Zankyou no Terror, Episode 7

I was worried coming into this episode, as the popular opinion on the streets (read: Anitwitter) seemed to be that this episode wasn’t very good.

I disagree. This wasn’t my favorite episode of Zankyou no Terror, but it was more that serviceable. (EDIT: Apparently the ruckus has to do with believability problems with FBI allowing a bombing to take place under their command. Y’all are too grounded in the real world.)

This episode we saw the return of (better) visual storytelling to Zankyou no Terror, as well as giving us a number of parallels and contrasts on which to ponder. There were also a TON of facial expressions this episode, most of them revealing small details in tiny moments that are easy to miss.

Zankyou no Terror

I will admit, I was pretty worried about where this episode was heading when they took almost four minutes of screentime for recapping the previous episode, and while I don’t excuse that choice, I forgot that it happened pretty quickly.

The chess game got underway pretty quickly, but it’s not the chess game that was really important here—it’s what it represents and how it draws everyone who’s important to this story (including a Shibasaki who smiles in delight when he realizes Sphinx is in the airport), finally, into one single whirlpool of intrigue, anger, and twisted camaraderie. Yes, Shibasaki, whether he realizes it or not, has grown found of the chase with which Sphinx has provided him. And, even better for him, the knowledge that the images showing up on the airport screens are coming on police orders give him an excuse to say the line he’s been wanting to say since the time he was banished to the archives: “It looks like we’ll be better off looking into the movements of the police.

Zankyou no Terror

We also got a lot of information about Five this episode. It’s clear by her reaction to losing track of Twelve that this is a game she wants to play with Nine, and Nine alone. Five is nothing if not selfish, and she wants her game uninterrupted by outside forces—and she wants desperately to win.

Eyes have always been a focus in Zankyou no Terror (really, in anime in general), but especially so with Five. And in this episode, there were three distinct moments with her eyes that really caught my attention. The first of these (left) comes right after Lisa creates the distraction in the bathroom and the screens flicker. Five’s eyes move away from the central monitor, just for a moment, and Sphinx’s plan succeeds. But Five glances immediately back to the main monitor, where her game with Nine is ongoing. That’s the big takeaway for me. After giving the orders to capture Twelve, Five zooms right back into her game with Nine—it’s where her attention and selfishness lead her. The second one (center) is actually impossible to convey with a still shot, but it’s a tiny moment of frustration eking out in the form of a subtle eye twitch from the impeccably collected Five. She wants to play, but she similarly doesn’t want to lose. The final shot (right), are some damn good crazy eyes, as Five kisses Lisa’s school ID—oh, yes. She knows she’s been replaced by Lisa and she’s absolutely livid.

Five’s not the only one who’s pissed at the end of the episode. Shibasaki, in the aftermath of stopping the bomb, seems to have fixated on Sphinx once again and pounds his fists on the glass of the control tower, seeing Sphinx just barely out of his reach. I think that’s pretty interesting—Shibasaki seems to be content to have both the police and Sphinx as his enemies, despite the fact that he should already recognize that his interests align more with those of the terrorists than his employers. This puts Shibasaki at an interesting crossroads: does he help Sphinx and follow through on the investigation he was forced to quit long ago, or does he continue to pursue the kid terrorists due to his rage/fear about the plutonium?

So, that was a lot about Shibasaki and Five and the overall craft of the episode, but you should know by now that I can’t write a Zankyou no Terror post without writing about Lisa and the boys.

Zankyou no Terror

And she’s right, of course. Lisa makes Nine and Twelve more human, and she makes them more vulnerable.

Lisa truly is one of them now. We’ve known Five was pretty emotionally involved with her for a while now, but even Nine falters in his icy regard for Lisa when he realizes that Five has taken steps to eliminate her. It’s not enough to keep him from initially making the utilitarian choice to evacuate the airport and sacrifice Lisa, Five’s horror at the suggestion forces Nine to reconsider and enlist Shibasaki’s help—Shibasaki’s duty, as Nine quips on the phone, is to protect the public. But Sphinx is an inherently personal group, and Nine can’t deny Twelve’s (dare I call it love?—not yet…) affection for Lisa.

We got some of Twelve’s most expressive faces ever in the boys’ conversation outside the airport, first in his anger at Five’s actions to kill Lisa and second in his horror at Nine’s suggestion that they sacrifice their new member to save those in the airport. I’ve never really talked about this before, but I think facial expressions are a huge (and easily neglected) technique in anime to convey both information and express human emotion. Even cold, impersonal Five is made more human through her face and eyes.

