September 29, 2019

I thought it was about time to complete my trilogy of girls with guns. After my stint with Noir and Madlax many years back, El Cazador De La Bruja was supposed to be next. For some unknown reason, I kept delaying wanting to watch that one. A signal that maybe I wasn’t so interested after all? And when I somewhat did, I thought it was strange. That Spanish sounding name definitely didn’t sound like the other two. They were just single named titles. WTF. And this somehow led me to Canaan. Not one of the original trilogy but still falling under the category of girls with guns. Sorry Mexico. Not going there this time. But Shanghai. Funny how some decisions make you go and end up where you are now?

Episode 1
While the streets of Shanghai is having its festivities, Canaan finished her sniping job. A monologue reminds Canaan despite being a victim of war, she mustn’t fight hate with hate. This will also not rid the world of hate. When she returns, Yuri Natsume who is her employer and informant tells of another job she has to do. A truck protecting an Unbloom was destroyed by Snake. Her job is to retrieve any survivors. If there are no survivors, it is likely the attacker are Unblooms themselves. Meanwhile, Minoru “Mino” Minorikawa is a journalist of a small magazine and is in Shanghai for an assignment. He hopes to make it big with a big scoop here. His assistant, Maria Oosawa seems to yearn to reunite with Canaan. Hence he goes off to get this old guy whom he thinks is some important figure in disguise. This leaves Maria by her own as she frolics in the festivities. There are a group of people wearing weird headgears. When it is removed, they go crazy and in a violent trance before dying. The people around think it is part of the festivities and don’t care. Maria has the misfortune to stumble into one of them as she realizes the mark on their bodies. She is about to be killed by masked guys but Canaan rescues her and takes her to safety in the back alley. No time for a reunion yet as Canaan ties her up with a wool yarn (a symbol of their friendship that she cannot break) and returns to her mission. Mino realizes his target was false alarm. Then he sees Canaan running around and real bullets flying about. With the people still frolicking, he realizes the people have closed their eyes not to accept this reality and think this is all part of the revelry. Canaan uses her super magic sight to sniff out the masked people and shoot them. Meanwhile, a truck with soldiers escorting a young girl, Alphard who is supposed to be the head of Snake is ambushed.

Episode 2
It’s Liang Qi and Cummings to the rescue! All American soldiers slaughtered and even Alphard takes out some of them before she escapes. Liang Qi informs that girl is back in Shanghai and can’t wait to kill her. However Alphard ignores her little sister and wants Cummings to hand over the report for some anti-terror summit in New York. There are things that must be done in order first. Mino goes through his film’s negatives and notices some of the weird marks on the corpses. Flashback shows his boss told him about the deadly Ua virus. Derived from the Swahili word that both means flower and death (hence the mark looks like a flower), its mortality rate is 100%. Maria was a victim of a virus attack in Shibuya a few years ago and only survived because her dad was a researcher and administered an anti-viral drug. Because of the shock, she has a little amnesia and doesn’t remember about the incident. Ironically, Maria came looking for a job in their company and Mino was tasked to look after her. At the restaurant, Mino wants to ask Maria more about Canaan. However they are ambushed. Isn’t that the old guy? He looks like a bloodthirsty mad killer now. Maria manages to hail a taxi driver (I nickname him Taximan for ease of reference) to escape. Taximan is equally crazy as he drives them to escape the trigger happy old guy’s hail of bullets. Maybe he needs some sort of thrill in addition to his mundane taxi life? So crazy that he drives his cab off an unfinished bridge! I don’t know how they survive and his cab still okay! Luckily Canaan is here. With the target now switch to her, the old man chases and fights her atop a bus. Smarter Canaan has him jump in the air so he gets electrocuted by the wires. One tangled fried old geezer coming up. Mino and Maria return to their hotel only to see it trashed with red paint. The only thing missing are their negatives. So spending the night outside isn’t fun. But are they seeing things because who this hot sexy cat girl babe???!!! Meow!!!

Episode 3
I don’t think Maria is going to believe Mino that following this cat girl, Hakko to her workplace where there are other cat women is going to lead him to the biggest scoop. Since Hakko can’t communicate well, Mino makes signs to interview her. Guess what? She shows her boobs! Best lost in translation ever? However Mino sees the mark but before he could ask further, the bartender, Santana kicks him out. He would have preferred him to touch her body but not her heart. Strange. So being a typical pervert is okay? Yeah, curiosity kills the cat. The duo stay in a different hotel but Canaan is able to find Maria thanks to her ‘different colour’. Mino wants to interview her but Canaan wants to hang out with Maria. With the girls having fun, Mino hangs out by himself. He sees Hakko again but this time in her normal clothes. Must be off duty. He tries to talk to her but since she doesn’t respond, he thinks she is a mute and shares his bread. Meanwhile Canaan and Maria are in some underground tram when suddenly it stops. Maria senses something amiss and rushes ahead. She should have known better than to leave Maria alone since the culprit is a young kid in the tram. Once Canaan realizes the trap is just a decoy, Maria has already been taken hostage. The kid believes Maria will come to her as he explains some complex synthesis of her senses blah, blah, blah, whatever. By the time Canaan arrives, a bomb is on Maria’s head and she can’t rip it off or else it will explode. The kid explains he is also from a village that was experimenting the Ua virus. And some gene mutation the virus did. Long story short, the kid accuses Canaan of killing his older brother. That old dude. The mutation caused him to be strong and agile but he aged fast. Canaan is able to sniff out the kid. Looks like his body can contort and hide in tightest of places. Yup, gene mutation thingy too. The effects caused his body to not grow. As time is running out, the kid swallows the diffuser. Flashback shows the kid is betting that Canaan will shoot him since he doesn’t intend to kill Maria. Maria can’t reveal that or he’ll kill her. To Maria’s shock, Canaan shoots the kid. Bomb still ticking. When the timer is over, the bomb is just some jack in the box. Canaan feels nothing but Maria is clearly shocked and shaken from what she has seen. Canaan notices she is beginning to show colours of rejection.

Episode 4
Maria is still depressed. She always thought Canaan was a normal girl. That moment wasn’t it. Canaan on the other hand wonders if she will lose it again. Flashback shows she was the only survivor in a decimated village. A soldier, Siam picked her up out of pity and trained her to be a mercenary. Canaan loves guns because they give off no colour. She hates blue as it is the colour of hatred and that’s why she is able to pinpoint her enemies. Remembering Siam’s words about not fighting hatred with hatred, Canaan knows it but she desperately doesn’t want to lose it again. It seems Siam was killed by Alphard and that was the first time Canaan lost something precious. Alphard attends a party of Daedala whom she is a majority stockholder of and the company will be hosting the upcoming anti-terrorist conference. She is sure turning heads with that stunning dress. Of course Canaan is also staking out at that party, waiting for her perfect chance. Mino gets more information about the mark. It is actually bulging veins that overlap each other. Maria is running around looking for Canaan. She needs to apologize to her. She realizes Canaan has always saved her from dangerous moments. It’s the reason why she is able to hold a camera. All because she met Canaan. She wanted to understand her but instead she blamed her and ran away from the guilt. She almost got into trouble with some backstreet ruffians but thankfully she got rescued by Yunyun. Not Canaan this time. Maria desperate to make a new friend that she wants to get to know her too? Alphard knows Canaan will ambush her in the toilet. She claims Canaan has fallen into the same place that she was. As they shortly fight, Alphard is clearly superior and can even restrain Canaan while keeping her dress clean! It must be hatred that has made Canaan sloppier. Alphard was once like that but escaped it. But Alphard won’t kill her yet since she still can have fun. Canaan is left to lick her wounds as she escapes, Alphard’s words still haunting her every move.

Episode 5
Maria is treated to Yunyun’s hospitality on her sampan. But Yunyun soon has to leave. It seems she is also an agent employed by Liang Qi. She has a special job for her. As the Japanese vice minister is visiting, her only job is to infect him with the Ua virus. Liang Qi will set up everything else. Yunyun is worried Canaan will pop up and kill her. In that case, just die. They have no other use for her. Not so funny now, huh? Yunyun goes to Santana’s bar to set up. She meets that Hakko. They know each other and Yunyun doesn’t want her to further get involved in what she’s doing. Just live the rest of your life happily. When the Japanese vice minister enters, Yunyun and Hakko serve them. Yunyun tries to spike his drink but this guy rather have the sexy Hakko serve him. After Mino tells Maria about the mark and the veins, thus they head down to Santana’s bar to get some answers. Yunyun runs out upon seeing them. At the back alley, she is shocked to see Canaan next to her. Fumbling to use her gun? Don’t worry. Canaan teaches you! With the guys insulting each other, Maria leaves only to see Canaan threatening Yunyun for info in which she doesn’t know. With Maria protecting Yunyun, Canaan sees the sadness in her eyes and leaves. She’s just a killer in her eyes now. Thank goodness Maria is here or she would have really killed Yunyun. Oh Yunyun. You’re such a lucky girl!

Yunyun then gets a call from Liang Qi who knows she has failed. She gives her a last chance to use Maria and die with Canaan. Hence this desperate joker uses Maria as a hostage to lure Canaan out. Yup, she’s strapped herself with dynamites! Going to blow themselves up together? Yeah, tumble into the river together. Yunyun tries to hold her down and drown together. When Canaan thinks of slicing her to break free, she remembers Maria’s sad face. Canaan drags them out to the side. It’s not that she doesn’t want to kill her, it’s just she doesn’t want to make Maria sad. When Mino returns to his room, Maria beats him up thinking he is trying to rape Yunyun?! Actually he spots a mark on her butt. She claims she is a Borner ever since that incident at that village disappeared. Her ‘special power’ is having 2 appendixes. It doesn’t have any kind of power. She knows nothing more about Snake and feels useless. Maria disagrees. Because she manages to help reconcile her friendship with Canaan, she is now their friend. Mino can help her financially to break free from Snake but in return she is to be their special correspondent since she blends well by having experience in multiple jobs. The Japanese vice minister is done in by Cummings while he is taking a massage service. Cummings wonders if Liang Qi intends to get Yunyun go. She is confident she will come back because she cannot live without the drugs. Otherwise she has chosen death.

