Terror in Resonance Ep. 3: Tit-for-tat

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Mukasa wonders out loud, “Anyway, don’t you think Sphinx is lonely, too? They probably just want attention.” It’s funny how the most clueless guy in these stories will typically to hit the nail right on the head. Shibazaki’s corpulent co-worker is right: the boys are an extreme example of attention-seeking teenagers. And as always, the problem on our hands is that they don’t care if the attention they get is good or bad. They just want attention period. They just want to open up a dialogue even if it ends up being an abusive shouting match. We’ve all seen or heard about it, i.e. young people acting out in self-destructive ways if they feel as though they’re being neglected. In this week’s episode, we are starting to learn just exactly how neglected Nine and Twelve — and other children like them as well — really were. In Nine’s flashback, we get a glimpse of what life was like at that mysterious institute we’ve only heard about till now. One of the “caretakers,” a lady, told the kids, “A name is usually a gift of love. But for you who have been abandoned, love does not exist. Signs of pretense like that must be eliminated. I will now give you new names to be called.” Needless to say, this is a form of psychological and emotional abuse.

First, the abuser destroys your identity by taking away your name. This deletes any lingering attachment these kids may have had to their previous lives. Second, the abuser insists that these kids had been abandoned. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t, but regardless, the abuser now becomes these kids’ savior. They were abandoned, but now they are saved. The mysterious institute feeds and cloth them. Would you rather go back to the real world where nobody loves you? The kids have no choice but to stay (not that they could leave without a fight). The kids then become dependent upon the mysterious institute. Essentially, the abuser wants these kids’ loyalty. Most importantly, however, the abuser tells these kids that they are not loved. Even though the mysterious institute has effectively become these kids’ parent, at the same time, the institute will not give these kids anything close to resembling parental love. Nine and Twelve are thus acting out because they want attention from their “parent.” By bombing the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and a police station, it’s clear that the boys have equated the mysterious institute with the Japanese state. The Japanese state is now their “parent,” and they want attention from their “parent.”

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Near the end of the episode, Shibazaki reaches out to the boys the best way he knows how: through an online video stream. You’ll notice that there are a lot of mirrored actions in this week’s episod. In any case, Shibazaki tells Nine and Twelve that this is not a game. More importantly, he insists that the plutonium in their possession is not a toy. Seeing as how he’s a “second-generation atomic bomb victim,” the potential for another nuclear attack hits a sore nerve with Shibazaki, especially when the perpetrators are Japan’s own children. But despite the boys’ riddles, they’re not actually playing games. Again, Nine and Twelve just want attention from their “parent,” the Japanese state, in the worst way possible. But why the riddles then, if this is not a game? In that same flashback, we see researchers watch and take notes as the kids played with puzzles. There’s no doubt these researchers were testing and observing the children’s cognitive abilities. Did this mysterious institute have something to do with experiments regarding superhuman intelligence? This would explain why Nine and Twelve are seemingly, well, capable of anything.

We learn this week that Nine had created a fake identity in order to infiltrate the nuclear reprocessing facility. We also learn this week that they had the means and capabilities to set up a fake bank account, and transfer large sums of money into someone else’s bank account without detecting anyone’s notice. These kids can create bombs. These kids are expert hackers. These kids are several steps ahead of the authorities. These kids have in-depth knowledge of Greek and Japanese mythology for no other purpose than to stump intelligent adults with riddles. Basically, these kids are geniuses. Everything they do is well-thought-out — perhaps too well-thought-out. At times, the audience must suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy the narrative. For example, even if Nine had created a fake identity, how can his physical appearance alone fail to arouse anyone’s suspicions? Don’t you need a high level of security clearance to work in a nuclear reprocessing facility? And how on earth would a young person — much less a teenager — manage that? Perhaps the mysterious institute was in the business of creating a new breed of super-intelligent child soldiers. Who knows! At the moment, anything’s possible.

