Terror in Resonance Ep. 4: Humiliation

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Frustrated with their lack of progress, Hamura observes, “It feels like the more we chase the evidence, the further we get from those guys.”  Sure enough, the investigators end up chasing the evidence near the end of this week’s episode. Working off a bunch of blurry security camera footage, our investigators are confident they have “discovered where they are hiding.” Predictably enough, Nine and Twelve are still several steps ahead of the adults. Not only that, they had warned the Metropolitan Police Department not to cheat. Our terrorists had set up yet another riddle for the investigators to solve, but aside from Shibazaki, none of them seemingly want to play along. And whether Hamura likes it or not, that’s the problem. To put it another way, the rest of the investigators think too much like Hamura: “You’re giving them too much credit. I don’t think those kids could pull off a stunt like that.” But it’s silly to be this dismissive, isn’t it? After all, these kids managed to steal plutonium. Plutonium. So why wouldn’t the kids be able to “pull off a stunt like that?” Why would you be this dismissive of the boys’ capabilities after everything that they’ve seen (forging identities, infiltrating the police station to plant a bomb, cutting power to an entire block, etc.). I think I know why. It’s because ageism is a thing in many East Asian cultures.

Hamura’s in a unique position. He’s not as experienced as Shibazaki, so he has to yield to the older gentleman’s expertise and knowledge. At the same time, however, he’s being stumped by — in his eyes — a pair of high school kids. I suspect this makes Hamura feel like a dunce. He’s been trained to approach this problem in a certain way, but his methods are not working. The work he’s put into his career is coming up empty. Nine and Twelve are making fools out of the entire police force, but being the young, hot-headed investigator that he is, Hamura must be boiling on the inside. This would explain why he is so over-eager to pull Shibazaki away from the riddle: “Those guys have finally made a mistake. Let’s head over immediately.” That last part is what gets me. Why is it necessary for everyone to head over immediately? Why can’t Shibazaki stay in one place and continue working on the riddle? Y’know, just to be safe? It’s because Hamura wants to prove a point. He wants to prove to everyone — especially Shibazaki — that the adults still have a handle on the situation. He also wants to prove that the culprits are nothing more than a pair of disrespectful kids. So when Shibazaki says he’d rather stay and try to answer the riddle, Hamura explodes: “You’re just enjoying the game like those kids!”

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The problem, of course, is that the adults don’t have a handle on the situation. In fact, they have no clue what they’ve stumbled themselves into. There are no explosives in this week’s episode. Rather, the bomb was an “information bomb” all along. Nine had compromised not only the Metropolitan Police Department’s intranet, but their Twitter account as well. To humiliate and discredit the investigators, he thus leaks the investigation reports onto the internet. But that’s the thing: these investigation reports say nothing. To put it another way, these investigation reports are a clear sign that the authorities are not even close to catching our terrorists. And now, the entire world gets to see the investigators’ failures. Since adults like Hamura refuse to take Nine and Twelve seriously, Nine has made it so that the world at large won’t take the investigators seriously. For Hamura’s sake, he should probably stop being so dismissive of his foes regardless of their age. He should also try taking a few pointers from Shibazaki. What makes Shibazaki so different from the rest of the team is that he’s willing to empathize.

Shibazaki is also willing to play the boys’ games, so when people like Hamura see this, they probably think the veteran investigator isn’t taking the case seriously enough. But that’s where they’re dead wrong. Shibazaki is so serious about this case that he’s willing to think like Nine and Twelve. He takes the long trip out to Aomori in this week’s episode, and right there and then, you can already draw a sharp contrast between him and the rest of his team. Everyone else seems content to sit on their asses and stay glued to their computers. They’re relying on their advantage of being the “Big Brother,” i.e. surveillance footage, easy access to credit card records, etc. It’s cheating, in a way. But more importantly, this puts the investigators at a distance. You can watch and observe people all you want, but you won’t understand them if you don’t put yourself in their shoes. This is one of the big reasons why Shibazaki took himself to Aomori: “I wanted to feel it. The view they saw. The sounds they heard. The air they breathed. To feel those things.” He’s willing to understand them, but in order to do so, he also has to be willing to think and feel like them.

