Terror in Resonance Ep. 6: Wild card

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Lisa desperately wants to find a place that she belongs, so it isn’t surprising that we find her doing the boys’ laundry at the start of this week’s episode. When Lisa later asks if there’s anything she can do to help them, Nine is incredulous: “Blow things up? Kill people?” Yes, he and Twelve have blown things up, but it’s odd that he’d mention killing people. Neither him nor Twelve can kill people either. It’s not about whether or not they’re physically able to. If they can make bombs, it’s plainly obvious that you can physically kill people as well. But the two boys risked a lot at the end of last week’s episode just to prevent the bomb on the train from killing anyone. Therefore, I’m suggesting that they can’t kill people on a more meaningful level: they are mentally and/or morally unable to. So when Nine wonders if Lisa can kill people, he is perhaps projecting his own insecurities onto Lisa. At the same time — because he sees himself in her — he is trying to push her away. For whatever reason, he can’t save himself. The two boys know something — something very big and earth-shattering — and with this burden of knowledge comes responsibility. They have to complete this mission that they’ve given themselves, whatever it is. Lisa doesn’t have that burden, so Nine doesn’t want her to get involved. He’s trying to save her from having to go down the same path; he’s protecting her in his own way. And hey, for what it’s worth, they still haven’t kicked her out of their apartment yet.

We later see Lisa again on the rooftop, where white sheets are drying on some clotheslines behind her. White sheets on a rooftop often symbolize death in anime, e.g. Mawaru Penguindrum and Sakamichi no Apollon. I thus believe Lisa is strongly considering suicide during this scene. Hell, the thought of suicide must have crossed her mind at least once when she was out on the streets. The morbid thought perhaps subsided when the two boys had taken her in, but after the way Nine had rejected her, she is likely considering it again. As a result, she now stands on the rooftop, gazing out at the sky. Not only that, she’s clinging to the chain-linked fence as if it’s the only thing separating her from certain death. Lisa then asks Twelve what he thinks: “It’s better if I’m not here, isn’t it?” The key thing to consider, however, is where would Lisa go if she is not here. The truth is that she has nowhere else to go. She can’t return home, so her only other option is to return to the streets. The last time she attempted this, however, she fell ill, so you can imagine her body might not survive a second go-around. The problem is that Nine is pushing Lisa away, thinking she’d just return home. He and Twelve might not realize, however, how close to the brink she is. To be fair, he knows nothing about her domestic situation. He also has far weightier things on his mind at the moment, so you can’t really blame him for not considering Lisa’s feelings. Nevertheless, I wonder what Lisa would have done if Twelve hadn’t extended some comforting words her way. In fact, he crosses through the white sheets just to talk to her face-to-face.

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Lisa is jealous of the bond that Nine and Twelve share, but not in a malicious way. She just wishes she had someone she was close to. Twelve replies, “Well, we’ve been together for a long time.” He then looks wistfully off to the side. The anime immediately cuts to those white sheets swaying in the wind as Twelve continues to say, “Just the two of us.” We don’t get to see his expression. He sounds resigned as he says it, too. The anime then lingers on the white sheets for a short moment. It almost seems as though Twelve has accepted his and Nine’s eventual deaths, but on the plus side, they’ll die together, i.e. “Just the two of us.” Just earlier in the episode, there’s a peculiar scene where we see Twelve just standing alone on the rooftop, looking to at the sky as white feathers float up around him. There’s something angelic about the scene, almost suggesting that he’s looking forward to the peaceful release that accompanies death. For now, he and Nine have a mission to accomplish, but when they reach their destination, they will be free. In a way, he and his partner have always been prisoners. They were imprisoned at that institute, and even now, they are imprisoned by the memories of their past. For example, Nine frequently suffers from nightmares. As a result, the two boys — Twelve, specifically — may see death as a solace. What’s clear, however, is that Nine and Twelve are always prepared that they may die anytime they go out.

Once again, Five intends to lure the boys into a trap and force them to play games with her by planting a bomb at the international terminal of a big airport. Nine notes that there are 1500 surveillance cameras at the international terminal alone. They are thus walking into Big Brother’s own lair. More importantly, how can you beat your Big Brother? If knowledge is power, how can Nine and Twelve compete with Five? What can the two boys do? Twelve thus suggests that they use Lisa. After all, Lisa is truly the wild card in the story. Lisa is the one person no one on the other side can expect. Five thinks she’s going up against two masterminds like herself, and she isn’t necessarily wrong. When you are that confident in your own predictive abilities, however, you end up developing blind spots. After all, the prediction game is not about looking at the whole picture. Rather, the prediction game is about eliminating from the whole picture unnecessary information. Lo and behold, Lisa’s specialty is that she is no one special. She is just an average girl with average looks and average intelligence. She’s even clumsy to boot, perfectly incapable of cooking even a simple meal. The only rare thing about her that we’ve learned so far is the “color” of her voice. To most people, she is unnecessary information. She is thus the perfect pawn to sneak into the enemy’s backlines.

