Series: Zankyou No Terror Original run: July 10, 2014-September 25 2014 Genre: Mystery, Thriller Director: Shinichiro Watanabe Music by: Yoko Kanno Studio: MAPPA Number of Episodes: 11 Synopsis Two teenage boys, who were long forgotten by the world, resurface under the guise of a terrorist group named Sphinx. They’re determined to bring to light an ugly government conspiracy that sank into the abyss of time because of its shortcomings. It’s a story of love, friendship and hope tangled in between the grand scheme of international politics, atomic bombs and the complete annihilation of Tokyo. Personal Opinion This part of my review is where I get to be open about the show in general. Now, to say that Zankyou No Terror has generated mixed reviews would be an understatement. I’ve seen this anime ripped to shreds by various reviewers for lack of a coherent plot and developing characters. For plot analysts the unavoidable minor loopholes present in the story might not sit well with them but looking at it from the opposite perspective I feel that certain elements of this show was misinterpreted. Watanabe fans will definitely feel the nostalgia given how the show ends. The sci-fi aspect of the series was well researched and implemented even though it wasn’t completely faithful. The show itself is quite unique and original and was presented in a realistic manner. Plot The show initially plays all its cards close to its chest. The viewers get to witness a classic cat and mouse game where the protagonists challenge the police department to solve their riddles in order to prevent bombings in various locations across Japan. However things take a turn for the worse for our protagonists when the American government decides to intervene. A beginning shrouded in mystery suddenly becomes a roller-coaster ride. On the face of it, the plot seems to be quite elementary. Nevertheless the show is littered with symbolisms and allusions in multiple episodes. Shades of Japan’s political history color the entirety of Zankyou No Terror. There is an underlying theme beneath the central crux of the series. The inclusion of modern technology like Twitter, YouTube, Tor and virtual money trigger a lot of questions in the mind of viewers regarding the social structure and its fragility in the present scenario. Exposition as well as the technique ‘show, don’t tell’ is gracefully handled throughout the show. The pacing doesn’t falter. Often, multiple stories play out in the same episode and yet it manages to link these stories to a focal point. Certain secondary matters are left open to interpretation. Watanabe’s direction brings about a smooth end to an otherwise rushed finale. All in all, the series tackles several important themes but does not fulfill its potential in terms of execution. Animation Photo-realistic would be the perfect word to describe the animation. The attention to detail is impeccable. Be it the opening and the ending credits, long shots of airports, abandoned army bases and buildings or the bombings and its resultant destruction; each and every aspect of the show seemed more cinematic than your usual run of the mill shows. Studio MAPPA, being a newcomer in the anime industry, really outdid itself. Music Undoubtedly, the standout feature of Zankyou no Terror is its music. One might feel that the soundtrack is the most complete that Yoko Kanno has ever put out. The tracks cannot be classified into a specific genre however they’re centered around the general theme of progression. Each track effuses a feeling of hope and manages to heighten the tension and excitement of the audience. The beauty of the album is expressed via the piano. Tracks range from indie pop to electro and even utilize the tabla. Special mention goes to Arnor Dan for his haunting and surreal song ‘Von’. The music achieves in reeling the viewer completely into the world of Zankyou no Terror. Characters The major bone of contention, between the fans and critics, is the characters. The primary characters of the show are Nine,Twelve, Lisa, Five and Shibazaki. Each and every character mentioned above undergoes a significant change as the anime progresses. However 11 episodes make the staff’s efforts to patiently flesh out each character daunting. Our protagonists (Nine and Twelve) are fitting instances of anti-heroism and moral ambiguity. They uphold an unconventional way of justice that contradicts general morality but Watanabe steers clear of depicting them as plain psychopathic monsters. Instead we find ourselves actually sympathizing with them. Thus viewers are left in a sticky situation. Then we have our high school girl Lisa who, due to an unexpected turn of events, finds herself assisting our terrorist protagonists. The show doesn’t give us much insight into Lisa’s back-story but chooses to utilize her for carrying the plot forward. In essence, it was thought that Lisa would be an escape for our protagonists from their desired goal, a way to rediscover their lives. But that was not meant to be. Next up is Five. This lady here is probably the most controversial character of the lot. A sharp intellect with ferocity to match, Five appears to be a formidable foe bent on ruining Sphinx’s plans or so it seems at first sight. Towards the end Five cuts a frustrating figure striving for a childish goal yet her impact on the plot cannot be denied. Finally we come to Shibazaki, a seasoned detective who slowly unfolds the knots and makes sense of all the conflict present in the story. A character many will take a liking to and might feel was not integrated to a greater extent in the second half of the anime. Conclusion I feel this anime will make for a unique experience and deserves a watch. It’s a decent drama packed with interesting themes and an inspiring soundtrack and is a cut above the mystery shows being produced in recent times. Note: Multiple images and music tracks linked in Animation and Music segment respectively.