Hey Five your neck’s kinda long.

To recap: Toji has just betrayed Arata by telling the FBI the location of the atom-bomb they stole in order to save Lisa, Arata has managed to escape with it and Five has collapsed and is now hospitalized.
Surprising everyone, Arata does the unthinkable and turns himself in, announcing his identity as Sphinx. However, he agrees to cooperate only if the police let Shibazaki be the one to question him, which they aren’t willing to do. Even in his current situation Arata is able to get the upper hand – he’s now started the timer on the atom bomb and won’t stop it unless his demands are met – his demands being a press conference to be broadcast on live TV.
When Toji hears about this he is distraught, yet can’t bring himself to face Arata after betraying him. Five on the other hand decides to do whatever it takes to intercept the police’s transportation of Arata as she doesn’t want anyone else to ‘get to him first’.
Shibazaki manages to meet with Mamiya – the person behind the Athena Project – where he learns that the whole thing came about because of an old man’s bitterness over Japan losing the war. They allegedly wanted to use the Savant children to create hyper-intelligent people on which to base a new society on that would elevate Japan to greatness again.

In the end, Five successfully intercepts Arata….and tells him that she could never beat him before letting herself die in an explosion. Despite Arata not being harmed, he had set up an automatic video to broadcast if the transport to the press conference was interrupted – a video that announces that the atom-bomb’s countdown has begun and can not be stopped.

‘o shit’

‘Oh well lets just go on a date.’

I’ll be blunt…I don’t know. I really don’t know about this episode. There was a lot about it that was honestly confusing and even more that is seriously making me question how satisfying the conclusion is going to be. It’s also somewhat offputting that the two things that gave me the most pause were the two major events of the episode.
Firstly there’s Five’s suicide. I was honestly waiting all this time for the part where we get to really learn who the hell she is actually and what she even wants, and I honestly felt like it ended up a load of Nothing. She terrorized Sphinx and almost killed a whole bunch of people and drove him into a corner…all so that she could tell him how she had lost to him to his face and give him some weird kiss? The outcome may have been different were it not for her rapidly deteriorating condition – a condition that wasn’t evident in Arata in this episode – but it still felt entirely pointless. When she blew herself up with her own car I honestly said ‘what’ out loud because I still can’t process what the entire point of her arc even was. I was hesitant to say it before but I think I can now – Five was just a really damn disappointing character overall.
Secondly there’s the atom-bomb’s countdown, and to repeat what I said previously, I still don’t understand why Sphinx wanted to use it at all. Introducing it as a plot element changed the show from being an interesting look at two kids who are terrorists-but-not-really into two kids who are literally terrorists. An atom-bomb. Come on now.

There’s also the Continued Adventures of Lisa Who Doesnt Do Anything (You’ve got one more episode, Lisa! Will you be the one to stop the atom bomb…?) and the weirdly mechanical nature of Toji basically shrugging his shoulders and being all ‘WELL Arata probably hates me now s I’ll just exit stage left from his life, let’s go have a date at the amusement park’. I get that he was trying to hide his pain – and there’s some nice work with his facial expressions to convey this – but the overall writing and scene direction just felt off to me. It was especially noticeable considering how damn good that ferris wheel scene was in the last episode.

At least Shibazaki’s still a good character. (He also apparently has a wife – or at least I think that’s his wife – who also hasnt been shown until now.) The car chase where the FBI tries to intercept Arata’s transport was also nicely done and rather exciting to watch. But to be honest my overall thoughts on this episode were ‘well it’s got one more episode’s worth of chances to have a female character who isnt a giant disappointment, please let it be Lisa’. Don’t let me down, Watanabe…

Well, no one can say Five didn’t go out in style.

I just realized this is probably the first time Arata has smiled and its creepy as hell.

