Zankyou no Terror – 9

Had every episode SRS.TRAGEDY-COULD-HAVE-BEEN of Zankyou no Terror been like this, it would have been a great series. There was tension, drama, cinematography, compelling choices, solid exposition, and real character development. In particular, I highly enjoyed the slow, careful pace the episode took with the bomb sequence, adding weight to it while simultaneously allowing both the viewer and characters to step back and consider what was going on among Nine, Lisa, and Five. Instead of turning this into some mind-numbing, last-minute-disarm-the-bomb action trope, we got to see some character development finally deliver on its promise, with each player, even Five to some degree, revealing new things about themselves. At last, the series sets itself up for its finale and throws the characters into their final confrontation.

Amazing how it failed to do this effectively for the past nine episodes, wasting all that time to accomplish so little. You might as well watch the first episode, maybe the fifth, and this one, and you’d end up at the same point as if you’d watched all the others in sequence. We just found out that Japan might have been developing a nuclear weapon, a shocking thing to say the least, given the country’s geopolitical position, popular sentiments, and the Japanese constitution that forswears the right to wage offensive war ever again. This single idea carries more substance than everything else that’s happened in the entire series, especially the cliched Unit 731 shit about savant children that was telegraphed into the ground. Why didn’t it just capitalize on this concept? Seriously, does anybody still remember those stupid Oedipus plots? Or the references to the Apocrypha? Or the fucking airport sequence? Anybody still care about those elaborate plots to blow up buildings? Nope.

I don’t think you could have asked for a better lesson on the importance of execution. Zankyou no Terror had all the trappings and foundations of a good series, but missed the forest for the trees. Characterization and drama are more about potentially small, yet deep moments between characters that you set up over time, rather than flashy sequences to get the adrenaline flowing and the brain shut off. Moments like what happened between Nine and Lisa here make a series memorable, not clever nods at obscure texts to make things seem revelatory to the dull-edged mind. The framing, the pacing, the simple-yet-impossible challenge presented to Nine, Lisa overcoming her insecurities somewhat, and Five revealing she cares way more about driving a wedge between her two rivals, the only two people in the world she has any connection to, than the legitimate concerns of the American government–all of that was light-years ahead in quality compared to Clarence the Henchman locking Lisa away on an airplane in some cockamamie scheme. And we didn’t even need Five grinning and painting her nails to make it serious and threatening.

God, kids, maybe this series might have a decent conclusion. It’ll still be a disaster, but we might be able to salvage something out of this trainwreck. No putting the breaks on the Crazy Train now. Only two more stops.

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Sword Art Online II – 9

Wow, Kirito anSILLY.ASSUMEd Sinon. You sure bought first-class tickets on Assumption Airlines. No wonder you fell into an extremely obvious trap. You don’t know any of the things you said you did. You don’t know he’ll show up on the satellite scan; he might have a cloaking device. You don’t know he’ll head for the abandoned city because “he’s a sniper”; you just observed him using close-quarter ambush tactics to stun and execute someone. And how retarded can you be to stand around in wide open spaces talking about your plans when you have assumed your enemy is a precision sniper capable of literally killing people in a video game? You might want to take cover and obfuscate your moves as you approach the city. I dunno. Something intelligent, I guess. And I’m getting really tired of these semi-omniscient moments these characters have. People do not have the reaction time to dodge bullets like that.

Don’t worry, though, because our main antagonist is even more retarded than our protagonists. Double wow, Death Gun. You have first-hand experience fighting Kirito, the person who beat SAO because he got really pissed off and decided that game code just doesn’t apply to him. So your grand plan is…to piss him off? Isn’t that kind of exactly what happened the last time he beat a killer video game? How is this plan supposed to succeed? What happens if he is the real Kirito? What then? Are you going to kill him with your fancy gun thingie? What makes you think it’ll work on someone who can cow computer code into submission? Do you not have a brain? I mean, you were stupid enough to use the exact same logo of your notorious guild of murderers in a separate MMO, so I guess you’re either completely Japanesey insane or just an idiot. Either way, you’re only one step up from our last antagonist, Pedophile the Salaryman. That’s not saying much.

Oh no, I’m really on the edge of my seat as to what’ll happen next week. Dear me. It’s so thrilling. Will Sinon die?

Ha.