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But is there a danger in this? Can you go too far in putting yourself in the villain’s shoes that you start to become them? Like how a method actor might go crazy if he or she pretends to be a serial killer for too long? At Shibazaki’s age, this is probably not a worry for him. After all, he’s felt the effects of the atomic bombings bad enough that he won’t let the boys joke around with the plutonium in their possession. But while Shibazaki’s mentality is likely secure, the same cannot be said about Lisa. She may have never intended to become a villain, but she sure is following in the boys’ footsteps. Why does Twelve take pity on the girl, though? Why does he go against his own advice and get too close to the Lisa? Because both he and Nine see themselves in her. Consider what she tells Twelve the first time they speak to each other in this week’s episode: “It’s not like I have anywhere to go home to… I’m so stupid. At that time, I thought I could escape. I thought I’d be taken somewhere out of this world. I got my hopes up a little. But that’s impossible, isn’t it? I’m not playing by the rules. As if anyone would just take me away when I wanted to.” I believe Lisa is echoing sentiments that Nine and Twelve had both shared at one point in their lives.

Lisa may not be a super-intelligent child from some mysterious institute, but her story’s the same. Why did we see scenes after scenes of her life on the streets? Because Nine and Twelve had gone through the same thing. How do you suppose the boys felt shortly after they had escaped from the institute? Did they instantly find a home? Did they instantly find happiness? Obviously not, ’cause if they had, they wouldn’t be terrorizing Japan right now. Therefore, Lisa’s short monologue gives us a glimpse into Nine and Twelve’s turbulent pasts. Even after they had escaped, like Lisa, they had no home to go to. They had to make it on their own in the streets, and maybe, like Lisa again, they initially felt stupid for running away. They thought they could escape, but they merely escaped into a world they couldn’t trust. As I watched Lisa try to make it on her own, I couldn’t help but think, “Are there no shelters for runaway children in Japan?” There probably are, but we also have to consider Lisa’s mindset: “What if they just send me back to my mother?” And this was probably what Nine and Twelve thought as well at one point. Who could they turn to? Nobody. If they had tried to seek assistance, they’d just get sent back to the institute.

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With Twelve’s help, Lisa defies state authority for probably the first time in her life; she runs away from a pair of police officers who were trying to help her. Still, it’s likely they would’ve just sent her back home. But even though Twelve was there to take her away from this paricular situation, he still can’t take her “somewhere out of this world.” After all, he and Nine can’t even take themselves out of this world. That’s why, I suspect, they are now attacking Japan. If they can’t be taken out of this world, then… why not destroy it? Why not take it out? And when you consider how much Lisa’s story echoes the boys’ stories, she may come to the same conclusion as well. Shibazaki can try to think like Nine and Twelve in order to understand them, but again, I doubt he would ever agree with them; he would never become them. He’s a grown adult. He has a family. He knows what he wants in life. Lisa, however, is just a child. She has no family. She is completely lost in life. Lisa and Shibazaki are similar in that they are willing to follow in the boys’ footsteps, albeit unintentionally on Lisa’s part. Where they differ is that Lisa might just be weak enough that she actually becomes them. If no one can take her out of this world, she may as well help the boys take the world out.

Stray observations:

— It’s interesting to see virtual currency make its appearance in the anime. We can laugh at Bitcoins, Litecoins, and Dogecoins all we want, but there’s no denying that these virtual currencies allow people to participate in some underground, illicit trading.

