This episode of Zankyou no Terror was pretty much the definition of hauntingly beautiful. Gorgeous shots were littered everywhere, the music was chillingly pretty, and the emotional beats (especially between Twelve and Lisa) were enhanced and complemented by the aesthetics. It was hard to look away. And at the same time, it was just a little hard to watch.
I was a big fan of the way they structured this episode, effectively bisecting it between Shibasaki’s side of the story and the teens’ side of the story. We need the context of Shibasaki’s investigation to continue to make sense of the intensely personal encounters between Twelve, Lisa, Nine, and Twelve.
The presentation of Aoki’s character was a stunningly well-done scene—he’s an old man feeling the weight of regret, guilt, and fear. His zen-like calm, which rightly infuriates Hamura, showed us someone who knew he had done wrong, and had come to terms with the fact that he was never going to be able to right it. And yes, that’s an utterly depressing thing to see. It doesn’t even seem as if, despite his reasoning that he has nothing to fear because he doesn’t have long left to live, he even wants to make amends. As he says, he would have taken the information with him to his grave if Shibasaki and Hamura hadn’t shown up.
But they do show up, and he does share, and even hopes that Nine and Twelve still live. It’s certainly too little, too late, but at least it’s something. He also reveals the news that the project’s instigator is the same as the man who had Shibasaki relegated to the archives. How this will effect Shibasaki going forward, I don’t know. At this point, I think Shibasaki is probably beyond caring around the repercussions this investigation might have for his career (and Hamura, admirably, makes the same choice), so he may just see this as his final chance to put to rest the case that he was banished from years ago.
And then, we flip over to Twelve and Lisa. The whole sequence in the ferris wheel car, from the moment Twelve steps in and sees Lisa (divided from her by a metal beam the color of her voice), was pretty much heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to see the pressure of having a life in his hands put on Twelve once again, heartbreaking to see Lisa’s agonized apology for causing trouble, heartbreaking to see Twelve’s gentle admonishment of her apology, heartbreaking to see Twelve take responsibility for her involvement, heartbreaking to see Lisa try and sacrifice herself for Twelve and Nine to be able to complete their mission.
But Twelve has already made his choice. He’s already chosen Lisa over Nine by ditching the bomb plan to instead go save Lisa from Five. So, when he gives away the location of the bomb to Five to save Lisa’s life, it’s not so much a betrayal as it is a completion of his commitment to his chosen course of action. It’s a killer choice for him to make, one that will surely resonate throughout the final two episodes of the show—and man, do I feel bad for him. This scene, perhaps more than any yet in Zankyou no Terror, reminded me of just how delicately childish these characters are—Twelve and Lisa far more so than anyone else in the cast. Despite what Twelve has already told her, I’m sure Lisa will again feel guilty, this time for having been the force that (however unintetionally) ripped Twelve and Nine apart.
Like I said at the beginning, this sucks to watch if you have any sort of emotional investment in Twelve and Lisa. And the almost leisurely pace at which Watanabe takes us through the bomb disarming scene was both terrifying and heartwarming. Again, the aesthetics were off the charts—cinematography, music, pacing, everything.
All this leads us to the conclusion, in which Five collapses (foreshadowed earlier in Aoki’s comments—so the head ringing is probably a result of their tests) and Nine miraculously escapes from the police. It wasn’t clear to me if he got away with the bomb or not, but I’m guessing that he did. Wherever this is all going, I’m starting to think that this ends in tragedy for Nine and Five, with Twelve and Lisa surviving, hopefully without regrets. But I don’t know if there’s room for that in this story.
Whatever the case may be, Zankyou no Terror has me emotionally engaged in a way I haven’t been since episode four. Lisa and Twelve really are the beating, human heart of this show—I think they have to survive for the show to present any sort of hope. Even if Nine’s plan fails. Even if he and Five perish due to the side effects of the experiments. Even if Shibasaki gets fired. I hope they do. I don’t want to walk away from the show with the illusion that everything just works out perfectly in the end, but I need it to prove to me that it believes in things getting better. Please don’t let me down, Zankyou no Terror.