Episode 6
Mino thinks his journalism effort has been recognized since he receives a reporter pass to the anti-terrorism press conference. But he’ll let Maria cover that as he goes to talk to Hakko for more details. As he questions her, the moment she speaks, his head starts to hurt. The conference begins and as Maria snaps pictures, Alphard approaches her. She is unsure if Maria is playing dumb not to recognize her. The US president is really making a weird speech about love and peace (this guys should be a comedian) and it is probably cue for Liang Qi to set off the bombs. The place is in panic but the bombs have cordoned off all exits. After Mino recovers, he barges back to Santana’s bar to question Hakko if that is her special power. But here is live on TV that the press conference is under attack. Time to call Taximan and make his way there. Maria is brought to the control centre where Alphard and Liang Qi are waiting. Liang Qi calls Canaan (it must be a long way running towards the convention centre via sewers) and tries to rile her by threatening Maria. Instead, it is Liang Qi who gets riled up as Canaan and Maria ignore her to reassure each other. Liang Qi is at boiling point and wants to kill Maria but is stopped when Alphard fires a warning shot. She warns her about letting her hatred get the better of her and those with such hatred should be disposed. What is it that Liang Qi wants? Love. Love of her nee-sama of course. Alphard tells Liang Qi to end her games and get to work. Then she tells Maria that her role is to live. In the underground shelter where all the politicians are taking shelter, the Japanese vice minister starts to feel sick. The Ua virus begins to take effect as he dies a bloody death.

Episode 7
OMFG! Canaan is so fast dodging the bullets that the soldiers shoot each other?! Liang Qi wants to go handle Canaan but with Alphard warning how mistakes will arise when one doesn’t listen, Liang Qi throws a childish tantrum and storms off. The White House staffs deliberate on how to save the situation. An option is to get the vaccine in which Kenji (Maria’s father) administers. Unfortunately the moment he leaves his building, his car explodes! So much for that. Time for Plan B. Alphard then speaks to the politicians holing up in the safe room. She informs that all of them are infected with the Ua virus and in no time will die. However America has decided to make sure they go out in style and they have ordered the stealth bombers to bomb the hell out of this place! When Maria doesn’t remember a thing, Alphard beats her up and tells a back story of a soldier who trained a couple of kids to become mercenaries. Both shared the same name. Alphard’s real name was Canaan but she tossed it away a long time ago. Alphard takes her men to leave once it’s time. Canaan then comes in to rescue Maria but is told of the situation. Yuri sees Santana since he has a secret room with hacking devices. Wow. Those still work? She contacts Canaan and tells her intentions to hack some American satellite. Kenji is seen dropping into the convention centre. Actual footage shows that explosion was fake and edited just to bamboozle USA into using this bombing order. With the stealth bombers already dropping a bomb, Canaan’s ability now goes digital? I don’t know what she sees but eventually she sees it. The bomb explodes. However everybody is still alive. Something about Canaan and Yuri managing to change the GPS coordinates of the bomb. Yeah, it didn’t hit the convention centre but I hope there were no people at the spot it exploded. The stealth bombers abort mission, the White House are left guilt-ridden and red faced due to their ‘incomplete mission’ and Yuri lecturing Santana about forgiveness will not be waiting for you at the end of running away. Canaan starts to feel weird. She now cannot see colours. At least the colours she has been accustomed to be seeing.

Episode 8
Mino has connections to Kenji as he asks about Ua virus. Kenji believes there can be no survivors because before any mutation can take place, you would already have been dead. But with Mino believing there are survivors lurking, could it be related to the disappeared village? It could be possible that Snake has a vaccine and taken in such people. Alphard calls the White House and even offers America to keep their power among the third world countries under the guise of protection but in exchange for some arms deals. As long as they need a conflict somewhere, feel free to call Snake. Alphard then orders Cummings to destroy the factory that Liang Qi left behind. Hakko is reeling from her past whereby she didn’t know her voice was destructive. She tried to calm a boy who lost his mother but little did she know the more she spoke, the more pain he felt until he exploded!!! Maria takes Canaan out. The latter feels weird and is not used to this normal sight as she cannot see colours. Nearby, there is a street concert put up by this idol, Nene. Taximan is a big fan of hers. Hakko is also there too. Unconsciously she starts singing along and this affects everyone. Luckily she realizes it and stops but ultimately feels sad. Mino now confronts Santana. He thinks he is forced to work under Snake in exchange for medicine. He wonders if he a member of Snake supervising Hakko. Because Hakko wants to go to the disappeared village, road trip! Mino and Santana make horrible road trip singers… We also hear Maria expressing to Canaan she always felt empty until she met her. Yeah, another big thanks to her somewhat. In turn, Canaan was worried when she couldn’t see colours but always knew Maria was a kind person even if she can’t see her colours. That night as they sleep, Hakko tries to strangle Canaan. Of course she fails and escapes. You mean nobody was awakened by this commotion? The guys do but that’s only after Canaan went after Hakko. Santana mentioning how Hakko has not forgiven him as he was the one who destroyed her village. Canaan doesn’t intend to kill Hakko but find out why she is hated. Of course she can’t speak but Canaan ultimately could read her lips. It seems a sad Hakko blames her that it’s her fault. The road trip continues and they see a manjuu seller out in this isolated place. Yunyun?!

Episode 9
Yunyun pretends not to know them but I guess she has no more strength to peddle. Hop on. We’re going to the same place, right? Cummings reports Liang Qi at the factory. He is shocked when Alphard orders him to kill her. Yunyun explains she is heading to that village because if she’s going to die, might as well where she came from. As for the medicine, you can’t get it from anywhere else since it is tailored specifically to that person’s symptoms. And then Maria starts punching Yunyun because she doesn’t want her to die? I think she will at this rate! Awkwardness interrupted when a strange masked guy starts firing his machine gun at them. Canaan has a hard time approaching since she lost her ability. Hakko then screams out not to kill him. After temporary dizziness in every one, the strange just explodes and dies! Some of them recognize him as one of the locals. Santana points out to him as an Unbloom. Arriving at the village, Santana tells Mino what really happened. Santana used to work with Langley from the CIA. Under the pretence of disinfecting the town of some virus, they were the ones who spread it. They also test out the vaccine’s effectiveness on them. The result was the entire town turned into a hellish monstrous nightmare. Santana discovered the truth later and quit. Subsequently he stumbled upon into Yuri and they both shared the same goal to blackmail the CIA into revealing the truth. He further explains about Borners (those affected and were given special bodies as side effect) Unblooms (those who couldn’t become Borners and Snake keeps them to find out why they failed). Crazy Liang Qi flies in trying to kill Canaan. However Alphard also flies in trying to kill Liang Qi. Cummings tries to shoot Alphard but his gun is fake. Alphard lets him say a last word before she kills him. She shoots him with a fake gun. Liang Qi retreats. Alphard then finds Canaan lying in the ruins. She thinks Canaan lost her ability since she didn’t see her coming. Alphard reminds her about that desert train mission in which Siam died. Canaan claimed her tattoo is prove she has family. Siam was her light. But now she has a new light. That’s why Alphard wants her to live. Canaan’s power might be coming back because she sees strange colours on Alphard. It is the same as Siam. When the rest gather, Santana is ready to shoot her but Alphard advises against it. She tells him her next plan is to destroy the factory so no more corrupted flowers will bloom again. She also leaves a message: Canaan’s real name is Despair.

Episode 10
Santana’s plan is to expose CIA’s cohorts with Snake. Then the government cannot continue to cover this up. This way there would be free flow of the medicine. The factory is disguised as an abandoned village. Inside, looks like somebody had thoughts of Resident Evil so several zombie Unblooms are released. Don’t worry. You won’t turn into one of them when they bite. But this scene activates Hakko’s trauma. She runs away into a room whereby a video of Liang Qi wants her to join her to kill Canaan. She reveals this factory was built so that a second Canaan is created. After all the sympathetic words, Hakko isn’t moved. Canaan may have started all this but it was Liang Qi who dragged everyone else into this mess. She will not join her. Further flashback reveals Santana pleaded to Alphard to take Hakko with him. She agreed as long as he forgets this place and play by their rules. Though, Liang Qi was against it since Hakko is a valuable Borner. Hakko enters Liang Qi’s room and starts ranting about her pitiful state. To her shock, it is actually captured Santana who is strapped onto the seat. Hakko is left in despair while Liang Qi (in another video) laughs her ass off. Santana doesn’t blame Hakko. Because he knows he isn’t going to make it, he wants Hakko to say she loves him in her voice. Uhm, you want to say that louder? I don’t think he heard you. She keeps repeating it until he dies! Liang Qi then activates the entire factory. Something about cancelling out normal noises. While this means everyone is resistant to Hakko’s voice, only Canaan will be affected as she processes her senses differently. Hence Canaan starts experiencing a massive headache since a despaired Hakko continues to be a broken recorder. Mino tries to approach her since Santana has him promised to wake her up from this dream if something happens to him. Luckily Hakko is a bad shot. He still took some bullets before managing to hug her. Meanwhile Maria and Yunyun stumble into an underground lair. To their shock, is that Canaan stuck in some ice? Yuri is also here and she sounds like she doesn’t want witnesses over this secret.

Episode 11
There won’t be dead girls for now since Alphard wants Maria and Yunyun to return to Canaan. Yuri thinks this is a big mistake but Alphard knows she only cares about the data. Alphard no longer has interests in this disgusting experiment and hands over the Borner data to her. After that she burns everything in this lair to the ground. Not sure how Mino survived all that but Canaan managed to drag him out. After all that he just got an arm injury? Reuniting with Maria and Yunyun, Canaan decides to go back in to rescue Hakko. She has to move fast as she sees American special forces moving in to raid the place. Liang Qi is on the verge of madness. Then Alphard pops up. She gives Cummings a chance to show his love. Cummings tries to convince Liang Qi to return but she beats the sh*t out of him. With that, Alphard tries to kill Liang Qi who is now a super masochist, enjoying every pain nee-sama brings to her. But when she wants to be killed by her, Alphard leaves it to Cummings. Then they see on the footage, Canaan slaughtering the special forces and this makes Liang Qi super mad again. So mad that she swallows some experimental drugs that of course drastically changes her body. She is now frail and old. Alphard reveals that she has known this letter that was written by Siam addressed to her is fake. She knew it was Liang Qi’s ploy to let her be captured by the Americans so that she can come rescue her. She knew the letter is false right away because Siam never addressed her as Alphard. It is then Liang Qi hears Alphard’s real name as Canaan. Now she has gone full blown crazy. Seeing her frail self in the mirror, she thinks she sees Canaan and wants her dead. She is so psychotic that she will do anything, including returning Cummings’ love, just for Canaan to be killed. So tearful Cummings shoots her. Finally this crazy drama is over. Alphard observes how love is such a troublesome thing. Canaan finds Hakko. She’s making out with Santana’s corpse? Long story short, Hakko can’t go with her and gives the medicine so she won’t return empty handed. Cue for the place to collapse so Canaan can get her ass out. Canaan returns to Maria. After she takes a photo of her, they just give each other a long hug.

