In the plot, we see two unidentified men steal plutonium from a secret laboratory and leave a “VON” sign, a theft carried out by two main characters: young boys calling themselves the Ninth and Twelfth. Some time later, the teenagers set off an explosion in Tokyo, having previously posted on social media a video of them wearing masks, calling themselves Sphinxes 1 and 2, threatening the aforementioned explosion.
In parallel with the terrorist activities, Ninth and Twelfth enroll in school, where they meet the inconspicuous Lisa Mishima, who later joins the Sphinxes. The bombings continue, with no human casualties, just as the first time, the teenagers publish video puzzles that, by solving them, can prevent the attacks, and Detective Kenjiro Shibazaki begins to take an interest in them. In the course of the investigation, Shibazaki comes to the conclusion that all the buildings in one way or another belonged to the organizers of Project Athena, in which gifted orphans were kept in harsh and inhumane conditions in order to raise geniuses out of them.
Of the entire group, only the Fifth subject survived to the end of the experiment, while the Ninth and Twelfth escaped long before that. Meanwhile, Fifth, who works for the FBI, officially joins the investigation, sets up an attack herself to lure Ninth out, and holds Lisa hostage, blackmailing Twelfth. In the end, Ninth launches an atomic bomb into the sky that deprives Japan of electricity, spends the day with Lisa and Twelfth honoring Athena’s dead test subjects, but Twelfth is killed by the secret service afterwards. Ninth threatens to set off another atomic bomb, but Shibazaki manages to convince him not to.
What is the meaning of the anime “Zankyou no Terror”?
There can be several interpretations, of course, but the first thing that comes to mind is the conflict of right and wrong. We see Shibazaki hesitating, knowing pretty much the entire backstory and motives of the Ninth and Twelfth, he should have arrested them despite the lack of victims, but he doesn’t. After watching it, this ambivalent feeling settles in: on the one hand, to allow such actions is to encourage chaos; on the other hand, the sympathy is for the affected orphans, not for the businessmen and politicians whose buildings were blown up.
One cannot help but be reminded of the problem of humanity, of the importance of preserving humanity, and here again there is a contrast: the inherently good terrorists and the brutal powers-that-be. The anime, if not teaching, at least shows how important it is to retain kindness, selflessness, honesty – otherwise the whole plan of Ninth and Twelfth could have boiled down to killing those who hurt them and innocent people, and the problem of loyalty and devotion hangs in the air throughout the anime, especially in the scenes with Twelfth and Lisa, where he is torn between a girl and dedication to his whole life.
And, of course, this story is also about hope: Ninth and Twelfth lived in hope of avenging themselves and their brethren, Fifth hoped to defeat Ninth, Lisa hoped to escape the nightmare of living with her mother, Shibazaki hoped for Ninth’s humanity and discretion in asking him to give him the detonator. The escaped orphans believed in the necessity of revenge; they had no purpose in life other than revenge, so unfortunately the ending makes sense from this point of view – it is unlikely that Ninth, Fifth or Twelfth could have lived fully after the bomb went off.