Terror in Resonance Ep. 7: Variables upon variables

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As you’ll recall, Five has engaged Nine in a game of high-stakes chess. In their biggest move, however, Sphinx manages to turn Five’s omniscience back on her. The girl is basically Big Brother personified: she can and does see everything. But what if you suddenly can’t trust your own vision? How confident are you that the reality before you is the only reality? So in order to get the upper-hand on Five, the boys rig her camera feeds. Five can still see everything, but the problem is that she can only see everything from five minutes ago. The boys have literally added another dimension to the game. In way, this has been happening all episode long. A chess match typically plays itself out on a flat, open plane. As a result, both opponents can see the entire battlefield and thus plan their moves accordingly. Five, however, tries to take the game to the airport, i.e. a 3-D environment. Call it hubris or whatever, but this ends up allowing Twelve to use the 3-D environment to his advantage. In spite of all the cameras at her disposal, Five can no longer see the entire battlefield. To add even more insult to injury, the dimension of time then becomes yet another factor to consider. As smart as Five is, she’s still only human, and as a result, she can only see things unfold linearly. This is why I find the time delay so ingenious; the boys are directly challenging Five’s omniscience.

None of this means, of course, that our protagonists have won the battle. Sphinx ends up making the same mistake as Five in not considering time as a factor. As expected, Nine correctly deduces the location of the bomb through his chess match with Five. He and Twelve don’t realize, however, that this location is merely where the bomb will ultimately end up. They soon realize that Five has planted the bomb on a slow-moving plane, and plane is headed for one of the gates at the International Terminal. If it is able to go off, countless lives will be lost. And oh yeah, Lisa’s trapped with the bomb, too. That part kind of sucks. Even so, the ever pragmatic Nine tries to look at the big picture. So what’s the most realistic scenario here? Save everyone, or increase your chances of success and save only the innocent people at the airport? Like before, he initially hopes to cause a commotion that will evacuate the airport. In doing this, however, he would have two problems on his hands. First, Nine is essentially conceding the battle to Five. He’s basically admitting that he has no clue how to stop the remote-controlled plane. More importantly, however, he’s also conceding Lisa’s life, a fact that seems to really pisses Twelve off.

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Considering how both boys have been adamant against the loss of any innocent life, Twelve can’t be happy that Nine would all of a sudden allow Lisa to die. Hell, I’d even venture to guess that Nine’s initial decision makes him appear a bit hypocritical in Twelve’s eyes. After all, why have they been suffering this entire time? It’s because that mysterious institute had tried to strip the boys of both their personhood and their personal identity. The boys are named Nine and Twelve for a reason. Their abusers were only interested in one thing: turning gifted children into useful tools for their aims. Of course, no one really knows what Sphinx is ultimately trying to achieve, but we can safely suspect that one of their goals is to shine a spotlight on the abuse they have suffered. So with that in mind, how can it sit well with Twelve if Nine is willing to dispose of Lisa’s life as if she’s nothing more than just a pawn in their game? In fact, the only reason the boys could even get a small advantage on Five was due to Lisa’s help. As much as Nine might not want to admit it at the moment, Lisa has become a part of their team. As you’ll recall, Nine said in last week’s episode that it was very likely they’d be captured on this mission. This, however, was before Lisa had insisted on joining them. You can’t help but wonder how far the boys would have gotten on their own.

So if Sphinx really wants to save both Lisa and the people at the airport, Nine thus has no choice but to go from one risky gambit to another: he must now turn to Shibazaki for help. It’s clear now why he was so reluctant to include Lisa from the very start: Nine likes to control all the variables. It’s why he and Five were engaged in their little chess match. In the actual game itself, there are no variables to worry about other than who starts where and what your opponent is thinking. It’s also why Five taunted him about Lisa: “I was surprised to find that you two made a friend. But that means you have more weaknesses.” The more people you include in your plans — whatever those plans may be — the more you make yourself vulnerable. Nine has been with Twelve a long time, so I’m sure he knows how Twelve operates inside and out. As such, there aren’t really any big variables here to worry about. On the other hand, even though the boys had only given Lisa a simple task, they still don’t know her all that well yet. They still can’t fully trust her or in her abilities. Lisa ultimately got the job done, but needless to say, Nine couldn’t control Lisa and thus prevent her from running around like a headless chicken.

