Terror in Resonance Ep. 1: The cycle of abuse

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I’d say Terror in Resonance started off with a bang, but that’d be a little too corny, wouldn’t it? Nevertheless, the story is off to an exciting start, to say the least. As wary as I am about the premise involving two mischievous high-school-aged boys — they’re even represented as a pair of crows in the ED — there’s little to complain about elsewhere. The narrative is tight and fast-paced, and never once does the opening episode rely upon unnecessary exposition to establish its universe. The end result is… somewhat refreshing. If Terror in Resonance can keep this up for an entire season, I’ll be quite impressed.

As I’m sure you already know, the story revolves around Nine and Twelve, and how their terrorist attacks on Japan will change the complacent nation forever. Lisa, our heroine, is unluckily pulled into their world by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Nine and Twelve take notice of the girl mostly because of her eyes: “…Lisa Mishima has eyes like those kids at the institution.” Nevertheless, I don’t think there’s anything else remarkable about the girl and that’s the point. After all, she’s the character we’re meant to identify with. Whereas the boys are enigmatic, super-intelligent terrorists with a dark past, Lisa is an often bullied but otherwise normal high school girl. Yes, she eventually becomes an accomplice in their schemes, but she gets pulled into their world because of a series of unfortunate circumstances. Terror in Resonance is thus making a statement that this could’ve been any one of us. If we had been through what she’s been through, we, too, could find ourselves on the wrong side of tracks.

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The problem is that there’s no one to help kids like Lisa. No one notices the torment that she goes through every single day. No one but the boys, that is. But why only the boys? Seeing as how they’re escapees from some mysterious institute, that should tell you right there that the boys have undergone their own personal trials as well. So perhaps it takes one tormented soul to notice another one, but that shouldn’t be the case. It is the case only because the rest of the world have turned a blind eye to them. And it isn’t a stretch at all to say that victims of abuse will eventually lash out against the people and the world around them. We’ve seen this over and over in other first world nations. The United States itself has constantly had to deal with school shootings and murderous rampages committed by perpetrators who, in hindsight, desperately needed society’s help. Yes, these crimes are far less likely to occur in Japan, but even so, that’s no reason to be complacent.

Just because tragedies are less likely to occur in Japan does not mean that people should ignore the signs of potential abuse. But they have. Nine and Twelve are a bit of a unique circumstance. Like I’ve said, they are escapees from some mysterious institute that most people likely know nothing about. As a result, it’s hard to say society could’ve helped them, but we’ll see as the story develops. Nevertheless, who knows what they’ve been through? All we know is that they are now lashing out against the world. I don’t know what their ultimate goals are, but they are currently sending a message. Even the school shootings in America were about sending a message. And since people have turned a blind eye to Lisa for so long — I’m sure someone at her school must’ve noticed how lonely she’s been even if they can’t tell she’s being bullied — she has now fallen into the boys’ world. Just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time — a mistake anyone could make — Lisa is now an accomplice.

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Does she have it within her to put millions of lives in danger? She probably doesn’t think so, and few of us would say that about ourselves either, but again, that’s the point. Even though it is still very early in the story, if there’s anything Terror in Resonance wants to say, it’s that this could’ve been one of us. Anyone could find themselves taking a plunge into the abyss, and the real problem is that the rest of us are not paying attention. Early in the episode, we see a bunch of mean girls taunt and bully Lisa. “Fly high,” the girls say, but in reality, they want the girl to embarrass herself and jump into the school pool with her clothes on. They were nice enough to let her take off her shoes and socks, I guess. In a way, I suppose Twelve ends up saving her by taking the plunge into the pool himself. In the distance, we see Nine observing the entire situation stoically. This scene foreshadows a similar scene near the end of the episode.

