Way back in episode 3 of Terror in Resonance, Shibazaki recalled his childhood summers spent in Hiroshima. The heat kept the elderly indoors, and an uncomfortable quiet blanketed the streets he walked. In this tenth episode, in the middle of summer, Shibazaki finally enters one of these houses and meets its occupant, Shunzo Mamiya, a small husk of a man who has been stewing behind locked doors, high walls, and wire fences all these years.
In Mamiya’s estimation, it was the flash of atomic heat in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that kept Japan trapped inside of its own walls. The end of World War II turned a once proud and militant country into a superpower’s lapdog. Thus, Terror in Resonance reveals its main antagonist to be Japan’s own strain of nationalism, here embodied by this withered leader of the conservative majority party. Literally shrouded in darkness, as his poorly-lit bedroom meshes sublimely with Yoko Kanno’s tense score, Mamiya cooly admits to his crimes. He thought nothing of using the lives of children to create an independent Japan, even stooping so low as to replicate the weapon that stripped his country of the dignity he so values. Mamiya’s methods are extreme, underhanded, and evil, but his resentment is understandable, especially in the context of this show. Shibazaki’s family was directly affected by the bombing of Hiroshima. The FBI’s intervention has undermined the Japanese police and government at every step (and exacerbated the situation every time). The unspoken tension between Japan and the United States has dotted the entire latter half of the show. Perhaps Shibazaki’s grandmother harbored similar resentment as she too was cooped inside of her house. Shibazaki himself has admitted to sympathizing with the student protestors who rallied against the Anpo treaty. There is definitely an argument for a more independent Japan, but Shunzo Mamiya’s extremism and militarism are not the answer, and Shibazaki knows it.
The entire scene between Mamiya and Shibazaki is a beautiful culmination of many of the show’s themes. The conflict between the young, who possess no power, and the old, who hold all the power, comes to a head with Mamiya, the oldest and most powerful person in the story. Even Shibazaki, the eldest of the protagonists, is young compared to Mamiya, and he still possesses the fire of his fifteen-years-younger self who was slighted and exiled. The scene with Mamiya is also intercut with scenes of Five waking up and leaving the hospital. Both Mamiya and Five are physically deteriorating, confined to beds, but Five musters the will to pull herself up and die on her feet. Her drive and passion are the total opposite of the stagnant, static Mamiya. Tied into this conflict is the struggle between outcasts and the society they came from. Again, Mamiya was directly responsible for Shibazaki’s demotion to the archives and the end of his career as a detective, so for Shibazaki to finally stand before him is even more of a confrontation than Sphinx’s indirect attacks. In this way, Shibazaki and Sphinx are further united as individuals whom were not just abandoned by society, but callously thrown away by Mamiya.
Terror in Resonance‘s care towards lighting and framing can also be found throughout this scene. Mamiya’s room, the den of the forces Sphinx has been struggling against, is noticeably dark. Despite the fact that the shades are open, there is barely enough light to illuminate the entire room, as if Mamiya’s presence clouds the atmosphere. This is further contrasted by the cut to Five in the hospital, where abundant and even lighting illuminates everything in the scene. In front of the unlit bookcase, Shibazaki’s white shirt stands out the most, contrasting Mamiya’s pitch black clothing. Similarly, when Shibazaki speaks, the light of the window frames his face, while the shadows of the room outline Mamiya’s profile. Shibazaki’s unruly black hair clashes with Mamiya’s thinning grey hair. Shibazaki’s stern determination defines his words, even as Mamiya’s face contorts into an impenetrable smile. Every piece of unspoken information communicates a confrontation between a hero and a villain. Shibazaki even brings back the Oedipal themes of the early episodes, explicitly referencing Nine and Twelve’s attempt at patricide–to kill the leader of the country and society that stripped them of their personhood and left them to die.
The series’ habit of referencing real events also reaches new heights with its most incisive indictment yet. Clarence reveals that the United States wants the atomic bomb so they can prove that Japan started developing it as soon as their interpretation of their constitution changed. Last week, I mentioned article 9 of Japan’s constitution, which is the clause that explicitly prevents the country from engaging in international conflicts or maintaining any kind of military presence outside of their small self-defense force. Well, it turns out that very recently, the current prime minister Shinzo Abe convened with his cabinet and decided to reinterpret article 9 more loosely, so that it would allow Japan to fight abroad and expand its military presence. Sound familiar? What’s even crazier is that this decision was made this July, which, if you’ll recall, is the same month Terror in Resonance started airing. Either the series’ writing was extraordinarily prescient, or they decided to add that detail in light of the recent events. Regardless, it’s a politically provocative inclusion. Compound that with the slight similarity between Shunzo Mamiya’s and Shinzo Abe’s names, or the way Mamiya’s status as “monster of Japan’s political center” evokes memories of the “monster of the Showa era” Nobusuke Kishi (Abe’s grandfather), or the way Abe seems to embrace the flavor of nationalism described by Mamiya, and it makes sense why at least one of the show’s writers is using a pseudonym.
Finally, the scene ends on this idea of resonance and echoes. Mamiya taunts Shibazaki with his irrelevance–how the voice of a single detective will amount to nothing, drowned out by the noise of the storm Mamiya will summon. But Shibazaki will continue to shout. He’ll speak for the 26 unnamed children. He’ll shout as loudly as Sphinx. The public will hear him, and they will repeat his words. A nation of misfits echoing his compassion, dethroning its king. This is the way people can resonate with each other. That’s hope. That’s von.
-There have been all sorts of character parallels drawn throughout the show, but the connection between Five and Shibazaki was never as strong as in this episode.
-I wish we could have spent a little more time exploring Five’s relationship with Nine, because as it is, her demise comes very abruptly. I do really like, however, the way her presence on the show is bookended by flames. She and the boys are volatile people, treated as subhuman and ready to explode at any time, but even they cling to the hope of what needs to be done. Perhaps Nine and Twelve will be bookended more quietly by snow.
-Twelve’s relationship with Lisa continues to be tragic, as much as he tries to deny it. Lisa can see through his front, though. In the middle of the amusement park, he stands at the epicenter, while she hesitates to step forward and join him. Sure enough, at the end of the episode, she’s by herself once again.
-Twelve tries to defuse the situation by once again giving Lisa a stuffed animal. This one isn’t full of dynamite, but it’s just as charged with emotion. The Dutch angle further communicates the growing sense of unease as Lisa begs Twelve to go help Nine.
-While overall I think Terror in Resonance has been a great, provocative series, there’s a lot riding on its last episode. I have the hope that it will tie itself together, but as it is, I’ve had fun watching the show and writing about it (mostly) weekly. It’s forced me to think about and research a lot of things I would not have otherwise, and it’s definitely been a highlight of the summer. Thanks for reading these posts.