The Infinite Zenith

Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more.

Wolfenstein: The New Order, Review and Reflection At the halfway point

“Okay, okay. So you put a Nazi on the Moon. Fuck you, Moon.” —William “B.J.” Blazkowicz

At the halfway point in Wolfenstein: The New Order, I’ve seen Blazkowicz reawaken after fourteen years of inactivity, learn of the Third Reich’s victory in the Second World War. He learns that the resistance has been captured, and sets about freeing their members; since I picked the Wyatt timeline, I ended up liberating Wyatt. Joining up with the Resistance, Blazkowicz then blasts his way through the London Nautica to steal stealth helicopters, and also learns about the Da’at Yichud, an ancient secret society that constructed incomprehensibly advanced technology. This technology was later reverse-engineered by Nazi scientists and used to win the Second World War, accounting for how they beat everyone to the bomb and created a nigh-unstoppable war machine. However, Blazkowicz’s efforts revitalise the Resistance, and they also learn that a living member of Da’at Yichud, Set Roth, was responsible for sabotaging the Nazi’s super concrete and is incarcerated at a prison camp in Croatia. Infiltrating the camp, Blazkowicz liberates him and other prisoners, as well; keeping his word, Set Roth agrees to help the Resistance fighters undermine the Third Reich.

Wolfenstein: The New Order has proven itself to be anything but a dull shooter; seven chapters after the prologue mission, I’ve experienced seven different environments that demand different tactics. Stealth is a hugely viable option for most of the game, and players can avoid unnecessary confrontations through caution and well-placed headshots using the silenced pistol in conjunction a bit of skill with thrown knives. At Eisenwald Prison in Berlin, weapons aren’t even an option for much of the mission, forcing players to think creatively to get past the guards or find new paths with the laser cutter. Upon visiting the home of the Resistance, the game’s dynamic shifts again, feeling like a town hub in a RPG. These elements, combined together with the various news paper clippings in the environment and idle dialogue between the enemy soldiers, solidly provide the sense that Machine Games have taken the time to craft an incredibly detailed, and dark world. Instead of just shooting Nazi soldiers, the players have a chance to really immerse themselves in an alternate history where the Allies never won. The resulting world is an extension of the horrors the Third Reich committed, made possible by the technology reverse-engineered from the Da’at Yichud: this can be seen in both Eisenwald Prison and the labour camp, where prisoners undergo horrors that mirrors those committed in the Second World War, and even ordinary citizens live in a bleak, totalitarian world. This sort of environment adds an additional dimensional to Wolfenstein: The New Order, giving weight and reason for Blazkowicz to continue his fight against the Nazis. However, players with a penchant for stealth may also listen in on conversations between some of the Nazi soldiers, and contrasting the game’s villains like General Deathshead and Frau Engel, everyone else seems to be ordinary people doing their jobs. Yes, it’s the game’s objectives to kill them and advance, and yes, they’re merely a collection of mesh data and components governing their behaviour, but the fact that Wolfenstein: The New Order is able to get players to pause for a moment and think about things before plunging a knife into a Nazi’s skull attests to the game’s uniqueness compared to other titles.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Fourteen years after the prologue, Blazkowicz mentions that his legs are like jelly, and that he’s got the mother of all headaches, but that doesn’t stop him from taking down Nazis as easily as he did previously. After brutally knifing an officer, the mission profile says that the objective is to rescue Anya. As I make my way through the institution, blood and bodies are everywhere. The scenes of carnage stand in contrast to the vivid colours, suggesting that the institution is a fairly humane place for its patients.

  • Watching the Nazis systemically murder the patients and Anya’s parents is enough to get Blazkowicz back on his feet, and after spending several moments just watching the chaos unfold, it feels good to take control of Blazkowicz and lay down some old-fashioned fisticuffs. I spent most of the first section of the mission sneaking around with a pair of knives, performing takedowns. Eventually, I found a double-barrel shotgun,  and proceeded to blow limbs and heads off all opposition encountered.

