Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

Hoo boy. This was another crime procedural episode, but that didn’t matter at all because holy crap was this episode thematically focused. The very first comments of the young police officer set the tone of this one, establishing a clear parallel between Shibazaki and Nine/Twelve. As someone consigned to archives until he retires, Shibazaki is also someone abandoned by the world, someone no longer “useful to society.” Like them, he doesn’t fit into the system anymore. People in this position are generally expected to take it, to be quiet and accept their loss of a role – but Nine and Twelve clearly aren’t willing to do that. And just like in Psycho-Pass, it turns out a system that tries to simply ignore its outsiders isn’t really equipped to deal with them – it has to bring in someone like Shibazaki, and acknowledge those it has deemed worthless in order to deal with other leftovers.

Zankyou no Terror

The rest of this episode hammered this point again and again – even the crane operator who caused the blackout first turned to the excuse of being “tired from overwork” – abused by a system that dehumanizes him. Everyone in this show has been thrown out by the system, with Lisa acting as the most ground-level audience surrogate, the most familiar articulation of this isolation. Unlike the terrorists’ or Shibazaki’s isolation, hers is on a purely human level, and demonstrates that this isn’t really just the fault of an inhuman system – this is what people do to one another. And in the context of this social abandonment, it’s looking like Lisa is ready to accept companionship just about anywhere she can find it. As Shibazaki puts it, “I thought young people would want to retreat into their shells, but it seems they want to randomly connect with others.”

His coworker mocks him for that old-man thought, but it seems less ridiculous when you see what both Lisa and the terrorists have dealt with. Just as Lisa gives the show’s obsession a human context, the facility of Nine and Twelve’s childhood paints it in the starkest possible terms – a name is a sign of endearment, but once the human connection is gone, the system only really sees you as a variable. Penguindrum’s child broiler all over again.

Zankyou no Terror

The Oedipus myth once again proved itself uniquely appropriate this week, as the detail of him “dragging his feet” became central to the bomb riddle. Oedipus was abandoned by his father, but it wasn’t even a fair abandonment – he wasn’t just thrown away, he was nailed to the forest floor. I’m sure that’s a feeling pretty much any of this narrative’s protagonists can relate to.

Themes aside, Zankyou’s cinematography was gorgeous again this week. So many of this show’s shots have breathtaking composition – light, color, and visual balance all combine to make stark, iconic images. There’s never a comfortable frame here – everything is either isolating characters in darkness or highlighting them in blurred light, and either way they are almost always alone. This isolation is made even more apparent by the contrast of oversaturated television lighting, demonstrating the disconnect between the image this society puts on versus its lived reality for the protagonists of Zankyou. The form really intelligently matches the content here.

I like this show so far. Like its anger, like its finesse. I’m excited to see where it goes.

17 thoughts on “Zankyou no Terror – Episode 3

  1. I thought Shibazaki’s comments about living in the aftermath of the atomic bombs were really interesting. These kind of social issues aren’t really something that’s generally addressed at all in anime, and I hope the show delves more into them.

    The crime-solving stuff works all right for me, but I hope the solution of the riddle pushes the show in a new direction; even though there’s good things happening, I don’t think a third straight episode of “solve the riddle or things blow up” would be good for the show.

    • Yeah, those were some pretty loaded comments by him. This show could really dig into some powerful territory if it continues in this direction.

  2. The whole part with Shibazaki talking about where he grew up and the effect the Atomic Bombs had on the people in his village was really fascinating. I have never heard of something like that and it it really caught my attention. I am assuming they do not go out in summer because the amount of bombing that took place from May to August 1945 before the Atomic bombs were dropped and even after left a huge scar. I mean, imagine surviving those attacks and living in the same area for the next 70 years.

    • Also, like Shibazaki said, there weren’t a lot of young people around. I assume a lot of people would have left after the war and new families would have wanted to go somewhere without health risks, not to mention the emotional scars.

    • It’s a really interesting concept to bring up – I’m interested in seeing if/how the experiences of that generation will be contrasted against this show’s younger protagonists.

    • I thought it might actually go a bit beyond mere trauma – it wouldn’t be weird for people exposed to that unnatural amount of light and heat to become oversensitive to them. Stranger things have happened (for example to lightning victims). So it might be an actual physical phenomenon.

  3. I think Shibazaki will eventually be revealed as the actual main character and 9 and 12’s place in the story will be that of the Sphinx–to quiz and lure Shibazaki (Oedipus) in continuing his quest of exposing and revealing a corrupt system (Oedipus’ father, Laius) that exhiled him for fear of being dethroned. And then if the story keep alligning to the Oedipus myth, someone will step up to pay for an accidentally-commited sin, which I’m thinking will be a character’s death in the bombings.

    Great series thus far! The attention to detail is astounding and all the elemnts seem thematically cohesive and fascinating already. And the realism in using real-life stuff such as Tor is such a great bonus, Watanabe sure did his reseach.

    • Yeah, this whole show seems remarkably carefully composed so far. I wonder if this is a concept he’d been working on for a while – considering this is the first real dedicated original narrative he’s truly headlined since coming back, it could have been a long-brewing pet project.

  4. Oh man, I hope your planning on making writups for this show every week. I was afraid you were only going to be doing SAO II this season.

    I have been loving this show so far. Honestly I can’t decide which will be AOTS between this and Aldnoah. The two shows are very different, but both very well written and paced, with great music and animation. Terror had a stronger first episode, and has held strong consistently throughout, but Aldnoah recovered excellently from the info dump that was episode 1 and has been giving Terror a run for it’s money.

    Probably what’s best about both of the shows is that they are both smart. Terror has it’s well thought out riddles that use extremely obscure mythological connections, that all relate to the shows underlying themes. Aldnoah has excellently choreographed battles with characters who think on their feet to beat stronger opponents. You could almost say it’s the Hunter x Hunter of Mecha in that respect. It’s rare to see two shows that both has such excellent production values across the board, and have such industry juggernauts behind them.

    • Yeah, they’re both really wonderful things to see in action. Zankyou seems incredibly careful in all of its choices, whereas Aldnoah is more brash, but still extremely confident in what it does. A nice contrast.

  5. I got the feeling from what was said in this episode about Shibazaki and his family, that him and Lisa might be related. She might even end up being his daughter.

    • Oh dang, definitely possible. They just kind of threw out the fact that he had a family this episode, but he doesn’t strike me as a real family man.

  6. Seconding ctom42, keep these going for ZnT, they’re good. The first alinea especially, the Psycho Pass comparison fits extremely well and that train of thought “use an outsider to fight an outsider” went completely past me this episode.

    • I might actually switch to the classic format or something – something about this show really seems to work with the timestamp style.

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  8. I have a gut-feeling that Shibazaki is going to be my favorite character.

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