The airport incident might be over, but its effects are lasting. The media is blaming the explosion on Sphinx and Shibazaki is the only one who knows for sure that they weren’t the culprits. Unfortunately, he and his men face harsh discipline for their independent actions during the incident, with Shibazaki’s punishment being the loss of his badge. However, if anyone thought this would stop him from investigating, they clearly haven’t been watching the same show.
Having conveniently picked up Lisa’s dropped student card, Five is able to locate Sphinx’s hideout and mails a bomb there. Whilst Lisa escapes the blast and the three move to a new hideout in an abandoned arcade, Arata is angry again at how much trouble she’s been causing them recently. Upset and not wanting to get in the way any further, Lisa runs away…and is found and kidnapped by Five’s men.
Meanwhile, Shibazaki’s independent investigation is bearing fruit; he discovers that all of the bombing locations have the common thread of having connections to participants in a seminar by the ‘Rising Peace Academy’. Further research turns up some kind of top secret experiment known as ‘The Athena Project’ in which orphans were tested and the ‘gifted’ ones were taken away somewhere, seven years ago.
I really do like Shibazaki, so I was cheering for him a lot in this episode. I know I already said that I’m growing tired of the trope where ‘police are useless and Cool Detective rebels against them’, but I think the show has been handling it well, and it really helps that Shibazaki isn’t exactly acting alone. It’s also interesting to see how him being discharged is actually working in his favour – he no longer has to abide by the police’s rules, and his approach has definitely become more ruthless. He even has blackmail at his fingertips to enlist the help of a ‘hacker’. I was also glad to see that him doing some actual detective work and getting to the core of the show’s main mystery instead of making weird logic leaps with silly riddles.
On the other hand though, I can’t help being incredibly disappointed in Lisa. For the first few episodes she had the makings of an interesting character – she was the one I was most concerned about. Her bullying situation and home-life had a lot more promise…yet as soon as she ‘joins’ Sphinx, there’s a notable deterioration in her character. Suddenly, she’s the clumsy moe girl who can’t cook. I tried not to be too annoyed about this before but seriously, all Lisa does is get into trouble. She literally just got rescued from an exploding plane in the last episode and SHE IS ALREADY IN TROUBLE AGAIN WITH TOJI OFF TO RESCUE HER. With her and Five as the only prominent female characters in the show, its…depressing, to be honest. I’m not sure I particularly like Five (and I still havent really figured her out yet), but Lisa was the character I was betting on to bring a more interesting dimension to the show. There’s only two more episodes to go and she’s been absolutely useless to the plot, although I can give her credit for bringing out that gentler side of Toji. All I can really say is that in those last three episodes, she better be doing something to make up for all this.
It’s conflicting, because otherwise this was a good episode – we’re finally getting to the core of what the hell happened to Five, Toji and Arata as kids and it’s clearly gearing up for the endgame. I was enthralled in the unfolding details about the Athena Project and Shibazaki is worth cheering for. Yet, Lisa’s continued status as ‘female character who has to be constantly rescued’ is really starting to bug me.
Shibazaki manages to find a man involved deeply in the Athena Project who finally lays out the exact details of what it actually was – and to little surprise it was a gruesome experiment involving experimental drugs that pushed the minds and bodies of the child participants to the limit. The actual intention of the project was to synthetically replicate the ‘savant syndrome’ – a condition where brain function is abnormally high in certain areas only which results in geniuses in particular fields. But due to the ruthless experimentation there were so many deaths that it eventually culminated in two things: 1), the FBI stepping in to halt the project and 2), two of the few surviving children setting the facility on fire and escaping. Only one child remained alive at the facility and was taken in by the FBI – Five.
Toji soon finds Lisa handcuffed to the seat ferris wheel with a bomb strapped to her chest, which he has to dismantle in not-enough-time. Five eventually gives him a choice – she will stop the bomb if he tells her the location of ‘the object’ – the real item that he and Arata stole from the nuclear plant in Aomori that day.
No surprises here that the Athena Project was creepy as hell, but what’s creepier is the cover-up surrounding it. Shibazaki is told quite clearly that knowing this information now puts his life in danger – the only reason the guy told him about it to begin with was because he had gotten so old and depressed that he no longer cared if he died for divulging the information. There were a few things about the Athena Project that actually were surprising to me though; Toji and Arata – or should I say, Twelve and Nine – were the ones who caused the inferno that keeps popping up in their flashbacks. When it’s stated that Five was the only survivor, it’s not known if that implies she was the only one to survive the experiments or whether a bunch more kids died in the fire. There’s also the confirmation of everyone’s ages; Toji and Arata, and presumably Five by extension, are all seventeen years old. For some reason this surprised me; I actually expected them to be older and just happened to look young enough to be able to pose as students. Then again this shouldn’t be too surprising given that they’re geniuses. What was definitely surprising, however, was the ominous implication that the escaped children (Toji and Arata) ‘may not live that much longer’. Assuming this wasn’t referring to the fact that they’re wanted terrorists, I’m going to assume this has a lot to do with Arata and Five’s chronic headaches – especially considering Five’s were getting worse and worse until she finally collapses at the end of this episode. The question that remains, then, is what about Toji? He doesn’t seem to suffer the same pain that Toji and Five do, unless it’s manifesting in different ways.
Okay, I ranted about it in episode 8, and I did roll my eyes a bit when Lisa had a bomb strapped to her and Toji had to rescue her. Yet, I couldn’t help but love the entire scene. It was a combination of the music (flawless as always), the lighting, the ambience and the obvious sense of urgency that created this strangely intimate space. It was probably the tensest scene in the entire show so far, because even though in retrospect it’s quite obvious that neither would have died – I honestly couldn’t tell at the time. Especially considering there’s only two more episodes left. (That’s two episodes worth of chances for you to shine, Lisa! Don’t let me down!)
The major reveal was not actually the truth behind the Athena Project, but the truth behind Toji and Arata’s infiltration of the nuclear plant way back in episode 1 – it wasn’t plutonium they stole, it was a top-secret atom bomb prototype. This is particularly alarming to me because Sphinx had made it pretty clear that their bomb attacks were never meant to harm anybody, so what on earth were they planning to do with an atom bomb prototype? More importantly, how the hell did they manage to steal it? What kind of atom bomb prototype fits inside a school backpack that can be hidden in a locker? I have my concerns about where the plot is going, and yet at the same time I’ve rarely felt a wait between episodes so agonizing.