Zankyou no Terror – 11 Review
*gasp* It’s almost as if Sphinx aren’t actually terrorists to begin with…!
At the beginning of this season, I definitely looked at Zankyou no Terror as a contender for the best series of this season. It had potential and if anything this series did show these seeds of potential. In the end, though… the only award it could get is for the most pointless ending.
After Five sacrificed herself heroically for her lover in order to protect him from the dangerous situation she had brought him into, Nine was unable to attend the press-conference. And with that Tokyo faced the threat of a nuclear death because third time’s the charm, right? Good thing we have this series to face this issue with this much dignity as Shibazaki, the grizzled detective, uses his detective-fu-skills to figure out where the bomb is. First, he had to call his daughter who apparently is his ONLY information-source on science. Look, Shibazaki is a detective first, a family-man second and at last also a man of the 21st century, so his priorities aren’t very post-modern, you might say… not that it saved his marriage. Anyway, he finally figures out that the nuclear bomb is floating with a balloon into the stratosphere.
The Japanese army is unable to do ANYTHING about that!
And while Tokyo might not face a Hiroshima-like incident, most of Japan will probably have to face a powerful EMP-blast – and that’s what happens.
Meanwhile, Nine, Twelve and his new girlfriend Lisa enjoy spending their time in the ruins of the orphanage where Nine and Twelve grew up in. It’s a happy, carefree time. But then Shibazaki finally finds them by walking to the orphanage as if it was just around the corner for him the whole time. They talk a bit but then helicopters turn up. The evil US-government is up to no good yet again! Doing their usual conspiracy-shenanigans they ignore Nine’s threats of blowing up a nuclear reactor and just kill Nine. They don’t kill Twelve, though because seemingly being able to look into the future they refrain from doing so. After all, Nine has only moments after the helicopters have flown away a brain aneurysm or something. Good for you, USA!
One year passes and most of the evil people involved in the project that created Nine, Twelve and Five now get the hateful attention they deserve. Meanwhile, Lisa and Shibazaki honor the memory of Nine and Twelve by sort-of doing the same shit they’ve been doing until then. It’s a magical ending reminding us no matter how extraordinary life may be at times, it’s always just a temporary thing and mundanity will always come back to dominate your life. What a victory of storytelling!
This is the sort of moment that really exemplifies the shoddy script-writing in this series. This moment really is just a waste of time. It’s not funny, exciting, informative or whatever, it’s completely meaningless! Something like this shouldn’t even be in a competently put-together script!
I’ve said that it would all resolve itself in the end. The actual end would be the deciding part. Yep, that’s what I’ve said and so we’re here. I had my fears, of course, premonitions, you might say. It’s not the worst case, of course but it’s getting very close to that, I would say. I mean, it’s not like this series is just a giant shit-show. Other shows this season deserve that honor more. There are some elements of this series I would like to call competent and well-done but then there are elements where I’m seriously like “What the hell were you guys thinking…?!”.
Okay, the first thing that elicits a WTF-response for me is the plot of this series. And I’m not even talking about plotholes and something like that. The thing that really bothers me is the structure here. Despite the fact that I’ve just seen 11 episodes of this show, I would be hardpressed to determine what parts of the plot were truly necessary. The plot of this series is just this confusing swamp of plottwists, setpieces, character-moments and mystery-shenanigans. There’s no structure, purpose or a sense of pacing present in these events. Stuff simply happens for whatever plot-convenient reason! This series’ script really feels unfinished considering how shoddy the story is delivered here.
First of all, why did Nine and Twelve even need some smart dude to investigate their background? Wouldn’t their goal have to just deliver the message assuming the police and public would be forced to listen to them due to their bomb-threats? And the Oedipus-trope is a little bit more complicated than this moment makes it seem.
And let’s talk about the story for sec: It’s never a good sign when big reveals come as no surprise to the audience but in regards to Nine and Twelve, I really feel like I (and most of the audience in general, I imagine) have figured out what their deal is around episode 03. And looking at the second half of this series, I don’t even understand why the audience was kept in suspense for this. Zankyou no Terror actually is the closest thing anime has seen to Western popcorn-cinema in anime-form in recent history, I feel like. Maybe they should’ve reworked the script a couple more times and this series could’ve seriously met the expectations many people were having. Instead, though, you get this shoddy production that acts like it has something that’s worth your attention – but it actually doesn’t.
The first four episodes were fairly atmospheric and were heavily mystery-driven, so naturally it’s not very good to find out at the end of the series that all that stuff was basically just stalling. For four episodes the series has refused to show its cards only because… I don’t know. It’s still a mystery to me what exactly has happened here but I’m certain that the script of this series is simply shoddy work. The three episodes after the first one have been more about Shibazaki, the detective, than Nine and Twelve. Considering how the story has played out in these last few episodes, it makes no sense how Nine and Twelve were ignored in those three episodes. They ARE the main-characters and the script was simply unable to portray them like that the whole way through. This goes beyond stuff like plotholes, this is very basic stuff!