— According to a witness, Nine suddenly got quiet when the witness had asked about his father. Nine has daddy issues, Lisa has mommy issues — just another thing to link the girl to our terrorists. Still, although I’m sure Nine has a biological father somewhere out there, wouldn’t it be more apt to say that the state of Japan is his actual father? Through the institute, you could say the state of Japan is responsible for creating the Nine that you see today. Not only that, considering the abuses they have suffered, you could also say the state of Japan had abandoned him. So maybe NIne is inspired by the story of Oedipus because he intends to kill his father, i.e. the state of Japan, one day.

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— What do you suppose “music from a cold land” could be?

— Ah, the boys are now elite hackers too. What can’t they do?

— Just to illustrate how disconnected Lisa is from her world, her peers are worrying themselves sick over first-world problems: “Anyway, I replied to him and it said he read it, but he never replied back.” Meanwhile, Lisa has no home to go to.

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17 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 4: Humiliation”

  1. “What do you suppose “music from a cold land” could be?”
    I presume it refers to Icelandic songs, a band from Iceland preformed songs for the soundtrack and all songs have titles written in Icelandic language.

  2. First of all, wow! I agree with the connections you made. Everything in this series is deep and there are meanings behind them -I can’t wait for next week!
    Second, I have a feeling that “music from a cold land” connects with how traumatized Nine is. He receives flashbacks of the institute and then his ears ring. I feel that the “music from a cold land” either take his mind off these flashbacks -and the ringing- or perhaps, even calm him down. Music is one of those things that makes your mind focus or dwell on it entirely. It could be his only escape. Furthermore, the “cold land” can refer to his and Twelve‘s pasts in the institute, also the winter-summer reference throughout the entire series, e.g. the last line in the opening is, “Winter will cover everything.” This ‘winter’ is the coldness that will embrace the world; the terrorist attacks. It’s possible that Nine has experienced this “cold land” for so long, has he experienced “warm land” before? Probably not. And he finds himself confronting this “cold land.” The “cold land” can also be what he knows of the world, through the institute. I think “cold land” can also reference to having no home in this world that he lives in. To rid this “cold land,” he must destroy it, thus he has decided to terrorize Japan with Twelve.
    The question can be, “Can’t the boys find a ‘warm land’ together?” Like you stated, they escaped into a world they cannot trust. I don’t think they have the hope to search for a ‘warm land.’ In a sense, the explosions calm them down. Relief even. The world they know is being destroyed. And it won’t end until they are captured –yet again. But once or if they are captured, they return to another ‘cold land.’ The question can be, what’s the point? No matter what is done, the world is cold.
    Ultimately, if you’re asking for specific sounds, I say that I imagine something that sounds icy. Not necessarily singing that include lyrics, but just sounds; melodies beautifully placed together. Soothing voices that reach high or low notes, maybe. Like a lullaby. Again, calm, soothing music. :-) Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the “music from a cold land” is actually silence. Silence symbolizes both peace and unsaid thoughts. Nine has emotions and thoughts kept inside that aren’t expressed; they cling to him, they stay and never leave him. This can be felt when Lisa said that Nine has eyes cold like ice. We’ll never see Nine’s warm eyes, like when he was a child, until he finds his peace. He needs peace to move on and live a happy life. I feel that the “music from a cold land” is both very distant and close to Nine.
    (Somewhere in the back of my heart, I feel that Nine and Twelve are searching for a ‘warm land.’ They may find it once the world is destroyed, by rebuilding it somehow –if they’re not captured or killed of course.)

    1. Peace will be found once the ‘warm land’ appears. Is that Nine and Twelve’s goal? It’s a goal for Lisa, whose life echoes Nine and Twelve. Perhaps the three characters have had the same goal or yearning their whole lives: a warm land; home. Shibazaki also seems sad and affected by his past, so he needs his warm land to be happy. Some even suspect that Lisa is Shibazaki’s daughter, since Lisa’s father ran away from home and Shibazaki is detached from his family… If Shibazaki is Lisa’s father, he may have left initially for work, but things worsened the more he investigated as justice or the truth was not found, e.g. the man who committed suicide in his hotel room and now the Sphinx case ignited him. Whatever the story was, he never kept in touch with Lisa and her mother again. So after Shibazaki left, home problems occurred and unfortunately, Lisa was bullied at school too. Shibazaki has a relation to Lisa having no home –if he is her father.
      Therefore, each character is looking for the same destination. However, they walk different paths on the “cold land.”

