Terror in Resonance Ep. 2: Tragic irony

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“The police have concluded that this was not an accident, but an act of terror,” says a reporter, “and have announced that they will do everything they can to find the truth.” But what is the truth? Throughout the episode, both the police and the media are determined to discover the identities of the two masked terrorists, but would that really get us closer to the truth? Don’t get me wrong, though. I understand the need to identify and apprehend the two boys before anyone can get hurt. Nevertheless, nowhere do I see an earnest discussion with regards to why this is all happening. Japan has made a lot of enemies outside of its borders, but it is clear that these attacks are not from a foreign threat. Rather, the threat is coming from within; two individuals are lashing back against their own nation. “Why?” thus becomes one of the most important questions that no one seems to be asking. It becomes clear why this week’s episode has such a heavy emphasis on the Greek tragedy of Oedipus Rex.

Oedipus swore that he would find the truth behind King Laius’s death, but one of the play’s many ironies is that he could not see the truth until he had physically blinded himself. In other words, despite being clear-eyed, Oedipus is actually blind to the truth whereas Tiresias, the blind seer, could “see” the world for what it is: “So, you mock my blindness? Let me tell you this. You with your precious eyes, you’re blind to the corruption of your life…” The media in Terror no Resonance, like the media in the real world, is quick to move. As soon as the investigators had made their way to some DNA research facility — they think the second bomb is planted here — news stations are immediately at the scene with multiple camera angles: “Is the bomb set by the Bomb Devils really in this building?” But as I’ve said, the irony here is that for all their clear vision, they are no closer to the truth. Instead, the media have been led astray because they are reliant on one of Japan’s many power structures, i.e. the police.

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We used to think of journalists as being investigators in their own rights. These days, however, the media has become a show, a circus, a farce. They’re not actively seeking the truth for themselves. Rather, they’ve become complacent; they’ve become leeches. In an ideal world, a journalist would seek to understand why this is all happening. In last week’s post, for instance, we had talked about how one of society’s many sins is turning a blind eye to the abused. The media plays a part in this. The media has a responsibility to shed light on any potential corruption or abuse occurring around them. These two boys are trying to send a message, and someone should try to understand what that message is. It’s clear, however, that the news are not interested in anything but the standard, ratings-grabbing type of reporting. Calling our perpetrators “Bomb Devils” is a perfect example of this. In some twisted way, they’ve glorified the terrorists’ actions. The media is thus blind to the truth.

There other parallels to Oedipus Rex in this week’s episode of Terror in Resonance. For instance, we watch as the investigators lead themselves down the wrong path. The bomb is not at some DNA research facility. Rather, the bomb is within their own “home,” so to speak. It’s almost like how the terrorists are not some exotic, foreign threat, but rather, the terrorists are Japan’s own children. As a result, we have for ourselves a bit of dramatic irony. The similarities, however, don’t end there. Our two boys serve as twisted prophets, giving people a glimpse into where the next attack will occur. The investigators think they have stumbled onto the truth, though. After all, their cursory research into the Sphinx’s riddle have yielded an answer: man! More importantly, the number of legs in the riddle corresponds to some street address! They can thus find the bomb and prevent any more casualties from occurring. But like in Oedipus Rex, there are limits to our free will. And sure enough, the prophecy from our twisted prophets come true when the bomb goes off anyway.

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I can’t help but wonder, however, if waking up a slumbering nation is even worth it. I mean, let’s assume the boys are aiming to open Japan’s eyes. The boys have suffered at the hands of their abusers, so now they’re saying to the rest of the nation, “Open your eyes and see the corruption that has festered within your own country!” There are merits to this, I must admit. Nevertheless, a certain scene in this week’s episode gives me pause. At one point, Nine disguises himself as a ramen delivery boy, and plants a bomb deep within the police’s headquarters. You can’t help but think, “Wow, any one of those cops at the station could’ve caught him, but they didn’t. They were too trusting.” But were they really too trusting? Shortly after the “Tokyo subway sarin attack,” I believe the nation went into a bit of a collective shock. People couldn’t believe something so terrible could happen in their own nation. There’s a certain innocence here that has to be admired. Do we really want people to be so cynical that they begin to suspect a ramen delivery boy?

Speaking from personal experience, the incidents of 9/11 changed America for the worse in a lot of respects. Ridiculous security measures, limitless wiretappings, growing mistrust and fear of Muslim-Americans and foreigners, etc. Like in the anime, few people asked why 9/11 happened. Instead, most people were concerned with preventing something like it from happening again. The boys in Terror in Resonance may think they’ll eventually open the nation’s eyes to the truth, but they may very well end up creating a worse situation. They may very well create a nation full of fearful, distrustful people. This is why I found it odd when a lot of viewers referred to Nine and Twelve as potential saviors, especially with regards to Lisa. No matter what these boys have been through at that mysterious institute, terrorism can’t be the answer. As the series progresses, and the boys continue to get away with their crimes, I’m curious to see how the Japanese government will react. It may take extreme measures and overstep its boundaries. If this happens, then the Japanese government will become tyrannical and thus echo yet another theme from Oedipus Rex.

