Terror in Resonance is currently streaming on
discuss this in the forum (94 posts) |
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history