What They Say:
In an alternate version of the present, Tokyo has been decimated by a shocking terrorist attack, and the only hint to the identity of the culprit is a bizarre video uploaded to the internet. The police, baffled by this cryptic clue, are powerless to stop the paranoia spreading across the population. While the world searches for a criminal mastermind to blame for this tragedy, two mysterious children who shouldn’t even exist masterfully carry out their heinous plan. Cursed to walk through this world with the names Nine and Twelve, the two combine to form Sphinx, a clandestine entity determined to wake the people from their slumber and pull the trigger on this world.
We have a trademark 5.1 English release and a 2.0 Japanese release – a standard set up with no real issues throughout the track in terms of synching with the video, and the general settings didn’t need to be changed. I have to mention that the audio for this however really stands out above other releases – the atmosphere and attention to details with the background noise, the music where it is played, it just seems to have been accentuated throughout the series. Add to that the legendary Yoko Kanno supplying the soundtrack, Terror In Resonance definitely seems to resonate on the eardrums, and considering the subject matter, it hits everything on the nose perfectly in both tracks.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format but the actual care of the animation in what has been described and agreed with on commentary as one of the most realistic looking anime out there, there are no issues regarding distortion, synching with subtitles or any delays or animation grating with pausing – the package is definitely one of those shows you just have to admire and is one of those shows you can show to people who aren’t into anime and say ‘this is what it can be about’. The colors are unique with animation which definitely doesn’t rely on CGI and focuses more on the animation, it is something to truly enjoy on HD.
There was no packing for this test release, however if you purchase the special edition you get the special art case which is huge…
The menu consists on both discs clips from the show with some of Kanno’s amazing music in the background – on the bottom right are your selections of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. All are easily selectable and like most Blu-Ray releases have no time delay when selecting a new menu – and again like most Blu-Rays they have a popup menu that you access during your watching (though you can’t select extras) – overall easily accessible and the atmosphere of the clips combined with the music is a great way to get the feel for the series immediately.
There are a few extras for this release – on disc 2 there are a lot of normal extras – a clean opening and ending, the US Trailer and trailers to Eden Of The East, Black Lagoon, Ghost In The Shell: Arise, Dragonball Z: Resurrection F, Tokyo Ghoul, Danganroppa and The Future Diary.
We have two dub commentaries as well, on the first and last episodes. The first episode has Christopher Bevins (ADR Director/Voice of Nine), Aaron Dismuke(Twelve) and Jade Saxton (Lisa) commenting as I did out loud watching it on how unique it is, how Aaron researched the show when he got the part and how excited Bevins was for it for a moment of selfishness in wanting to voice the lead – they are major spoilers throughout in both commentaries so it is highly recommended to watch the show fully first but they talk about the main motifs, what the show handles well, why the characters are given numbers, the obvious comparisons to 9/11, how morality can be viewed, and of course gushing over the cinematic/realistic animation.
The second commentary has the same cast sans Jade, and replaces her with Rob McCullom (Shibazaki) and Jeremy Inman (Assistant Director/Voice of Hamura) – again, there are spoilers but it is a similar commentary, which is a bit comical which they acknowledge is very different from the series itself but they mention it is a show where you can introduce it to people who don’t know or like anime, how topical it is in today’s climate, and here they rave about the music instead of the animation (mentioning the Icelandic music/knowledge and that Watanabe goes full hog in his research).
A very unique extra is one called ‘In Depth Conversation With The Cast’ which is a sit down interview with Aaron, Chris, Rob and also Tyson Rinehart (Writer) – usually with these pieces it is about the characters and such, but this is a much more intelligent discussion, about the show itself and how unique it is to real life and how it judges everyone’s thoughts and morality. Is it hope vs. hope? There is no easy choice to make in life? You do something big or no legacy? How can ideas change in someone so quickly? There are comparisons to Star Trek a lot but the ideology between victim and terrorists – is it revenge or justice? What is actually right? They ask as much as answer a lot of questions and it is a very unique discussion of the show because they don’t talk about their characters or how great the show is, they talk about it almost like a sociology project – very intellectual, very talkative and something very unique as an extra… pretty much like the show itself.
Terror in Resonance (Terror in Tokyo in Japan) was a series I had heard a lot through friends as one of those series that has to be watched – not necessary as something amazing, but something that makes you think a lot. Combining the powers of Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno certainly helped a lot as well and when you watch the animation, you can see this is something different and special. The subject material is touchy and the morals make you think – making it one of the most in-depth series you can get today. However, does it make it perfect?