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Of course, Nine initially refuses to include the girl in their plans, but when she personally appeals to him by voicing her desire to become one of them, he finally relents. He doesn’t really have any other option. Hell, Nine initially felt as though there was a good chance their mission could go very wrong: “We just have to move on the assumption that we’ll be caught.” But between that and allowing hundreds of innocent people to die, the two boys have no choice but to act. With Lisa in the mix, we don’t know if Nine feels as though their chances have improved, but it must have if he’s willing to finally take her with them. As for Lisa, it must be frightening and perhaps even irrational to get yourself mixed up with a pair of terrorists, but again, she has nowhere to turn. All she can do is either join the two boys on their mad quest, or go back out onto the streets. And again, considering how her first attempt to survive on the mean streets had gone, the second go-around might’ve spelled death. The problem right now, however, is that Lisa doesn’t know anything. She thinks they’re still playing with bombs and blowing stuff up. She might even think she will have to take a life. The boys have moved past that stage, though: “Isn’t it weird for us to go and stop the bomb?” As a result, even though Lisa is now a provisional member of the team, she still looks lost and isolated. She must be wondering what she has gotten herself into.

Throughout this week’s episode, Terror in Resonance isn’t shy about comparing Five to Big Brother. In Five’s message to the the two boys, she even says, “VON voyage.” This just goes to show you how well Five knows the two boys, a fact which Nine confirms: “She’s telling us that she’s seen through everything.” The anime then cuts to Five as she stands motionless before a wall of monitors. The more important question, however, is who’s more dangerous here? The two boys playing games and blowing things up? Or a government willing to take on such a Big Brother-esque role? The anime is thus toying with appearances and expectations. The two boys appear to be terrorists on the surface, but deep down, they do not wish to kill anyone. On the other hand, any government will always claim it’s acting in its citizen’s best interests, and this is why it will do whatever it needs to do to protect us, even if this might include all sorts of unethical actions such as limitless surveillance. Not only that, the government here is prepared to suffer countless civilian deaths. Yes, Five is calling the shots, but the higher ups are condoning her actions. Hell, take the following exchange between Nine and Twelve. The latter can’t help but wonder if there’s really a bomb at the airport. Nine replies, “…she can just let it blow up and let the police say it was us.” The anime isn’t completely cynical about the government, though.

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Rather, the anime feels as though there are special individuals within the government who can still turn things around. Once again, the investigation team is stymied. Once again, the higher ups claim that a different bomb disposal team will take care of the situation, but after last week’s fiasco, we know that they won’t. Even so, the director adds: “It’s an order from the superintendent general. I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t do anything on your own.” You expect, of course, for Shibazaki to ignore this warning. After all, as this scene is playing out, Shibazaki is transfixed on the riddle on his phone the entire time. In the past, he had to hold back because he had a family to consider. But nowadays, what does Shibazaki have to lose? He appears to be estranged from his own family, and his career is going nowhere. He only joined the investigation out of Kurahashi’s respect for his talents. Otherwise, Shibazaki would still be toiling away in the archives. Ironically enough, Shibazaki ends up not even having to act on his own, because several members of the investigation team ends up joining the old man on his way to the airport. And hey, technically, the director warned them not to act on their own. With a team of five, Shibazaki and company are hardly on their own. But on a more serious note, the anime feels strongly that we can trust the police, even if Nine and Twelve have outwitted them from start to finish. The police apparently have their heart in the right place. At the moment, Terror in Resonance seems to suggest instead that it’s the politicians we can’t trust,

Stray observations:

— At the start of the episode, Five asserts, “That’s why I’m the only one who can catch you, Nine.” She’s smart enough to know that Twelve is there with Nine. It seems, however, she’s only focused on Nine. I wonder why she’s so obsessed with him and almost thinks nothing of Twelve. Later on, Nine has a nightmare of the time he and Twelve escaped from the institute, but Five was left behind. This time, however, the Five in Nine’s dreams starts to cackle evilly as an unnatural light pours out of her orifices. It appears that Nine fears Five’s retribution, but what’s peculiar is how even though Twelve has his own concerns about Five, he is not traumatized by the memory of her. According to Nine, Five could’ve escaped too, but she didn’t: “At that time, if she wanted to run away, she could have.” Is this really true, or is he just telling himself this to assuage any potential guilt he might feel from having left her behind? After all, if his conscience is spotless, then why the recurring nightmares? Why he is he so hung up on her if both he and Twelve had done her right? Could it be that he could’ve helped her escaped back then, but willingly chose not to?