  • After a bit more destruction, I finally reach outside; having found the 1960 Assault Rifle, it became vastly easier to clear out more distant foes. This rifle is an improvement over the 1946 version, featuring a larger magazine size and more manageable recoil. The Tesla grenades also make an appearance here; they’re a direct upgrade of the stick grenades seen in 1946 and add EMP capabilities, making them great for anti-mecha engagements.

  • While it’s amusing to gouge holes in, or blow off pieces of the Nazi soldiers with the double-barrel shotgun, this weapon is more appropriate for the drones owing to its high stopping power and spread. The whole colour palette in this scene is unreal: it almost feels like BioShock: Infinite, where beautiful skies and colours are offset by the bloody carnage that the player character will wrought within their environment.

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order is a mix between the serious and comical; after capturing Friedrich Keller, the game prompts players to find “splatter protection”. Moments of humour are infrequent, but their presence suggests that even in a world that has gone down this direction, there are still moments where humour can be applicable.

  • The third mission takes place under rainy skies, as Blazkowicz, Anya and her grandparents make their way to a checkpoint in Szczecin after learning that the captured resistance fighters are held at Eisenwald Prison. Contrary to Keller’s claims about the German forces bringing Blazkowicz and the others to their knees, the checkpoint is passed through smoothly. This mission reminds me somewhat of Metro: Last Light owing to its atmospherics.

  • The “signal detected” indicators on the HUD indicate the presence of enemy commanders: these are the enemies that can summon reinforcements onto the battlefield and make for more frenzied combat. At the higher levels, making use of stealth to approach them and take them out quickly can reduce the probability of death. The id Tech 5 engine is put to excellent use in The New Order, and destruction furthers the weapons’ powerful feel; while I wouldn’t do that here, I’m fairly certain those watermelons can be destroyed.

  • The architecture of interiors in The New Order is one of the reasons I soon came around and began wishing to try the game out; while there are no flak towers to explore like the mission in Sniper Elite 2, the vast concrete structures of the Third Reich nonetheless evoke the architectural style of the flak towers.

  • The New Order may reward players graciously for maintaining a stealthy approach, but like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there are moments where the only option is firepower. Such moments are rare, pitting Blazkowicz against mechanised weapons, and while there are strategies to beating said robots more quickly, the easiest way is to dual-wield weapons and unload on them until they explode.

  • I was not expecting Frau Engel’s pulling Blazkowicz aside to be as suspenseful as it was; on board a train for Berlin, Blazkowicz is asked to perform a “purity test” involving the selection of seemingly random images, and because I was quite unaware that choice makes little impact here, the moments were quite tense, attesting to the amount of effort that went into making these scenes. Regardless of the choices Blazkowicz makes, Frau Engel will note that this was just a game (unless one goes for the gun, which will result in immediate death) and lets him go.

  • Machine Games’ vision of a world where the Third Reich had won is a compelling one; consistent with Nazi architecture, Berlin is a city filled with vast buildings and dreary concrete apartment blocks. Such buildings were supposed to be modeled after the Roman Empire, taking on a style that fuses elements from Neoclassical and Art Deco. Their military installations have a much more utilitarian look to them, and from a personal perspective, I find these buildings to be rather more interesting than the grander structures.

  • The laser cutter adds a new dimension to gameplay: certain areas of the game are blocked off by chain link fences or aluminium gratings and can only be accessed by making use of the laser cutter to clear a path. Battery-operated, the laser cutter must be recharged after usage lest its power runs out, and players must make certain that the openings they cut are large enough to be moved through: there have been some occasions where I created too small of an opening to fit through and ran out of power.

  • Eisenwald Prison is where the captured resistance fighters are kept, and has the highest degree of backtracking in any of the levels in The New Order. I remarked that each level in The New Order is unique, and this refers to the fact that each mission is memorable for its gameplay and setup; this mission is characterised by a relative lack of weapons, and increased emphasis on sneaking around.

  • This scene reminds me of the tunnels in my old junior high school: they led to a vast crawlspace underneath the classrooms, which were dimly-lit and showed signs of deterioration: crumbled concrete littered the floors. We went down there to put some things in storage, but the deeper areas were not used for such owing to their inaccessibility. It’s not something I’ll forget, as it was quite the experience: I did not know that such an area had even existed until that point.

