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.
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
— 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?
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.