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Twelve: “Then it’s finally time to introduce Sphinx Number 3, huh?”
Nine: “If we must.”

Now, if Nine had been able to, then Lisa might not have aroused Five’s suspicions, which ended up leading to her capture. But what’s done is done and they are now in a big mess, and if Nine wants to save Lisa, he has to involve yet another variable he can’t control: Shibazaki. In the end, however, I’m sure the anime will go with the age-old theme of “You must put your trust in others to find true happiness.” The side effect of controlling all the variables is that you will inevitably isolate yourself from the outside world. After all, the outside world is full of variables. Before Lisa, Sphinx was primarily concerned with their mission. Sure, they didn’t want to spill any innocent blood, but even this desire is a bit self-serving in a way: it would do them and their goals no good if the public started to rally against them. Saving Lisa is impractical. Saving Lisa isn’t very pragmatic. Not only do the boys increase the risk of them getting caught, but if their primary goal is to prevent the loss of unnecessary lives, saving Lisa is an additional objective that makes this goal harder to achieve. So there’s nothing in it for the boys to save Lisa… except perhaps their humanity. After all, she doesn’t deserve to die.

A few more things to consider… If Five had really wanted to win, she wouldn’t have given Sphinx so much time to stop the plane. In fact, the plane is practically crawling at a snail’s pace, so it’s hard to say what Five really wants. Maybe she’s just not done settling the score with Nine, so winning the entire war here will do her no good. While she wouldn’t necessarily be nonplussed if the bomb does manage to go off, she’s also content to merely win the battle and nothing more. At the end of the episode, I feel as though she’s more pissed that Shibazaki had interfered than anything else. Speaking of Shibazaki, he now knows two things: Five will make him regret his actions, but more importantly, Sphinx was telling him the truth about the bomb. I’m sure our detective will team up with Sphinx many more times before this story is over and done with. But will others believe him if he tries to tell them that the Sphinx boys aren’t exactly the enemies? Considering how he’s already been known to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong — and as a result, he may not have very much credibility with anyone but his own immediate team — this may end up being Shibazaki’s Sisyphean task. Finally, after such a harrowing experience, what will Lisa do now? Will the thrill of danger entice the girl to do and see more? Or will she wish she had gone home when she still had the chance?

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To wrap this up, we got yet another pretty exciting episode, but I gotta make one thing clear: I never thought for once that Lisa or anyone else would lose their life. I think this is the one thing holding the anime back. The anime does a pretty good job at building tension, but because there are never actually any consequences, there’s a ceiling to how high that tension can climb. Because the anime has been unwilling to cross a certain line, it has imposed upon itself an arbitrary limit. Some shows are all to willing to shed blood in an attempt to engage our heartfelt sympathies. In doing so, they end up desensitizing us to the violence and bloodshed. Still, this does not mean we should avoid violence and bloodshed completely. When it is appropriate — and I honestly can’t think of a more appropriate anime than an anime about terrorism — then we should see some violence and bloodshed if only to ground the show in a realistic world with consequences. Unfortunately, Terror in Resonance seemingly refuses to tug at our heartstrings, even if just a little. Obviously, the show has my attention like no other show this season, but at the same time, it’s lacking that tiny edge: in a show about terrorism, the consequences are noticeably absent.

Stray observations:

— Hmm, the episode started with a recap of last week’s episode. Then after the credits, we still end up rewatching a tiny bit of how last week’s episode ended. I think that’s overdoing it a bit, no? Naw, I get it; they just want to make me hear Five’s beautiful English accent again. She’s truly a Botticelli in aural form, and luckily, I get to hear her dulcet voice over and over and over again in this week’s episode!

— The monitors are flashing stuff like “D4,” and yet, the public doesn’t seem to be all too bothered by any of it. We hear a girl whine that she can’t see the airport map as a result of Five’s shenanigans, but that’s about the extent of her reaction. The public is bizarrely detached from the situation. It’s almost as if they’re just props.

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— I’m somewhat surprised no one has noticed that Shibazaki and his team are just milling about in the first half of the airport, but I suppose that as omniscient as Five may appear, she’s a little too wrapped up with her game to care about anything else.

