Anime Spotlight: Terror in Resonance

Terror in Resonance is an anime series produced by MAPPA and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe. In addition, the music was produced by Yoko Kanno. The series aired on Japanese television from July 10-September 25, 2014. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American streaming rights for Terror in Resonance.

At the beginning of the first episode, the audience is shown a terrorist attack that takes place at a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility in Aomori, Japan. The audience sees that there are two terrorists involved in the incident.

The story then jumps ahead six months, and the setting is now in Tokyo. Two boys, who call each other Nine and Twelve, are transferring into school there. They see a girl named Lisa Mishima being bullied by several girls, and Twelve intervenes. We see the two of them being introduced as transfer students: Nine is introduced as Arata Kokonoe, while Twelve is introduced as Toji Hisami. Twelve ends up being in the same class as Lisa.

Meanwhile, a group of men that includes one named Shibazaki, find a video online labeled as “Sphinx Weather Forecast.” There are two guys wearing masks, and they give a weather report: “Tokyo will be enveloped by darkness after 3 p.m. Large sparks will fly, scattered around the Shinjuku area. Use caution when leaving the house.” Most of the guys think it’s an early summer vacation prank, but Shibazaki isn’t so sure.

We learn that Nine has a recurring nightmare about kids at an institution that couldn’t be saved because they were weak.

The next day, Nine and Twelve are at a public building, where they cause a blackout so they can hide explosives around the building. Lisa is also there, and Twelve comes across her. He hands her one of the explosives, which is hidden inside a stuffed toy, and tells her to promise him that she won’t let go of it until he says she can.

Twelve rejoins Nine as the lights come back on, and Nine uses his cell phone to start activating the explosives. Twelve tells Nine about Lisa, and they call her cell phone. Nine gives Lisa two options: she can either die or become their accomplice. Since she doesn’t want to die, she becomes their accomplice. We learn that Lisa also comes from a home where her mother is very clingy because Lisa’s father ran out on them. Lisa doesn’t want to deal with her anymore, so she runs away from home and eventually comes to stay with Nine and Twelve.

As Nine and Twelve continue to confound the authorities with riddles and bombs, Shibazaki takes on the case, and it becomes kind of a game of cat and mouse. As the series progresses, a new character named Five is introduced, and she’s made it her personal mission to take down Nine and Twelve.

After I watched the first episode, I thought the animation looked good, and that Yoko Kanno was delivering another good anime score. Story-wise, I thought the series was off to a promising start, even if it was a little slow to get going. Once the story started to become more established over the course of the episode, it intrigued me enough to keep my interest.

By the end of Episode Five, it felt like the story had been kicked up a notch, due to the introduction of Five and the potential issues that Shibazaki faced in this episode. But at this point, I found myself not feeling terribly sure about Lisa as a character, because she just didn’t seem to have much of a purpose. She was starting to feel more like a prop than anything else.

At the end of Episode Six, I found myself wondering if I should truly be rooting for anyone. Nine and Twelve were the main characters, but I wasn’t sure I could root for them with everything they’d done up to that point. Five may have been affiliated with the authorities, but she was only looking out for her own interests, so I couldn’t root for her. Lisa still hadn’t done much of anything at that point, and the closest character there was to a “good guy” was Shibazaki.

At the end of Episode 10, I was still rather frustrated with Lisa as a character. At this point, she’d either been a prop or becomes the “damsel in distress.” Also, I was also feeling frustrated by the overall lack of character development for both Nine and Twelve, who are supposed to be the main characters of the series.

After finishing the series, I came to see how it only touched on its themes and most of its characters on a purely surface level. The only character to truly have any character development was Shibazaki. Lisa seemed to have the least development; all we seem to know about her is the fact that she was being bullied and had an extremely clingy mother. Episode 12 attempted to make Lisa a more important character in the series, but at that point, it was simply too little, too late. Two of the characters were killed at the end of the episode. However, since they were only known to the audience on a surface level, it was hard to feel any kind of emotion when they died.

Terror in Resonance is a story that had so much promise, but in the end, it didn’t deliver as I’d hoped. It’s got good animation, great music, and an interesting premise. Unfortunately, the series was ultimately lacking in its overall execution. It reminds me a lot of cotton candy: it looks good, tastes great, but in the end it still leaves you feeling empty.

I’m glad I was able to watch Terror in Resonance as it was streaming, but it’s not a series I’m going to be in a hurry to watch again or to add to my anime home video collection.

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