The very first episode pretty much cements the story throughout the series – we see two people steal plutonium from a facility leaving the cryptic message ‘VON’ at the scene of the crime which becomes a motif throughout the series. Cut to 6 months later and a mysterious video is put on the internet of a duo named Sphinx who threaten to cause some bombs to go off – later they develop into causing riddles a la the riddle of the Sphinx which will bring in another one of the main characters Shibazaki…but for now we cut to 2 boys saving a girl from being bullied at a school – the boys, of course, are the two terrorists – simply known as Nine (a quiet sardonic boy) and Twelve (a much more excitable youth). Throughout the series you learn what these two have gone through, why they came to be, etc but for now, you think these are the enemy as well as our protagonists. The bullied girl, Lisa, gets caught in one of their plots, basically giving her an ultimatum – either day or be an accomplice. Her life is not the best yet she still holds onto life worth living and does the latter, though how her role becomes is a bit different…
The interesting thing about Sphinx is that whilst they are causing destruction, no one is every left killed. Here, with their next bomb they bring in their riddles, which the police apparently solve which brings them to the location of the bomb. However, a former detective Shibazaki (whose own history is very revealing and interesting) tells the current chief with an alternative answer, which he turns out to be correct. From this, the chief asks for Shibazaki to be involved in the case, and thus we have our worthy rival to our two protagonists. This is where the morality comes in – you know there is something more to the boys work as they want to ‘wake Tokyo up’ but more information has to be revealed. Shibazaki is a very likable character who wants to stop them but can tell there is more to them than meets the eye…add to the wildcard that Lisa knows who they are (and is threatened) there are a lot of things happening…
All the pieces are in play…mostly. We see through flashbacks that Nine and Twelve were involved in some sort of experiment which does get later elaborated on, but it is a combination of their riddles, Shibazaki being awesome (to both chagrin and amazement from his new colleagues, all who develop respect for him by the end) and Lisa wondering what she has to do (she leaves her abusive mother which leads eventually to her staying with Nine and Twelve, something Nine is definitely not in favour of…) – however their calling card of not killing people seems to come into a head by episode 5 when a bomb they put in a subway that they were not going to detonate suddenly they cannot stop, as something is jamming their signals. Cue the third child of the flashbacks who had been briefly seen, appropriately named Five – attempting to draw them out under the guise as someone from the FBI – suggesting with her and the US Government involved, there is even more at risk with this Sphinx…
Five basically pretends to be Sphinx to draw the real Sphinx out, leading to a real gambit chess game (literally) at Haneda Airport, involving Five, Nine, Twelve, Shibazaki and Lisa all getting involved – here, the whole morality is directly question – Five clearly wishes to let Lisa die at one point along with several passengers just for the sake of getting Sphinx out there. This leads to Nine actually contacting Shibazaki who they actually respect and considering him a worthy opponent, to tell him the latest bomb isn’t Sphinx’s, and asks him to infiltrate the control tower and take control of the plane where the bomb is on – despite the FBI and Five’s efforts, they succeed, but Five has a lead on Lisa which she suspects is Sphinx’s one weakness…
True to form, she does indeed track down Lisa and due to Nine/Twelve’s hideout nearly blowing up, she runs away from them only to be caught by Five. It is here in these last few episodes you learn the history of the three numbers, why they are called numbers and what is called the Athena Project – experimentation on children for incredible intelligence (Savant Syndrome without the negatives) but Nine and Twelve escaped the facility which leads to their ideologies on the world and why they are blowing things up and yet also avoiding casualties. Five was the only one who survived fully intact but even now they are hints all three of them are on a death wish, with constant migraines and sounds making them keel over and even pass out. When Shibazaki confronts the former welfare minister about this, the connection to the Athena Project and his own demotion is such a scary coincidence I wasn’t sure if this was that or superb writing but was still enthralled considering how much I loved Shibazaki as a character. The final few episodes revolve around Twelve (who is clearly in love with Lisa) trying to save her, Five trying to get what we thought was revenge but turns out might be something more complex, and the fact that the plutonium theft was actually a prototype for an atomic bomb, as they intend to change Tokyo with it. The clash between Twelve and Nine over Lisa and their purpose lead to Nine turning himself in, setting up a press conference about everything, but because the FBI/Five tried to stop it, it instead causes the detonation of the bomb…
The final episode shows their goal – they used the atomic bomb to disabled all of Japan’s electronic devices, basically putting a stop to the country (leading to whether they actually did save people as that would also screw over any planes trying to evacuate, fortunately they all get grounded) and thus, Tokyo is now in full stop mode. It leads to the finale with all 4 of the main characters vs. the American and Japanese governments in different ways, and what the meaning of that first episode with the word ‘VON’ meant. I won’t reveal the ending, but it is pretty interesting…
This is quite the marvel of a series. It is basically a terrorist-related story which in this day and age should immediately raise eyebrows. When the director is someone who on one side has done Cowboy Bebop, but on the other side done Space Dandy, you wonder which way this is going to go. They basically pretty much have two kids who are actually the villain protagonists, but are they truly villains? Their goal is in fact to raise awareness of what has been done to them and how corrupt the government is, yet the way they do it is to blow stuff happen. Granted, they intend to not kill people but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it (their initial threats of Lisa and the part where they could have killed people if the planes hadn’t been grounded) yet their actions seem a lot more stable than Five’s action. The morally good is never been questioned so much – Shibazaki is the one who not only strives for answers, but sees the side of all stories and it is shown he knows too much for his own good, and knows when to go to what side.
