Terror in Resonance Ep. 9: Five’s vengeance

Zankyou no Terror - 0901

First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room. The first half of the episode is a very extensive exposition dump regarding the Athena Project. Shibazaki and Hamura have tracked down Souka Aoki, a former director of the Ministry of Health and welfare. Luckily, the old, lonely widower is more than willing to confess his sins. As suspected, the Athena Plan had hoped to create “humans with abilities beyond the norm.” This would apparently be accomplished by artificially inducing the Savant Syndrome in young children; some Japanese pharmaceutical company had accidentally created a drug that could do such a thing. Unfortunately, the experiment eventually proved to be foolhardy: “…the new drug was only effective on developing children under the age of five.” I’m curious as to what Aoki means by this. Are there a batch of successful trials on children under five? In any case, the harrowing implication here is that the Athena Plan would’ve continued, but the US caught wind of it and ended the plan. Still, America did not put anyone on trial nor did they hold anyone responsible for the Athena Plan. In return, they got Five. So in summation, the Athena Plan had experimented on twenty-six children, but only three survived. I don’t think I need to say who those three are.

An interesting exchange occurs at the end of the exposition dump. The hot-headed Hamura yells at Aoki, leveling the charge that the latter and his ilk are not human for what they’ve done to the twenty-six orphans. Aoki does not defend himself; in fact, he paints himself as a weak, ineffectual pawn: “I couldn’t go against the orders of the person in charge…” The old man knows what he did was wrong, but at the same time, he wants to pretend as though there was nothing he could do to help those children. He’s not completely wrong, either. It seems that several people have been permanently silenced in order to keep the Athena Plan from coming to light. Hearing Aoki’s excuses, however, Shibazaki couldn’t help but Godwin this whole shebang up: “I’m sure the people who performed the selection of inmates at Auschwitz said the same thing.” Sure, we could bring up the Nazis, but why go outside the country? Japan has its own sordid, little history regarding human experimentation. Not only that, America has had a history of turning a blind eye to obvious war crimes.

Zankyou no Terror - 0902

During a World War II, Japanese researchers had done horrific, barbaric things to people under the name of science. More relevant to the subject at hand, however, is the fact that “[m]any of the researchers involved in Unit 731 went on to prominent careers in post-war politics, academia, business, and medicine.” Like with the Athena Plan, the US caught wind of Unit 731 and their crimes against humanity. The US believed, however, that the data acquired by Unit 731 was useful even if it had been obtained immorally. As a result, most of Unit 731 researchers were not put on trial for their crimes. I can’t help but wonder if the same had happened here. In exchange for a super genius like Five, America simply shut the Athena Plan down and nothing more. In any case, I don’t think the Terror in Resonance‘s writers are dumb, so I don’t think they’re deliberately ignoring the Athena Plan’s very obvious parallels to Unit 731. At the end of the day, it just isn’t prudent for a cartoon to be throwing accusations left and right at its own country, especially a country in which some politicians — not all, mind you — had tried to censor history textbooks.

But that’s enough about that. Let’s turn our attention back to our heroes, Japan’s wannabe terrorists and their groupie Lisa (I’m being facetious, of course). When we last left off, Nine begged Twelve not to leave. He knew that any attempt to save Lisa would lead them right into Five’s very obvious trap. Unlike Nine, however, Twelve seems to have been harboring doubts about whatever it is that they intend to do. He even broached the idea of calling the whole thing off. We still don’t know what Nine wants to accomplish, but we know it has something to do with the “object” they had stolen from that facility at the start of the episode. Well, we finally learn this week that this “object” isn’t just a bunch of raw plutonium lying around. Rather, the two boys had stolen a prototype atomic bomb that Japanese researchers had been developing in secret. Considering how Japan is still the only nation on this planet to see the effects of an atom bomb firsthand — two, in fact — should this prototype atom bomb and its research ever come to light, the public outcry would be enormous.

Zankyou no Terror - 0903

America has its reasons for wanting to secure this bomb, and we can sit here all day and speculate about it. What’s interesting, however, is how Clarence is slowly starting to get fed up with Five’s myriad games. So rest assured, detractors; even her own partner is starting to have his doubts about her. Sure enough, Five straps a bomb onto Lisa, and sticks her in an amusement park. When Twelve arrives to save Lisa, he finds himself having to defuse a bomb as the two of them share a rather romantic ride on the ferris wheel. Clarence can’t help but wonder if any of this is necessary. After all, he only wants to retrieve the prototype atomic bomb, not indulging in Five’s convoluted and contrived scenarios. Still, the setting is not without its merits. The ferris wheel, the insert song, the closeness between Twelve and Lisa, the way the full moon that peeks out from behind the clouds at just the right moment — if not for the bomb on Lisa’s chest, it would seem as though the two of them are on a date!

