This was my choice for the Anime of the Season. Did it live up to the Hype? Let’s find out…
Hi, I’m JustintheThief; Here’s my review!
From the creative directorial and musical team that brought us Cowboy Bebop and Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon), comes another show that I believe will go on my “Must see” list. Do you like psychological thriller shows? Do you like being carried along by a story, having little idea of what’s happening, instead of walking with the story, knowing exactly where it is going? Now listen, I love Ecchi and Harem and Action stuff as much as the next guy (Probably more, honestly), but if you really want me to be amazed, throw me out of my depth, with no clue as to what’s going on all the time. I love being swept up in a story and being surprised when things happen. A lot of anime just goes through the same general motions all the time. That’s fine, and I love lots of anime that stick to the basics, but this, this is the stuff I live for.
Spiel done, onto the reviewing!
The opening starts with a rather silent (No real talking or exposition) montage. It’s rather confusing, with jump cuts back and forth, but it’s fascinating.We first see a snowy road in Aomori, Japan, and a bus being driven by the happiest man wearing a gas-mask ever. Cut to another couple of men entering a well guarded warehouse or factory wearing gas-masks and radiation suits. Cut to the bus, entering a Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility (Catchy name). Cut to the inside of a machine, putting something metallic inside of a protective metal ball. It seems suspiciously bomb-like. Cut again, back to the bus, which turns out to be a police bus. The guards at the gate of the NFRF call the control room. Cut to the warehouse where the metal ball is being loaded onto a forklift. Back to the Police bus, where the man in the gas mask is bouncing– Did he just pull the pin on that Grenade?!?!
Back into the warehouse. The guy in the forklift is spray-painting something on the ground. It spells VON. Cut to the van, where the guy (Terrorist?) throws the grenade, stopping the gate from closing. The alarm inside the warehouse/factory goes off, and the spray-painting guy grabs the metal ball and takes off. We see the guy in the van burst out of the back on a snow mobile, and the guy with the metal ball is seen through a security camera, holding a gun to the ball. This tells me whatever is inside it is either highly explosive or valuable, judging by the guards panicked looks. the chase continues for both until they meet up, put the ball in a backpack and take off, the guards hesitant to shoot due to whatever is in the ball. The two disappear into the snow storm, triumphant.
We are treated to the incredible opening song, “Trigger” sung by the incredible Yuuki Ozaki. Following this we find out that it is 6 Months later in Tokyo. Two young men, calling each other Nine and Twelve, are walking together, Twelve talking about the weather and everything he sees, Nine seemingly trying to keep Twelve in check.
The two see a girl, Lisa, fully clothed, standing on a pull starting board, surrounded by other girls, obviously bullying her, trying to get her to jump in. She seems hesitant, but resigned, as if this is a daily occurrence for her. Twelve is seen, jovially asking what is happening, though, realizing it must be bullying. The girls explain it isn’t, that Lisa just wanted to swim. Lisa doesn’t deny it, only saying that it is hot. Twelve agrees, and jumps off the an awning into the pool. Lisa remarks on how she “Met a smile as warm as summer,” speaking of Twelve. She then looks up and spies Nine watching her, adding “and a gaze as cold as ice.”
We find the two boys at school, Nine’s name being Kokonoe Arata (which is his real name?), seems to want to just be left alone. A dripping wet Twelve is introduced as Hisami Touji, and is in the same class as Lisa and her bullies.
We find two men in an office, one watching funny videos, the other playing shogi by himself. The one watching videos finds an interesting one and calls over the other. We see a YouTube video of two boys in masks talking, calling themselves Sphinx 1 and Sphinx 2. It’s very obviously Twelve and Nine. They explain that “There’s been a sudden change in the weather forecast for tomorrow.” Continuing with the promise of “Darkness to descend” the next day around three, and “Big sparks” are expected to “Shower Shinjuku.” Cryptic, but seen as a prank, the two men seem to dismiss it as a childish prank. A man comes in, reprimanding them for not doing their work. He reminds the one playing shogi, Shibazaki, that he isn’t a detective any more… Hmmm, that plot thickens. I also feel there may be something important about the shogi he’s playing, perhaps where and which pieces he’s moving, but since i know almost nothing about shogi, I can’t tell. Anyone have any ideas or theories about it?
Back at the school, the girls want to get to know Nine, but he brushes them off, saying he doesn’t have a phone. He leaves quickly when what is obviously a cell phone goes off. He meets Twelve on the roof, chiding him for not keeping a low profile, but Nine waves him off, naming all the girls who have been talking to him so far. They notice Lisa going into the bathroom to eat lunch.