As the boys’ terrorist attack on Shinjuku is underway, Lisa finds herself in a familiar situation: she has no choice but to jump. She’ll have to leap into Twelve’s arms if she wants to survive. Nevertheless, she’ll become an accomplice if she does. If the boys are ever caught, so too will she. Nine even tells her that there’s no going back, i.e. she’s lost her innocence. Not only that, right before Lisa jumps, she hears her classmates telling her to “[f]ly high.” In both cases, you could say Twelve saves her. In both cases, you could say Nine is observing from a distance. In both cases, she is told by others to take the plunge. In first example, she’ll merely jump into a pool at first glance. In the second example, she’ll jump into complicity, forever linked to these boys’ horrible crime. If the first scene foreshadows the second scene, then perhaps the pool is more meaningful than we think. Rather, the pool represents the deep end or the harrowing abyss.

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Although Lisa did not literally jump into the pool at the start of the episode, we can already assume that she has been drowning in her despair for quite some time now. After all, this probably isn’t the first time those girls have bullied her. Not only that, the ED features Lisa drowning in a body of water before a hand reaches out and saves her. So like I’ve said, she’s already in the abyss. She just now discovers that there are other people in there with her. But there’s even more to this metaphor. In both cases, again, she’s being goaded by others to jump. In the first scene, her classmates are her abusers, teasing and taunting her. If they had been nice to her, perhaps she wouldn’t be as lonely as she is now. And if she wasn’t as lonely as she is now, she probably never would’ve caught the boys’ attention. In the second scene, the boys have assumed the mean girls’ roles. Yes, they “save” her, but their actions put her in danger in the first place. If she wants to live, she thus has no choice but to listen to them. Lisa ends up jumping from one group of abusers to another.

Stray observations:

— In another way, we are accomplices. We don’t watch Terror in Resonance hoping that the boys don’t succeed in their plans. I mean, perhaps later in the story, we’ll hope that they get caught. But right now? We do want to see Tokyo get rocked with explosions. We do want to see their acts of terror succeed. We wouldn’t have a story otherwise. Nevertheless, by even paying attention, we help to set the events in motion.

— So Nine and Twelve are escapees from an institute. We even see them break into a Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility, which must be no easy task. They’ve also planned out the attack on Shinjuku for quite some time now. Therefore, these two boys are very capable and very highly intelligent. Have they been experimented on? Are they special in some way? Perhaps they are not even entirely human. The possibilities are endless at the moment.

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— Speaking of the Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility, Nine and Twelve stole something very dangerous — dangerous enough that their pursuers were afraid to open fire on the two boys. Well, what would an anime about terrorism be without an atomic bomb rearing its ugly head at some point?

— What does VON mean or stand for?

— I thought it was an impressive bit of animation when we got the first-person perspective of the boys escaping on the snowmobile.

— The boys hide their bombs in Kururin, some generic, cutesy mascot. This is subversive in a way, because cuteness has often been used by the authorities to shape public perception in Japan, i.e. “authority cuteness.” The boys are using that same cuteness to attack the power structures of Japan. This is literally represented by skyscrapers — amalgamations of steel, concrete, and human ingenuity — crashing down to the ground, turning into dust and debris. Skyscrapers are part of what makes Tokyo an iconic city, after all. More importantly, however, Shinjuku represents an important commercial and administrative center in Tokyo. I mean, does this building look familiar to you?

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It should:

Japan, Tôkyô, Shinjuku, Metropolitan Government Office

 

It’s the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Cuteness is, therefore, being used to undermine authority.

— Does Twelve have an unnaturally keen sense of smell?

— Things seem to come in pairs in this first episode. Lisa, for instance, finds herself escaping to the restroom twice. She also feels sick in them twice. She even dumps her lunch into the toilet in the first instance. Is this a sign of some sort of eating disorder?

— Nine seems to be haunted by his dreams. Is Twelve less affected by their past, or is he just better at hiding his trauma, especially with his super positive personality? Is his cheerful demeanor just a facade or is it real?

— Nine mentions that they were too weak to save their friends, but things are different now. Is terrorism thus a display of power?

— In the panic and chaos, we see Twelve mocking the children’s fear. Just another sign that he’s a bit of a bully himself.

