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Terror in Resonance
Episode 9

by Gabriella Ekens,

We are deep into the darkness. This episode's cinematography features the most enveloping swaths of black of any episode so far, and appropriately so. Based on their decisions, several characters have plunged far past the point of no return (beyond even becoming a terrorist, if you can believe that), and all that's left is the fallout of their actions and reconciliation between them, for better or worse. Its ironclad trajectory towards the crucial ending is coming to a close, and soon we'll know whether this show was ultimately worth it.

I think it will be. Last week ended on an expectant note. Nine and Twelve went in separate directions (literally) for possibly the first time ever, Shibazaki found the secret behind the VON conspiracy, and Five was about to do something with the captive LiSA. That something turns out to be strapping her into a TNT straightjacket and placing her on a ferris wheel for Twelve to find, leading to what must be the most romantic bomb diffusing scene in the history of film. In the end, Twelve finally betrays Nine for LiSA, revealing where they stashed the stolen plutonium in exchange for LiSA's life.

On the Shibazaki front, the conspiracy is about what we expected - the Japanese government colluded with big businessmen to turn a number of orphaned children into their own private super geniuses through a combination of experimental drugs and systematic abuse. This whole thing was, of course, unethical as balls. Most of the kids died and the rest went some flavor of nutsopants, producing Nine, Twelve, and Five. It's the backstory behind about half of anime's "tragic young genius" characters, but in this case its unoriginality is pretty much irrelevant. Terror in Resonance has telegraphed the direction its been going in from the beginning, and a sudden reversal of the status quo would only constitute a flaw. The show's value isn't in its premise, which is by no means unique (see Death Note, Eden of the East, etc.), but in its seeming determination to reach for the darkest, harshest ramifications of that premise.

I say seeming because it isn't there yet - Terror in Resonance needs to stick the landing, but so far it's made all of the right moves. Checkmate is in sight. It understands the heart of oppression, disaffection, and retaliation in a way that "power fantasy in social thriller's clothing" Death Note and executionally neutered Eden of the East don't. Above everything, Terror in Resonance is an empathetic show - empathetic towards pain and how it makes itself known through people's actions - and for that it must contain both light and darkness. In direct opposition to the repulsiveness of the show's subject matter, Twelve and LiSA's relationship is the most tender and optimistic love story I've seen all season. It's an oath toward the possibility of constructive happiness in the lives of two children who had previously known only destruction and despair. This proximity, or rather intermixing of the two aesthetics is what makes me love the show. It continues on its track to being a masterpiece.

Rating: A

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. She writes at animeintrospection.tumblr.com.

Terror in Resonance is currently streaming on Funimation.

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