Episode 12
Canaan is still reeling from despair. But with Maria around, she breathes a little better. Canaan, Maria and Yunyun take a train trip. When the train suddenly stops as the guards at the checkpoint do their inspection, this triggers Canaan’s trauma. She rushes to the front and sees Siam sitting there. Could be just her hallucination as she also sees other dead people whom she killed. They’re all blaming her. Siam tells her not to over rely on her senses. Because it warps her senses and makes her overthink. This also makes her lose her sense of truth. He wants her to see things as the way they are. Meanwhile Alphard approaches Maria and Yunyun. It seems she wants Maria to live up to her duty to awaken Canaan’s true power as she is still living in the stone age. Maria agrees to do that but in exchange wants to take a photo of her. She realizes she can’t walk alongside Canaan anymore. The moment she does that, Alphard shoots and wounds her. When Canaan realizes the light she needs to protect now, she rushes back. She only sees Alphard. She can see Maria’s blood trails as Alphard tells her she locked up the duo in the back of the train. Oh, there’s a bomb too. So if Canaan wants to save her, let’s keep their playtime to a minimum. Both start shooting each other in this narrow carriage. Both having different interpretations of Siam’s teachings. From what I understand, Alphard points out that Canaan was the one who killed Siam. Because had she not been there, Siam would not have been killed. Hence Alphard doesn’t intend to kill Canaan but rather shoot through the ghost of Siam. Yunyun tries to find a way to free themselves. However Maria knows she cannot make it and tells her to go it alone. Yunyun manages to climb out of the window and derail the last coach. Maria doing her monologue of Canaan as her light but because she is being loved and protected by her, this light also casted a shadow on her heart.

Episode 13
What’s this? Alphard is starting to feel scared of Canaan? Because her eyes are looking different now. She is now seeing the way things are. So scared that she can’t even shoot straight? Damn, role reversal and Canaan is the cool cat now. Alphard tries to escape but Canaan chases after her. She believes Maria is still alive. She might not be able to see her colour but she can sense her kindness. Indeed Maria is still alive because Yunyun changed her mind and ran all the way back to grab her out before the bomb explodes. Alphard laughs when Canaan claims Maria isn’t her light but her friend. Alphard then realizes Siam called her once by this name. It was before his death. He told her the meaning of that new name is solitude. She tries to kill herself by dropping off the train but Canaan grabs her hand. Canaan relating the day Siam died, she moved on and met new people. Hence Alphard can’t die because she is already dead? Huh? Wow. Canaan so philosophical now because she means her heart died the day Siam died. That’s why Canaan wants her to live and won’t let her die. Alphard is left to reminisce Liang Qi’s words about being stuck in the past. It was Alphard and not Canaan who is still trapped in the past. To free herself from this haunting, Alphard shoots off her own arm! Long way down the ravine… We see Maria together with Canaan despite just a dream. It’s like a goodbye because Canaan says they can’t be together anymore. Maria wakes up in hospital (sorry girl, not heaven) and Mino updates her Yunyun carried her most of the way back until he picked them up. He tried to contact Canaan but she ‘vanished’. Maria feels sad Canaan won’t let her stand by her side till the end. But Mino believes this is what Canaan had wanted. To protect her. Even if they are 2 different persons, Maria can still get closer to her via her heart. After all, it’s her kindness that bonds them together. Mino is thinking about a career change. He visits Santana’s bar one last time. Damn he is going to miss this place. And Hakko’s ass. Taximan picks them up to the airport as Maria praises how amazing Canaan is. We get it for the umpteenth time. It’s goodbye, right? Better have some closure than none. In the aftermath, we see Yunyun doing odd jobs, Cummings is now a monk (?!), Alphard hinted to be alive because there isn’t a one arm woman in Shanghai but her and Maria back in Japan organizes a photo exhibition of her exploits in Shanghai. Finally, Yuri still hires Canaan for certain jobs. This time her target is a certain one armed woman.

The Holy Land Of Deadly Virus, Raining Bullets & Past Ghost
This sure looks like a bittersweet ending. Our main female leads didn’t get to end up together. Not that I am expecting something yuri to turn out from that short reunion but I guess it is better this way that they lead their separate lives. As said, they are from both different worlds and from the looks of it, the entire time their reunion sometimes felt like they’re trying to get into each other’s way. You know, Maria just wanting to be Canaan’s equal and Canaan just wanting to protect her. So to say, had Maria not returned to Shanghai, all this trouble would not have surfaced? I don’t think Maria will be going back to Shanghai anytime soon. There’s no reason to. That’s what that final episode ‘goodbye’ was all about, right? Then there’s the curious case of Alphard. She got an arm blown off and miraculously survived that long ravine drop (thank goodness there’s a river below) and is her business with Canaan considered finished? I mean, I thought she wanted Canaan to display her true powers but looks like it wasn’t what she desired. Alphard’s a survivor so don’t write her off yet but how relevant is she after this? What will be of Snake? What about that terrorism business partnership with America? Nothing to do with Canaan so don’t really care at this point.

Despite being just a single cour series, I find it hard to understand the general story and what is going on in the overall picture. Maybe that’s why I didn’t understand? Too short? But if they somehow managed to drag it out to another cour, will there be a guarantee that I would understand better or just be even more confused? It might look like some terrorism via biological warfare on the surface. But eventually it is something much deeper than that especially the connection between the 3 main female leads of Canaan, Maria and Alphard. I think. So basically the story and plot itself is intriguing. However due to many parts that I couldn’t understand, it somewhat hinders me to enjoy this series as a whole. After all, this series was conceptualized by co-founders of Type-Moon for a visual novel game, 428: Shibuya Scramble. Since I didn’t play that game nor even heard of it until I was watching this anime and doing my lazy Google research, I’m not sure how much both series are related to each other. The Ua virus, Snake’s factory for manufacturing all this, I feel they are just touching the surface and didn’t go in too deeply to be fleshed out. It feels like as though you need some sort of background knowledge before watching this series. Because at the end of the day, I still don’t really get the difference between Borners and Unblooms. Are they the same but just different in desired outcome? And in the end, they don’t really matter because if Alphard has lost interest in them and could easily throw them all away, should we care too?

The action is the main draw of the series though I would pretty say it is just pretty much standard. But it is not swift gun totting all the way as they have to make room and weave some character development in it. Therefore the action scenes I feel are rather okay. Exhilarating for that short burst of adrenaline but compare it to animes like Shingeki No Kyojin, yeah it’s just average. Sorry. Looks like my standards have really gone up in this category. And perhaps I have come to expect something when I skim through the reviews about this anime being action filled. Good action, yeah, okay. Masterpiece top 10 action of all time? Nah, not really. But I have to admit that some action scenes are quite enjoyable to watch especially Canaan and Alphard trading lead with each other in fast paced mortal combat. What do you expect when you pit the best among each other?

Other than the action, the character development especially among the main trio is also important but like I’ve said, there are some aspects that I already do not understand and therefore couldn’t go forward when bits of their past and history are further revealed. So to condense it all to a point that I understand, both Canaans are trying to get over the ghost of their past and that link is Siam. Alphard being the calm and composed antagonist, Canaan is her obsession because of her need to prove her own hatred is the only way to conquer her past. It’s a reason why she pushes Canaan to her limits and do not kill her outright. Canaan on the other hand is also cool, composed and lacking any emotion. Except whenever Alphard is in the picture. Then she gets her emotions overwhelmed and Alphard usually owns her at the end of the day. So it’s like the battle of the one with the calmer head wins? It is evident like we see in the final episode where the tables were turned.

Maria might feel like the weaker link among the trio and making it hard for me to appreciate her character is how her back story was never really fleshed out. It was just merely pinpointed that she was a survivor of the Ua virus during a viral attack on Shibuya. Also her initial friendship on how she became friends with Canaan felt like it was merely skimmed through. The series does a decent job in portraying and developing the relationship between them but that is only what we see on screen and currently when they reunite once more in Shanghai. Maria and Canaan as 2 females giving each other the strength to live, it’s nothing really new or ground breaking in terms of storytelling and character development but as far as this series is concerned, better to see the colour of life than the colour of death!

On a side note, I wonder if Maria’s character was cheekily named so. I’m not sure if the creators were aware of this but Maria Oosawa definitely sounds too close to Maria Ozawa! You know… The famous porn star!!! I know the different kanji writing but still too close to call. Yeah, the first time I heard Maria’s name, I had to do a double take so as to confirm my ears weren’t playing any tricks on my simpleton pervy brain. Coincidentally this series was released back in 2009, the same period where the said porn star reached the pinnacle of her popularity! Is this why there is this running joke in the series that this photographer Maria is always teased for her small bust size? As opposed to the porn star who has somewhat a voluptuous figure? Strange… Too much to be called a coincidence but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the creators.

Yunyun I feel her character is primarily written as a comic relief. A joker of the series. Almost every move she makes. Almost every word she says. Almost every reaction she reacts. It’s like she is born to look and sound this funny no matter the situation. She would have been a natural clown had she not get involved in all this mess. Seriously. Heck, even her Borner ability is a joke. The thing about Yunyun being this joker character is both good and bad. During times of conflict and high tension, Yunyun’s presence can mostly take some of that pressure off thanks to her comical actions whether she intended to be funny or not. I mean, taking Maria hostage to lure Canaan out and then trying to blow herself up? And failed spectacularly? While making it all look like a joke? Only Yunyun can pull that off! While Yunyun is welcomed as this sort of comic relief, sometimes it really makes her out of place. In such serious and tense moments, and now here is one of Yunyun’s antics. It just feels so weird. It’s like, girl, WTF? I don’t think it’s the drugs she’s taking. So yeah, Yunyun, keep calm and carrying on being you. Sometimes too much Canaan-Maria melancholy colour drama can be bad for the soul. We need to see a different (comedy) colour, you know.

