Zankyou no Terror – 1

Finished watching the first episode of Zankyou no Terror. Several initial impressions come to mind. First, it’s very refreshing to see a serious-minded anime these days, one that at least tries to tell a story that concerns mature themes. On the other hand, the material itself was flawed and fell into a lot of typical anime tropes, starting with the outlandish opening sequence, where two mystically prodigious teenagers somehow steal nuclear waste from a processing facility as if it were the easiest thing in the world. Beyond the typical literary handwaving, I know how this scene is supposed to work: there’s significant hostile public sentiment in Japan (not to mention the world) regarding nuclear power after the Fukushima incident, so many viewers watching this won’t ridicule the idea that the security and people in a high-priority facility such as this could be so incompetent. Like the script, I’ll just gloss over how absurd it is that one of the terrorists even got past the front gate without proper identification, which is precisely the amateurish type of subterfuge these places excel at preventing. Whatever. More insulting was how the writers blatantly exploited viewer ignorance and fear over nukes by having one of the main characters point a gun at the container of nuclear waste he’s stealing to ensure the security guards watching don’t just lock down the whole facility and stop the series from happening within the first three minutes. When I beheld this scene, I laughed out loud. Spent nuclear fuel is not a hydrogen bomb waiting to go off; that’s not how that stuff works. But since everyone else thinks nuclear power is this Pandora’s Box waiting to kill us all–despite the small fact that radiation or nuclear materials from the Fukushima plant has killed no one–the series will get away with this pretty easily.

We move on to Tokyo, six months later, where our favorite terrorists are somehow fitting into a new high school with identities that jackshit-nobody has bothered to follow up on. Crafting new identities and inserting them into a bureaucratic system actually takes some work, kids. Eh, fuck it. They’re geniuses, right? It all makes sense. Then we find out through flashbacks that these two terrorists are escapees from awful institution that did something to children. What a completely new plot I’m seeing here. And the cold, serious one remarks about how the children who didn’t escape were weak and blah blah. Yawn. The other terrorist is a happy, giggling, carefree psychopath like every other Happy Psychopath the Japanese are obsessed with. Sigh. Finally we get to someone we can sort of relate to: Lisa, a girl victimized by the pernicious culture of bullying in Japanese schools. Yay, this series might actually have something interesting to discuss. But enough about deep social problems the Japanese are always too scared to tackle: there’s terrorism in the capital! Shocking!

Late that very afternoon, the terrorist duo somehow manages to arrange a power outage to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which allows them to place bombs in strategic locations in the building within a 26-minute timespan, something absolutely no one notices them doing except Lisa. Are you fucking kidding me? A) everyone would’ve been evacuated immediately due to the power outage and security would’ve taken over; B) schools have this practice called “accountability” wherein they keep lists of the students who go on trips and would naturally know to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to be; C) they have these bombs in little bright pink toys they place in perfectly conspicuous areas. So I’m guessing the thousands of people who work in this incredibly important government building didn’t notice these highly out-of-place toys that just appeared randomly as they were leaving right after a sudden power outage that was predicted by teenagers in creepy masks in a Youtube video that aired the previous day. Hmm. This really looks suspicious to me, Yousuke-kun. Maybe we should call someone.

And so, predictably, the plan succeeds. The bombs blow up the building and nobody does anything about it, even though this whole thing would have been prevented by the most basic security measures. How exciting. You know, it’s really hard to care about a conflict when one side is manned by inexplicable geniuses blessed with divine omniscience and the other is made up of morons who have the IQs of hamsters. If there’s no risk to these teenagers whatsoever, there’s nothing to give me pause.  This the precise reason why I never got into the Death Note anime. The conflict and plot were both just so one-sided and contrived that I just couldn’t be bothered to care. And for the love of God, Japanese writers, stop trying to pull heartstrings so blatantly. I really don’t give a shit about whatever cause they’re fighting for or whatever tragedy these two teenagers went through. They just blew up a government building in the middle of one of the most densely populated centers on earth, probably killing hundreds of people and putting tens of thousands of more at risk. I really don’t care if the Japanese government (fifty bucks says a highly Americanesque power is involved too) was experimenting on children for shiggles. If you can’t figure out a modern national government is an entity staffed by millions of people all serving completely different functions instead of this monolithic scapegoat you want to vent your frustrations onto, you’re just idiots who need to be shot.

I’ll stick with this for a few more episodes, but the material really needs to get its shit together if it wants to hold my interest. Meanwhile, I’m going to go visit Twitter and some anime blogs to watch people ogle over how deep and profound this crappy writing is.

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