— Twelve’s doing a good job of hiding in the camera’s blind spots. Five’s team members are right: how does he know the layout of the airport so well? Perhaps Nine and Twelve have thoroughly researched the airport before as a possible location to attack.

— I’m also surprised how quickly Shibazaki and his team came to the conclusion that the two boys are the ones trying to defuse the bomb. In any case, I guess our investigators are smarter than I give them credit for. Still, we continue to see a recurring theme: the police may be a bit bumbling from time to time, but they’re still the good guys. It’s the government that we can’t trust. And since Five is supposedly affiliated with the FBI (can we really trust this bit of information?), we can’t exactly trust foreign organizations to have our best interests at heart either. Lives weren’t really at risk until Five got involved. Lives weren’t really at risk until America had to butt in on a situation that is located entirely within Japan’s borders. And even now, the lives of Japanese citizens are being leveraged in a cat-and-mouse game between Five and nine. Are these signs of a potentially broader commentary regarding international politics down the line?

— Five wastes no time with Twelve, giving direct orders for his capture. This doesn’t change my impression that she just doesn’t really care all too much about the guy. Obviously, she cares enough about him to the extent that he’s a potential threat to her plans. But at the end of the day, she’s primarily concerned with Nine.

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— Ah, if only Lisa had been a little less nervous in her actions, then Five wouldn’t have noticed her. Still, while I can suspend my disbelief and buy into Five’s super-intelligence, the fact that she could instantly spot Lisa on a camera feed in the corner of her eyes is pretty damn convenient. Yeah, I realize Lisa gave herself away by acting all nervous and everything, but c’mon, Five instantly spots her.

— There’s a pill that is hard to swallow: why is Clarence going along with this? What sort of FBI agent hears the orders “Capture the schoolgirl and trap her on the plane with the bomb” then goes along with it? Hell, this makes me wonder if he truly is an FBI agent. I mean, Five is likely psycho, so you can handwave her lack of conscience away. But what’s Clarence’s problem? Sure, the two of them already shown their willingness to risk people’s lives, which is evident by the way the fifth episode played itself out. It’s another thing, however, to cruelly lock an innocent child away on a plane, and let her watch the timer on the bomb slowly tick down. I just wish I understood Clarence’s thought process a little better.

— Hell, we know what Five intends to do; she wants to play a game with Nine. But what about the rest of her team? Why are they willing to indulge the girl and follow her orders? Or has she been so good in the past that they’re willing to overlook the eccentric way she seems to be going about this?

— This is the first time I can say I’ve noticed Twelve get so angry.

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— By the way, this is the second time Twelve has commanded Lisa to jump into his arms in order to avoid an explosion. And in way, he and Nine are ultimately responsible for putting the girl in this same precarious position again.

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18 thoughts on “Terror in Resonance Ep. 7: Variables upon variables”

  1. I guess Clarence doesn’t see her as a innocent person if she’s working with or helping terrorists.
    But I know what you mean though.

    1. Maybe so, but we usually pretend to interrogate our terrorists with our special water-bending powers, not outright kill them in a bomb-strapped plane.

      1. Is torturing them for information then killing them any better. They are probably letting her play her game since she is a super genius and most likely great at her job.

        1. No one’s saying one is better than the other. But an FBI agent just willing to kill a little schoolgirl without question raises an eyebrow. I don’t know why some of you guys are just accepting it at face value. And the torturing comment was facetious.

  2. Oh what a great episode. I knew Lisa wasn’t going to die but I was worried that she’s become a wreck by the end of the episode. She had a gun pressed in her back and got trapped with a bomb and all this the very first time she agrees to help them. Poor girl, I really want to see what’s she’s like in the next episode.

    After all these years five get’s her reunion with nine I’m sure she wants to have fun with him before “paying” him back. The next encounter they have I suspect that she’ll toy with him again especially since Shibazaki ruined it and the encounter after that she’ll be serious.

    She spotted Lisa too easily and what happened to the other girls who ran off before her? How did she get Lisa’s id? Surely Lisa didn’t bring it with her.

    1. “How did she get Lisa’s id? Surely Lisa didn’t bring it with her.”

