Shinichiro Watanabe is pretty famous in the world of Anime. After all, his is the name behind the cult hit and legendary anime Cowboy Bebop. Furthermore, his recent work, Kids on the Slope was also a large success but in a totally different direction.
So you can imagine how high my expectations were for this anime.
And Terror in Resonance did not disappoint.
To call Terror In Resonance an anime about terrorism would be like calling carrot cake a vegetable simply because it has carrots in it. No.
Terror in Resonance is anything but about terrorism. True, a major part about the anime involves the police running around trying to apprehend a couple of serial bombers but this anime is NOT about terrorism.
Now that we’ve established that this anime is good and not about terrorism, let’s look at it in detail.
Terror in Resonance does quite a lot of things amazingly well. For starters its characters are all extremely well fleshed out and none of them have any trouble passing themselves off as real. All their emotions, reactions, actions and dialogues are spot on. Added on to this is the fact that this anime actually manages to successfully pull off not one but TWO, possibly THREE anti-heroes (which is no mean feat). Perfecting the delicate balance between good and bad just right so that the audience loves the guys who are bombing Tokyo is tricky. Wait, now that I think about it, most of the characters in this anime can’t really be divided so neatly into good and bad either. Most of them show a duality in themselves that other anime characters fail to. They may try, hard, but they can’t be so delightfully kind yet also deceptively bad at the same time.
Awesome characters: Check.
Moving onto the production of the anime, there’s just one word: BRILLIANT.
The story focuses on a period of public chaos and disorder in Tokyo and so to mirror that, this anime is chock-full of strange angles. You’ll see mirrored scenes, disconcerting close-ups and even unimaginable huge panorama views all within the time frame of 10 short seconds. Add to this the innumerable CCTV Camera views and you’ve got the perfect ambience.
The sounds mirror the setting too. The score is amazing, containing both eye-opening tracks that lack any sense of quiet dignity as well as softer yet no less brilliant tracks that work in tandem with the animation, slowly and almost invisibly narrowing the gap between the action onscreen and the audience. This is soundtracking done right. And the opening and closing tracks are amazing to boot. Filled with minor chords, irregular chord patterns and a sleek modern, almost muted dubstep/techno drum beat. Nothing spells out 21st century than this soundtrack.
What about the visuals and the animation then?
The environments are amazing. Full of rich detail. But the vibrance of the pools and trees in Tokyo don’t exude gentle and healing nature. It’s abrasive and sharp and if anything, it throws even more focus on how discordant this world is. Seeing those tall grey building competing against the vibrant greens, you can’t help feeling a little on edge.
The animation is fluid and engaging, as expected from modern anime. The characters look rich and life-like (obviously). But genius is how the anime manages to bring out the duality of each character. In the very first episode, Twelve, who is introduced as a bright, optimistic, quirky kind of guy turns towards a fellow student who caught him in the middle of placing a bomb. His words are light, both in meaning and tone, but the harsh green lighting of the surroundings and the way his hair falls across his eyes and the menacing look in them actually gives you chills. I realize that this is quite common these days of course, the whole smile and say funny nonsense while looking like you could kill maneuver but more often than not, it turns out as a desperate scare tactic that is obvious and cheap. Rarely does this sort of move actually chill out audiences. This anime has mastered this.
But it’s not just creeping out the audience Terror in Resonance does so well. A scene towards the middle of its 11 episode narrative has Twelve, the aforementioned quirky bomber, rescue the same student who caught him earlier. She is tied to a seat in a Ferris wheel with a time bomb strapped to her stomach. So he kneels in front of her and races the clock to disarm the bomb. Rather than play the clichéd suspense music full of the furtive and tentative bass chords, the track is a moving string piece that belongs in a funeral. Like a pre-emptive farewell song to the tragic duo in the Ferris wheel. Cruel yet brilliant. That moment literally had me ready to break out into tears. (I didn’t though)
A similar scene is one of the last. Our two favorite Anti-heroes, Twelve and his partner Nine, get shot down by the rogue American authorities despite their surrender.
That instant where Twelve is shot and he falls face down, it conjures up uncomfortable images of children dying in a war and whether that was intentional or not, its brilliant. That last farewell, understated and all-too real is the perfect ending to this masterpiece.
I’ve seen anime more ambitious. Anime that tried and sometimes succeeded in making the audience swallow issue after issue, whether it be heroism, friendship, selflessness, animal cruelty and so much more. This anime isn’t like that. It’s only sells you one message and it delivers it masterfully. To me it was about protecting children but to someone else, it could just as easily be atoning for one’s sins or coming forward with the truth. Whatever the message you see, it’s the only ONE you’ll see even if there’s like half-a-dozen buried in there. Because selling one deep meaning well and completely is always better than trying to make the audience swallow ten vaguely worded sentences that at the end of the day, don’t mean anything at all.
Terror in Resonance is about being a teenager, domestic abuse, political corruption, child experiments, heroism, facing the past, helping others and also many, many other things.
Watch it and love. If you don’t it’s a crime. THIS IS THE BEST ANIME I’VE SEEN SO FAR. EVER. Shinichiro Watanabe you mad, mad genius.