Then there is this Liang Qi character who is written as a psychotic b*tch. Her obsession is no other than her nee-sama Alphard and it would have been a lot better if we could see how she and Alphard first came to be instead of just skimming through a brief flashback. It makes it feel insignificant. Anyway, with Liang Qi being a crazy psycho b*tch, in some ways it draws out the drama because a Canaan-Alphard showdown would be too quick without this woman. Hence with Canaan still breathing, it gives Liang Qi all the more excuse to show her crazy b*tch side just to get on the good side of Alphard’s love. We know this one sided love will never be fulfilled but it never hurts to try, right? Yeah, love is weird. Oh well, till death do us part. Sorry, didn’t feel a single sympathy for Liang Qi’s last moments. Just, good riddance. The annoyance’s gone. Despite having to dedicate 1 whole episode just to kill her off. Also, this Cummings guy who is definitely a big masochist since he loves to get shot by Liang Qi’s airsoft bullets. Yeah, he orgasms each time he gets shot. Even his name feels so ambiguous… Caught between the absolute big boss and the crazy mistress he is in love with, this guy sure had it rough… And he probably likes it that way ;p. The biggest shocking change of becoming a monk. Because it’s like subtly hinting to us to throw away all our depraved porn and lead a clean life! Is this even possible?! Cummings showed us he could… This guy is so zen right now…

The other characters somehow don’t feel significant. Like Mino who is trying to make his big break but this case changed him in some ways that he didn’t care about it anymore. He is only here because otherwise why would there be a reason for Maria to return to Shanghai? Yuri being the sneaky operative, nothing much is known about her but CIA operatives are like that. She could be the real ‘snake’, a double agent since she has her own agenda. Santana and Hakko also feel unnecessary but to prop up some bits of drama and plot convenience. Since Hakko is the one who keeps blaming Canaan for whatever and Santana is trying to make amends and atone for his sins. I know he is smart enough not to put his hope this will absolve him of his sins, but maybe he just wanted someone to love. He got that in his death wish, right? Oh well, till death do us part.

This is one of the few animes in which the setting isn’t set in Japan but overseas. And no, I don’t mean fantasy settings either but settings of real world locations. Sure, that tragic experimental village might be fictional but other than that, China is real. Shanghai is real. What I want to point out is the use of foreign languages especially Chinese and English. Firstly, the Chinese spoken sound so odd. Is it their accent? Because I couldn’t properly catch them. Yeah, it’s like your Japanese trying to speak Engrish and now they try to speak Mandarin and it’s like fail too. For the English part, these are mostly when the American military give their commands. Sounds authentic enough so I’m not really complaining… In view of this, the oddest part is that if there are English dialogues in this series despite only in very limited scenes, remember the American president who is giving his speech? Damn guy speaking in flawless Japanese!!! I just find this odd, honestly. Even if he speaks in English about his crap speech about love and peace, it would still sound funny but at least not as bad. Imagine American soldiers giving standard orders in English for some realism but the most powerful man in the world speaking Japanese? Just feel weird… Even weirder the White House staffs deliberating in Japanese and Alphard calling the vice all speaking in Japanese… Should have went with Japanese all the way then…

The art and animation are pretty good. At least for an anime that is released back in 2009. Some scenes are gorgeous and some scenes are just grim just to highlight the plight of the Ua virus. This series is of course animated by P.A. Works and to me they’re known for drawing some of the prettiest and beautiful character designs. Unfortunately, not this one, though. Maybe no cute high school girls like I expect to see in Glasslip, True Tears, Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari. Hence the character designs feel a bit like Type-Moon characters (duh) such as the Fate series and Shingetsutan Tsukihime. Therefore sometimes when I look at Canaan, I could see shades of Arcueid in her. Yeah, Alphard so badass that I thought she was the reincarnation of Black Lagoon’s Levy.

Attracting my attention to watch this series is because of the star studded casts. Well, at least I recognize some of them like Miyuki Sawashiro as Canaan, Haruka Tomatsu as Yunyun, Hiroaki Hirata as Santana and Jouji Nakata as Taximan. And that was Rie Tanaka behind Liang Qi? Never would have guessed it. Of course it would be one my greatest delight to hear Mamiko Noto as Hakko. Her voice is still so amazing then and that’s why when her character speaks, it causes all our brain cells in our heads to fry! Haha! How fitting for the most beautiful voice in the world. Oh wait… What’s that… F*CKING HELL THEY KILLED OFF HER CHARACTER AGAIN!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!! TRAUMA! TRAUMA!! YOU MEAN EVEN WAY BACK IN 2009 HER CHARACTERS ARE ALSO MET WITH THIS TREATMENT!!!!! WHY JAPAN, WHY????!!! WHY DO YOU OFTEN KILL OFF CHARACTERS WHO IS VOICED BY THE MOST BEAUTIFULLY VOICED SEIYUU OF ALL TIME????!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO???!!!!!!

And the rest of the other casts include Yoshino Nanjou as Maria (Kokoro in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Maaya Sakamoto as Alphard (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Kenji Hamada as Mino (Jouji in Paradise Kiss), Junko Minagawa as Yuri (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Akio Ohtsuka as Siam (titular character in Black Jack) and Toru Ohkawa as Cummings (Roy in Fullmetal Alchemist). If you are familiar with Faylan’s style of rock music, you can feel at home here with the rock paced opening theme of Mind As Judgment. From all that high octane rock music, suddenly the ending theme, My Heaven by Annabel drops down to be some soul-like lounge music. I’m not saying the song is bad but it feels out of place considering the action pace of the series. Maybe after all that action, some soul searching is needed with this song? That is what it feels like listening to this one. Just close your eyes, let the music envelope all around you! There are a few insert songs here all sung by Ayahi Takagi (voice of Nene). China Kibun De High Tension is your typical genki pop idol anime that gets your feet shuffling while Inochi Nan Da Yo is a pop ballad. Life too is a slow and calming ballad but this sounds like it could be a Christian song. Just saying… Also, some parts feel like it could fit for an epic Hollywood emotional dramatic scene.

Overall, even if Canaan isn’t the promised land for anime for me, it is enjoyable. If only I could understand the bigger plot, appreciate better the character development and not be too greedy wanting to see more action scenes like Canaan just raking up the body count of her enemies. If only I had the ability to see this anime as it is instead of relying on my past stereotypic biasness to label this series as just slightly above average, I could have seen the truth better as it is and appreciate this series a little bit more. But alas, I relied too much on that cliché judgment of mind and that clouded and impeded some of that enjoyment. And don’t fight hatred with hatred? Sure, fine. IF YOU STOP KILLING OFF MAMIKO NOTO CHARACTERS!!!!!!!!!!

Zankyou No Terror

February 28, 2015

Is terrorising part of the new ‘culture’ today? The world has definitely changed a lot ever since post 9/11 terror attacks that still rings fear in the hearts of many even till today. We are further reminded of how truly terrifying terrorism is with the series of Zankyou No Terror. Well, if you watch anime, that is. This time and again (but of course), Tokyo is the object of terrorism. But not by a well-known international terrorist organization but a couple of teenage kids! Doesn’t that feel like an insult? At least it goes to show that terrorism doesn’t ‘discriminate’ but comes in all types and forms. However with these bunch of kids terrorizing Tokyo, planting bombs in places and giving authorities a chance to solve riddles that would lead to the bomb’s location, is there more to the eye for such young ones to have nothing better to do and so much free time that they could terrorize Tokyo? Are they doing it for fun or is there a hidden message behind it all?

Episode 1: Falling
In the snowy prefecture of Aomori, a couple of guys in a very well coordinated plan steal some plutonium from a nuclear fuel processing facility. Six months later in Tokyo, Arata Kononoe AKA Nine and Touji Hisami AKA Twelve are on their way to their newly transferred high school. Twelve sees Lisa Mishima in the midst of being bullied by her classmate girls who want her to jump into the pool. Looking like fun, he jumps in. Lisa sees the warmth of his smile but at the same time the ice cold piercing stare of Nine. Meanwhile a couple of guys lazing around instead of doing their office job, Kenjirou Shibazaki and Mukasa checks out videos on YouTube and they see a couple masked boys calling themselves as Sphinx predicting some darkness befalling on Tokyo after 3pm. Despite the cold exterior, Nine seems pretty popular with the girls. They want his handphone number but he can’t give it to them because he doesn’t have one. Or does he? Damn Twelve for texting him to meet right now. They see Lisa heading into the toilet with her bento. Is she going to have lunch there? No. She doesn’t feel good and dumps everything into the toilet bowl. What a waste. Back home, Twelve asks Nine about Lisa having the same look in her eyes as the orphanage kids. He replies they are weak and died. They were weak and couldn’t save them. But now they aren’t. Nine and Twelve are in a high rise government building planting funny plushie dolls in strategic place when the electricity in the entire area goes out. They hasten their planting as everyone grapples about without any sort of electronics working. Shibazaki remembers about the video and wants Mukasa to show it to him again. Did the prophecy come true? Lisa sees Twelve so the latter gives her a plushie and tells her to hold it until he says otherwise. When everything is set, the plushie starts melting and explodes. Nine believes everything went according to plan but Nine mentions not quite. Lisa saw him. He gave her a plushie just in case. They can save or kill her anytime. Nine wonders if he is trying to recreate that day for him. If it ends his nightmares. Nine calls Lisa and gives her 2 choices. Die where she stands or become their accomplice. Because she doesn’t want to die, Nine guides her as to where she should move. Placing the plushie before a wall, it then explodes to reveal a big gap. Twelve is waiting down there ready to catch her. Ready for the big jump? Just remember the swimming pool. Here goes! The area is in chaos as part of the building collapses. Twelve brings Lisa back to Nine as she is being told she made the choice to be their accomplice on her own. There is no more turning back.

Episode 2: Call & Response
When Lisa returns home, her very insecure mother thinks she never answered her calls as she feared she will leave her just like her dad. A task force is created to investigate this terrorist attack. Kurahashi of the Investigation Bureau’s Section One is heading this task force as they analyse all the details they have from the site devastation (they’re lucky not to have any casualties), the video which could be an ill-timed prank, the culprits may have been related to the 25 minute blackout, and the most interesting is the explosive analysis. Thermite reaction is based on the mixture of certain compounds together in which can lead to very high and extreme degrees of temperature in a short time. The materials are easier to find than making gunpowder (because it is used in wielding). The bombs are placed strategically where the building’s structural complex support it. The compounds are hot enough to melt the steel and the water sprinkle that was activated react the compound further and causing a steam explosion. The building at this point cannot support its weight and collapses. This terrorist attack is unprecedented but the analyst is baffled that a bomb was used made in traditional TNT. It’s like as though they are trying to leave a message. Words of “VON” are printed of it. Kurahashi knows what this means. He fears if this is related to that incident, the country will descend into panic. Meanwhile Nine impersonates as a ramen delivery boy and plant his takeout delivery in some police headquarters. And nobody gives a damn or a hint of suspicion.

