A video is uploaded online, and the two young members of the terrorist organization “Sphinx” explain their cryptic plans to bomb Tokyo. The videos aren’t taken seriously by law enforcement until the threats are carried out, resulting in the destruction of a government building, that a high school girl is touring with her classmates. The methodical scheme of Sphinx unfolds, cementing Terror in Resonance as a suspenseful psychological-thriller.
Lisa, a bullied girl, catches the eye of the terrorist duo, and she’s pulled into their twisted world as an accomplice. Her mother suffocated her and of course, that behavior is the very thing that drives Lisa even deeper into the arms of the anti-heroes. Lisa has an internal battle, she wants to understand them, but she can’t accept their methods of terrorism. She understands that she’s not one of them, and is just an observer into their world.
Twelve and Nine are the two members of Sphinx. Nine is cool-headed, and wishes to keep his distance from Lisa. His nightmares always have him locked in the past. Twelve is optimistic, and maintains the veneer of the happy-go-lucky type, while concealing the darker parts of his personality. Twelve is curious about Lisa, and uses her as a tool to challenge Nine, urging him to confront his troubling past. We are given hints in the form of Nine’s recurring nightmares about a burning facility. The main story gradually unfolds as we learn the history as to why Sphinx became a terrorist group.
Shibazaki, a detective who was demoted proves his ability to solve Sphinx’s riddles, and gets placed as the head of the terror incident investigation. His motivation for joining the terrorism unit is that he’s a second generation atomic bomb victim. He is the mouse, in their cat and mouse game. Shibazaki is an integral part of their plan, without someone to solve their riddles, their true goal would never be uncovered.
The anime does a fantastic job at drawing on the differences in personalities between Twelve and Nine. Making it engaging when they are at odds with each other, and it helps demonstrate how deep their bond is. They are already highly developed characters, with backstories and goals that drive the anime forward, as such they don’t do much growing.
It’s instinctively clear that Twelve and Nine have an interwoven back story, you can tell who plays what role, and eventually find out why. The duo is considered to be geniuses that were carefully instructed and had their abilities honed at an abusive government institution. Hence why a pair of highschoolers are able to pull off repeated successful bomb threats. It can feel convoluted for the sake of being deep at times, however in the end everything ties up nicely.
With how in depth and detailed this anime is, it wouldn’t be half as good without the perfectly matched soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. The music adds such intense layers of suspense and drama to each scene, sultry piano notes, gentle guitar and light cymbals to accompany the mysterious vocals. It pairs suitably with the animation and understated color pallets. In between the stunning and clean animations of Terror in Resonance, we get stills of liminal spaces. Often showing areas of Tokyo that lack people, and have a lonely feeling.
Terror in Resonance is extremely strong with certain elements, characters, their intense back stories that clearly define who they are, animation, and music. However, one thing it does poorly would be the “anime logic” liberties it takes. You have to gloss over it in your head, and not think too much about it. The duo’s plan to steal plutonium comes off as unrealistic and effortless, involving a high schooler somehow getting a job at a nuclear facility. As another act of terrorism, Sphinx sets off an electromagnetic bomb in the skies of Tokyo, disabling all the technology. Yet, it’s claimed that it was a crime with no casualties. How is that even possible with things like life support systems and pacemakers? If you don’t think too hard about things like that, it certainly is an anime that can hit you deeply.
Terror in Resonance packs a great deal of nuance into every detail, from the carefully woven backstories and motivations of each character, to how they act, and their reactions. The characters are the powerhouse of the story that drive the anime forward. It’s a very dark anime with unrealistic themes, however the characters feel believable, it’s as if they could have been based off actual people. Considering how short this anime is, and how much content was covered, the anime doesn’t feel rushed. The characters are also seamlessly introduced at optimal times in the story, contributing to a well paced flow.
You can stream Terror in Resonance on Funimation.
Title: Terror in Resonance
Producer: Aniplex, Dentsu, Fuji TV, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation, Kyoraku Industrial Holdings
Director: Shinichirō Watanabe
Creator: Shinichirō Watanabe
Rating: R – 17+