      I don’t know, wouldn’t you need something like that at an airport? I’ve never been at an airport, but I think bringing an id with you might save you from unforeseen trouble with police/guards.

    2. After all these years five get’s her reunion with nine I’m sure she wants to have fun with him before “paying” him back.

      That’s just the thing, though. She’s not exactly her own boss, is she? So are the people above Five okay with her screwing around with her prey?

      1. “Why are they willing to indulge the girl and follow her orders? Or has she been so good in the past that they’re willing to overlook the eccentric way she seems to be going about this?”

        I would think that’s the case or what the anime wants us to tell ourselves as an explanation for why she has so much freedom and authority. I don’t know why but five spotting Lisa on the screen really got to me. The game was going along at moderate pace but she then turns to the screen and spots Lisa immediately. It seemed too convenient for me and it’s the first time I notice something like that in this anime. It seems everything will be set up so that she can have her fun with nine and the audience can enjoy the little mind game.

        Probably not the best response but that’s just how I see it and I could be wrong anyway, I at least hope I am. I can’t get past the scene where she stopped the rest of the team from capturing nine either. Usually you would see them questioning why they even have to take orders from a child on such a serious matter but none of that is seen here.

  3. This was by far my favorite episode. But I sort of agree with you on the whole not willing to cross the line thing. But I think this show is more of a anti-terrorist show than a terrorist show. As odd as it seems the boys are basically counter-ops. The Govt has been terrorizing the populous for years on end with and they’re trying to stop them. But of course they have to do it in a way to get people’s attention with out truly harming anyone.

    Also I think the show not crossing the line allows people to get lulled into a false sense of security so when a death does finally occur it’s that much more poignant. For example Superman being forced to kill. You would never expect and and then when it does happen it sticks with you for years. I love the idea of death truly having meaning in a show rather than people just dying for shock value or to increase an arbitrary body count. The restraint is going to make that true release that much more powerful.

    Lisa is starting to win me over. I don’t love her by any means but I’m glad they finally gave her something to do aside form being a klutz or emo kid. I just hope she truly has a greater purpose.

    1. Forgot to mention as far as Five’s team I’m fairly certain they’re not FBI but they are a team organized by the people who made the institution. And Five is given free reign to do as she pleases. That’s probably why no one in power objected to them taking over because they know who backs them. And they’re using FBI as a scapegoat so when the shit hits the fan no one will blame anyone internally and they can blame outsiders. As far as Clarence he’s just a lackey who blindly follows orders.

    2. Also I think the show not crossing the line allows people to get lulled into a false sense of security so when a death does finally occur it’s that much more poignant.

      Yeah, I get that conceptually. The problem is that the false sense of security you speak of is getting to the point where it can no longer be ignored. It’s becoming the elephant in the room. Watching the runway scene with the plane, how awesome would it have been if I had actually believed for a second that the plane could crash into the terminal (obviously, there’s no way a major character like Lisa would die this early)? How awesome would it have been if I had actually cheered when the heroes (Shibazaki included) managed to save the day? But after six previous episodes of nobody dying, there just isn’t enough tension to make me think anyone was in any real danger. And you’re right. You could cheapen death by overusing it. It’s why I dislike a show like Akame ga Kill. Even so, I think a delicate balance can be struck where the runway scene doesn’t end up feeling so… I don’t know… a bit wasted? It’s an exciting scene from an action standpoint. I just didn’t feel any tension.

      1. That is true. No matter how hyped I got during that scene I just couldn’t shake that feeling. But I feel like when an inevitable death happens in this show it’ll be earth shattering and sudden. I just pray they don’t cop out. That would ruin one of the best shows this year. And Jesus Akame ga Kill is just trash. I want to like it but the show is so vapid it’s not even funny.

  4. Perhaps Nine and Twelve have thoroughly researched the airport before as a possible location to attack.

    They mentioned in the previous episode that the airport was one of their targets – presumably Five has also figured out the connection between the bombing locations and picked another one that fit the pattern to show off to Nine how much she’s seen through their schemes.

  5. Na some one important will die in this series the question is just when. I don’t feel like the tension is always going to be empty threats.

    1. That’s not the point I’m making. The point is that I didn’t think anyone was going to die in this episode, so it didn’t feel tense.