Stray observations:

— The start of this week’s episode evokes some rather stark ground zero-esque imagery:

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— I thought Lisa’s mom was way over-the-top, and as a result, her character took me out of the story just a bit.

— Nobody died? None? That’s silly. Like I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t need to see bloodied bodies and severed limbs, but I think it’s ridiculous that nobody died.

— Nine can’t help but ask about Lisa, so Twelve casually asks if Nine is worried about her. I wouldn’t say he’s concerned about her just yet. Yes, she reminds him of the children back at the institute, so as a result, he and Twelve spared her life. It’s clear, however, that they don’t intend to recruit her into their fold since Twelve insists that she is not like them. He even uses the word ‘nakama’ for added effect. As such, I maintain that the two boys are her abusers and not her saviors. They are using fear, after all, to keep her from talking. In a twisted way, however, you could still call them saviors ’cause a lot of abusers see themselves in this light.

— I found it somewhat amusing when one of the characters exclaimed, “This is a direct challenge to the police force!” It’s like he couldn’t believe anyone would dare to do such a thing. It’s clear, however, that most of these investigators are too limited in their perspective to get the job done, i.e. they can’t see the truth even if they tried. On the other hand, Shibasaki represents this wizened veteran who’s willing to think outside the box, which is why he’s being pulled back into the field one last time. Still, why has he been working in the archives department up until now? It must have been some sort of self-imposed “injury” to his career, ’cause otherwise, I think he’d be in some cushier office job. Instead, he gets to perform menial task of… whatever it is that you do in the archives department. Probably cataloguing… lots and lots of cataloguing.

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Assuming that Shibasaki has, however, done a number to his own career, is he thus the “blind seer” who will help lead the rest of the investigators to the two boys? Or maybe he’ll lead them to an even bigger truth.

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20 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 2: Tragic irony

  1. Flawfinder

    And I was so blind that I did not get how Oedipus Rex fit into the whole story initially. Too focused on the “what?”. Well, that and I prefer to let the intense dialogue wash over me and think about it later. I’m digging it, but I know a fair amount of people who find the show to be full of itself due to the dialogue. Guess they’re not fans of political thrillers in the vein of stuff like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

    Well, there’s also the high school terrorist thing in a serious story. Obviously, you and I don’t consider it to be a deal breaker, but I’ve got nothing to say to that beyond “eh, maybe they’re lab experiments or something”. Which would open a whole ‘nother can of worms, but let’s not go there yet.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I know a fair amount of people who find the show to be full of itself due to the dialogue.

      Did these same people also happen to like Mawaru Penguindrum? ‘Cause if they did, that would be hilarious.

      Well, there’s also the high school terrorist thing in a serious story.

      Well, I’ve always been upfront about it. I wasn’t excited for the show because the terrorists are a pair of high school students. But yeah, like you’ve said, it’s not a deal breaker. In fact, it’s done and over with. It’s time to move on and just focus on the actual story.

      Reply
        1. Anon

          Why would people think this anime is ‘full of itself’ when the dialogue is related to the events and not just some lazy exposition or preaching about some personal philosophies? I mean hey, if you like No Game No Life then the irony would be pretty strong on that front.

  2. Anonymous

    I’m really liking this anime, and I love reading your posts because I usually don’t pay that much attention or analyze when I’m watching.
    It’s a bit weird that Lisa doesn’t appear or say much, I wonder If she’ll actually play a big role in the story.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I think her story will come into its own eventually. Because the first bombing had just taken place, however, it was much more important to address how the authorities would respond to the current situation. Since the anime has less than a half hour each week to tell its story, Lisa had to take a backseat for now. Sometimes, I think anime storytelling would be a lot more organic if it could have hour-long slots, but then again, I’m sure they want to stretch this series out for an entire season.

      Reply
  3. flamerounin

    Nice review introduction. As a journalism graduate, I really can’t help but agree about the sad state of the media nowadays, particularly in my country (I am Filipino). It isn’t about exposing the truth anymore, but merely about ho get to the juicy, sensationalized bits first and top the ratings.

    As for the show itself, I really like how this is pacing itself. There is this certain air of mystery to it that truly draws and intrigues. and the soundtrack just fits in so well with everything.

    Reply
  4. Yen Nguyen (@yenissober)

    I stopped watching Eden of the East pretty early on when I tried it because I thought that its 9/11, ground zero stuff as unrelated action backdrop did a disservice to the power of those images. The ground zero imagery and tone here in Terror is much more fittingly serious and I was excited to have my stomach drop in the right way when I saw the opening images of this episode. That said, the show is going to have to pull its weight to successfully sell me on the idea that there were no casualties. Death in great numbers is something that a lot of media tries to dodge, but it’s arguably a necessary aspect of what we fear in a post-9/11 world.

    Reply
    1. Rae (@CSrae)

      I stopped watching Eden of the East pretty early on when I tried it because I thought that its 9/11, ground zero stuff as unrelated action backdrop did a disservice to the power of those images.

