What’s it about ?
It’s the grand reunion of director Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) and composer Yoko Kanno ! Okay, it’s the third time in two years, but he’s barely directing any of Space Dandy himself, and let’s just politely forget about Kids on the Slope. This is much more like it : a more personal original anime series that he’s apparently been trying to produce for years. Given the subject matter, I believe him.
This is a show about terrorism. And it’s not pulling any punches.
The story focuses on a team of two teenage terrorists, Nine & Twelve. (They’ve got proper names they use at school, but those are most probably aliases.) Nine is the tall guy with glasses and scary eyes ; Twelve is a cheerful ball of energy whose playful attitude and smile are no less scary. Together, they commit acts of terror. Stealing plutonium from a secure recycling facility, setting off bombs that destroy most of a skyscraper, posting cryptic videos on YouTube, the works.
Their motives remain nebulous. Their very codenames suggest there’s somebody else pulling the strings. They feel righteous in their attacks against modern civilization, but the short flashbacks/dreams about their childhood only raise more questions over how they got there. What’s clear is that they are ready to kill.
Lisa is another student attending their new high school. Withdrawn and a frequent target of bullies until Twelve rescued her, mostly for the lulz. Later on, she randomly bumps into him in the middle of placing bombs, and Nine offers her a choice : dying or becoming their accomplice.
Before the skyscraper attack, the police aren’t really paying attention to some random videos on the web (the uranium theft six months ago is top secret, of course) ; that’s obviously going to change. The script gives plenty of screentime to a bored police inspector who spends his time solving crosswords while his partner surfs around the Net ; presumably he’s going to be important in the investigation.
Very good. The direction makes the terrorism sequences look like clockwork : while it’s not immediately obvious what the end objective is, the various steps are perfectly clear to follow.
Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack is ace, of course. Maybe one of her best scores in a while.
Well, this was impressive. This is basically filmed like a heist movie, except we have no clue whatsoever about what drives the protagonists, to say nothing of their endgame. What helps considerably is how plausible most of their attacks are ; whoever designed them did their research well. (The second episode opens with a scene of the police piecing out what they did exactly, and it turns out to have needed very little resources, merely impeccable planning and timing. Also, tons of refuge in audacity.)
I’m slightly less confident on how Lisa is going to fit into all this ; I presume it’s going to be more interesting than introducing some tepid romantic tension. Still, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt on this, as everything else is very intriguing indeed.
A good thriller by masters of the form. Definitely one of the highlights of the season.