Everyone is abuzz when Sphinx uploads a new video. They claim that the explosion was theirs and there is going to be a second one. But they give the police a riddle to answer. As they discuss, Kurahashi believes the culprits calling themselves Sphinx have roots more in the Greek myth than Egyptian. If you are familiar with the Oedipus story whereby an oracle foretold a father his son Oedipus would kill him and a series of events led that to happen. Without knowing he killed his own father and then marrying his own mother, once he found out, he could not bear the sin and gouged out his own eyes. On his journey he met a Sphinx who told him a riddle and the wrong answer would mean he will be eaten. The riddle is similar to the culprits in which the answer is human. So the next target is a place with lots of people? Thinking it is an address, they believe the DNA research facility is the target. Meanwhile Lisa is reading the story of Oedipus when Twelve plays that Coke-Mentos prank on her. He then warns her that she might be their accomplice but not one of them. Rat them out and she will die. Shibazaki calls Kurahashi to give his opinion on the riddle. There were 2 versions of that myth. Because the culprits mention 2 legs in morning, 4 legs at noon and 3 legs in evening, the answer is Oedipus. He began as a human, became a beast when he did those sins and walked with a cane after becoming blind. And since they said it is a riddle for the police, the numbers 2-4-3 coincides with the Roppongi’s police station address. Right at that moment the bomb goes off. Too late. Kurahashi tells him a highly confidential matter about the stolen plutonium. The same mark was found on a bomb casing fragment after the government building explosion. He believes those 2 are really intent on standing against this country. He wants Shibazaki to come back.

Episode 3: Search & Destroy
Hamura doesn’t like the idea some guy from the archives is going to lead them. But they trust in him because he was one of the best detectives of Section One. Twelve wonders if their riddle was too hard to solve but Nine believes the police are on to them as he saw counter-terrorism units in the news. After this one, they will know. Police are reviewing the footage from the CCTV of Nine entering the Roppongi station. Kurahashi gives Shibazaki a sketch picture of what is supposedly the culprit (with a fake name of course). No photos because apparently someone deleted it at the facility. The police interrogate an experienced crane operator about making such mistake. He won’t talk till Shibazaki comes in and mentions about his gambling habit and a certain debt collector who didn’t show up. He starts panicking and confesses. Seems he was offered 2 million yen to do the job from some anonymous online user. He got half of it when he accepted. The curious part is how the culprits know his account number without asking (of course theirs is a fake account) and it is as though they are purposely leaving traces of evidence behind. Then a new uploaded video from Sphinx with yet another riddle. They have until 10am tomorrow before the bomb blows off in a building next to the dwelling god who solved the riddle. Shibazaki analyses the culprits’ words and actions. It may have something to do with Oedipus, local shrines and swollen foot (the meaning behind Oedipus’ name). Meanwhile Lisa cannot stand her insecure mom’s shake up and runs away right before she discovers. Bye-bye.

When Mukasa is playing some online game slaying dragons, it hit Shibazaki. He is requesting some bold move that would seem provoking the culprits. Although he would like to take responsibility but in reality it would fall on his commanding officer (Kurahashi), he hopes Kurahashi would do something to take the blame. Hope this idea better works. Shibazaki uploads a live video to answer Sphinx’s riddle. Using Oedipus origins he wasn’t a god and his mother descended from a water dragon, coupled in with some versions had him limped all his life, he figures they are referring to the limping dragon called Arahabaki. It has roots in the local myth and although a god of war, metal working and feet, at one point it had no shrine to call its own and wandered. Thus his feet got tired and started limping. There is an Arahabaki related shrine here and it is the Shirahige Shrine in Katsuhika ward. Showing the abandoned building next to it, the bomb diffusing squad is seen dismantling the bombs safely. Shibazaki then continues to be provocative. He warns not to get carried away with their childish behaviour. What they are having isn’t a toy and if they are planning to use that trump card, he will hound them to the ends of the earth! At that point, the police cut him off as it is deemed a direct provocation and too dangerous. Well, that is why Kurahashi is to take responsibility, right? Nine and Twelve are impressed they manage to deduce this time and they notice that with the squad wearing hazard materials suits, it shows they have definitely linked them to the plutonium theft. Hamura talks to Kurahashi about who this Shibazaki guy is. 15 years ago, a secretary of a Diet member jumped off a hotel balcony. Top brass said it was suicide but Shibazaki didn’t buy it. He investigated and linked it to some conspiracy of a faction leader who once worked at the Metropolitan Police. So that is how he ended up in the archives since he has a family to feed. No choice, he had to accept top brass’ decision but he hasn’t forgotten or let go of it.

Episode 4: Break Through
Lisa is now wandering in the streets. Look at the endless miscalls from her mom! Scary! It was a good thing she ran away, huh? The police are in another briefing of the materials used in the bombs and how the culprits use fake identity and credit card to buy things from a legitimate company. In short, ironically the more clues they have about them, the less they seem to know. Shibazaki goes to Aomori to see Yoshihara Ebisuno, the person who employed one of the culprits. He shows the sketch to get more information. The kid doesn’t talk much, always have a headphone on listening to music from cold country and when asked about his dad, he kept silent. After he returns, it seems many people don’t remember even him working there. Like as though he is a ghost. Shibazaki believes no matter how good they are in erasing evidence and tracks, they can’t erase human memory. Besides, he was there just to have a feel of what the scenery they saw, the air the breathed and the sounds they heard. Sphinx uploads another video and wants the police to play their game to beat the bomb. Or else the invisible bomb will go off. Using the Oedipus myth again that he descended the staircase to Hades, it seems the internet is like an underworld and there is a link that connects them to a page where a timer is counting down. They need to input the correct password, which is the name of the person who the sayings are referring to. They have till midnight. Oh, and no cheating. The police work hard and they have gathered from surveillance camera. They deduce the same person entering Roppongi station and some building to be the same. They’re going there. Hamura tells Shibazaki they have found the culprits’ hideout and to stop keying in the password. However Shibazaki leaves the raid to him and continues inputting because this time the culprits told them to stop the bomb instead of finding it. Hamura is pissed with his attitude because he is just like those kids, thinking this is a game.

Nine knows Twelve has been keeping tabs on Lisa although he promised not to get involved. He can tell she has run away from home and thinks there is a chance she might go to the police and rattle them. So Twelve goes to see her and although she wants to be left alone, she has no place to go. She felt like an idiot. Back then, she thought of running away with him and expected to lead her out of this world. Didn’t happen. Expected too much. Will anybody take her away? She runs away but into a couple of police who question her for being out this late. Twelve zooms by on his bike and Lisa doesn’t hesitate to jump on and ride off. Meanwhile a full police and SWAT team are swarming a building. It just hit Shibazaki that one of the clues of “Know thyself” and when he entered his name, the password is correct. However the bomb doesn’t stop. A footage shows the police squad storming into the building and because they cheated, the invisible bomb goes off. All the classified information on the terrorist attacks is uploaded onto the social websites. You lose. Lisa asks Twelve if they are going to destroy the world. He laughs. She laughs. Hasn’t felt this good laughing for a long time, eh? When Twelve brings her back, Nine immediately says no. Twelve argues she could be an asset as she is an unseen face but Nine doesn’t trust her. They have no time. For dramatic effect, Lisa collapses. I think it’s real.

Episode 5: Hide & Seek
Lisa wakes up as she hears the guys talk. Nine doesn’t want to keep her and once her fever is gone, out she goes. She will be a liability. Twelve is kinder since he believes she has nowhere to go but Nine reminds him nothing good comes to those associating with them. Suddenly all their handphones ring. I don’t know if Lisa did anything but she was told she was lucky because it was connected to the fire extinguisher. Had the fuse been connected, the bomb inside it will explode. She faints upon hearing that. Back to dream land. Meanwhile a pair of American FBI agents sees Kurahashi. Nine and Twelve disguise as maintenance service and place a fire extinguisher with the bomb in a train. When they come home, they smell fire! Lisa cooking?! Does she know her cooking is smoking the entire room?! And what does she mean she messed up a little?! That’s basically total cooking failure! Nine accuses her of trying to prove her worth so she could say. However she is still feverish and is sent to bed. Twelve notes at least it is better than their food at the orphanage. He can’t remember the taste and as though eating was a task. Sphinx uploads another riddle for the police. The place where the angel receives FEZ 5889 punishment. Shibazaki instantly recognizes that number. It is the police file records. Since they have hacked their system and data, they must have got their past data too. Looking through that archive, it is a report about corporal punishment of a high school making its student run in the sweltering heat for arriving late. Looking at the Bible this time about Samael which is also known as the red serpent, what does a snake look like in real life? A train. And the red train belongs to the Shinjuku line. Twelve wonders if the riddle is too easy this time. Nine purposely make it so that Shibazaki can figure out the bombing connections. And he already did. All the locations that the bombs were placed, the head of that building or organization once participated in a seminar known as Rising Peace Academy, a non-profit organization seeking to promote interaction between the government and people. It attracted lots of important and influential people.

As the 8pm deadline looms, Nine is baffled that there is no report anywhere that action is taken to remove the bomb. They notice all their handphones are experiencing interference and thus no signal. Shibazaki confronts Kurahashi about their no-action. Seems orders from the top said it would send a special assault team and the rest will be on standby. This means they are to do nothing. Before a mass murder can happen, Nine tries to hack back into the train system to find out where the train is while Twelve is on his way to remove the bomb without being seen. They deduce somebody is behind this interfering with it all. As though that person doesn’t want the bomb to be stopped and let it blow up. Nine is surprised he cannot trace the train as multiple IDs of the train appear. Somebody is feeding them fake data. Suddenly his laptop is being hacked externally. Nine remembers traumatic memories of the orphanage and thinks he knows who is behind this. He uses a new laptop to hack. When he determines the train’s position, he quickly dashes out because he is the nearest. Once the train stops at the station, Nine drops a smoke bomb and the public panics there is a bomb as they rush out. Nine goes in but sees a girl sleeping with her headphones on. As he tries to reach for her, the bomb goes off. Don’t worry. They’re okay. Nine and Twelve’s handphone rings a message. They know it is her. Five. She has found them.

