"Terror In Resonance" And September 11
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"Terror In Resonance" And September 11

How an anime spoke for a generation that were impacted by the events of 9/11.

"Terror In Resonance" And September 11

There's a deafening boom. Glass shatters as puffs of orange and red burst out of the windows. Gray smoke billows up toward the blue sky. The world watches in awe and horror as the fire gobbles up the tower, and then as the building crumbles to the ground. Japan will never be the same again.

Wait, you say, Japan? But 9/11 happened in America!

And so it did. Today, in fact, marks the 15 anniversary of that fateful Tuesday morning, when our country changed forever. We, as Americans, have tried our best to put the past behind us and move forward, but we can never let truly let go of that horrific day.

Our news became focused on terrorism. Our movies gained a darker tint. But even then, it became hard to truly put thoughts into words, and for years we let the subject slide from our memories.

So it must have shocked many American anime fans in 2014 when one of the most acclaimed anime directors in Japan, Shinichiro Watanabe (creator of beloved anime "Cowboy Bebop") revealed the poster for his latest anime, "Terror In Resonance," or "Zankyou no Terror." The poster depicted three teenagers standing in rubble, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (which is split at the top, like two buildings) burned in the background.

The initial premise, of two teenagers forming a terrorist organization called Sphinx and bombing buildings, appalled several who couldn't believe someone was actually going to make a terrorist anime. But those who stuck through to the end, myself included, were given a surprisingly intelligent crime thriller and biting commentary on modern society, isolation and the relationships between countries.

While the thriller part doesn't always thrill, the show's ideas and themes grab you where it hurts. The two boys, called Nine and Twelve, aren't just bombing buildings for fun — they're making a larger statement against what society had done to them as children, giving clues along the way as to what happened to them and why they must use violence to speak out. Lisa, the high school student Sphinx "befriends," is bullied at school and at home and only finds companionship in the form of a terrorist group. The main investigator into the Sphinx case has spent years pushed aside by his department, only pushing back in by being the only one who can solve Sphinx's riddles.

Even Japan itself is shoved around once the Americans get involved with the case. Everyone feels the oppression, and the only way to rise up is through violence. Violence that eventually builds up to a climax echoing back to the days of seemingly inevitable nuclear warfare, when everything could come to an end. When children, who couldn't even remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, lived in fear of experiencing the end of everything.

Terrorist acts have happened before, in many parts of the world. But after 9/11, America seemed determined to be the ones to stop terrorism before it creates another one. It's been 15 years since then, and so far, we've seen the fall of one terrorist organization and the rise of another one, with no end to the chaos in sight. I grew up listening to the stories of 9/11, stood as my school principal called for a moment of silence to honor those who died on that terrible day. I remember asking my mother what she was doing on 9/11, hearing the story of how she panicked when she realized my autistic brother's school was so close to New York City and how he didn't come home until nine at night.

I listened to the stories, to the testimonies, to the documentaries and school assemblies. I listened, because I could not remember that day myself. I was only four years old. Most people my age who didn't live that close to New York City don't remember that day.

I bet many of you have a hard time remembering that day. It's not like we want that day to be seared into our brains, anyway. It's hard enough to hear about another bombing in Paris or Turkey today. It's so hard, yet we're expected to talk about it. We're expected to care. We're expected to act. But how do you act? How do you care about a day you only hear about when you want to get deadly serious?

So it surprises me that "Terror In Resonance" spoke to me when I watched it. It isn't a perfect show, for sure. But for some strange reason, it grabbed me like no anime did before. It took a while to figure out why. Maybe it was because it was made by a great director, and had pretty animation and amazing music (like this track called "Von," which you can listen to on YouTube.) But I've always had a feeling that there was a deeper reason for my love for this anime. And it's only now that I can say why: "Terror In Resonance" spoke for me.

It spoke for the children who watched the buildings crumble and fall, and it spoke for the children who can't recall that Tuesday morning. It spoke with a red, bold marker, with a tight fist and a sweaty palm. It spoke this: I am angry about the violence against my country. I am afraid of another terrorist attack on my country. I do hate that we are all targets. I do hate this. And while I can't pull a Sphinx and bomb a building, I can share this anime with others, and hope that they, too, can understand how I feel about that day.

The day the buildings came crumbling down.

"Terror In Resonance" is available for free on Funimation.com or on Hulu.

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