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But back to my original point… why the riddles then if this is not a game? Because it’s justice. It’s probably safe to assume that playing with jigsaw puzzles wasn’t the only thing the kids had to do at this mysterious facility. It’s also probably safe to assume that the kids had to push their mental limits in ways we have yet to see. And let’s say some of the kids didn’t do well. Not everyone’s going to excel in such a cold, loveless environment, after all. Someone had to crack. Someone had to resist, purposefully mess with the experiments, etc. What do you suppose happened to that? Don’t you think he or she might have been punished for it? In order to keep this kids in line, don’t you think the mysterious institute might have abused the kids in other ways? We’ve already seen how their “caretakers” weren’t afraid to resort to psychological and emotional abuse in order to brainwash these kids. I can’t help but imagine that there was a lot worse we haven’t seen. So back to the present, Nine and Twelve likely sees what they’re doing as justice. Tit-for-tat. You made us play games, and if we either failed or resisted, you punished us. So now you get to play games. If you refuse to play, the bomb will go off. And if you fail, a bomb will go off too. Fair’s fair. The boys are merely mirroring the actions of their abusers.

Stray observations:

— As previously stated, Shibazaki is a “second-generation atomic bomb victim.” More specifically, he’s from Hiroshima. He then tells us why he hates summer so much. When he was a kid, Hiroshima would feel like a ghost town because none of the old people would want to come outside. What’s interesting, however, is what Shibazaki doesn’t outright point out: there was a lack of kids in his hometown. As a result, his youth was essentially stolen away from him even if he hadn’t lived through Hiroshima’s bombing. Basically, this is a reminder that the consequences of a nuclear attack can and will span across multiple generations. Even to this day, Japan feels the effects of the two atom bombs that had been dropped on their soil.

— Shibazaki asks for a chair, claiming that he has a bad back. He then proceeds to sit on it backwards. What a troll.

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— As we’ve discussed in previous weeks, Lisa is also a victim of abuse. In a way, however, she also serves as a foil to both Nine and Twelve. Whereas the boys are seeking attention — good or bad — from their “parent,” Lisa gets too much attention from both her mother and the bullies at school. People in situation would normally have suicidal thoughts. Is there thus any significance to the fact that she tries to reach out to the two boys? After all, Twelve threatened to kill her if she rats them out.

— It’s always amusing when someone says they’ll take responsibility if something bad happens. If only it was that simple…

— Twelve says getting involved with Lisa will only make it more painful later. What will be more painful and why? Do the two boys intend to die when this is all said and done?

— Not that I don’t like mythology, but is the anime really going to reference a new mythological being every week? This time around, we learn all about Arahabaki. Hey, I recognize him from my Shin Megami Tensei games!

— I have to laugh at the way Shibazaki stumbles upon the solution to the riddle:

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Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time an off-topic conversation with a secondary character allows the lead detective to realize what he needs to solve the crime, I’d be filthy rich:

Detective: “Yo, what’s up?”
Minor Character: “Pretty good. Except Susan growled at me this morning because I forgot to take out the trash last night.”
Detective: “You gotta help around the house. You don’t want her to feel neglecte–… wait a minute, didn’t the dog that growl at everyone today when we paid the crime scene a visit? But if you check the 911 phone call the victim had made, the dog made no sound at all! The victim must have been killed by someone the dog is familiar with. I gotta go!”

Granted, it isn’t that bad in this week’s episode of Terror in Resonance, but this trope still needs to die out badly.

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9 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 3: Tit-for-tat

  1. Aqua

    I think its also fair to note that those puzzles the kids were messing around with were milk puzzles, and seemed to have quite a fair number of pieces at that, which I think helps push the idea that this institute was trying to create some sort of child geniuses

    Reply
  2. Rio

    I’m almost certain that Nine and Twelve have some sort of hightened memory. Also, I have a feeling that there’s more going on than just two teenagers reaching out for attention. I guess we’ll find out eventually. And that detective must be a huge mythology buff or something to know the lineage of Oedipus’ mother. Hell, I know who Jocasta is, but I still had no idea that she was supposed to be a dragon.

    Reply
  3. Valerie

    I didn’t like how the riddle was solved either.
    I really like this anime so far but I really wish they weren’t teens. I know they are geniuses but still bothers me. I guess I’m just stick of main characters being too young.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I really like this anime so far but I really wish they weren’t teens.

