Opening with a serious James Bond-like aura, we dive right into the middle of a snowy government heist in motion. Our two centers of focus are complete opposites: the quirky happy-go-lucky guy, and the serious all business guy. Of course, they both turn out to be super genius teenagers with some time on their hands; so, you know, typical male anime protagonists.
Summer 2014, and 2014–in general–came out with fantastic animes: Tokyo Ghoul made its animated debut, Akame ga Kill burst out on the scene, and the highly-anticipated Sword Art Online II came out, all in the same year. But Zankyou no Terror wasn’t as celebrated; why not?
Okay, before we go further, let me just answer one of your questions. Yes, I understand this is 2019, and yes that means that this anime is five years old. Which is like forever ago, right? I hear you, but hear me out.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start the first episode is the artwork. The second aspect you’ll notice is the music. Thanks to Yoko Kanno–famed Japanese composer behind the soundtracks of animes like Cowboy Bebop, the OG Ghost in the Shell: SAC—Zankyou no Terror sounds amazing. The unique qualities and serene-yet-tense tones perfectly match what the animation wants to show.
(Take the intro for example; thrilling.)
Yoko Kanno isn’t the only superstar staffer either. Character designer Kazuto Nakazawa, the animator behind content such as Samurai Champloo (and Linkin Park’s “Breaking the Habit” music video), is looped into this anime by Shinichirō Watanabe.
Director Shinichirō Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, is the main force behind Zankyou no Terror (noticing something familiar here?). Well known for his specific blending of music with his animation, Watanabe’s presence is clearly felt here. So, with all of these powerhouses, why don’t we talk about this anime more?
Well, let’s look at the scheduling first. Instead of a typical twelve or twenty-four episode season, they cut it at eleven. This means that for an intricate story like Zankyou no Terror, there’s a lot to smoosh into episodes with just twenty-something minutes. Just like season 8 of Game of Thrones (but let’s leave GoT for another day). With such a limited time span to flesh out the story, it runs the risk of feeling rushed and forgotten, and that definitely resonates with some critics.
Then there are the main characters, Nine and Twelve. Their eccentricity is noticeable and quirky, but not entirely unique in comparison to other similar anime like Death Note. Yet there is a mystery in their pasts, and everything comes colliding at the climax when Nine and Twelve’s history crashes with their present. Their genius and nonchalant natures fit the anime perfectly, and their antics, motives, and actions are clearly representative of who they are.
The story line is interesting enough and plays out in a way similar to Bruce Willis’ Die Hard: With a Vengeance, where the “good guys” chase clues and threats plotted out by the “bad guys,” or even like Death Note, jut a lot less aggressive. The variety of characters is welcomed, though some may fall into more stereotypical roles, such as classmate Lisa Mishima, who seems to portray the “helpless-bystander” trope of anime (Sakura Haruno, anyone?). Other characters, like Kenjirō Shibazaki, the retired detective, do manage to add deeper levels of emotion and relatability to the show as a whole.
So why am I bothering with this long-winded analysis of some half-decade old anime? Because I care, and you should too. Beautifully written, composed, and animated animes don’t show up every day, despite our wishes and people’s best intentions. But despite all this, despite the facts and opinions, I won’t watch it a second time.
Only once, because Zankyou no Terror deserves that. It deserves not drowning in fan AUs, ships, and whatever else. Instead, it deserves to be a nostalgic memory, fading in and out of memory, at the edge of consciousness. So check it out, but just once.
An occasional otaku, Laroin enjoys watching anime, writing about anime, researching anime, and other nerdy stuff like Star Wars and video games (but mostly anime it seems). He’s always on the lookout for something new to enjoy!