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!”
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.
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.
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.
— 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.
— 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.