What it’s about: Two teenagers with a mysterious past, who go by the codenames Nine and Twelve, engage in a battle of wits with the Tokyo police. While setting up terrorist attacks with an aim towards minimal casualties and maximum property damage, they run into the lonely Lisa Mishima, a schoolgirl desperate to find somewhere to belong.
Why you should watch it: Zankyou no Terror does for the terrorist what Dexter did for the serial killer. It provides a human face without trivialising the horror of what they’re actually doing. The characters are complex and the premise is very interesting. It’s an intellectual thriller with a wealth of symbolism to be found with even a surface reading, from the legend of Oedipus to the use of light and dark to other, less obvious allusions. The soundtrack is thoroughly modern and the show contains one or two pieces of animation that are going to go down as a new high watermark. If I had to sum up the show so far in one word, it would be “Intelligent”.
Caveats: The second act is not quite as strong as the first, failing to capitalise on much of what made the opening episodes so interesting and introducing a rather cartoonish villain. For no apparent reason, really. Things pick back up towards the end, but a lot of time is wasted that could have been better spent on developing the characters and themes. Also beware of horrible, horrible Engrish.
Themes: The power of symbols, which ties directly back into the theme of terrorism. A new generation’s rejection of (and by) society. Antipathy towards the sins of the past and the shadows cast into the present. Youthful disaffection leading to rebellion leading to…revolution? Lots of playing around with this general motif.