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.
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.
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.