Feelings of wanting to destroy society and all of its riches in order to reconstruct to their own ideologies have been the forefront of terrorist actions. Lately, the beginning of the 21st Century has cropped up numerous terrorist acts across the globe. So, what better way of showcasing these horrific acts of violence then to make an anime where the terrorists are the protagonists? With Cowboy Bebop director Shinchiro Watanabe at the helm of production in Terror in Resonance, this was sure to be a fiery sensation like many of his previous works. Yet, in spite of the hype, it turns out to be a prime example of how not every show with a talented director will be a marvelous project.
Saying this is an abject failure, however, would be stretching it too far. It can be construed as a pretty good thriller in comparison to most recent anime thrillers that have come out. What Watanabe clearly knows what to do in his direction is to create a tone that is impending to the viewer. Whether it’s comical like in his earlier works, or serious like in Kids on the Slope and Terror in Resonance. With the latter, we feel an intense, unsettling atmosphere directed by the three protagonists that we’re following. Cold and calculated, they know how to create chaos in a just society and we can feel that anguish and thought process quite clearly and with great direction.
Music is one that speaks with radiance and greatness, accomplished once again by the always talented Yoko Kanno. Blending various styles of electronic music composition and dark string instruments, Kanno helps add so much layered atmosphere to the show. This and Watanabe’s dark direction create a nice mixer that feels very cohesive to the structure of the environments we see in many scenes throughout Terror in Resonance.
Not often do you see artwork on character designs to look more human than in typical anime. Terror in Resonance’s artwork consists of beautifully drawn backgrounds with a nice coat of colors that give a dreary focal point to the setting. Washed out colors that have dark blue overtones are paved, even in scenes where there is daylight. Sometimes, in a small nit pick I’ll admit, the darkness can be a little bit too much, to the point where it is difficult to see. Especially in the scenes where we visit the apartment rooms and there is hardly any light and I can barely see the characters in front of the camera’s view.
What Terror in Resonance marvels in is technicality. Other than those aspects, Terror in Resonance is lackluster in the aspects of story and character development. For starters, the vast majority of the characters in the show feel very vapid in terms of their characterization and personality. The only exception is Lisa Mishma because of her internal struggles that feel very genuine and relatable in her anxieties and psychological issues. Outside of her character, the two people she brought herself into, named Nine and Twelve, aren’t as strong as her. Nine especially is inexcusably dull from what his goals are to begin with, which I’ll get to later on, and his overall arc. Twelve is at least a little bit more enthralling because of his charming charisma, but considering how the show wants to be a dark psychological thriller, it feels a little out of place in some areas.
Besides our three main leads, other characters come off as just decent, but nothing more memorable than that. Though I will say, Five is definitely a contender for villain of 2014 because of how they successfully make her into a big considerable threat. The police terrorism division head, Kenjirou Shibazaki, is a nice throwback to old-school crime detectives who are the main driving force in stopping the opposition. Although they aren’t the very least bit memorable from the lack of any special identity, other than the fact that they are just there to stop the protagonists’ bombings.
Now we get to the story portion of the critique. This can easily be summed in a few main crutches that make it good: Lack of a coherent structure and poor development. All of this can pointed to the backstory of Nine, Twelve, and Five, which feels absolutely uninspired. Yes, it’s your typical “kids escape from a facility of a brainwashed government facility and go their separate ways” plot. That isn’t to say that it can’t ever be done well, but with Terror in Resonance, it was lacking a special pull for me to even be interested in this type of plot again. Uninspired is the perfect word to describe the plot, with Watanabe on board on a project like this, you’d expect something more ambitious than this.
With all that said, was this a great thrill ride despite all that is said about the plot issues? Absolutely. The tension I get whenever the police are trying to find the bombs that Nine and Twelve put out in the city are some of the most intense sequences I’ve experienced yet. Again, with Watanabe’s great direction, the atmosphere definitely helps make this work tremendously. With that and Kanno’s extravagant music makes for a perfect amalgamation with all these elements neatly wrapped into a triumph for a suspenseful thriller.
There are some aspects that disappointed me to some regard, considering this is Watanabe’s first directed show in nearly five years. That aside, I can still see this as worthwhile to watch. This will most likely be his least popular work, considering how Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo are typically looked at by everyone. But trying to best out his other works would be an impossible feat to take over; probably even for Watanabe himself.