  6. Five can still see everything, but the problem is that she can only see everything from five minutes ago.

    I admit, it took me a few seconds to wonder why Five looked so focused on the clock in the screen before I realized something odd was going on then. I like it better than all the riddles about greek myths that Sphinx had been setting up for the police.

    More importantly, however, he’s also conceding Lisa’s life, a fact that seems to really pisses Twelve off.

    Not sure if Twelve is angry at Five’s reckless actions or Sphinx’s helplessness in this situation and “losing” the chess game despite being 1 step ahead. Or he just feels bad for dragging Lisa into their problems w/o really thinking everything though.

    The side effect of controlling all the variables is that you will inevitably isolate yourself from the outside world. After all, the outside world is full of variables.

    Hmm—IDK if it’s so much as “isolated” but the world is more artificial? When I think of controlling variables it’s forcing the world to bend o your will vs shutting everything out.

    But will others believe him if he tries to tell them that the Sphinx boys aren’t exactly the enemies?

    I’m betting that the only time the entire police dept trusts him when it’s too late orz. So far, no one has paid much attention to Shibazaki other than the group he leads to the airport.

    Finally, after such a harrowing experience, what will Lisa do now?

    Only thing to do since the very beginning and is to take a leap of faith :>

    Unfortunately, Terror in Resonance seemingly refuses to tug at our heartstrings, even if just a little.

    I still think the creators are playing the long game and a lot of people will die but they’ll die offscreen or Sphinx will take Five down with them at the end.

    At least it’s not as silly as SnK and how every likeable character has a good chance of being killed off for DRAMA.

    The monitors are flashing stuff like “D4,” and yet, the public doesn’t seem to be all too bothered by any of it.

    Eh, most people are probably worried about missing their flights than why the displays are showing strange images for 5 min. IDK if it’s just me but the Narita Airport is huge and busy all the time.

    Five’s team members are right: how does he know the layout of the airport so well?

    Spidey sense ~

    However most airports have maps/layouts available online for the general public and travelers.

    Lives weren’t really at risk until America had to butt in on a situation that is located entirely within Japan’s borders.

    Maybe not civilian lives but we can’t say if that’ll be the same case for govt members or people who worked for the secret org w/kids.

    Are these signs of a potentially broader commentary regarding international politics down the line?

    Could be, and Japan’s always been anti-international govt in anime at least so it’s not exactly new.

    Yeah, I realize Lisa gave herself away by acting all nervous and everything, but c’mon, Five instantly spots her.

    Agreed how this is a little too convenient considering well, there are hundreds of other monitors in the room too.

    Sure, the two of them already shown their willingness to risk people’s lives, which is evident by the way the fifth episode played itself out.

    I got a sense that Clarence doesn’t think too much beyond his immediate orders and it’d make sense ’cause the FBI would rather not have it’s members suddenly be considering the greater implications of their missions halfway in. I’m sure if someone asked him he really believed in Five’s methods it’d be different.

    1. I like it better than all the riddles about greek myths that Sphinx had been setting up for the police.

      I don’t mind any of it.

      Or he just feels bad for dragging Lisa into their problems w/o really thinking everything though.

      Could be everything. We can be mad for many different reasons.

      When I think of controlling variables it’s forcing the world to bend o your will vs shutting everything out.

      You’re still isolated. It doesn’t have to be literal, but when you’re a tyrant, you’re isolated emotionally and whatnot.

      Eh, most people are probably worried about missing their flights than why the displays are showing strange images for 5 min.

      But nobody cared. Nobody. In an entire airport, nobody made a single peep about it.

      However most airports have maps/layouts available online for the general public and travelers.

      No, I did not mean the general layout of the airport. If you’ll remember, in that scene, they were surprised he knew the positions of the security cameras. I doubt the layout of the security cameras are available to travelers too.

      Maybe not civilian lives but we can’t say if that’ll be the same case for govt members or people who worked for the secret org w/kids.

      Yeah, but who cares about them? They’re obviously set up to be the true antagonists.

      ’cause the FBI would rather not have it’s members suddenly be considering the greater implications of their missions halfway in.

      Oh come on, it doesn’t take much to think, “Gee, am I really trapping a little schoolgirl in a runaway plane that has a bomb on it?”

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