Zankyou no Terror seems to have found it’s true antagonist with Five. While her motives may be just, her ways of going about it hint at a character just as morally questionable as Nine and Twelve, if not more so. Her arrival in Tokyo has flipped things on its head. Sphinx’s operations are spiraling out of control thanks to Five’s pushing, and the terrorists are having to put a stop to their own schemes.
“Ready or Not” follows Sphinx as they’re once again pushed into a situation meant to expose them. Five and the FBI fake a message from Sphinx, an operation so secret not even Shibasaki knows of it. Five sets a real bomb at an airport and challenges Nine and Twelve to either come get it and be caught, or leave it and be “responsible” for the potential deaths of hundreds. It’s unclear whether this dangerous play is authorized, but the First Investigation Division’s distrust of the FBI could hint at some kind of corrupt force at work.
Five is, in a word, hardcore. She doesn’t seem to have any qualms about pushing Sphinx to their limits, regardless of whether people get hurt in the process. Based on the glimpses into her childhood with Nine and Twelve, she comes off as something of a chessmaster, both literally and figuratively. Her obsession with “the game” may cloud her moral judgement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being her undoing.
By now, the FBI and the First Investigation Division are convinced that Sphinx was involved in the plutonium theft, and Shibasaki is worried that Five will back Sphinx into a corner and force them to play their “joker”. Shibasaki and his team aren’t happy with being kept in the dark on their own case, so they defy orders to stay put while the bomb squad removes the bomb (which may or may not actually be the plan). Shibasaki and the others will undoubtedly get into trouble, but their dedication to their case really paints them as the true “good guys”, and it gives insight into the personalities of some of the other members of the First Investigation Division.
One of the aspects of Zankyou no Terror that I enjoy the most are the quiet moments that give insight into the lives and thoughts of Nine and Twelve. They do a lot to humanize characters who could otherwise come off as one-dimensional villains. During a quiet conversation with Lisa, Twelve reveals he has synesthesia, a neurological peculiarity that creates an intersection of two or more sensory pathways. In Twelve’s case, he sees colors when he hears sounds. He reveals to Lisa that when she speaks, he sees a pale yellow color, and that he rarely sees that color in association with others. It’s not clear what it means for Twelve or Lisa, but it’s at least an interesting trait that colors (no pun intended) how Twelve sees the world.
Lisa is finally allowed to accompany Nine and Twelve on a mission, as they need help from someone Five won’t recognize. Lisa seems altogether healthier than usual, as she dons a cute new outfit and happily does laundry. Nine’s continued insistence that she’s useless is finally put to a stop when she determinedly declares that she wants to be part of Sphinx. Lisa’s earnest attitude makes it all the more heartbreaking that she’s ended up in such a situation, but it’s easy to root for her success anyway.
Next week, Nine, Twelve, and Lisa go up against Five in a game of cognitive chess to find the airport bomb, all while trying to avoid being caught. I can’t imagine that things will exactly go their way, but the great thing about Zankyou no Terror is that the narrative could go in so many different directions.
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