Unpopular Opinion: Zankyou no Terror

Warning there will be spoilers for the titular show.  Ok so I must say this was one of the big disappointments among recent anime.  It was a Shinichiro Watanabe, of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo fame, anime and it looked gorgeous.  And the first few episodes were really good, lots of action, some nice police investigative drama on the side, also cool explosions.  But sadly the rest of the show simply did not live up to the great beginning for reasons I’m about to explain.

The flaws of this show are many and run deep, and it shows even in the premise.  So the story follows two geniuses who commit terror attacks that kill nobody and announce their attacks via riddles.  Ok so to skip forward a bit, the two geniuses came from a facility where the Japanese government tried to manufacture a group of geniuses that would guide them in the future.  But the drugs used to boost these kids to savant levels of intellect began to kill them.  So our two characters escaped and are committing their attacks to draw very subtle attention to the masterminds of the plan which birthed them.  This on its own seems unnecessarily complicated, couldn’t they just make like Snowden and release the classified information to the public from a position of responsibility?  I mean people today seem pretty suspect of their government here in the US, is the situation any different in Japan?  And then to compound this problem further they use the EMP of a nuke to destroy Japan’s electronic infrastructure, which means communicating the existence of the government’s secret program to the masses has now become exponentially harder.  But even assuming they didn’t need everyone to know and just wanted to let Inspector Shibazaki in on the secret they could have done in a much more direct way and without the nuke.  They literally could have just taken the nuke to get the right people’s attention and that would be it.  But no they use this stupidly roundabout plan that accomplishes very little and see them both die at the end anyway.  So what else is problematic?

The characters mostly suck.  Nine and Twelve are pretty hard to root for during most the season, especially Nine.  Moreover they are just so narrowly focused that they don’t develop or grow in any way.  Twelve escapes this a little by having an attachment to Lisa, but even he is extremely limited in his interactions with her and the world around him.  Lisa herself is a bit too unlucky and useless to be realistic.  Maybe it was the creator’s way of making her endearing but I just had a hard time liking her because she was always screwing up at every little thing and just had so few redeeming qualities, this was a shame because I initially liked her and I wanted to see her shine a bit but ultimately she was just as limited in her own way as Nine and Twelve.  And then came the catastrophe called Five.  Five was a character who seemed to just be there to pad out the length of the series, her development doesn’t really happen, her actions are ultimately meaningless and she in no way contributes to the story in any manner beyond putting Nine and Twelve through new action set pieces.  The only really good character was Shibazaki, he was a very compelling disillusioned inspector.

These two problems combine and give the show a horrible flow.  The first two episodes are fast-paced, action-packed thrillers.  The third and maybe fourth are high tension police drama thrillers. And then the story starts to go haywire because Five steps in and forces Nine and Twelve through needlessly complex mind games in order to frame them.  But after the first few episodes the show feels like it just stops going anywhere.  The segments with Five are essentially filler, the premise is simple and the only reason it takes so long to come full circle is because the main characters decide to declare their intentions in the most roundabout way possible.  And there is no character development to fill the gaps because the characters are mostly restricted in their interactions and growth.  In hindsight I think Zanyou no Terror might have been great if it had launched as a six episode OVA instead of a full season.  Keep in mind six episode OVAs aren’t generally my thing but this is a show that takes a long time to tell a very simple and straightforward story.  Instead of filling extra time with Five’s mind games and explosive defusing scenarios, they should have cut down on the roundabout storytelling and unnecessary bits and made a short but focused story, one that used the little time it had well and did what it needed to do without distractions.  Because Zankyou no Terror had some potential and the art style was great, but the overall package was rather underwhelming given the great start the show got off to.  Anyway that wraps this one up.  Hopefully you all enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one.

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