      Um, you do know there’s a official gift shop IRL at Ground Zero, right? I didn’t think it stood out when I watched the EotE movies. FWIW, it was a normal place for a tourist to visit if they happened to go to NY after the events of 9/11. Also, I think you’re comparing apples to oranges…

      Reply
  5. A_teo

    Saying there were not casualties during the explosion, and probably the same will apply to this second bomb, could be an attempt to keep the boys still as protesters (terrorism is no the way, though) and no as killers which they would be if someone died during these attacks.

    Reply
    1. Yen Nguyen (@yenissober)

      Yeah, it’s strictly a byproduct of the story that Watanabe wants to tell that things come together so cleanly. This allows Nine and Twelve to really be molded into emphatic ideologues with clear yes’es/no’s in how they do the things that they do. That said, it still takes me out of it.

      Reply
    2. SP

      They are trying to keep the body count to zero maybe for the sake of nine. Twelve doesn’t seems to have any qualm about killing others. Maybe there will be an episode where people will die, causing some change for both’s characters.

      Reply
  6. Gene

    I agree about the mom. “Distressed mom with mental issues”, especially fearing abandonment, is strangely common in anime and manga. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it with an adult male.

    Reply
    1. hiphip

      It’s only a slight exaggeration of how my mother acted after divorce – insecure and accusing. It’s common for women who have been taught to live for the purpose of having a family. I imagine even more so in Japan. Think what it is having failed at what you think was your reason for being.

      Reply
  7. Rae (@CSrae)

    These days, however, the media has become a show, a circus, a farce. They’re not actively seeking the truth for themselves. Rather, they’ve become complacent; they’ve become leeches.

    Eh, I don’t think it’s the complete media’s fault for relying on the police. Typically, the govt and police are seen as reliable sources for info about current events. As outsiders we can’t be 100% certain that certain orgs are untrustworthy from the start. Yes, it’s a good idea to have a variety of POV on a certain incident and not focus on one news source.

    Calling our perpetrators “Bomb Devils” is a perfect example of this. In some twisted way, they’ve glorified the terrorists’ actions.

    Interesting, my alt fansubs just referred them as “bombers.” I admit it does seem a bit over the top sensationalistic reporting.

    The boys have suffered at the hands of their abusers, so now they’re saying to the rest of the nation, “Open your eyes and see the corruption that has festered within your own country!”

    I think it’s closer to a full-fledged revenge plot than a message. IMHO, there are many ways to get a message across to a entire country but this is probably the most extreme path. By setting up the videos before the crimes and taunting the police using riddles seems … melodramatic?

    Like in the anime, few people asked why 9/11 happened. Instead, most people were concerned with preventing something like it from happening again.

    IIRC news were heavily censored/restricted right after the event (at least in NY) and people could not openly question the events w/o public scrutiny. I was young at the time but later on I watched a documentary about the incident and how the govt responded to it during HS. To say the least, it was a charged moment in US history and I can understand how the JP govt is restricting info to prevent panic.

    The boys in Terror in Resonance may think they’ll eventually open the nation’s eyes to the truth, but they may very well end up creating a worse situation.

    Pretty sure Nine and Twelve are only interested in creating a explosive reaction to the govt. However, if the nation gets in the way of their plans then let’s roll the dice.

    This is why I found it odd when a lot of viewers referred to Nine and Twelve as potential saviors, especially with regards to Lisa.

    I wouldn’t call them “saviors” more like catalysts instead would be a better term. They definitely fall into the gray zone of morality.

    I thought Lisa’s mom was way over-the-top, and as a result, her character took me out of the story just a bit.

    I figured they needed to give the audience a look into her home life based off all the texts she received earlier. I can kinda see how Lisa ended up the way she is at school if her family was unstable.

    Still, why has he been working in the archives department up until now? It must have been some sort of self-imposed “injury” to his career, ’cause otherwise, I think he’d be in some cushier office job.

    I hope the series does explain Shibasaki’s history sometime before the final episodes. We know that one point he was important enough to get a direct line to the Chief. Do you think he’s connected to the secret Institution?

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      As outsiders we can’t be 100% certain that certain orgs are untrustworthy from the start.

      It’s not about being untrustworthy. It’s about the media being entertainers instead of investigators.

      To say the least, it was a charged moment in US history and I can understand how the JP govt is restricting info to prevent panic.

      I’m not talking about a free-for-all dumping of information. I’m talking about how they’re not relaying anything useful to the public except to play up the sensationalist aspects of the story, i.e. “The police are rushing to this building right this second!” If anything, that creates more panic than an actual exploration of the boys’ motives.

      They definitely fall into the gray zone of morality.

      Grey is too generous.

      Reply
  8. Lim Cheng Yi

    from what you wrote about journalism, i cant help but think of our local news, where they are taking statements from facebook, from STOMP (which is our local cesspool of vile and hatred) and just running articles from them without verifying facts or in most case, photoshopping image to fit their story and mindlessly stirring up emotion just to sell their paper.

    Reply

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