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29 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 1: The cycle of abuse”

  1. I really like the animation of this show. While I was watching, it felt like I was watching a movie, and not a t.v. series. Personally, I think there will be 1- 3 episodes that might be boring or not up to par with where the other episodes will be. But overall, I think this is the show that everyone should be hyping over, not akame ga kill.

    1. But overall, I think this is the show that everyone should be hyping over, not akame ga kill.

      People are hyping Akame ga Kill up?

      1. Yes. Not as much as there were before the season started, but I still a lot of people, on forums and video reviews, saying how awesome, they think, Akame Ga Kill is and how it’s going to be anime of the year.

      2. Akame ga Kill is to manga what Sword Art Online and Mahouka are to light novels. Well, not “that” popular and “may/may not be that bad”, but hyped up enough to the point that I’m hate blogging it along with SAO. Combine that with White Fox, who I’m pretty sure have become the new KyoAni/Shaft in terms of “I’ll watch it because this studio is doing it”, and you’ve got a lesser coming of Attack on Titan in the works. And a fraction of AoT’s popularity is still pretty large.

          1. It’s kind of a small, but growing, cult following compared to the other popular studios because they don’t have any real traits. It’s just that people really like what they adapt (particularly Steins;Gate, although Katanagatari, Jormungand, and Maou-sama have their loyal followers) to the point that they forgot White Fox did a shitty idol promotion show and a bland moe 4-koma adaptation just this year.

  2. I don’t really agree with the whole “Twelve saved her” viewpoint since something about him feels off, I can’t explain it but, out of the two he seems to be the more dangerous one and feels like he would do anything and not care about who gets involved, hurt or otherwise and would just stand there and smile, his “I like ants” comment kind of adds to my uneasiness.

    Nine feels like the more relatable or (for use of a better word) understandable of the two, to me he feels more like the true protagonist while Twelve feels like an antagonist in the making. I agree about what you said about Lisa except as I mentioned the “Twelve saved her” part.

    At least that’s my opinion, anyways great start to an interesting premise.

    1. I don’t really agree with the whole “Twelve saved her” viewpoint

      I also said, “Yes, they “save” her, but their actions put her in danger in the first place. If she wants to live, she thus has no choice but to listen to them. Lisa ends up jumping from one group of abusers to another.”

  3. I’ve only watched the raw so far, so any of my observations are founded on directing and not on script. It’s interesting that your interpretation of the episode is a rather cynical one, with which I somewhat disagree:

    the pool represents the deep end or the harrowing abyss.

    In the second scene, the boys have assumed the mean girls’ roles. Yes, they “save” her, but their actions put her in danger in the first place. If she wants to live, she thus has no choice but to listen to them. Lisa ends up jumping from one group of abusers to another.

    The opening of the episode makes explicit mention to how hot the weather is. Heat could be symbolic of the bullying Lisa faces; a pool is cold and the obvious antithesis to heat. If she had jumped into the pool at the start, just like Twelve did, she would have turned the bully’s weapon against them and triumphed. The reason she continued being bullied was because she didn’t have the courage to take the metaphorical leap.

    This image works with Twelve as well. In Nine’s dream we see the boys climbing a wall. What do you do after climbing a wall? Jump down. This is what we see Twelve do at the beginning of the episode – jump into the pool. This act of retaliation is what sets them free from the forces oppressing them, whether it be the mysterious facility or the Japanese government the boys are targeting.

    You talk about the boys as though they’re simply another round of abusers for Lisa. It’s certainly true that her life is going to be much more difficult as a criminal, but I think the focus of their act should be on the positive, on their freeing her from being bullied at school and whatever else is making her such a psychologically damaged person. As you say, the boys are represented by crows in the ED. These shots look like typical “dove flying” shots symbolising hope, only that the birds are black: you might say that, despite their obviously suspect methods, the boys are instilling hope or even salvation in Lisa’s life.

    Well, all that interpretation could just be me being optimistic and you being pessimistic. I should probably go watch the subbed version now.