Watching Twelve risk everything to save Lisa’s life, Five starts to get a painful headache. On a literal level, she’s likely suffering from the side effects of the drug she had taken as a child. Y’know, the one that had killed all those other children? Yes, she’s survived for this long, but who’s to say she won’t eventually succumb to the ill effects of the drugs? Maybe her days are numbered, and she’s playing all these games with Nine and Twelve because she needs closure. But that brings up the other thing I want to talk about. It can’t be a coincidence that her head starts to hurt as she watches how Twelve genuinely cares for Lisa. Lisa is in a lot of physical pain, but how much emotional pain is she harboring as well? After all, one of Nine’s flashbacks made it seem as though he and Twelve had abandoned Five. They could’ve escaped with her, but they didn’t. She was left behind at the Settlement, and she had to watch all of the other kids eventually die. In the end, she was taken away to a foreign country, isolating her even further from the two people who would even come close to knowing her pain.

Zankyou no Terror - 0904

But even then, Five is not in a team with Nine and Twelve. Compared to Five, Lisa is a nobody. She’s just some random girl who got caught up in this whole mess. Nevertheless, Lisa got to run around with Sphinx. And here we are, watching Twelve put everything on the line — his life, his relationship with Nine, Sphinx’s original goals — for Lisa’s sake. The way he defuses the bomb is almost intimate; it’s like he’s performing surgery on the girl, and she is completely vulnerable to him. And as it becomes obvious that he won’t defuse the bomb in time, they confess their sins to each other. If this isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is! But what about Five? Does anyone out there even care about her? It’s not like the US really cares about her. She’s only a tool that they can use to get what they want. And it’s clear that Sphinx doesn’t really care about her, yet they seem to care about Lisa. As a result, Five gives Twelve a difficult choice: if the latter wants to save both himself and Lisa, reveal the location of the prototype atom bomb and thus betray Nine. In fact, Five relishes the opportunity to taunt Twelve: “Nine will not forgive you, you know. He’ll never forgive you. You’re a dirty, little traitor.”

Still, Five’s target has always been Nine. She has focused on him ever since she returned to Japan, and it’s now obvious why she has her sights on him. Five has engineered this whole scenario with Lisa and the bomb just to make Twelve betray Nine. And for what? Why is it so important that Twelve betray Nine? It’s simple: Five wants Nine to know what it feels like to be betrayed. Five wants Nine to know what it feels like to be left behind and abandoned by a friend. Five’s games may seem unnecessary. They may also seem unrealistic. Hell, they seem crazy. But of course they seem crazy, ’cause I don’t see how anyone could go through what Five had gone through, and not end up a little crazy. Nine and Twelve managed to escape from the Settlement, but not only that, they had each other. When the two boys escaped, Five was alone. Whenever Nine had his nightmares, Twelve was always there to ask him about them. It’s likely that Five has her nightmares too, but does she have anyone to talk to? Does she have a partner in crime? The answer to both these questions is no. Five has no one. So she’s come back to Japan, but she doesn’t care about some stupid bomb. She wants her revenge.

Stray notes & observations:

Zankyou no Terror - 0905

— I like the contrast between Shibazaki and Hamura. Shibazaki still jots down notes like some hard-boiled detective. Meanwhile, Hamura relies upon technology. Hamura is young and hot-headed. Thanks to his experience, Shibazaki stays calm through it all. At the end of the day, however, they want justice. Shibazaki gives Hamura one more chance to turn and run. After all, he’s still young. He’s got his whole life ahead of him. Does he really want to endanger himself in this vast government conspiracy? Hamura visibly shakes as he puts down his recorder, but he eventually steels himself. Anyway, my point is that I like how they’ve handled Hamura’s character development. He hasn’t just faded into the background like I had expected.

— Shibazaki demands to know the identity of the person in charge of the Athena Plan, but that man is already dead. In fact, it was the politician that put Shibazaki’s career in jeopardy in the first place. So what now?

