The story begins with a break in at one of Japan’s Nuclear facility in Aomori, where two unknown culprits stole a highly classified material which others thought of as plutonium. The break was well planned leaving no traces behind.
The only lead that the authorities had was the V.O.N. sign painted by one of the culprits on the facility ground.
Few months after, Tokyo was bombarded by what they consider as a terrorist attack around the Shinjuku area upon the bombing of the Tokyo Government that left the place in rubbles. Strangely, the attack coincides very well with a video that has gone viral online made public by two masked teens, warning the authorities about the attack.
Now another video went out – this time with a riddle. With the lives of more people at hand, the police department is left with the task of solving the riddle and finding exactly where the next bomb is hidden.
This anime started great, and I mean with a bang – with two persons (whose the identities were not yet revealed by then) stealing an important material at a well guarded facility in Japan. The stealing was quick and mysterious that I immediately told myself that this is worth watching. (These guys are badass!)
It was indeed worth watching…..at first.
But something happened along the way of story telling that broke the thrill and excitement that the series brought on the first episode. What started out great turned out a disappointment in the end.
The Good Points
Graphics – I like the graphics. Majority of the colors have dark appeal bordering to dull and plain, but it’s something that is highly appropriate for the nature and theme of the story.
Opening Theme. The opening song, Trigger, performed by Yuuki Ozaki, was fine. It’s fitting and appropriate.
Background of the characters. We’ve got some fine guys on board this anime. We have the two main teenage characters, Nine and Twelve who complements each other’s characters. Together, they call themselves Sphinx.
Nine, the serious, geeky type who’s gorgeous on glasses and who’s a genius in hacking.
Contrast it to Twelve, the easygoing, ever smiling guy who’s got some daredevil moves in riding his bicycle. And yes, both are talented bomb technicians (for the lack of a more appropriate term).
They may have started out as badass entities aimed at terrorizing the Japanese government and its people. But after sending the towering Tokyo Government headquarters down without any single casualty, we know that they are up to something.
When they start hooking us up with riddles after riddles of Oedipus, hands down. They are awesome. And the fact that the whole police department seemed to be putting all of their efforts and manpower to solve them just makes the entire game more exciting.
Speaking of the police, we have Shibazaki, a veteran inspector who was demoted and now works at the police department Archives. He looks old and unfit to head a department but is in reality a sharp minded individual capable of solving the riddles given by Sphinx.
He’s a good character because he’s a match to Nine and Twelve, creating a sort of balance and tension on the story. With him on board, you know Sphinx will have to try harder…..and tried harder they did.
Setting. I like the setting because it’s comparable to our time. It’s not too advanced like Psychopass nor is it too primitive.
Even the gathering of the police and investigators look legit compared to the typical go-in and go-out scenarios they do when they are supposed to really plan something to catch the villains. In this series, we are brought into the world of investigators, even just for a while, and how procedures in fact finding are done.
I especially like how they presented the facts about Sphinx and their theories about it. It’s informative and understandable.
Theme. For an 11-episode series, I’m impressed that it managed to present faces of at least 5 social issues we have at present.
- Government conspiracy
- Social security
- Science and Research
Bullying, in the face of Lisa Mishima who is at one time forced to eat her lunch inside the comfort room cubicle just to avoid other students. She later on played some part in Twelve and Nine’s lives.
Government conspiracy, as evident on some high official who tried to cover up the Athena Plan, a project designed to gather and educate gifted children below 5 years old. It was revealed that this project aims to study these children who have excellent brain functions so that their abilities can be reproduced artificially. It was later on revealed that Nine and Twelve are among the 26 children who were part of the plan.
Social security, as seen on how vulnerable civilians are in the face of bombings and how little can the police do in the events of sudden armed attacks.
Terrorism, which is a constant issue on the entire series, and which is a mechanism used by Sphinx to deliver their real message.
Science and research, as shown on the government’s pursuit to create higher intelligence in expense of the lives of talented kids as research subjects.
The themes are highly reflective of the issues we see in today’s society so it’s easy to relate.
The Not-so-Good Points
Storytelling. The first 3 episodes are really good. The air of mystery is present and we are hooked in finding out what’s the motivation behind Nine and Twelve’s actions. Yes, they orchestrated the bombings, but somewhere along their initial antagonistic but likeable approach, we know that they have their reasons.
Whatever it is, we expect it to be big, sensible and surprising – things which I think the entire series failed to justify. Even when Five, a lady who works with the U.S. government and who was also a part of Athena Plan, started to ruin Nine and Twelve’s plans by anticipating and crafting brilliant counter moves, the reason behind why Sphinx is doing what they do is still jaded. And Frankly, while Five is an antagonist with great potentials, her motivation is just so lame that I think it’s senseless.
It’s as if the story is withholding us the information and the treat the we deserve after watching the first two to three episodes. What started out as a good touch of mystery has turned annoying in the long run.
When Five started to antagonize our guys, siding with them is easy. But understanding what the heck is the point of the entire bombings when we are not given enough information even when we’re already on the eight episode is just disappointing.
The story is nearing to an end yet I didn’t see it ending. We weren’t even presented with a climactic revelation what will at least ‘wow’ us.
There’s nothing wrong with the foundation of the story. I like it even. But when it comes to sustaining the momentum it has at the beginning and keeping the tension up – in a sensible way, it failed to pull it out.
Ending. Finally, the ending. I couldn’t hide my disappointment with how the story ended. The ending was anticlimactic – with Nine, Twelve and Lisa going back to the place where Sphinx and the other kids were kept years ago during the Athena Plan. Shibazaki then appeared, had a little chat with the three and so on.
There, Nine revealed the whole point of what they are doing and told Shibazaki how they needed him for the plan. Nine even went on as telling him that he was Oedipus. The entire plot was for the world to turn their attention to Sphinx and the other kids who were subjects of the experiment so that the things that was done to them will finally be revealed. After doing the highlight atomic bombing in the stratosphere, WHICH STRANGELY DID NOT GET ANYONE KILLED – AGAIN, the world could no longer turn away their attention to Sphinx.
And then American helicopters started to hover the area, and I swear it ruined the moment. I mean, I don’t see why they should even be there. They claim to wipe out any evidence that would point to their involvement in the investigation but if so, shouldn’t they have killed Lisa and Shibazaki as well?
They knew enough. So why was it just Nine and Twelve who had to die? And the fact that the soldiers didn’t even budge on Nine’s threat of blowing up another bomb doesn’t make sense. After blowing up a prototype of an atomic bomb, the soldiers know better not to mess up with Nine.
Yet they turned deaf ears on him and made the kill anyway.
Character development. There isn’t much to expect as well about the character development. Twelve might have shown a little of his emotional side when Lisa came. Lisa on the other hand may have gotten over her suicidal tendencies after knowing the two. But their development did not really make any significant impact on the focus of the story.
As I mentioned, they have good character backgrounds. But I don’t think it was enough to actually bring the audience to sympathize and get into the story of the character.
Ending Theme. I don’t know how to describe it , but I find the ending song, Dareka Umiwo, performed by Aimer, creepy.
RATING: In a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, Zankyou no Terror is a 5!
Have you seen this anime? What do you think about it?