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— Here’s the big question: “But why is the FBI sparing their esteemed personnel to work on a domestic incident in Japan?” The official response from Clarence is that America is personally invested in what had been stolen from the nuclear reprocessing facility, but there has to be more to it than that. Did certain important members within the Japanese government request for help or is help being forced upon them? I only ask the latter because this is what Kurahashi noted when he entered the room: “All the higher ups were sitting in a meeting submissively.”

— So Five isn’t an actual field agent of any sort. Rather, before she came here, she was working as a researcher in America. She’s nevertheless been called to Japan… likely due to her past connections to Nine and Twelve. Someone out there is pulling the strings, but who?

— Shibazaki fears that a cornered Sphinx might use the stolen plutonium in their possession as a last resort. While this is a contingency worth considering, knowing what we know about Nine and Twelve, I don’t think they would go there.

— Twelve tells Lisa that he has synesthesia, the strange ability to associate colors with your other senses. And apparently, Lisa has a rare “pale yellow” voice. Does she symbolize a golden ray of hope or something?

— Shouldn’t the investigators find it odd that the latest message from Sphinx isn’t a video? Only Shibazaki finds the latest situation peculiar, but for other reasons: “It’s too practical. It doesn’t feel like there’s an underlying message.”

— Twelve always has a goofy smile on his face no matter what he’s doing.

— Gah, Five’s English accent is distracting. It can’t be helped — I mean, I don’t expect Japanese voice actors to speak English naturally — but it’s still taking me out of the viewing experience.

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— When Nine and Twelve reach the international terminal, they learn that Five wishes to finish a high stakes chess match that she and Nine had never finished. Lisa, then, truly is the pawn that everyone, including a lot of people in the audience, seems to underestimate. Let’s see if she will manage to become a queen by the end of the series.

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11 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 6: Wild card

  1. Caustic

    Ah, yes, that delicious Engrish. The other English voice actor did an excellent job, though, in comparison, at least in getting the English right. Wouldn’t be surprised if that was an American.

    Five seems cartoonishly evil the way her voice actor does her lines, not to mention the cliche nursery rhyme at the beginning. Still, despite the slipups and the little action this week, I look forward to the next episode, especially since all parties are now on the move. Just cross fingers and hope the rest of the anime isn’t dedicated to the airport.

    Reply
    1. Rae

      Wouldn’t be surprised if that was an American.

      True, it’s highly likely that side characters have very good non-JP pronunciation just because. Although, it can be even more jarring esp. when the MCs have stilted dialogue and they are in a convo…

      source: ESL exp

      OT: Causticity is my handle for another site and it feels like deja-vu every time I see it show up here orz.

      Reply
  2. Human

    If I might reply to the previous comment… it should come to no surprise that Five is singing that nursery rhyme: genius or not, she never graduated into adulthood – as evidenced by her obsession with finishing a game with Nine, so much so that instead of capturing Nine and Twelve on the spot she allows them to move freely.

    On another note, I’d like to point out how powerless the general public is made out to be against the gov’t or the ubermensch it has created. It paints a pretty solemn picture of the general public i.e. the train sequence – we’re either a panicked mob rushing every man for himself-style or the unassuming passenger caught up in in the game of the ubermensh. I’d like to point out that Nine – an exceptional individual himself – is forced to save the sleeping citizen from Big Brothers escalating explosive tendencies.

    Finally,While Lisa and Shibazaki are certainly the wild cards – I’m more interested in watching the brash young detective* play a larger role . I predict that he’ll end up being the deciding character in the anime between the ubermensch because he is the relatively common idealistic believer in the system and inevitably the one Shibazaki will pass the torch too. *I can’t think of his name*

    P.S. I really enjoy your blog – keep up the good work.

    – J

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      On another note, I’d like to point out how powerless the general public

      I think there’s just a disconnect between the general populace and the actual events of the story. When Sphinx leaked the details of the investigation, some people laughed at the police. I can’t imagine myself doing the same. There’s just this sense of apathy.

      I predict that he’ll end up being the deciding characte

      Why him and not Lisa?