      1. Some even suspect that Lisa is Shibazaki’s daughter, since Lisa’s father ran away from home and Shibazaki is detached from his family…

        Hm, I hope not. I think that would be a bit too cheeky. But we’ll see.

    2. Just commenting to say interesting food for thought. I haven’t given the “music from a cold land” enough attention yet, so I don’t have much to add, but I’ll keep the ideas in mind for next week’s episode.

  3. I do not necessarily think of age-ism when it comes to Hamura. I think it would apply to most situations where there is a younger upstart who will disrupt the harmony in you daily life, proving that you or your methods were yesterday’s news. In fact I was just thinking back to Episode 2 where Kurahashi tells Shibazaki that these kids have stolen Plutonium and this information was highly confidential. This and then episode 3 where he says Shibazaki’s career takes a plunge after his overzealous insistence regarding a conspiracy. What if, Hamura and co. don’t really know the details behind the stolen plutonium? It would be stupid of the department not to let them know, but let’s say they do know it but do not take it seriously? Like Shibazaki’s conspiracy theory. The upper echelons didn’t take it seriously so how can the lower ranks follow it? I’m just trying to look at it from a different angle.

    (I also think Hamura is mad at Shibazaki because he doesn’t operate as-per-norm in their division. He sees him as an old relic who made it back just because he was some big shot previously)

    I also think this series is trying to take Oedipus story and subtly insert it into the characters themselves. Nine never spoke about his father which means we can probably say the same about twelve. Lisa also is missing a father and her mother has gone mad over that fact. Shibazaki himself is a father but his family isn’t elaborated yet and if he is divorced then his former family might regard him as ‘dead’. If the speculated issue of Lisa being his daughter is true, will she then lead him down the stairs to the underworld? For all we know Nine, Twelve and Lisa could subtly reproduce the story of Oedipus for us.

    I honestly have no clue regarding music from a cold land. It could be a song that gave Nine respite in the past or a song that is so aggravating that it constantly reminds him of why he set himself on this path. Of the 2, Nine is portrayed as the cold and calculated one. But seeing him suffer from bad memories and dreams perhaps hurts him even more as he doesn’t want to be seen as weak or fragile. The song then provides him a brief moment where he can indulge himself in it’s world and remind himself of something he musn’t forget.

    1. What if, Hamura and co. don’t really know the details behind the stolen plutonium?

      Even after taking away the plutonium knowledge, Sphinx’s plans have been far too elaborate for anyone to take them lightly just because they’re kids. In fact, it’s irresponsible to take them lightly considering that we’re dealing with heavily armed terrorists. So it still makes no sense to me that he would give them so little credit unless age is a factor.

  4. I think I know why. It’s because ageism is a thing in many East Asian cultures.

    I

    I agree that ageism is a thing in East Asia but I think they police are considering that Sphinx shown in the videos are just a proxies for a bigger organization. I know, there’s a lot of odd things going on with this series too.

    Rather, the bomb was an “information bomb” all along. Nine had compromised not only the Metropolitan Police Department’s intranet, but their Twitter account as well.

    The final moments of the bomb scene were well done and for a minute I had no idea what would happen next when the timer didn’t stop. Although, I know Twitter is popular in Japan, I still find it odd that the local police have a official account :|

    As I watched Lisa try to make it on her own, I couldn’t help but think, “Are there no shelters for runaway children in Japan?” There probably are, but we also have to consider Lisa’s mindset: “What if they just send me back to my mother?”