Episode 6: Ready Or Not
Five is pretty happy herself since she is confident she can catch Nine. In another police briefing, it is reported there are no casualties although many are injured. Also, Kurahashi mentions the FBI are going to be on this case and to give their full cooperation. Another nightmare wake up for Nine. Discussing with Twelve, they believe she wants to continue the game they started back then and won’t let them get away this time. Lisa wants to help. Instantly shot down by Nine. He shows her footage of the train’s bombing. This is what they do. Can she do it? The best she can help is to stay out of their way. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi when he was summoned away halfway in the previous briefing. He explains he went to the top brass’ office. The top dogs were quiet as he was introduced to FBI agent Clarence and a nuclear researcher, Five. They know plutonium was stolen and the American government is very concerned and those culprits are the ones planting the bombs around. They have solid evidence of that. Kurahashi wants to see those evidences so he can arrest them but Five laughs and ridicules him. They were running around and they couldn’t even catch them and worse, they let their data get leaked. Best joke of the year. Shibazaki knows what they’re doing the other day is to force the culprits to reveal themselves. What happens if they are pushed to a corner and decided to use their trump card? Not good. Soon another Sphinx riddle. But it’s not from our usual duo as a certain somebody is impersonating as them and sending the riddle of Julius Caesar going to Arab to everyone’s handphone. It is easily deduced as some Caesar code. Using the numbers, it is the coordinates of Haneda Airport. A second message is purposely misspelled as “VON Voyage”.

Nine and Twelve know what she is doing and they are caught in a catch-22 situation. Because if they go there to stop the bomb, they will be caught in the act. If they don’t and the bomb goes off, they will be blamed. They can’t go out and reveal anything because it’s the terrorist’s words against the police. Who would you believe? Shibazaki is suspicious about this Sphinx’s message. Is it really them? The chief calls everyone to gather and another top order not to do anything. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. Shocking, eh? On pretence to get food, we know Shibazaki is not going to sit still. But Hamura and the other guys also know he is going to do something and ‘joins him for dinner’. Nine and Twelve know that the airport is laced with CCTVs everywhere and must move on the assumption that they are being watched. They need someone they won’t recognize. Ah, clumsy Lisa coming in… No. Just no. Oh, come on. They need someone to act like an amateur and who best fits this? Lisa puts her foot down that she wants to be part of the group and will do anything. Okay. But they’ll be moving separately. The guys infiltrate as airport maintenance members. Five and her crew are keeping close tabs. Her underlings are so slow in retrieving data that she does the job herself. She traces them quickly as the personnel records do not match. Are they getting sloppy? Once they change their outfits and appear at the lobby, the screen changes to the layout of the airport. It is divided into squares and Nine recognizes this is chess. She wants to play chess using the airport as the board and also continue that game from that day. Their winning move will reveal the bomb’s location. Nine does a mental image of the moves and soon the guys separately make a dash to their next spot. Let the game begin.

Episode 7: Deuce
Shibazaki and co arrive but they see numbers on the screen. He thinks the terrorist is playing games with somebody intended with and that they are here. They also deduce the message from the fake Sphinx was intended for the real Sphinx. It could be somebody from the police planting the bomb and they are better off looking into what the police are doing. As they snoop around, they find the airport staffs have been told to show those on screen by the police. And there was a big police truck coming true. It must be hiding somewhere so as not to attract public attention. Twelve manages to escape from the cameras and hide in the blind spots. Enough time to change into police attire while Nine continues to run around playing the chess moves. It’s time for Lisa to make her debut. Can she do it? She’s a bundle of nerves. While Twelve enters some computer main server terminal to mess with something, Lisa sets off a flare in the toilet which in turn sets off the alarm. However Five spots Lisa because among the crowd, she is running away and so nervous she is that she bumps into everybody. Caught you. When Five notices the discrepancy in the time in the video and in real time, she rushes out but Nine points a gun at her. He knows where the bomb is. She also can tell how Twelve switched the cameras to recordings 5 minutes earlier and is now heading to the bomb. However she also knows there is someone who caused that diversion. Five didn’t know he made friends but this means his weakness has increased. She will make sure she will have the best seat for the fireworks. Clarence catches Lisa and points a gun at her. Come with him. The airport police arrive and open fire but Nine escapes. Five tells her goons to stay put. She didn’t order them to move.

Nine meets up with Twelve but it seems the bomb is not at the spot. Suddenly Lisa calls Twelve. A man brought her into a plan and locked her inside. The bomb is here and it is moving towards their location. It is the reason why the bomb couldn’t be found. It is a moving bomb. Who is piloting? Nobody. They know somebody is auto-piloting the plane and this can only be done at the control tower where Five would be. However they cannot go close to it as it is heavily guarded. Nine thinks of causing a scene to evacuate the public. But what about Lisa? They can’t abandon her, can they?! Only one thing left to do. Nine calls Shibazaki and tells him about somebody setting up the bomb to frame them. He wants to use him to get into the control tower to stop it. It is for both their benefit to stop the bomb. Never thought he heard a terrorist say that. Shibazaki and his men push their way through but only Shibazaki get through. Nine drives a cargo cart while Twelve calls Lisa to do the necessary preparations. She opens the hatch and needs to jump but the bumpy ride causes her to slip. Don’t worry. She is hanging by the harness she made. Now it’s too tight to untie. Shibazaki reaches the control tower and points the gun at the control guy to move the plane away. Five is not happy her plan is derailed and is going to make him regret this. Lisa unties herself as she falls into Twelve’s arms. They steer away and the plane does so. Once time is up, the plane explodes. Shibazaki sees Sphinx below (in their mask of course) and he can’t chase them since the panicking control tower members are blocking the exit trying to escape. He is only left in frustration as they got away. Five isn’t defeated yet. She has got her hands on Lisa’s student ID card and won’t let her get away next time.

Episode 8: My Fair Lady
Shibazaki and co are being reprimanded by the chief. Everyone is suspended for 3 months and off the case except for Shibazaki who will be suspended indefinitely. He tries to mention about somebody framing Sphinx but the chief won’t hear a word further. Hand over your badge. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi and it seems the latter had to go through a lot to reduce his punishment. They know that woman is going after her. Who is she? She doesn’t look like some mere nuclear scientist. Kurahashi tried finding out but everything points to her being transferred from ISA, an intelligence agency. So what is a spy doing in a plutonium theft case? Lisa wakes up alone back at the hideout and is warned not to go outside. However she receives a courier package. A message says, “BOMB”. Oh sh*t! The guys are coming back from an errand wondering if they should change their hideout since Lisa’s face is known. Then they see Lisa rushing out before the entire building goes boom! Clarence warns Five about going too far because their priority is to secure the item. Nine and Twelve use an abandoned video game centre as their new hideout. Twelve wonders if they should quit while they still can. Nine wonders if he is scared because of Lisa. He should remember where they came from and has he forgotten what they must do? Lisa could have died then and all the more reason not to let her get involved anymore.

Shibazaki does more research on Rising Peace Academy and there was this Athena Project they conducted. He visits Mukasa to request a file of some politician’s kid involved in some assault case that was settled out of court. He then goes to see him to seek more information about this programme of providing special education for gifted children. He won’t say and claims some national secrets act. Shibazaki mentions about his son and shows picture proof he might be at it again. Blackmail? Well, he is already going to get fired so he couldn’t care less. From Mukasa, Hamura finds Shibazaki and joins him in his detective work walking from one place to another to question people regarding taken children from the orphanage over the country with high scores from a test. Oddly nobody seems to know where the children end up but a nun they questioned remembers a government official handing her his card. Shibazaki calls his cyber crime unit’s colleague, Kinoshita to snoop around on the name of Souta Aoki. It is discovered that Athena Project involved pharmaceutical companies, neuroscience research labs and vanguard medicine organizations. The project was cancelled 7 years ago. Twelve sees a letter from Lisa. Goodbye note. She must have heard how a burden she was and ran away. But Five is watching her from the street CCTVs. As she wanders in the street, several agents pick her up. Lisa wakes up in Five’s place. She knows all about her from running away from her mom and running away from the boys. She wants to help them but if they unleash their next plan, there is no going back. So tell her everything. Lisa spills everything from the time she met them at the government building and the choice of dying or become their accomplice. Five tells her she should be better off dead. She further insults her as a stupid girl dragging the guys around. Lisa tries to be tough. She can do anything to her be let the guys walk free. However Five tells her that nobody cares about her life in which an ant’s life is worth even more. Does she think they have a future? Nine warns Twelve about looking for Lisa. They receive a message from Lisa’s handphone. It’s a picture of her. Instantly they know Five has got her and it is a trap. It’s different this time. They have no time. It is precisely why he is going. Nine pleads him to stay. Don’t leave me? Unfortunately he chose the girl over his best friend. Doesn’t this seem like real life?

Episode 9: Highs & Lows
Nine is in his secret lab making preparations. Shibazaki and Hamura are at Aoki’s house. This widower looks helluva gloomy. I can guess why. Shibazaki wants to know more about Athena Project but Aoki mentions the name of the former deputy minister of health and labour. He died 3 years ago because he wanted to bring those responsible to face prosecution. This is warning that they walk away now if they want to walk freely in the streets. Shibazaki won’t and tells Hamura to go away. He won’t either. But see his shaking hands taking out the recorder? The explanation begins. Aoki mentions about savant syndrome, condition that demonstrates abnormal capabilities in a certain skill. In exchange for being good at that skill, they often pay the price in the form of an inability to communicate with others. The goal of Athena Project is to find a way to artificially bring a person to a similar savant syndrome state. 26 children (all without names and only identified with a number) with high IQ scores were taken as test subjects since a pharmaceutical company at that time stumbled upon some drug. When Rising Peace Academy found out about it, they launch this project, poured funds into it and hired the best scientists all at a place called Settlement. Because the drug was only effective in children no older than 5 years old and a normal person could not withstand the drug’s effect, their bodies and mind became broken and eventually died. When the US government discovered this 7 years ago, they intervened and cancelled it. Only 1 child survived and was the US took custody of her. However there were 2 others who escaped. They set the facility on fire and ran away. That was 8 years ago. Today they would be 17 if they are alive. They might not have enough time left in this world. He said all this now because he knew eventually someone like them would turn up or else he would have carried it to his grave. Hamura becomes upset that he can say all that with a straight face. He is not human. Aoki agrees. Merely just a pawn powerless to oppose the hand that moved him. And the hand was? Dr Shunzou Mamiya. The politician guy who demoted Shibazaki.