— On the ferris wheel, Lisa seems to have come to terms with her need to be needed. She tells Twelve to leave and return to Nine’s side, since Nine needs him more than she does. Is this true? Well, Lisa doesn’t really have anyone to return to. Still, I’m more impressed by the way Twelve finally takes responsibility of the situation. He never should’ve talked to Lisa in the first place, and Nine even warned him not to. He’s thus responsible for her ending up in this predicament, and it was nice to see his character own up to it. As I’ve been harping on for several posts now, the Settlement tried to strip these kids of their humanity. Five’s blatant disregard for the lives of innocent people is likely the result of their efforts. At the same time, Twelve’s compassion and remorse shows that the Settlement wasn’t entirely successful.

— Couldn’t Twelve lie about the location of the bomb? Five has no way of knowing if Twelve is telling the truth until her people get to the location. If he’s afraid that Five will kill them both if he lies, then he has no reason to think she’ll let them go if he tells the truth.

Zankyou no Terror - 0906

— I’m surprised the bomb is just hidden in some high school locker. Don’t they do regular locker checks everywhere?

— The countdown turning green was kind of lame.


22 Replies to “Terror in Resonance Ep. 9: Five’s vengeance”

  1. I enjoyed this episode, especially the first half, I hate infodump but here is done right, the second half was kinda unbelievable as expected since Five is involved but it was better than what happened at the airport cuz this time only true victims here are Twelve and Lisa, not a bunch of innocent people and at least Clarence is annoyed with Five’s course of actions.
    BTW nice insight about the situation between Five and the terrorists, she just want vengeance for being left behind by her tomodachis.
    Now that Five is unconcious her side of the history will likely be exposed next week.

    1. I enjoyed this episode, especially the first half, I hate infodump but here is done right,

      Well, I didn’t criticize it. I just called it for what it was: an infodump.

      the second half was kinda unbelievable as expected

      I would love to see how that conversation went down.

      “Well, you see, I’m going to make it seem super romantic, so Twelve — and I know only Twelve will show up ’cause I know everything — will have no choice but to save the girl’s life. In doing so, he will betray his friend, and we’ll have Nine where we want him.”
      “O-oh… an amusement park it is.”

      1. Was it at an amusement park though? Seeing how it was moving so slowly I thought it was something like the London Eye. Regardless, the conversation still would’ve been rather interesting…

  2. >I’m surprised the bomb is just hidden in some high school locker. Don’t they do regular locker checks everywhere?

    I don’t know about Japan, but when I went to high school there was only 1 locker check in all 4 years I went there.

    1. Likewise, at my school I don’t think anyone but the students (sometimes) opened those lockers in all four of the years I attended, barring any specific need to search an individual one. On the other hand, the things changed hands once a year and were left unlocked during the summer.

      Still, if you were Sphinx and attended a tech school in Toronto, you could conceivably store a bomb during the school year.

  3. “Five has engineered this whole scenario with Lisa and the bomb just to make Twelve betray Nine. And for what? Why is it so important that Twelve betray Nine? It’s simple: Five wants Nine to know what it feels like to be betrayed. Five wants Nine to know what it feels like to be left behind and abandoned by a friend.”

    Interesting. I saw the Ferris wheel trap differently
    – Five is incapable of connecting in a relatively normal way, so she resorts to childish, creepy games in order to get close to the boys
    – Five develops some sort of superiority complex to shield herself from that failure to connect
    – Then Lisa comes along, and she seems to connect with the boys just fine, despite her vastly inferior intellect! If I can’t connect with her, how could she? Five looked pretty jealous of Lisa in the last episode, and if I’m not wrong that’s when we first saw her suffering from headaches
    – Ferris wheel objective => to make Twelve abandon Lisa, to prove to herself that Lisa’s connection was a fluke

    Although it is true that Twelve sticking with Lisa would hurt Nine, I think it would hurt Five more for the vague reasons above

    I still haven’t figured out where Nine would fit in there. Maybe there’s a comparison of some sort between the ‘couples’ (Twelve + Lisa and Nine + Five) that could corroborate the validity of my view?

    Anyway. Thanks for the post

    1. Our readings don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I think Five is somewhat jealous of Lisa. My initial thought was that she was torturing herself too in watching Twelve care for Lisa. Nevertheless, I focused my attention on what Five wants to do to Nine, because I’ve always felt she was obsessed with him. When she first showed up in the anime, she didn’t really seem to care about Twelve. It was all about Nine.