      Reply
      1. BoyTitan

        The anime was taking a extreme and poking fun at how people act on forums. Gantz did it before.Then again after all the jokes after the earthquake in Japan that went around how ever maybe it is not a extreme, majority of forum users would laugh at the police now that I think of it. Also on a mma forum I use a mma fighter nearly killed his G.F. and it was filled with jokes majority of the internet has no empathy.

        Reply
  3. BoyTitan

    Well Shibazaki said the bomb is Nine and Twelves joker and every deck of cards has two jokers so I am going to consider Lisa that 2nd joker.

    Reply
  4. Rae

    I thus believe Lisa is strongly considering suicide during this scene. Hell, the thought of suicide must have crossed her mind at least once when she was out on the streets.

    I missed this idea when I was viewing the episode earlier. I thought it was more as if Lisa was considering her current situation to her normal life? I feel like everytime a character goes to the roof time they are debating the great meaning of life overall with their friends.

    FWIW, it’s hard to say if Lisa is suicidal, the audience knows she is a negative situation but at the same time we don’t get a sense of how she is coping other than running away from home.

    Just earlier in the episode, there’s a peculiar scene where we see Twelve just standing alone on the rooftop, looking to at the sky as white feathers float up around him. There’s something angelic about the scene, almost suggesting that he’s looking forward to the peaceful release that accompanies death.

    Hmm–I remember that flashback too. Am I the only person who thought it could be an allusion to Icarus? He ended up escaping but he fell to his death because his wings were melted by the sun’s heat. Also, it’d fit in with all the mythological themes going on.

    I wonder why she’s so obsessed with him and almost thinks nothing of Twelve.

    So far, I get a sense that Nine is the leader in the team over Twelve in their operations. Well, they could be equals but I feel like Twelve is always checking in with him JIC. I think they’re around the same age 16-17?

    Someone out there is pulling the strings, but who?

    I’m going to bet on USA, China, or Russia being the quintessential Bad Guys in anime
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    While this is a contingency worth considering, knowing what we know about Nine and Twelve, I don’t think they would go there.

    I think of the the stolen plutonium as TiR’s Chekhov’s gun but it won’t go until the very end if my guess is correct.

    Gah, Five’s English accent is distracting. It can’t be helped — I mean, I don’t expect Japanese voice actors to speak English naturally — but it’s still taking me out of the viewing experience.

    Haha, yeah, I agree with the stiff English used in this show. I know Five is originally (?) from Japan but it feels awkward because of her monotone delivery for the lines.

    OT: Have you ever heard JP VA speak Mandarin? It’s quite horrible orz.

    When Nine and Twelve reach the international terminal, they learn that Five wishes to finish a high stakes chess match that she and Nine had never finished.

    Lol, I was waiting for another board game reference ever since the first episode showed a in-progress Shogi game.

    OT: Doesn’t Five remind anyone of Near from DN? It could be just their shared hair style and eccentric fashion though.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      FWIW, it’s hard to say if Lisa is suicidal,

      I came to the conclusion using the imagery of the white sheets.

      So far, I get a sense that Nine is the leader in the team over Twelve in their operations.

      Sure, he’s the leader. But she doesn’t even seem to care about Twelve’s existence.

      I think of the the stolen plutonium as TiR’s Chekhov’s gun

      I’m not saying it won’t show up at some point in the story as a plot device. I’m just saying I don’t think the boys would use it to hurt anyone.

      Reply
      1. Rae (@CSrae)

        white sheets

        I have seen the two other series you mentioned with the same theme but ehh, the only thing I can think of connected to death would be color…?

        I’m just saying I don’t think the boys would use it to hurt anyone.

        Do you mean possibly blackmail the govt? =( I’m more or less confused what Sphinx is doing from the recent events. Are they stopping Five or trying to upstage the police? Do they want to reveal the corruption in the govt? Cause general chaos in society?

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I have seen the two other series you mentioned with the same theme but ehh, the only thing I can think of connected to death would be color…?

          Oh well, if you don’t see it, you don’t see it. I get a suicidal vibe from the girl, and I think it’s fine if we each take different things away from the show. I’ve argued my case, so I’m not going to belabor the point.

          I’m more or less confused what Sphinx is doing from the recent events.

          They were trying to link their attacks to certain important members in the government, but Five’s sudden appearance threw a wrench in that plan. Right now, they are more worried about saving lives with a side-benefit of keeping their reputation untarnished at the same time. If they have a message to send, no one’s going to believe them if Five and the people pulling her strings manage to successfully frame them. The original mission is now on the back burner.

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