Twelve is seen entering the amusement park. He sees Lisa tied up in a Ferris wheel carriage and wearing a bomb vest. At that moment, the timer begins and the wheel moves. 8.5 minutes. He remains calms and tells her to do the same as he tries to disarm the bomb. One down, more to go… Clarence isn’t pleased of what Five is doing because no matter how pro a bomb diffuser is, nobody can diffuse so many bombs in such a given time. If he is killed, they will lose their lead on the item’s location. She tells him to shut up. She has a big headache right now. Traumatic nightmares? Or stress, I suppose? Lisa apologizes for causing them trouble all the time. Don’t be. Twelve apologizes instead that he got her into this. He shouldn’t have picked her up. He knew this would happen eventually. Lisa makes her resolve. She wants him to save himself and go to Nine. He needs him. There is something they have to do so go do it. But he won’t leave her. Five calls him and says what they stole wasn’t plutonium but a nuclear prototype developing in secret. Let’s make a deal. Tell us where the location is and she’ll stop the bomb. She further plays mind games with him that he betrayed Nine for Lisa and is he going to let her die in front of him? Because Nine isn’t going to forgive him. But if he doesn’t want to tell, it’s fine. They can die like lovers. In the dying seconds, Twelve blurts out the bomb in a school locker. The special squad storms into it and Nine knows Twelve has tattle on him. He takes what is needed and escapes. Five becomes desperate and orders Nine’s capture at all cost. Target lost. Those headaches coming back again? Yeah well, she collapsed. I guess playing such a game can be too stressful if it doesn’t go your way.

Episode 10: Helter Skelter
While Five is in ICU, Nine turns himself into the police. At first nobody believes till he puts on his mask. It’s him! Nine only wants to speak to Shibazaki but since he is suspended, Kurahashi will listen in his place. Nine has a demand. He wants a press conference at 8pm where he will tell all. Kurahashi tells his top brass about this but they don’t trust him. However Kurahashi will take full responsibility. Plus, this is the first time Sphinx has demanded something and has been keeping their word every time. When Five wakes up but still weak, Clarence told her Nine has turned himself in and she is not too happy. She will not let anyone else have him. Meanwhile Shibazaki goes to see Mamiya. Hamura wanted to come along but was sent on a wild goose chase to buy cigarette packs for him (he should have guessed something is wrong when he visited 8 outlets all of which not having the cigarette brand he specified! 8 freaking shops!!!). Shibazaki is ready to face whatever consequences as the frail and sickly Mamiya explains about Japan still reeling from their lost dignity when World War 2 ended. They wanted to create people with superior intelligence and senses, raise talents that would far be more useful than any weapon. That was what Athena Project was for. The project failed but he considers the children gave their lives for the country’s good. Shibazaki tells him to cut the bullsh*t about the country’s good because they took away their childhood and destroyed their lives for their egos. News of Sphinx’s press conference reaches everyone. Lisa and Twelve are bumming around. What are they going to do? Twelve takes her to an amusement park and they have fun? Twelve fears he has betrayed Nine and cannot face him. Lisa for once ‘scolds’ him that she was happy when he came for her but now his partner is in trouble. If he goes to Nine, she is sure he will be happy too.

Shibazaki requests to speak to Nine but Kurahashi can’t do that. Only a selected few get to interview him and that Shibazaki is suspended. However he slips him the secret location of the press conference. Clarence calls the top brass and ‘understands’ that they rather negotiate with terrorists instead of assisting the US government. Can’t answer that, can’t he? Five suggests taking it by force but Clarence reminds their relations with the Japanese government have been strained since the airport incident. Five believes an attack by an unidentified armed force will do the trick. Five takes over the operation and has all police vehicles leaving the stations traced. An unidentified van attacks the escort but it is empty. A decoy. This tactic allows Five to eliminate and determine the true escort that Nine is in. She drives like a hell driver to personally get him. When she is up to the van, she opens fire, deflating a tyre and killing the driver. Kurahashi in the other front seat has a hard time steering and crashes. With all the officers out, Nine frees himself and starts running. But here comes Twelve on his bike serving as a distraction. Before he crashes, he drops a bomb that puts their car out of commission. Clarence points a gun at Five. He is taking her off the mission. He has enough proof to dismiss her after her various illegal conducts. While he is messaging to his men, Five shoots him with her hidden gun. Five comes chasing Nine in her car but the latter shoots back, enough to make her crash. Walking up to him, Five says she has never managed to beat him. That was all she wanted. However the time she had left was far too short and it was because of him she managed to live this long. He was her reason for living. Now it’s time for goodbye and hopes to see him on the other side. So live for her. She quickly kisses him, walks back to her car and fires at the tank. Boom! It is already 8pm but Nine hasn’t shown up at the press conference. Suddenly a video of him is seen on all screens. In this pre-recording video, Nine mentions the press conference is cancelled thanks to outside interference. This message was set up to play automatically if this happened. The last bomb that will go off at 10pm is a nuclear bomb. No one can stop it. Goodbye Japan. Nine takes off his mask at the end of the video.

Episode 11: VON
As the mass evacuation of the region begins, Lisa finds Twelve messed up and treats him. Shibazaki believes something is off. Sphinx isn’t just any terrorist because so far they have not killed anybody and have a specific goal. His daughter calls him, worried if he is in the midst of evacuation. He assures her he will after he has done his work. I guess you can’t beat a workaholic. Because his daughter is taking some physics subject in university, he asks if it is possible for a nuclear bomb to detonate without being killing anyone. As long as it is detonated in the air and it was done before by Americans. How will a nuclear bomb get into the air? Hamura deduces via balloon. So the police start scrambling for any balloon launched during the announcement was made and found one that matches. Although the radioactive will disperse into space, the electromagnetic waves will still cause a massive blackout. But there is another problem. Airplanes in the area are not equipped with electromagnetic protection and if get caught will crash. The US army is probably the only one with such technology. So it is a race to get all 250 planes in that are to land immediately! Even a couple of JSDF jet fighters are sent to chase it but the balloon has floated up so high that they can’t follow. Lisa is relieved that Twelve is fine. So what else better than to spend the rest of the time together and wait for kingdom come. Twelve explains they were raised in that dark orphanage without knowing their parents. Even when they escaped, it has always the 2 of them. Nobody needed them. That’s why he wants to thank her. By 10pm the bomb explodes. Everyone is awed by the big explosion in the sky. The most different ‘fireworks’ they have seen if I should say. Subsequently all electricity and anything electronic are cut. In the darkness, Nine sees something like Aurora lights in the sky.

In the aftermath, Nine visits the abandoned orphanage and hammers to the ground a wooden tombstone for Five. Lisa and Twelve arrive and the latter wants to explain but Nine knows only he was the one capable of throwing that bomb. Thank you. Friendship reconciled. What are a bunch of kids going to do hanging out at this place? Play ball (Lisa is a joker) and listening to music. But it seems they’re not just hanging out for fun. They are waiting for Shibazaki to come and he doesn’t disappoint. He deduces this is where they came from and wanted to show the world about this place. With everything that has happened, everyone’s attention is on them because they will be curious who is Sphinx and where they come from. Given the magnitude of it, nobody can sweep it under the rug. Creating this was their goal all along. They intended to get caught. The duo add that they needed someone who would figure it all and catch them. That person is Shibazaki. He is their Oedipus. He arrests them as Twelve mentions Lisa is just a hostage. Suddenly American choppers hover over the place. How did they find them? Nine takes out a detonator and threatens to blow up a bomb in a nuclear power plant. The army relay his message back to their boss (Clarence?) but he tells them to carry out their duty. Even if the bomb is real, there is nothing they can do as the mere existence of someone knowing the truth about the airport and highway incident will put them at a disadvantage. But spare the detective because if he accuses the Japanese government, the attention from them will be turned away. Twelve is shot and killed. Nine is furious and is going to press it but Shibazaki signals he will talk to him. He convinces Nine they have put their lives on the line and not to waste it. Everything will be revealed in the trial. Nine gives the detonator to him and leaves everything else to him. And most important of all, don’t forget them. His final headache gets worse and he collapses. A year later, Project Athena becomes known to the public and the world as Mamiya and Aoki are in a high profile prosecution. Lisa prays at the grave of Nine and Twelve. Shibazaki is on his way to do the same and stumbles into her. Lisa tells him she has asked Nine about the music he was listening to. It was from Iceland and the word VON is the Icelandic word for hope.

Terrorizing Our Hearts And Minds
OMG! OMFG! I just feel so sad. My heart just sank so much that I was just in tears when it all ended. But to summarize my feelings for series, it was a blast! Pun not intended but it was very awesome. Including the explosive finale. Uhm, pun intended? Every minute of it was just intense and interesting that when it was over, I couldn’t help feel a sense of emptiness. Yup. One of the very few series that actually made time fly. I want to say that this series is perfect but in reality, there it isn’t so because there may be a few points it made me left pondering like the lifespan of the orphanage trio. I’m not sure if they know exactly when they will die but it feels like they know they have not long to live. But where were they between the closure of the project and orphanage and now? Why did Five eventually choose to show up after all these years? Maybe she doesn’t know the whereabouts of Nine?

And now that everything is over, is Lisa living back with her crazy mom again? After all that craziness has happened, perhaps her mom’s case is just a mild one? And did Shibazaki and his fellow colleagues just get a slap on the wrist because after all the dangerous investigations that are akin to opening the Pandora Box, they should have been in some sort of trouble. But I guess with the world now focusing on this atrocity, I guess they are not in focus right now. Ah, so many of such questions but despite all that, I believe this show is still superb and the execution and flow of everything was greatly and nicely done. Easily this would be one of my favourite series for not only this season but all-time as well.

Curiously enough, the flashback of Nine, Twelve and Five’s past during their time at the orphanage isn’t given much prominence. I thought with the flashbacks and snippets of it from time to time, ultimately we would see the entire picture somewhere at the end or maybe an entire episode dedicating to it. This was not the case. I suppose just like Project Athena itself, these aren’t given much focus and somewhat just serve as a means to an end. Because basically if I think about it, there might be nothing much to it and I don’t think I want to see a bunch of young children getting tortured and going through so much pain in addition to the terrorizing pace of this series. They were just sufficient enough to drive the story forward. Besides, I don’t think it will be fair to suddenly jump on us that there is another survivor (which of course there isn’t). I don’t know if my heart can take it if that kind of twist happens.

The interesting aspect and main draw of this series are the riddles, its execution and the race to solve it before anything untoward happen. As the riddles from Sphinx are deeply rooted in Greek mythology and the Bible, it seems that in order to understand and connect their riddle, you need to be well read and knowledgeable in these areas. For a person like me who know nuts about anything, in a way it takes away some parts of the enjoyment because you’ll need it if you are going to fully appreciate and understand where they are going and what they are implying. Shibazaki himself is a smart guy and experienced detective although I am not sure if I can say he is knowledgeable about such stuffs because from what I can see, he spends lots of research time on it although it does not show here.