    IIRC there was a article I read a few years ago and some runaway kids end up staying overnight at manga/internet cafes to stay off the streets at night. If the police do find runaways they end up calling their families to retrieve them. I guess, Lisa doesn’t really have many options =/

    But even though Twelve was there to take her away from this particular situation, he still can’t take her “somewhere out of this world.” After all, he and Nine can’t even take themselves out of this world.

    I’m still not certain why Twelve took Lisa to their secret hideout esp. since both of them are reminding each other not to be “too involved.” I almost expected Twelve to drop her off at a “safe” location away from the police. Also, won’t her HS notice her disappearance?

    According to a witness, Nine suddenly got quiet when the witness had asked about his father. Nine has daddy issues, Lisa has mommy issues — just another thing to link the girl to our terrorists.

    Hmm–I thought it was just that Nine didn’t like people asking about his past in general. I agree that the idea of family and/or parenting plays a role in the series. I wonder where is Shibazaki’s family …

    Just to illustrate how disconnected Lisa is from her world, her peers are worrying themselves sick over first-world problems: “Anyway, I replied to him and it said he read it, but he never replied back.” Meanwhile, Lisa has no home to go to.

    Eh, I think’s normal to think about small everyday problems for her peers because they’ve (most likely) not had troubled family lives as Lisa. It does help the audience relate to how isolated she is right now.

        1. It’s normal to have first world problems if you live in a first world country, but they’re still first world problems. Nothing wrong with keeping a little perspective. The anime drew that contrast themselves, and I remarked on it.

    1. I’m still not certain why Twelve took Lisa to their secret hideout esp. since both of them are reminding each other not to be “too involved.

      I think this is a natural case of my brain tells me x, but my heart tells me y. On paper, it’s smarter to not get involved with Lisa, but at the end of the day, these kids are only human. They can’t help but empathize, especially since they’ve been through the same shit that she’s going through now. Plus, I doubt bringing Japan down will assuage their emotional pains. Lisa, on the other hand, might be the key that allows the two boys to confront their past, but it’ll depend on their actions from here on out… if they simply recruit her to their cause, well, there’s no breakthrough to be had there.

      1. On paper, it’s smarter to not get involved with Lisa, but at the end of the day, these kids are only human.

        Hmm–one hand it’s unique to explore the idea of “belonging” in society if you don’t have normal family settings but on the other hand we have this giant melodramatic terrorist/secret experimental org on kids plotline =/

        It can feel surreal at times.

  5. Just watched this episode today, and I want to talk about the hack,
    Even if some naughty / bad employees created a backdoor, why would they name it “hack.php”
    That’s so silly.
    Also, how come the good employees didn’t notice that there is a suspicious / additional php in their web root folder?
    This part is really wrong. I am certainly not impressed.

  6. [i]– What do you suppose “music from a cold land” could be?[/i]
    Not sure. The internet has found a few leads though.
    https://www.google.nl/?gws_rd=ssl#q=von+hope+terror+icelandic&safe=off&spell=1

    [i]– It’s interesting to see virtual currency make its appearance in the anime. We can laugh at Bitcoins, Litecoins, and Dogecoins all we want, but there’s no denying that these virtual currencies allow people to participate in some underground, illicit trading.[/i]
    You’d be a fool to believe that merely trading in cryptocurrencies makes your dealings untraceable. To have some reliable measure of anonymity you still have to use shell accounts and all that so it’s not all that different from regular banking.

    [i]So maybe NIne is inspired by the story of Oedipus because he intends to kill his father, i.e. the state of Japan, one day.[/i]
    If that’s the case I know of a dapper young lass who’d love to take the role of Oedipus’ mother.

    1. You’d be a fool to believe that merely trading in cryptocurrencies makes your dealings untraceable.

      Slow down, buddy. Nobody said anything about untraceable. But “there’s no denying that these virtual currencies allow people to participate in some underground, illicit trading,” because that does literally happen.

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