  • I missed one of the upgrades for the laser cutter, which allows it to fire beams that can damage enemies. It’s supposed to be found in this large room filled with coal-fired furnaces. After assassinating all of the soldiers in this room, it’s possible to go around and explore; this is something I’m definitely going to do on my next playthrough of the Fergus timeline.

  • In games, I’ve visited such prisons thrice now, counting The New Order: previous titles to have featured prisons with a central guard tower and a cylindrical block of cells include Metro: Last Light and Battlefield 4. The one that seems like it’s been cared after the best is in The New Order, as the other incarnations feature more run-down locales. Sneaking to the top of this block and freeing Wyatt proved to be easy enough even without the laser cutter upgrade.

  • Once Wyatt is freed, Blazkowicz will have full access to his arsenal again. With a full-scale prison break underway, there’s really no need for stealth. One moment I tried to pull off was to use a pair of Tesla grenades in the same manner as TheRadBrad on the Fire Trooper, as TheRadBrad finds, this is somewhat overkill, reducing the Fire Trooper into a puddle. Care must be taken at the end of this level, since there are auto-turrets that can quickly waste Blazkowicz.

  • While I don’t have too many photos of the Resistance’s hideout, I can say that I love these chapters because it feels like the city hub areas of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions, allowing for players to take a breather in between missions and more importantly, explore some of the history in the fourteen years that Blazkowicz was out. One of my favourite news paper clippings reads that China was able to defeat and push back the Imperial Japanese Army, although would have likely been defeated by the Nazi war machine.

  • The assault on the London Nautica follows after Caroline tasks Blazkowicz to steal a series of top-secret stealth helicopters in the so-called Project Whisper. After Bobby Bram runs an explosives-laden vehicle into the base of the building in a suicide attack, Blazkowicz must navigate the rubble to the entrance. These tactics are prima facie justified against the Third Reich, but from another perspective, what’s done is tantamount to terrorism.

  • The fight inside the London Nautica’s lunar exhibit was one of the most entertaining sections of The New Order this far into the game; under the Nazi’s rule, science and technology are apparently at the forefront of their society, sufficiently so that they’ve even put a man on the moon. The London Nautica may be a leading facility on weapons research, but there’s also a full-fledged museum similar to the Telus Spark Science Center for promoting interest in the sciences.

  • Of course, I’m not here for the learning, and I’m definitely not here to help put on a show about the intricacies of the human brain: no, I’m here to fight my way to the hangers and steal some helicopters, eliminating any opposition in my path. Here, I’m wielding the MG60, a directed energy weapon that slows Blazkowicz down but deals serious damage. Dropped by the ÜberSoldaten, this weapon is an absolute monster and can punch through the aluminium boxes.

  • The AR Marksman rifle is the only scoped weapon in the game, and ammunition for it is extremely limited, but optics, coupled with a long barrel means that this weapon is unparalleled at long range engagements. Like every other weapon save the double-barrel shotgun, the AR Marksman can be dual-wielded, although this confers no practical advantage, owing to the limited ammunition availability and the fact that the weapon is intended to be a precision tool.

  • If one has not already done so, the Da’at Yichud lab at the London Nautica’s upper floors contains numerous health packs that can overcharge Blazkowicz to 300 health, unlocking the regeneration perk, which decreases the time it takes for health to recharge to the next highest multiple of twenty. The Laserkraftwerk can be picked up here, and upon doing so, Blazkowicz will toss away the old laser cutter. The Laserkraftwerk is initially a glorified laser cutter with built-in ranged capability, but when fully upgraded, becomes the single most effective weapon in The New Order, being able to shoot down enemies from behind cover, take down multiple targets at once or even reduce a ÜberSoldaten into chunks of meat and metal in one shot.