So it is not the case of him suddenly pulling out answers from the air because we have a limited air time in each episode or something. This way, it makes the series go at a faster pace instead of wasting time wrecking brain power trying to guess if it is correct or not. Because my guess is that most of us won’t really arrive at such detailed and cleverly thought out answers like him. I think. But don’t you agree? As for the riddles themselves, they are worthy enough to keep you guessing and hold your interest till it is solved. The action parts are lesser but still intense and exhilarating enough in its own right. The ironic part is that there were no casualties! No deaths! Until the penultimate episode when Five took desperate measures. I think it is safe to say the police escort became the first victim followed by Five and finally our Sphinx duo.

The characters are excellently portrayed, each with their own flaw. It is a bittersweet tragedy for the fate of the duo to end up like that but either way, they know they have not much time left. So they weren’t just a bunch of kids messing around with everyone just to have fun or just for the sake of wanting to get attention or making a mark they were here and lived on this planet. True, they wanted attention not because of selfish reasons. All they wanted was a place to belong. All they wanted was for people to remember them and the atrocity that took their very lives and existence that would otherwise be forever lost in the darkness of history. I suppose this was the only way to get people to talk about you and become some sort of sensation. Because otherwise, nobody gives a f*cks about you or anything else in this world. And Lisa was the first person to do that. That’s why even though when they initially don’t trust her, she is eventually worthy enough to be saved.

It is debatable if their methods of getting attention is right or wrong but you notice that they don’t mindlessly kill people and at times, they become heroes and saviours instead! Therefore it is ironic and ‘interesting’ to see ‘terrorists’ start saving people. It’s like seeing the devil forgiving and saving people from their sins. They know what they want and a mindless bloodbath massacre wasn’t it. After all, they are not such bad or rotten guys like those corrupted people at the top when you get to know them. So who are the real antagonists? Sphinx? Five? The people behind Athena Project? I think I know the answer for this one. It goes to show that terrorism itself comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. And in most unlikely of places where you least expected them to be. Especially in Five’s case where you could say that terrorism comes in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lisa feels like the weakest link among the group. Heck, for the first half of the series, it feels like she is irrelevant to the storyline when Sphinx were playing the main antagonist. You even question why the heck did Nine give her a choice of becoming their accomplice or die because after that, he leaves her out of from their operations and she is reduced to an unimportant character bumming around. As though it would have been better if she was just left for dead. Just like every other character, Lisa has her own set of problems. All she wanted was to belong somewhere, a place to call her own. I suppose her own home is out of the question because who would want to have such insecure psycho mom? She thought hanging out with the duo would be a better option but it didn’t actually solve her problems. Eventually she grows ‘important’ enough for the guys to see differences in what they consider important and this affects the choices they make and its outcome. Despite playing minimal roles even that airport accomplice help and getting abducted by Five are considered minor, Lisa is still an important character and helps drives the plot of the series.

Five is easily one of the most vile and despicable antagonist that viewers would love to hate. Aside from her twisted goal, this woman really puts the fear in you. Yeah. Literally resonating terror within you. She is intelligent. She is strong. She is domineering. She is dictating. She gets what she wants. You can never beat her. You can never stand up to her anyhow. You can never win (at least not if you’re a wuss of a weak heart because really, she isn’t for someone with a faint heart to deal with). Because she is one cool cat who won’t be cowed or easily swayed by your pathetic thoughts and opinions. Hers is always superior. No doubts about it. Thanks to her no compromise attitude, it makes her go as far as possible. Basically she is like a one (wo)man show who can do everything herself although she prefers her lackeys to do some of the mundane jobs like monitoring the CCTVs and such. Therefore she is no pushover and truly worthy to be one of the ‘best’ antagonist of all times. Don’t mess with her. Enough said. And thinking about all the things she did just to get Nine, she might after all be in love with this dude in a twisted way. Yeah. That.

Shibazaki is also a cool guy and a great detective thanks to his experience and his own belief on justice. Just too bad that the system didn’t like it and set him aside. Even guys like him are powerless. But at times like this, this is where guys like them set out to do what they have to without looking back. Unlike many who would simply jump to conclusions, he thinks deep and hard because as we know, terrorists think differently unlike others. It is great for the police to have this guy on their team. Even Sphinx acknowledges him. Mukasa might seem to be falling into the dumb cop category because of his obese appearance and his penchant to spend time playing video games, watching useless web videos and eating doughnuts (ah, classic cop favourite) instead of doing his archiving job and sometimes it is as though his role is to be some sort of comic relief. However if you look closely to it, there are a handful of times when he becomes Shibazaki’s ‘saviour’. At the most unlikely of times, when Shibazaki is often stumped on Sphinx’s move, unintentionally Mukasa gives him the most important clue that propels him to take the next step. So he is not that all useless.

This series also teaches us a good lesson in making us think what is morally right or wrong. There are so many scenes that just make you stop and question if it is right or not. The most obvious one coming from Five and Clarence’s operative measures. Despite coming from a so called trusted government agency, Five’s obsessive actions just to get Nine makes her act like the biggest terrorist and thus the main antagonist for the second half of the series. Even more so, she uses her authority and deploys all the resources at her fingertips just to catch a guy and at the expense of the innocent public. Most of us would definitely scream abuse of authority and muscle arming to get what she wants but if you were in her shoes, what would you do? Then there are others like the top brass of the Japanese Metropolitan Police kowtowing down to the American counterparts. They become silent when Big Brother starts issuing directive. For the sake of diplomatic relations, eh? Well, yeah. Again, what would you do if you were them?

And of course some morally challenged stuffs that our other characters do like Shibazaki who really goes all the way out and even uses the controversial blackmailing technique just to get what he wants. Is this the right way to do it even though it increases the chances of him nailing the culprits? Were there other better options? But would it be as fast and effective? And when cops get suspended for disobeying a direct order and go off themselves to do what they believe is right instead of standing around and waiting for stuffs to happen, it throws everything off in what you believe in righteousness and justice. Then there is Kinoshita from the cyber crimes unit who is supposed to prevent cyber crimes and not conduct the crime itself. We can see him deliberating on this morality issue because of wanting to hack and snoop on Shibazaki’s request as he has a loving family to think about. I’m sure you can guess the dilemma he has to go through. And don’t get me started about Lisa as a bully victim at the start.

The art and drawing has a surrealism feel to it. It is not your standard anime bishonen and bishoujo looks with characters having cute wide sparkly eyes and the likes. At first it reminded me how much the art resembles Aku No Hana although this series was not done in rotoscope fashion as in the latter. It isn’t Zexcs animating this but MAPPA, the studio that produces animes like Teekyuu and Sakamichi No Apollon. Still, the characters look and lean more towards realism than your typical anime art style. One reason could be because of the very gloomy and dull colours. It creates quite a depressing atmosphere over the city and ultimately the anime itself. This isn’t actually a bad thing after all since after watching too many ‘colourful’ animes (colourful hair, colourful eyes, colourful clothes, colourful casts of characters, colourful etc), this is somewhat a ‘wake-up’ call.

Also, I want to add that because of the surrealism, some of the characters look from just plain to downright inhuman or should I say, ugly. The ‘ugliest’ of the lot goes to Mamiya whom I thought at first impression looks somewhat like a little monster. Serious. Some felt weird like Five’s white semi-afro hairstyle that enhances her creepy effect and to a certain extent, Twelve’s smile if you stare at it too long, you might find it creepy. Serious. And Kurahashi’s buzz cut make him look a bit funny… Serious too!

You know how they say that stereotyping is bad because it leads to assumptions. That is what I did as I expected the songs of the series to be rock or metal. I don’t know how to put it because they sound really weird which also adds to the creepy effect. Trigger is the opening theme by Yuuzuki Ozaki of Galileo Galilei fame. It is slow and well, just creepy. Same case for the ending theme, Dare Ka Umi Wo by Aimer. Creepy and ominous. Even the insert songs especially those that are sung sound just as creepy. Oh yeah. Creepy is the word of this series. However the instrumental piece for the final episode is so sad and it was the big reason why my heart sank. It was just sad :’(.

On a trivial note, thanks to the ‘tough’ riddles that Sphinx provided, I can’t help notice that each episode title (which is in English), has a letter coloured out in red as opposed to the rest. It got me thinking there must be some sort of riddle and clue here so I decided to ‘join in’ to solve this puzzle in hopes I would be amazed at myself for achieving something which I normally would. As I gathered the alphabets and symbols, I couldn’t piece together anything because it just doesn’t make sense. Heck, I even searched online and found a site with all the theories and conspiracies trying to decode of what it might imply: Terror In Analysis. How aptly named. However… Although it is very well thought out and thoroughly analysed, it is one freaking long analysis to read! And as usual, I’m too dumb to understand it all but kudos with such great work even though in the end, everything might be just pure speculation and just a wild goose chase to throw us off. Yeah, blame ourselves for assuming things and then getting paranoid just thinking too much about it. They were just screwing with our minds and nothing much ado about anything actually.

Eventually it all boils down to this. Even terrorists are humans too. Unless they are downright mad and are big time sadists, such big time act of terrorism isn’t actually done for fun. Heck, it is never really fun if you are the one at the receiving end. This anime is one of the terrorism themed shows that make you delve into the mind of how terrorists think. Even if not deeply but it gives you a perception on the way they work and how they outsmart the system. That thought itself is terrifying, isn’t it?

So even if you hate the notion of another terrorist themed series or have some sort of phobia of watching this type of genre, I would strongly recommend watching this one because this series isn’t just some over the top exaggeration action hype kind of show (because some believe explosions are everything there is to a great action movie). There is a great deal high quality entertainment-cum-enlightenment in this series that you would rarely find in animes or other TV series these days. This one has some brains, a level of maturity and in a way connects to our emotions in the most realistic ways. It will definitely resonate in our hearts for a long time to come. It is one of those shows whereby you will eventually root for the ‘villains’ not because you sympathise their cause, have Stockholm Syndrome or have something against authorities just because for the sake of doing so, but rather it makes you reflect on ourselves as humans and the things we do in life. Despite the sense of hopelessness and all the anarchy, conspiracy, lawlessness happening around the world today, little things like these gives us hope that there is still hope and future for mankind. Bomb voyage!

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