I really don’t know where to begin describing this unique new series, so let’s start with a little background. Terror in Resonance is an anime which oozes promise even before you press the play button, from the pedigree of it’s supremely talented staff right down to it’s programming block. Broadcast in Fuji Television's Noitamina programming block, which has provided us with a plethora of more adult oriented shows by way of excellent series such as Eden of the East, The Tatami Galaxy, Princess Jellyfish, Silver Spoon and many more; directed by Shinichiro Watanabe who has given us many classic series, including Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and Kids on the Slope; featuring character designs by Kazuto Nakazawa who’s designs grace some very notable series like El Hazard, House of Five Leaves and Samurai Champloo; the series’ soundtrack is composed by the ineffably talented Yoko Kanno, whose soundtracks have enhanced a multitude of exceptional anime from the likes of Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex to Macross Frontier and Kids on the Slope.
So, does the series live up to all the promise in these opening episodes or is the sum of its parts greater than the whole? Let me put it this way: Stop reading now! Go and watch this series...
...wait, are you still here? Ok, well, I guess I should tell you why it’s so good.
The series opens with a stylish, beautifully animated and action-packed sequence which will have you hooked even before the opening credits kick in. There are explosions, gunfire, and a daring escape on a skidoo (amongst other things) as a not insignificant amount of radioactive material is stolen from a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. There’s terrorism afoot in the world of Terror in Resonance, something which is made painfully clear to all concerned by the end of opening episode. This isn’t your typical black and white, good versus evil, treatment of the subject either - there are many of shades of grey on display already. Right from the very first scene, Terror in Resonance grabs your attention and won’t let go. Every single scene throughout these opening episodes offers something to engage your senses, whether it’s the sumptuous visuals, subtle plot elements cleverly weaved into a scene, the sublimely placed punctuations of Kanno’s hauntingly beautiful soundtrack or big explosions toppling famous landmarks on the Tokyo skyline.
The “terrorists” in question here are two high-school boys - Arata Kokonoe (aka ‘Nine’) and Touji Hisami (aka ‘Twelve’) - who together form the terrorist organisation “Sphinx”. There are hints at a dark and troubled past for the two boys, which has somehow led them to their current mission of destruction. The introduction of characters who look like being some of the series main players beyond the two boys progresses methodically through these opening episodes. First up is Lisa Mishima, a softy spoken, shy girl with a troubled home and school life. She’s bullied at school, something many of us can relate to, and through an interesting turn of events finds herself unwittingly becoming the boy’s “accomplice”. For me, though, the most interesting character so far is Shibasaki, “The Razor”, a seemingly washed-up detective relegated to menial duties in the archival department, but all is not as it seems - he has the sharp mind of a top detective (as his nickname suggests) and he too has an intriguing past.
The attention to detail and realism in this series is startling, not just in the animation but in the setting, story and soundtrack. It really feels like contemporary Japan - iPhones, YouTube, Tor and even Dr. Strangelove are all referenced. One might even wonder whether the latter reference could provide some hint of what’s to come? There’s plenty to keep the viewer guessing here, so your mind will be working overtime trying to fit all the pieces together. There’s the mysterious VON tag left at each of the target sites, the boy’s motivations, their past, and so much more.
Terror in Resonance really hasn’t put a foot wrong so far, if it keeps this up we could well be looking at the show of the season. Dare I tempt the fates and suggest that if the series delivers on it’s promise we may even see it rivalling Watanabe’s magnum opus, Cowboy Bebop.
My only complaint here has nothing to do with the series itself, but rather the service which provides the UK’s only legal means of viewing Terror in Resonance: Wakanim's UK portal. Thankfully, even Wakanim’s tortuous trail of instability, subtitling errors, French language adverts, translation issues and so on can be overlooked for a series as good as this. That said, we should all collectively pray to Anime Limited’s ‘High Priest of the licensing Gods’ Andrew Partridge that this series gets the full HD Blu-ray treatment sooner rather than later; while you're at it, ask if he can please bring over the exceptional Yoko Kanno soundtrack too.
Terror in Resonance is currently available digitally on Wakanim.