And so the series already has these four episodes that were just a waste of time! It’s no wonder, of course that the plot and story in the latter half feel kinda rushed because of that. Normally I would complain about it, say that the series doesn’t have a good pacing or something like that, but not in this case. Doing four episodes of NOTHING shows such a blatant disregard for pacing, plot and structure that pacing-problems later on in the series have just become a part of this much bigger problem.
Because, this much bigger problem is nothing else but the frightening realization that Zankyou no Terror’s story isn’t that great. I’ve already mentioned how unsurprising the most important story-developments are but in general the story is a rather hackneyed attempt at action anyway. The action may be frantic and the characters seem to be quite distressed by it but the way it’s portrayed doesn’t do the series any favors.
So, let’s talk about the characters. None of them are interesting. There’s nothing charming or interesting about the main-cast of this show. Everybody just performs his or her role within the story and tries to add his/her two cents to the plot but individually those characters lack depth and most of all a script with character-moments to make them more compelling. Lisa’s character-arc really takes the cake because I still have no idea what the arc was supposed to be during this series. And the series never resolves it in any way! She’s just Twelve’s girlfriend starting with episode 10. And after Twelve (spoiler) dies, she just moves on! She’s really just like “Huh, hell of a thing, I was involved in there, right?” and THAT’S IT! It makes no sense! There’s idiotic character-stuff like Shibazaki visiting his daughter who lives with his ex-wife to ask her about nuclear bombs because why not, right? First of all, why not use the internet? Then, ignoring that obvious plothole, isn’t it a tad plot-convenient that his daughter knows that stuff? His daughter is basically just a talking-head to deliver info-dumps for nuclear stuff. Then there’s the young detective-colleague of Shibazaki who’s always gung-ho about everything basically. He’s unable to do any serious investigating himself at any point but he always pesters Shibazaki and is always eager to complain about not being able to do anything. The characters in this series really are only these thin constructs that serve the plot.
The story itself is a problem as well, because the series’ story isn’t that complicated. A 2-hour-movie should’ve been able to construct a plot with a relaxed pacing. So, there isn’t that much story to tell but more than that the series simply doesn’t know how to not mess up the episodic pacing with such a little story. Instead, the episodic format hinders the momentum of this series more than anything. During the first four episodes I was still interested to see what makes Nine and Twelve tick but with the 8th episode I had lost most of that interest. The series has been doing nothing to keep me interested since then. Sure, I was curious to find out what the deal with them was. After all, it was also a kind of hope that would be all worth it. But I simply wasn’t invested anymore. It also doesn’t help that the latter half introduced cheesy tropes like government-conspiracies, old, corrupt politicians and people expressing love without any real build-up. But the real kicker is of course this episodes. The very last twitch of potential tension this series could have: The nuclear bomb. And nobody can stop it from going off! But at least it won’t kill anybody – except it will still be a giant EMP-bomb frying all electronics in Japan. And it does! But then one year later… Everything’s fine. Oh, sure, now everyone’s talking about the Athena-project that produced Five, Nine and Twelve and the criminal-politicians behind it face judgment but it’s all just such a superfluous epilogue. The last thing of impact is taken away by this epilogue. All the drama of the series just dissipates as Nine and Twelve die quickly and suddenly after having delivered their message and Shibazaki and Lisa are seemingly mostly the same persons they had been before. I can’t imagine Lisa going back to her mother so her character-development (really, the only one she had), happened way before she got really involved with Nine and Twelve. And let’s not even talk about her little dalliance with Twelve.
In the end, the series simply fizzled out. It delivered a lot of nothing in the beginning and what it then delivered was simply sub-par for the most part. And it’s not like the ideas in this series are bad, the ideas are fairly solid and scene-composition-wise it’s really beautiful sometimes. But ultimately the story is simply not very good despite whatever it aspires to. Having some really basic problems with pacing, plot-structure and characterization, Zankyou no Terror ultimately seems like a shoddy piece of work that should’ve needed way more time to refine all its elements before it would’ve been released later.
- Finally, it’s revealed what “Von”, the other branding-name for Nine and Twelve’s activities. It’s Icelandic for hope. You know why? Because Nine likes to listen to Icelandic Folk-music. Yep, it’s pretty much bullshit. It could’ve been Spanish, German, Swedish or whatever in the end. A real significance is sorely missing in that little tidbit.
- Lisa in the “One Year Later”-epilogue really couldn’t care less about Twelve and what she has experienced, right? All this and what she takes away from it is that she should have a better attitude about life…?! Ridiculous, it’s utterly ridiculous…