The two main characters, Twelve and Nine, have very distinct personalities – Twelve is the one who is the most normal yet still socially awkward, whilst Nine is more silent and gets things done. They however work together in total unison (bar the issues with Lisa), have their morals and goals, and the excitement of having a worthy opponent actually makes them happy, hence why when things go wrong when Five tries to bring them out by forcing them to save people and risk their faces being shown, you wonder if you do want to root for them because, in the end, they are still both psychopathic terrorists – yet you slowly lean towards their side when you consider the alternate – the supposed good guys try to actually kill more citizens than them, just so they can bring Sphinx out. It is definitely a clash of morals which Shibazaki also plays along – his intelligence is great needed but why he was demoted is something of a story in itself and his own thoughts of who he sides for is greatly questioned as he goes deeper and deeper into the Athena Project…
With such a master class of morality, animation and music, this would be one of my favourite series of all time – intelligent (I love how of all things, Icelandic language is what you need to pick on for the very big clue at the start of what Sphinx are all about), realistic and makes you think, it should be at the top end of series. However, I do admit, there are a couple of things which stop it from getting to that accolade.
The main issue is actually the characters – the writing of them isn’t as detailed as it should be and only comes into play near the end of the series, and almost brushed off about the Athena Project, Shibazaki’s demotion, the character of Five, etc. Nine and Twelve themselves aren’t really given that much development and keep in their roles throughout and with it being a short series, only Shibazaki seems to get any real form of development. The female characters in particular really suffer – Lisa for example, seems to exist just so the numbers can have a choice when she is captured near the end – her reason for leaving whilst shown (her mother and her bullying), it isn’t gone into enough depth to really show much bar some sympathy, combined with the fact that she doesn’t actually do enough in the series to make her seem like an important character (the airport scene is her only real moment and even then she becomes a damsel in distress).
Surprisingly, Five doesn’t fare that much better, as we think throughout her scenes she is wanting revenge against Nine and Twelve – yet her last scene suggests otherwise. Which begs to ask, why was she so hell bent on risking human lives just to satisfy something so small? It doesn’t help that the show was fairly realistic up until her introduction and now it felt like they had to have an over the top villain for Nine and Twelve to battle, when in my opinion the battle of wits between them and Shibazaki was more than enough especially considering Shibazaki had to wonder which side he was on by the end of it anyway – it felt Five didn’t really need to be added and almost felt like a forced US vs. Japan government/police force rivalry. Lastly, the final episode definitely seems to have been rushed especially with the ending – heck what happens to Five feels very rushed and the whole headaches/migraines came across as a way to quickly help her potential demise.
That said, I still really enjoy the series for the most part. The realistic scenes and the battle between the numbers and Shibazaki was superb, Shibazaki himself being a very likeable character as an opponent and a viewer surrogate (I only wish I had his intelligence ^^) as he solves riddles, wonders what the boys are plotting with their explosions yet no deaths, combined with what the original theft was for and those hints of what happened to the three numbers in the past, it all adds up to a mostly realistic package wrapped in a superb animated and vocal performance in both languages. It really could have done with a few more episodes and the fact a few characters weren’t needed in the end, for the most part, the story is told and told well. The line between justice and revenge has never been closer and this series gives the viewer questions and answers in their head, making them think and wondering their own stances. And for an anime to do that, it is well recommended a watch for anyone.
Terror In Resonance really, forgive the pun, resonates with you as you question morality and whether you should be cheering for these terrorists. The moral answer is always no yet their actions are very specific and when you learn what they have been through and what the government is doing, you along with Shibazaki, question your thoughts. Incredibly intelligent and provoking, this series is a mostly excellent trip through justice, and whilst sadly some elements seem to have only been added for the sake of a choice needed, it still tells what it needs to in a great little package.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Dub Commentary on episodes 1 and 11, Cleaning Opening and Ending, Trailers, In Depth Conversation With The Cast
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: April 25th, 2016
MSRP: £74.99 (mega special edition price, DVD is £14.99)
Running Time: 253 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.