  • I kicked off the hanger portion of the game by making extensive use of the silenced pistol and knives to take out the commanders, then switched to more conventional weapons to take out the remaining foes. The wide open spaces in the hanger make it quite suited for the AR Marksman, and one of my favourite aspects about the rifle lies in the fact that the scope is reflective and on closer inspection, mirrors details in the environment.

  • I absolutely love the automatic shotguns and their twenty-round capacity. At close quarters, dual-wielding them is incredibly effective at downing opponents, including the heavy robot. While the Laserkraftwerk is effective at damaging it, the heavy robot possesses a powerful EMP attack that can drain out the Laserkraftwerk’s batteries. At these times, it’s prudent to backpedal and switch to the assault rifles or shotguns, while making use of the Tesla grenades to stun it.

  • After all of the enemies have been cleared out, Caroline and the others appear to help fly the helicopters back to their hideout to end this mission. I stop for one final moment to take a look at the fantastic lighting: the graphics in The New Order are crisp and modern, well-polished enough to substantially contribute to the immersion even if the textures in some places appear a little lower-resolution. I’m not playing the game on full settings because my GPU, for all its power, does not have 3 GB of VRAM.

  • After the heist on the London Nautica, the resistance sets about preparing the new helicopters for their use. Meanwhile, Anya has discovered that the super-concrete the Nazis have been using are decaying, and asks for a sample. While retrieving a saw required to obtain said sample, Blazkowicz falls into the sewers. The only enemies encountered down here are the drones, and the double-barrel shotgun is excellent for shooting them down. The reflection upgrade can be found for the Laserkraftwerk in the sewers, and realising that this is probably one of the more important weapons in the game, I made it a point to find every conceivable upgrade for it.

  • The concrete sample, coupled with information from the archives, sends Blazkowicz to a forced labour camp with the hopes of finding one Set Roth, a living Da’at Yichud member who has been altering the super-concrete’s composition so it would decay over time. The first bit of the mission is highly linear, and Blazkowicz must operate a cement machine. The machine breaks down, and after learning more about Set Roth’s whereabouts, he is captured by The Knife, tortured, and manages to escape certain death.

  • The labour camp level gives a limited insight into the sort of brutality that’s carried over from the Second World War, especially through dialogues with inmates such as Bombate and watching Frau Engel beat another inmate to death. After agreeing to help Set Roth liberate the prisoners, Blazkowicz goes in search of a battery that will give Set control over Herr Faust; the lighting in this level is filled with greys, making it even drearier than Eisenwald Prison, to emphasise the sort of atmosphere at the labour camp.

  • After Set Roth saves Blazkowicz from execution, the player has a chance to partake in some Titanfall style combat, piloting Herr Faust to create a large enough distraction for Set Roth to free the other inmates. The overwhelming firepower conferred by Herr Faust allows Blazkowicz to smash his way through the camp in style, although Frau Engel manages to survive. This is pretty much it for the game’s halfway point, and I’ll make good time towards finishing the remaining half, which I’ll naturally blog about. I’m also surprisingly on schedule right now, so I’ll strive to have the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA out before the month is out.

I’m likely to finish Wolfenstein: The New Order quite quickly a this point; the world Machine Games has built is incredibly compelling, and the gunplay is absolutely solid: there doesn’t need to be any hit markers when I fire, because every successful hit is denoted by visual cues, whether it be the enemy soldier recoiling, bleeding, losing limbs, or in the case of the more powerful weapons, outright exploding into blood and chunks of meat. of course, I needn’t actually do this, since stealth is an equally viable option, and Wolfenstein: The New Order has a system that rewards players for following a certain style, providing perks to facilitate different approaches to the game. It’s mildly ironic, but in a game whose most famous incarnation was characterised by straight-up firefights, I’ve found that stealth is hands down, the best option in Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game’s first half was a slower-paced, modestly linear tour of the world the Nazis have created, and with Blazkowicz set to steal a Nazi U-Boat armed with a nuclear cannon, the second part is going to be a hugely cinematic experience that I cannot wait to experience.