Zankyou no Terror

On her end, Lisa finally becomes a willing and active agent in Sphinx’s schemes, serving her role as a decoy and cementing her presence with them on the airport luggage cart. We see a moment of indecision, but these instances have been growing shorter and shorter each time Lisa encounters them—and this time she takes action quite quickly. Is this why Sphinx wins this game? Because they, unlike both Shibasaki and Five, who are both still solo guns, are a team and act like it?

In the end, Sphinx probably still lost the battle, as they will most likely be framed for the bombing and Five’s going into berserk mode over Lisa. But, for now, they’re together—they are the family they’ve each been searching for all this time. Who will make the next move? Will it tear them apart?

Zankyou no Terror

10 thoughts on “Zankyou no Terror, Episode 7

  1. Dammit, the one visual thing I had was ‘DID YOU NOTICE THE EYES/FACES?’ They have such faces. Five looked positively feral by the end, and that music… That childlike, cradle music in the last scene. Perfectly fits her. More of a general thing as well, but I love the way Watanabe fills out a scene. Rooms packed with posters and billboards, the way the crowds move, background characters checking their watches and phones as they pass. There’s a real sense of busyness, like life is going on outside of the story.

    It was a hell of a ride though. Really. really exciting stuff. We finally see where all the major players priorities lie without any ambiguity. Twelve and Lisa are too cute for this story. And people disliked this episode? Pfft…

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    • You better believe I noticed those eyes and faces! They were so great, like really great this episode. Lisa’s always had good faces (of course, she’s the cute girls), but when Shibasaki, Twelve, Nine, and Five all get in on that action during a single episode? Man. Thank you, MAPPA and your character designers for this week.

      I’ve been a fan the whole duration of the show with the little background things you mention (I’m recalling the ironic phone billboard when the power signals were locked down and the conversations the high school girls were having about getting calls while Lisa was looking at her mom’s call history to her)—but busyness isn’t something I’ve thought of yet. Life going on outside of the story I think is such a huge benefit to have. Stories often focus so intently on the “characters” that the other humans that populate their worlds really become nothing more than background. Watanabe can’t really afford that here in a show where the public as an entity plays an actual role as a side-character of sorts.

      It was a fun episode, it moved people around, and still got some character and theme stuff out.

      Twelve x Lisa OTP.

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      • It’s interesting if you compare it to the likes of say, Mawaru Penguindrum, where the background characters are all stick figures and completely ignored. Worked very well there, would not work at all here. You wouldn’t have quite the same sense of consequence.

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          • Seems a bit of an odd comparison to make frequently. The only real connection is the terrorism connection, but that’s a very minor part of Penguindrum. Especially in the grand scope.

            I’d recommend Penguindrum though, it’s a personal favourite of mine. If you’re in need of a sales pitch: I think you could really like it. I umm.. surveyed your MAL list (I wiped my feet before entering) and I noticed you’ve got Zetsuen No Tempest rated a ten and top of your favourites. I think they have a lot in common. They both have this sort of theatrical sensibility to them, both look fantastic, and have really engaging casts. Also ridiculous and crazy plots (Penguindrum is a lot more theme-focused, so it’s far more out there). If you loved any of those things about Zetsuen, you’ll probably love MPD.

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      • Indeed. Twelve x Lisa OTP. I didn’t really care until this episode, and now suddenly I have all these “feels” for the characters. Shibazaki, who had kind of bored me up until now, became a really compelling character in the span of two minutes. I’m excited to see what he does from now on.

        And daaaaaamn, that Five. Her butthurt was delicious this episode. I hope to see more of it in the future!

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        • I do agree. All the characters came out of the episode feeling more sympathetic to me, even Five. Her obvious loneliness doesn’t excuse her psychotic behavior, but it does at least explain it.

          I’m curious to see if Shibasaki just whiffs on Five in his eagerness to chase the plutonium-wielding Sphinx or not.

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  2. I didn’t particularly mind that this episode took a bit of time to recap the previous one – like you, I actually think this episode was plenty enjoyable. The fact that it didn’t seem 100% believable just didn’t bother me overmuch; I seldom watch anime for its realism.

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    • I suppose the recap (it did have great music, after all) is forgivable for allowing the rest of the episode to be so well paced.

      The realism thing is interesting. I’ve heard the “I don’t watch anime for realism” point before, but it seems like most of the complaints this week came from people who think that ZnT has been striving for a level of realism that it’s now breaking. I’m not sure I think that’s the case, but it is somewhat understandable that people would have been disappointed this episode if they had felt the show was “realistic” thus far.

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