    1. The reason she continued being bullied was because she didn’t have the courage to take the metaphorical leap.

      Not so easy to just show up to class in wet clothes. Obviously, Twelve doesn’t care. Then again, he’s a terrorist.

      This act of retaliation is what sets them free from the forces oppressing them, whether it be the mysterious facility or the Japanese government the boys are targeting.

      There’s more to them just setting themselves free. Escaping from an institute is setting yourself free. Blowing up buildings puts people at risk. Of course I’m going to be “cynical” about it.

      the boys are instilling hope or even salvation in Lisa’s life.

      The girl looks postively shit-scared at the end. I don’t see anything hopeful about it. She was caught between death and joining them. That wasn’t really a choice, per se.

      You talk about the boys as though they’re simply another round of abusers for Lisa.

      They are terrorists.

      Well, all that interpretation could just be me being optimistic and you being pessimistic. I should probably go watch the subbed version now.

      It’s all relative. I don’t consider my take pessimistic at all.

  4. It’s been quiet a while when I’ve seen villain protagonists who have raised my intrest like these two (Walter from BB & Red Crow from Scalped). This is the strongest first episode I’ve seen so far in this season (and maybe for some time in the future).

  5. Lisa reminded me of Moeka Kiryuu from Steins;Gate. I couldn’t say that both characters are similar but lisa seems needed and forgotten so it was Moeka and now Lisa is involved with some dangerous people doing dangerous activities so it was Moeka. So yeah, it seems the story will lead Lisa to the same route and she, sooner or later, will be participating in another act of terrorism pushed by her new “friends”

  6. Falling into another group of abusers as it may, I think there’s a chance Lisa might stop being the one who’s abused and become an “abuser” herself. With her becoming the boys’ accomplice comes the opportunity for her to finally lash back at a society she feels alienated from and that has turned a blind eye towards her suffering.

    1. I don’t disagree, but I don’t see the point in putting quotes around the word ‘abuser.’ If she’s takes part in the boys’ acts of terror, she has no moral ground to stand on.

  7. Very good first episode here. Speaking of shootings, someone mentioned how 9 and 12 (9/12, get it? Yeah… very subtle there…) have a plan that’s very resembling the one of the two boys from Columbine. So this is basically about a Japanese Columbine/9-11 hybrid. And however this will escalate in the future. The potential is tremendous, and the staff seems competent, so I have great hopes. Between this and Aldnoah Zero, this shapes up to be a great season if you like grandiose scenarios and, well, seeing people die in spades I guess.

    1. this shapes up to be a great season if you like grandiose scenarios and, well, seeing people die in spades I guess.

      Unlike a certain edgy anime this season, you don’t even see a dead body in this anime. Unless, of course, I missed it. If I’m right, however, I appreciate the show’s restraint. No need to see blackened torsos and sundered limbs just to understand the gravity of the situation.

      1. I think that was the case, yes, though I doubt it’ll stay that way through the whole series, given this premise.
        I’m not sure if you’re referencing Agame ga Kill or Aldnoah there (I’ll go for the first one), but Aldnoah still definitely beats this in body count with a huge headstart. It’ll be interesting to keep tabs on which one manages to up the ante week after week, if you’re into this kind of cynical things. But they’ll both surely offer us tons of suffering and moral greyness. Agame may only offer rather childish gruesomeness to counter – for the rest, it has all the moral ambiguity of Dragonball Z.

        1. I’m not sure if you’re referencing Agame ga Kill

          Yes, that. I think it’s puerile trash at the moment. That’s not to say I’m against seeing a dead body in any medium, but Akame ga Kill relishes the act of killing in an almost sadistic fashion.

        2. It’s definitely kind of silly in how it tries to be at the same time all EDGY and still can’t help but play the straightest shonen cliches ever. I can picture teens liking this because of how supposedly dark and stuff it is (while still feeling familiar enough that it doesn’t really upset them or their expectations too much)… but yeah. It’s a taste you grow out of.