Signs: Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ (Graduation Photo) Movie, Part One Review and Reflection

“I love photography, I love food, and I love traveling, and to put those three things together would just be the ultimate dream.” —Jamie Chung

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a Tamayura review; the site’s archives say that the last time there was a Tamayura review was back in July, when the OVA came out. It’s been just a little less than a year since then; announced a month after the OVA was released, Graduation Photo is a four-part film that was shown in theatres, dealing with Fū, Norie, Kaoru and Maon’s final year of high school as they prepare to graduate and pursue their own career paths. The movie’s first part deals with the girls’ return to their final year, and the new members of Fū’s photography club: Takumi Shindou (a first year) and Suzune Maekawa (a second year) join the club, adding a new flair to things now that Kanae’s graduated. They provide a new dynamic to Fū’s club, given that Takumi’s focussed, technical perspective severs as a counterbalance to Fū and Kanae’s approach towards photography: whereas the latter view photography as a means of capturing the emotions of a moment, Takumi takes a more technical approach, believing that skill is able to produce excellent photos. Despite the different perspectives, Takumi and Suzune fit right in with the photography club, and soon, focus turns towards Fū’s contemplations concerning her future career path. Fū decides that her dream career would be one that combines photography with travel, provided that photos have the potential to link people’s hearts together. The first part of the movie also sheds more light on the Tamayura phenomenon, and how the photo of Fū’s father came to be. The final section of this movie deals with Fū learning about Riho’s plans to leave Takehara to open a gallery with one of her friends. Despite being agitated throughout the movie, a final conversation with Riho puts her at ease, and Fū resolves to wholeheartedly follow her career path.

The final instalment to Tamayura is appropriately one that deals with graduation from high school, and the journey that lies ahead. This is a relatively common theme in anime, one that is widely done because audiences can largely relate to the interface between high school and adulthood. However, Tamayura adds an additional facet to this story: it’s been three years since Fū’s moved back to Takehara, and in this town’s peaceful setting, with the support of all her friends, she’s gradually accepted her father’s passing and has learnt to find joy again. This appreciation of all the small things in life, whether it be the play of light on a sunset, the taste of Norie’s cooking, Maon’s stories or Kaoru’s dynamics with her sister and the journey she shares with everyone. With graduation now approaching, Fū’s got a repertoire of accomplishments under her belt, including successfully leading the Photography club as its president, and hosting two exhibitions to Takehara. However, the journey is only just beginning, and the approach of graduation signals the beginning of one journey as the old one draws to a close. Thus, the Graduation Photo movies follow a Fū whose experiences and friends have allowed her to gather the strength to follow the future that she feels is most appropriate for her.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Tamayura‘s OVAs first aired in September 2010, when I was beginning my second year of my undergraduate studies. I found out about the OVAs during the summer of 2011, and it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched them. Compared to the OVAs of five years ago, it’s obvious that Tamayura‘s become more polished in animation quality and fluidity, even during moments of comedy.

  • While unrelated to Tamayura‘s theme, the progression of animation quality and character design feels quite fitting: like Fū, the animators were working to find their footing during the OVAs, and having had five years to hone their craft, things simply look and feel a lot better as they improved. Quite similarly, Fū’s growth throughout the series has been a rewarding journey to follow, and in her final year of high school, the photography club gains two new members.

  • Takuni is rather more focused about photography and is very familiar with all of the technical aspects; she’s very analytical and desires greatly to learn the secret behind the Tamayura phenomenon, although the Tamayura, small light specks that appear in photos capturing moments of happiness, appear to be supernatural phenomenon, provided that even Fū herself cannot cause them to appear in her photography at will.

  • If the first movie is anything to go by, then it appears that each part of the movie is going to deal with a distinct story that meshes in with the entire part, and movie’s overarching storyline. The first movie’s first part illustrates how things are going with the new member’s induction into the Photography Club, and with Takuni’s spirited personality, it appears that this club is one that’s going to participate in more competitions than previously. While it initially feels like this is disrupting how things’ve been done previously, the pacing means that even Takuni yields to the overall atmosphere within Tamayura as the movie progresses.