      Yeah, it’s largely why I wasn’t too excited about the anime when I first heard about it.

      Reply
  4. mexicano21

    Nine and Twelve remind me of Monster’s Johan. Like the protagonists here, Johan was raised in a institute where he and other children were tortured as a form of training, somehow escaped and then lashed back against the society. Even Tenma (Monster’s detective) resembles Shibazaki (http://www.imfdb.org/images/thumb/8/8c/Monster_CZ75_05.jpg/500px-Monster_CZ75_05.jpg).

    If the similarities I’m seeing are intentional, maybe Lisa will be like Anna/Nina.

    One way or another, the incident that Shibazaki tried to investigate 15 years ago probably have something to do with the boys’ institute and by investigating it now Shibazaki will clash again with the old enemies. And is not impossible that he could have prevented all this terror from happening if he could had done the right thing in the past (which, incidentally, is a theme in Monster too).

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The fat guy is funny. I don’t think the way Shibazaki reaches his conclusion itself is funny.

      Reply
  5. Rae (@CSrae)

    Did this mysterious institute have something to do with experiments regarding superhuman intelligence? This would explain why Nine and Twelve are seemingly, well, capable of anything.

    I swear, I got flashbacks to Death Note when I saw the blank jigsaw puzzles. Hmm–at the rate of super secret orgs showing up in series it looks like a thing that the govt funds regularly ಠ_ಠ

    At times, the audience must suspend their disbelief in order to enjoy the narrative. For example, even if Nine had created a fake identity, how can his physical appearance alone fail to arouse anyone’s suspicions?

    I admit that Sphinx are a little too capable, even for imaginary antagonists, and maybe the police are a little too slow to catch up to them except for Shibazaki. Some teens can look pretty old if one is not paying that much attention. I still find it odd that they can’t find any copy of the photo ID on their systems.

    It’s also probably safe to assume that the kids had to push their mental limits in ways we have yet to see. And let’s say some of the kids didn’t do well. Not everyone’s going to excel in such a cold, loveless environment, after all.

    Reminds me, the light-haired kid showed up in the PV looking older, so we can expect to his appearance later on as the series progresses.

    People in situation would normally have suicidal thoughts. Is there thus any significance to the fact that she tries to reach out to the two boys?

    Hmm–I did wonder exactly what Lisa planned to achieve by running away? I mean, there’s not much she can do on her own with limited means and connections. Perhaps, she wa curious if anyone would pick up the call?

    Twelve says getting involved with Lisa will only make it more painful later. What will be more painful and why? Do the two boys intend to die when this is all said and done

    I think it’s safe to assume a fatalistic POV for Sphinx. I guess this is their final stage and they can die with no regrets. Maybe Lisa will change them for the better, who knows? :3c

    This time around, we learn all about Arahabaki. Hey, I recognize him from my Shin Megami Tensei games!

    Yes, finally all those hours in the velvet room paid off :D On a more serious note, I think it’ll be a mythological theme with their name being Sphinx and riddles so far.

    Granted, it isn’t that bad in this week’s episode of Terror in Resonance, but this trope still needs to die out badly.

    Then again, P-P had secret forums where scientists and other shady people discuss how to destroy JP society in their free time. Eh, I agree how shows with mystery themes tend to use overuse it at times.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Some teens can look pretty old if one is not paying that much attention.

      There are exceptions, but it’s more than that. Comparing a teen to a young person in college can be tricky at times. But comparing a teen to someone who works at a nuclear facility? I just don’t buy it.

      Hmm–I did wonder exactly what Lisa planned to achieve by running away?

      Maybe her thought process is simple: get away from the toxic situation. Then again, the first thing she did was call Twelve. Still, it makes me wonder whether or not Japan has shelters to help runaway children.

      Maybe Lisa will change them for the better, who knows? :3c

      I’m not sure how I’d react to potential redemption for our terrorists. I mean, I guess it’s still plausible since somehow — somehow — they haven’t killed anyone. But eh…

      Reply

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