  8. I actually hope they get caught fast. I actually share some my viewpoints with them, there is just 1 major issue I have with terrorist. Blowing up buildings and killing innocents is not how you set about change.

    1. Shinichiro Watanabe is a big music (particularly western music) fan & at times shows this in his work (Bebop & Champloo). So yeah, it’s very likely to refer them.

      1. I just found out there’s a song in the ost named ‘von’ and sung by an Icelander… so perhaps we’re heading to the meaning ‘hope’. I wonder if it’s a tribute as you said; not unlikely.

  9. >And since people have turned a blind eye to Lisa for so long — I’m sure someone at her school must’ve noticed how lonely she’s been even if they can’t tell she’s being bullied — she has now fallen in the boys’ world.

    Well, it is possible that the school admin noticed the bullying situation but there’s not much they can do apart from give a stern warning with the bullies. I noticed a lot of anime tend to use bullying as a way to isolate characters from their peers. IIRC, I don’t remember a situation that got better with teacher intervention and most of the time he/she were on their own.

    >If the first scene foreshadows the second scene, then perhaps the pool is more meaningful than we think. Rather, the pool represents the deep end or the harrowing abyss.

    Agreed, I liked how the show handled the two scenes in this episode. I think the jump could also represent the idea of taking a leap of faith into the unknown. Twelve, in some ways, feels more risky than Nine because the audience doesn’t have a full understanding for his actions. In the pool, I thought he “saved” her out of boredom but at the second scene he seems to be treating it almost as a joke.

    >If she wants to live, she thus has no choice but to listen to them. Lisa ends up jumping from one group of abusers to another.

    True, her overall situation seems to have escalated but maybe it’ll cause to be more in the assertive in the future? In both problems she is forced to act opposed to being pushed around by outside forces.

    >Have they been experimented on? Are they special in some way? Perhaps they are not even entirely human. The possibilities are endless at the moment.

    TBH, the two boys reminded me of no.6 well, the basic premise of a super-intelligent teen who plans to take revenge on a unknown organization. OK, hopefully it won’t disappoint me … like no.6 orz.

    >I mean, does this building look familiar to you?

    Eh, I can’t be the only one but I had flashbacks to 9/11. Ofc, there’s been other terrorist attacks but it’s the one event that I immediately latched on to.

    >She even dumps her lunch into the toilet in the first instance. Is this a sign of some sort of eating disorder?

    I thought this was connected to her bullying and her mother’s nagging via texts? The fansub didn’t translate the messages but I had a sense that she seems to be overly concerned with her daughter. She could also have eating disorder too.

    >Nine seems to be haunted by his dreams. Is Twelve less affected by their past, or is he just better at hiding his trauma, especially with his super positive personality? Is his cheerful demeanor just a facade or is it real?

    I have this odd sense that Twelve is the one we’re going be concerned about over Nine. I think both have been traumatized by the past but they chose to react to it in different ways.

    All said, this was a great first episode for TiR and impressive animation sequences. I look forward to the rest of the summer x)

    1. Well, it is possible that the school admin noticed the bullying situation but there’s not much they can do apart from give a stern warning with the bullies.

      That’s still turning a blind eye to it.

      True, her overall situation seems to have escalated but maybe it’ll cause to be more in the assertive in the future?

      She didn’t have a choice though. She basically had a gun to her head. Either you do this or you die. That’s… well, that’s a very bizarre form of assertiveness training if it is one.

      OK, hopefully it won’t disappoint me … like no.6 orz.

      As long as there isn’t a magical bee tornado, we’re probably safe.

      Eh, I can’t be the only one but I had flashbacks to 9/11. Ofc, there’s been other terrorist attacks but it’s the one event that I immediately latched on to.

      Well, we each bring our own experiences into a story when we try to relate to it. I’m merely pointing out why Shinjuku was targeted.

      I thought this was connected to her bullying and her mother’s nagging via texts?

      Who knows. She kept getting sick so I was thinking some sort of disorder. No need to dump the food just because you’re being nagged at.

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