Inside the bathroom, Lisa seems unable to eat. Her phone goes off. She has around a dozen texts from here mother. She gags, suddenly and stands up, throwing her lunch into the toilet and gasping, unable to eat anything. I’m wondering if she’s anorexic or bulimic due to the bullying perhaps? Or maybe she’s got a sickness she isn’t telling people about? I’m not sure about this one, but I believe it will have some significance later on. Give me your theories.
There’s a dark, shadowy scene, showing kids running through a field to a fence. Two of the children start climbing it, but one, a girl perhaps, but its hard to tell, falls. The boy climbing the fence watches as she bursts into flames. Nine wakes up in his room, sweating and breathing hard. What a dream. Twelve wakes up too, asking if he had the same dream again? He mentions how Lisa’s eyes are just like the kids from the institution. Hmmm, what institution? Like an orphanage? Or was it an experimental thing? With the dream about a kid bursting into flames, I’m leaning more towards the experimentation angle. Nine coldly tells him the kids who died were weak, but then comments that, they too, were weak, because they couldn’t save them. But he firmly states that they are no longer weak.
It seems to be the next day. We see lots of students. A shop, or perhaps a section of the school? Twelve is looking at some stuffed toys when Nine comes behind him, explaining that “it” will happen in 3 minutes, and they’ll have 26 minutes before the generators flip the power back on. So they’ve apparently orchestrated a black out. Thus the “Darkness to descend” will come true. He asks Twelve if he has the floor plan memorized. “What do you take me for?”
Lisa sees the two, and heads for the bathroom, where again we see many texts from her mother. She wishes for everyone to disappear.
Outside a crane cuts some power lines, causing a massive blackout. We look over the city, and come back to Shibazaki, who remembers the video he watched and asked his friend to pull the video back up.
As the building is evacuated, Twelve and Nine begin putting the stuffed animals seen earlier all over the building, in obviously strategic places. Lisa is making her way out again when she spies Twelve on the stairs. She calls after him and he smiles, asking if she’s playing Hide-and-Seek. He tosses her one of the stuffed animals, telling her it must be lonely, hiding alone. He tells her not to get rid of it until he tells her to.
We see Shibazaki contemplating the video as the power comes back on. Nine, now out of the building pulls out his phone and calls a number. Twelve comes up after him and explains that he saw Lisa. It goes back to the stuffed animals, which burst into flames and begin igniting all over the building. Lisa is still running inside the building as one of the areas with the animals explodes, blowing a chunk out of the building. Twelve coldly, but amicably says she’ll probably die, but he left one of the stuffed animals with her. He simply states they could either kill her, or save her. Twelve states that maybe this could put an end to Nine’s nightmare.
Lisa gets a call from Twelve, thought Nine quickly takes it from her. He gives her two options. Die where she stands, or become their accomplice. After a time of indecision and the building falling apart around her, she exclaims that she doesn’t want to die. Cheering, Twelve runs off, and Nine gives her some instructions on where to go. His memorization on where she is and the building is astounding. He either has an incredible memory or some sort of ability. Tells her to leave the toy by a window and step back to where she came from.
It blows a hole in a bridge walkway, and she sees Twelve under her, on a motorcycle, telling her to jump down to him, a smile on his face. She goes through some of the things said to her by Nine, Twelve, and her bullies, before making the decision to jump. Part of the building then collapses. Nine takes a picture as Nine and Lisa ride up. He tells her she has to keep with her decision to be their accomplice. She again reiterates her thoughts on how they look. We end with a hauntingly beautiful song “Dare ka, Umi o.” by Aimer. Well, what did you think?
For a first episode, I admit, I was enthralled, and not just because this one was probably highest on my list of shows for this season. It totally took my expectations and ran with them, in a great way. I was enthralled beginning to end. The animation was dark and well drawn. As you can probably tell by my other reviews, I love backgrounds and cityscapes. I may not know all about what’s good and bad in anime (I’m still pretty knew at judging and reviewing instead of just watching) but I think this is on the higher side of things. I thought it looked great. And the music… jesus… Yoko Kanno, you’ve done it again. Everything about the music was just astounding. At times I barely noticed it, but it was always poignant, especially looking back at the episode. Especially the music from the dream… incredible. This looks like it could be another grand slam from Yoko Kanno and Shinichiro Watanabe. I had high hopes for this one. It absolutely did not disappoint.
Got any theories or answers to some of my questions? Got a favorite character? Do you think this show will be able to hold up the standard of Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus, and Kids on the Slope, not to mention the other things these creators have worked independently of each other? Got any objections to my view? Got a good recipe for curry? Let me know in the comments section!
There you go! I’m still playing catch-up with my reviews, but I hope to be on a schedule by this weekend, or at least by next week sometime. I think I can do it. Anyways, I’m using [Kaylith] subs for this review here. Check it out. They are great. And no Pixiv yet, as there just isn’t much out on Zankyou no Terror yet. But I’m sure we will get some awesome ones up soon! Just wait for it!