Out of 5,
Episode 11

This cap is really mean once you’ve watched the entire episode 8′)

The atom-bomb’s countdown is in motion and mass-evacuations have resulted over all of the Kanto region. Shibazaki is the only one to realize how out of character such an attack is – bringing up that it has never been Sphinx’s intention to kill – and with the help of his intelligent daughter is able to realize that it actually is possible to detonate an atom bomb without casualties. What Sphinx are aiming for is what is known as a ‘high altitude detonation’, an explosion so high in the stratosphere that the radiation would disperse in space. (I can not attest to the scientific accuracy of such a claim). The drawback is that the resulting electromagnetic wave would cause enormous power failures over the entire region, if not most of Japan. And that’s exactly what happens.
Despite his worries about Arata no longer wanting to accept him, Toji is relieved to find that they’re all still friends, and they hang out at the Athena facility until Shibazaki finally comes to arrest them. After all, getting arrested by Shibazaki had been their plan from the beginning, but only after their final move. They needed to do something that would make the whole world notice so that the true story of the Athena Project could be known.

Unfortunately America is America and the FBI interferes, killing Toji. While Arata succumbs to his ‘condition’ soon after, in the end their efforts weren’t in vain, and Shibazaki makes sure the true story gets out and takes the world by storm.

And so that bomb blast was actually rather beautiful in a way.

I like that Arata made graves for all the other children.

…Well on the plus side Shibazaki didn’t die. I was actually preparing myself for it, and I’m glad that he didn’t. I didn’t expect Sphinx to make it through the whole series alive but I was still hoping (after all, as they point out in this episode, their codeword VON is Icelandic for ‘hope’.).Toji’s death came completely out of nowhere and I was honestly, genuinely upset by it. Arata dying too was also sad, sure, but I’d honestly started to like Toji a lot. Even worse was Arata’s completely anguished reaction to it.

It’s really hard to say whether or not this was a good ending. In fact, it’s actually hard for me to say whether it was necessarily a good series. I liked this episode better than the last one, mainly for addressing some of my concerns – the atom-bomb, whilst potentially overkill, was actually not out of character for Sphinx. Lisa, whilst still not actually doing anything, seemed slightly more necessary as simply someone to need Sphinx. Toji tells her that no one has ever needed them before, so in that light her constantly needing to be rescued makes a little more sense. Yet, I really wish they had done more with her character because I’m still disappointed in her overall.

There are far too many unanswered questions I have. What happened to Lisa after this? Did she go back to her mother? Does anybody care about this? Is her mother even still alive? Is Shibazaki back on the police force? Most importantly, what happened during the ‘one year later’? Did the electricity all return to normal? Some scientists explain that the electromagnetic waves would result in the Kanto region reverting back to a time without electricity but…we never see any of this. In fact, watching Toji, Arata and Lisa play around in the Athena facility ruins and kick a soccer ball around and splash water on each other (yeah, this scene was kind of weird, yet I did kind of like it), there’s not even the sense that anything is remotely different. And after ‘one year later’ everything seems back to normal. I don’t know, I just feel like it could have been addressed a little more in some way. I feel like spelling too much of this out would ruin it somewhat, and yet I feel like everything was a bit abrupt.

See ya later, Shibazaki.

And so ends my blogging for this anime season.

Out of 5,

Final Thoughts

This is potentially the most difficult series I’ve ever blogged, and I’m torn on it in several places. I think it started out strong before wavering a little, then had a really strong middle with a somewhat weak finish. In the middle episodes, I was excited for the next episode and kept in suspense, but the last two episodes had a lot less of that effect. However, I can’t say it was ever actually boring, and I certainly haven’t seen another show quite like it before.
Its strengths are mainly in its atmosphere – what its scenes do with lighting and music can be phenomenal. The soundtrack is quite varied, with some beautifully ambient music as well as Yoko Kanno’s wonderful jazz that I feel like it’s been too long since I heard. As much as I complain about her, I actually think the scenes with Lisa and Toji were some of the best ones – when they are on the roof amongst the washing and on the ferris wheel.
It’s weaknesses are definitely in parts of the writing, particular in regards to the female characters. I still don’t understand what Five’s purpose was and I’m still disappointed in her. Lisa simply needed to do more or at least be better fleshed out rather than a simple plot-point provider. While I think Toji was written rather well, I think Arata needed a bit more to him. Shibazaki, at least, manages to be the best written character, and ‘Watanabe-ish’ is definitely an adjective I could use to describe him.

Zankyou no Terror isn’t a happy series, but I do like that it also isn’t a nihilistic series about revenge. It’s about a mission to bring a tragedy to light, and to find ‘hope’ where there should be none. It’s compelling and different, but it’s short-comings stop it from being amongst Watanabe’s best.

Out of 5,