What a tremendous episode of Zankyou no Terror, if I thought that the gist of the mystery was revealed last episode, this episode proved to be so much more as it explains the motive of every organizations on a much deeper scale. We got to see things that are rarely explained in anime and shows, we usually see all the crazies left and right, but rarely do you get to understand how they got there and their reasoning. I especially want to talk about the motivation behind the Athena project and the raging emotions which made of Five such a psycho.
First let us talk about Mamiya despite how awkward the discussion will sound coming from a non-Japanese person. Since the end of the second world war, Japan has been part of the sphere of influence of the United States. The country was defeated and is now unable to have its own military and it relies on the American to extensive degrees for just about everything. This is portrayed in the show with the American secret service showing up with Five and messing things around. It is quite clear that the American investigation team has no interest what so ever in the safety of Japanese civilians, they are simply there to get some proof about the plutonium bomb and they will do absolutely anything to get it.
It is interesting that I am so used to seeing Japan in such a position, where the USA has a position of power over it, that it didn’t click how Zankyou no Terror was a show about Japanese self-affirmation. Although the statement of Japanese self-affirmation can be seen both ways here, since the “bad guys” like Mamiya are the one who affirm this stance and not Sphinx or the police department, some could argue that instead the show prone for Japan to continue its submissive behaviour. It is interesting that a show that feel so Americanized in nature is in effect trying to teach Japanese to stand up as a truly independent nation once again or at least to take notice of their own cultural submissiveness.
One could most likely write a whole thesis inspired from the issues raised in the anime. Unfortunately, as an undergraduate student, I have enough to write in my field of studies already, so I won’t go into much more detail about the Japanese submissive culture and I’ll move on with other element of the episode instead, namely Five. Five has always been a mystery so far; the girl was one of the 3 survivors of the Athena project alongside Nine and Twelve, yet she was actively trying to chase them and kill them. It never quite made sense and it was difficult to understand her reasoning and get into the mind of a sociopath like her. Turns out we got to learn what was wrong with her in the end this episode. Five, as we had found out previously, was extremely ill. She knew she didn’t have much longer to live, she knew her time had come, but she was left behind without Nine. Nine left with Twelve, long ago, she was left alone in the institution because she was not strong enough to follow them both. Before the two of them left, while still in the institution, she must have fell in love with Nine, she became obsessed with him and wanted to surpass him. Unfortunately when the two boys escape, she was left behind, thinking she was not good enough, not strong enough to be with the one she loved. She must have been really hard with herself from then on, she must have tried everything she could to gain power, get stronger and achieve results. She must have wanted to meet Nine once again and to show him that she was now strong enough to be with him. She wanted to prove that she deserved him, she wanted to prove to herself that she was worthy of him.
In the end, she couldn’t ever beat him, but hopefully she was able to find final peace when she was able to see Nine one last time before ending her life. She was able to give her last farewell kiss. Five was an intelligent girl who had been abandoned, despite being one of the most intelligent person around, she was just never good enough. When you get to the point where your skills and intelligence defines who you are, seeing them fail and never being strong enough must drive someone insane. It is even worse when you know that your time is extremely limited like was the case with Five. She barely made it to be old enough to see the world, she was doomed because of the experiment done on her, she was a cornered beast and it is why she was so radical and adamant about everything she did. She had nothing to lose, always fear someone with nothing more to lose, especially those with character and a goal. She was one scary character, understanding her made Five to be such a great villain in retrospective.
After much compliment to the episode, I still have to point out some minor things that really annoyed me this episode. First of all, unless you have some specialized steel bullets for that handgun, it is impossible to ignite gasoline on the ground by firing your gun at it. I just hate those kinds of Hollywood myth in a show like this one, she could have just as easily blown her head off and the results would have remained the same. Second problem with the episode was the whole car chase scene. The animation and sound for that part of the action was rather terrible. The car didn’t respect physics much, the movement were really rough, there needed a lot more smoothing in the animation and it made the whole car chase feel like it was still a scene from a first draft. Even when the cars actually hit stuff the sound felt either absent or too dim, I felt the whole scene on the highway was just disappointing overall for a show with this much action normally.
Despite it all, this was an awesome episode and Zankyou no Terror is an unbelievably intelligent and entertaining show, I cannot wait for the finale, if only so I can recommend this show to everyone I know who have yet to watch it waiting for final reviews.
ZeroGhj signing off