  4. Funnily enough, I find it much harder to suspend my disbelief on the pair planning to activate a stolen nuclear bomb than on Twelve being able to hold a supercritical amount of mass of plutonium in one hand nonchalantly and making a bomb out of it. If a nuclear bomb is properly made, there ain’t a way to activate it without the necessary codes- and no, you can’t simply hack into the bomb, they don’t work that way.

  5. This episode was amazing but I just don’t get why 12 didn’t lie. He should have lied and possibly faced a hero’s death. It seemed as if he had already accepted his fate and was coming to peace with it. But then again he may be holding out for any chance to say Lisa. I don’t know but I hope it doesn’t lead to a corny ending.

    And as far as 5 I want her to go full evil or stick tot he course she’s set upon. I pray they don’t turn the ending into her beating 9’s chest while crying “Why didn’t you come back for me”. Or even worse is actually in league with them. I pray this show stays smarter than that.

    1. Because he’s an idiot savant. Because he knows Five doesn’t bluff. Because he had been made to reconcile with the notion of death, and the regrets of living, just moments before. Because he felt guilty over involving Lisa in this whole mess. Because he had been under high stress for the past seven minutes. Because he already had doubts about Nine’s plan before he left to save Lisa.

  6. The more carefully I look at Twelve’s character, the more it confuses me. Watching episode 1 again, I can’t figure why he gave Lisa the bomb in the first place, rather than just let her be. Initially I thought he might’ve been this eccentric and maybe a little crazy character, and he’s probably planned to somewhat help Nine get over his trauma (though in a rather sardonic way), but after watching the next 8 episodes and seeing how they’ve been so adamant about not wanting to kill anyone, then why the fuck did he do that? Yes, if he’d let Lisa be, then she might still have died in that chaos anyway and that would mean they’d killed someone, but giving her that Kururin gave them direct control of her fate. He pretty much screwed him and Nine right from the get-go. That action of his feels so contradictory to their goal. In episode 7 he got mad at Nine for wanting to abandon Lisa–and sure, he might’ve thought of Nine as being hypocritical–but what about himself? Yet, he gets to feel slightly peaceful at the start of episode 8.

    Not to mention how Twelve’s threatens to kill Lisa were tossed around so lightly in the first couple of episodes, but now, it seems like all that’s been forgotten. Their meeting again in episode 2’s brushed off as something trivial–at least in regards to back then, when the consequences hadn’t hit them hard yet–even though it seemed like he’d an ulterior motive and was working to it. Where did that darker layer of his character go?

    Then again, it might’ve never been there to begin with, and Twelve has always just been this playful boy from the start. But I don’t know, throwing around death threats around so easily and giving someone a bomb just for kicks seems like it’s taking it a tad far. So just what is Twelve like? Yeah, he sees Lisa as the kids back at the Settlement, her character resonates with him, and he might’ve just really needed that, but what about those creepy smiles and polar behaviors? Are they ever going to address that? Thoughts on this?

    1. I think Twelve’s behaviour in the first couple of episodes was him trying not to let his fascination with Lisa get the better of him. That death threat was probably his way of trying to distance himself from her (extreme, yes- but they did say that savants had difficulty communicating well). But eventually his self-restraint gave way and things got out of hand.

      1. Good point about the difficulty in communicating. I’ll keep that in mind the next round I marathon this anime. Anyway, if that’s the case, though, it’s kinda sad to see it addressed more as a footnote than being dealt with as an actual character problem.

  7. Couldn’t Twelve lie about the location of the bomb? Five has no way of knowing if Twelve is telling the truth until her people get to the location. If he’s afraid that Five will kill them both if he lies, then he has no reason to think she’ll let them go if he tells the truth.

    This one is quite interesting because it is another scene that showed Twelve as human (and still a frail teenager at that). He is really being worked out emotionally here, what with the situation. So the kid naturally cracks under pressure and tells the truth, just like any teenager caught cheating and frightened that they will be told to their parents. Which is an interesting contrast with Five;s amoral nature.

  8. I was very dissapointed with the info dump. Not that I have a gripe with info dumping. It is just after all the digging around for information the way it is revealed is from a single old man just deciding to give the detectives all the information. There just had to have been a better way to do this. Moral of the story kids is woman are crazy stay single.

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