Twelve rushes to Lisa’s rescue, while Nine heads out to retrieve the stolen plutonium from its secret location. Meanwhile, Shibazaki and Hamura finally get a key witness in the Athena scandal to talk.
I have to hand it to Terror in Resonance. Just when I think the show has permanently given up its halfhearted efforts to give Lisa any sort of advocacy, it provides her with a starring role in one most indescribable and gorgeously cinematic scenes in recent anime history. Sure, with her arms cuffed to a railing and a ticking time bomb around her torso, she couldn’t be more of a victim if she tried, but her disarming display of trust and bravery in anticipation of an inhumane fate miraculously managed to make her plenty more sympathetic, without changing her inherent personality. Thinking of sacrificing herself as the only valuable contribution she can make isn’t exactly the brightest of outlooks, but at least it’s a considerable step up from the Lisa of episode one. The old Lisa probably wouldn’t even beg Twelve to save his own skin and let them both get blown to pieces. In fact, she probably wouldn’t even mind.
The episode has not exactly vindicated Lisa’s role just yet, but it set a very important step in the right direction by acknowledging that all the trouble she has gotten Sphinx into was really mostly Twelve’s fault. He decided to drag her into this whole mess, and most importantly, he decided to abandon Nine to save her, even when she begged him not to. It simultaneously makes sense within the context of Twelve’s already crumbling resolve and pre-emptively saves Lisa from the crosshairs of angry fans out to blame her for driving the two fire-forged friends apart. Furthermore, it also marks the point where, to me at least, the all but confirmed romance between the two becomes more than welcome. Twelve’s caring, altruistic side has won out from his inappropriate behaviour towards Lisa in earlier episodes, and Lisa simply deserves all the happiness she can find. I’m not one to vehemently root for characters to get together, but even I can appreciate Terror in Resonance‘s dedication to treat its romance with the same maturity and dignity it has set aside for its thriller aspects.
A romance between a weak, demure girl and a guy who constantly ends up saving her is usually the sort of thing that drives me up the wall, but Terror in Resonance treats it with such care and subtlety that it deserves to be praised. Sure, Lisa ends up being saved by Twelve countless times, but it’s his affection for her that gives her the confidence boost she eventually employs to enhance herself. Twelve may have been there to catch her, but it’s still Lisa who mustered up the courage to jump, and it should never be underestimated how pivotal she was in saving him from the same resentful obsession still plaguing Nine. I’ll be the first to claim that Lisa deserved a better role and stronger development in the episodes leading up to this one, but at the very least the show absolves her of the responsibility for everything that’s gotten Sphinx in a tight spot these last few weeks.
You see, the problem with Lisa’s character was never that she was ‘weak’ — what’s interesting about a character without weaknesses anyways? — but that the story abused this perfectly valid personality trait of hers to push her into roles like the victim or the resident klutz, rather than focusing on the psychological gravity of her crippling self-loathing and helping her get over it. This episode, however, acknowledged that the lion’s part of the blame is on Twelve, who willingly submitted to weakness when he could have made a more rational choice, rather than on Lisa, whose mental state robs her of any other option than to yield — most importantly, without shaming either of the two. Only by making the wise decision to revert attention back to Lisa’s personal struggle in stead of drawing attention to her assigned victim role, Terror in Resonance manages to make both characters walk away from the rescue as better people.
The rescue scene takes up the majority of this episode’s screen time, and alongside a nicely subdued confession from Aoki, the politician Shibazaki manages to get his hands on, it helps Terror in Resonance build a looming sense of fatality leading up to its finale. Defeatism and desperation are recurring themes in the show, from Sphinx being forced into the defensive thanks to Five to Shibazaki finding out the truth behind the case he’s been pursuing all his career, only to realize the culprit can no longer be brought to justice. The cynical old politician decides to come clean when he knows his life is coming to an end regardless, he too realizing it is futile to try and fix the past. Yet Nine and Five want nothing more than to fix their pasts — the former by having his revenge, the latter by continuing the game interrupted by Nine and Twelve’s escape — and with the hints all three former subjects have been dropping, they look to be as out of time as their ‘benefactor’ Aoki. From Five fainting at the end of the episode to Twelve mentioning he ‘has no more time’, the treatment they suffered at the Settlement seems to be slowly killing them. As if this show needed any more tension, really.
This episode managed to perfectly encapsulate how this fatality seems to be a recurring theme in all the characters’ lives, helping the admittedly flawed script live up to the poignant atmosphere created by the show’s astonishing production values. Aided by gorgeous music and strong performances overall, Shinichiro Watanabe’s use of unique cinematographic techniques more reminiscent of live-action than of animation give the overall product a stronger, more mature feel. Whatever you say about Terror in Resonance‘s script, it’s undeniably on a completely different level from its contemporaries as far as directing is concerned, effortlessly portraying a grounded rawness and intensity few other anime can replicate. If the finale can live up to the seeds sown throughout this episode, I’d be surprised. Yet on the other hand, I can’t help but to wholeheartedly root for it to happen. For all its faults, this labour of love deserves it.
- Props to Kaylith for delivering absolutely superior subtitles of this show, with well-written character voices, natural, vernacular English and strong typesetting. If you don’t mind the long wait, their releases are absolutely worth it.
- When Twelve reveals the location of the bomb to Five, he only mentions that it is ‘at school’. Given the fact that Five immediately knows which school he’s talking about, does this mean she’s been stalking them from episode 1, or do the writers honestly think there is only one school in all of Tokyo?
- A super-secret nuclear bomb being hidden away at a processing plant is incredibly silly, but at least it makes more sense than two teenagers building their own nuke from some plutonium they nicked, so I’ll let the show get away with it.
- Another phenomenal Yoko Kanno track was used during the ferris wheel rescue, featuring Icelandic singer Arnór Dan, and appropriately titled “Von”, the Icelandic for “hope”. “Music from a cold land”, huh?