  • Maon, Norie and Kaoru seem to sport slightly different appearances in the last installment in the Tamayura series: while it’s most noticeable with Kaoru and her new hairstyle (to signify change), both Norie and Maon also seem to carry themselves slightly differently, hinting at the subtle changes that accompany being in their final year of high school. These changes seem quite pronounced in-universe, and even Norie notices Kaoru’s lack of retorting to the former’s constant calling of the latter “Kao-tan”.

  • Familiar places, such as the Tamayura Café, make a welcome appearance. While there are definite differences with respect to the atmosphere in Graduation Photo, things like Norie’s rivalry with Komachi are still present. Things like these remind viewers of how the old cast interact with one another, and simultaneously illustrate to new audiences the sort of dynamics that one might reasonably expect from the characters within the series.

  • Whether Fū herself is aware of it or not, her own journey towards acceptance and moving on, and the photography she’s done, has inspired several people, including Kanae and Komachi, rather similar to how Riho acted as a role model for Fū during the 2010 OVAs. This kind of cycle of inspiration is a part of Tamayura, and the movie appears to be striving towards bringing things around a full circle to act as a final, satisfying send-off for what has become one of the best iyashikei around.

  • Fū, her mother and grandmother reminisce about the photo showcased at Maestro’s shop: depicting Fū’s father standing in a field surrounded by Tamayura, Fū’s told that she was initially disappointed with how the photo had turned out, but the photo’s composition itself is quite entrancing. Ultimately, it comes to represent the town’s confidence in Fū’s return, signifying everyone’s faith in waiting for her, and consequently, has a great deal of meaning for Takehara’s denizens.

  • Fū’s camera is her most precious treasure, and throughout the entire series, acts as a symbol for her acceptance of the past, making the most of the present and hope for the future. The film means that once an image is captured, all of the attributes in a moments, including the imperfections, are also imbued into the image; this can be seen as illustrating how Fū is able to accept the imperfections, as well as happiness, within a moment, again attesting to her growth after rediscovering her joy for photography.

  • Hoboro, Sayomi and Riho share a moment together under Takehara’s sunset. As the more mature characters in Tamayura, they offer Fū and the others advice and support as required, although for the most part, Sayomi’s adventures wind up being a source of dread for everyone: she’s managed to drive her Mazda 5 into a ditch in ~Hitotose~ and gets some air time in ~More Aggressive~. Despite these misadventures and their misgivings when Sayomi proposes such activities, Fū and the others wind up enjoying things nonetheless.

  • Kanae graduated during the final episodes of ~More Aggressive~ and is a college student at present, majoring in astronomy. The first movie has an emphasis on what things are like post-secondary, and it appears that everyone’s got their own plans: as per the page quote, Fū’s aiming to be a photographer, Norie aspires to take the culinary arts, Maon wishes to major in literature, and Karou’s somewhat uncertain about what she’ll be looking for.

  • Fū, Takumi and Suzune partake in club activities as preparations for the year’s Bamboo festival commence. This is cut short when Takumi and Suzune mention that the overheard discussions about Riho’s plans to leave Takehara, news that agitates Fū. Tamayura excels at presenting moments that evoke emotions in the characters that cannot easily be explained in words, and

  • Chihiro and Tomo visit Takehara for the Bamboo festival; the movie brings back all of the characters from the previous seasons and allows them to interact with one another for the first time. We recall that Tomo is rather talkative and loves asking questions, to the point of intimidating those around her. I watched this movie last Thursday, nearly a month since the air date, and by stroke of coincidence, the Red Wagon Diner was on campus; it’s been quite some time since I’ve had their smoked meat hash, a delicious combination of potato covered in Montreal Smoked Meat, onions, mushrooms, peppers and cheese, topped with a pair of sunny-side up eggs and rye bread. The last time I enjoyed this was while reviewing Sora no Method with a cold, and it was just before my supervisor went on sabbatical.

  • Tomo seems to get along just fine with Takumi: whereas the former loves asking questions, the latter loves giving answers. I suddenly realise that my posting pattern’s been all over the place as of late, and this is a consequence of my settling into the summer, as research kicks up full-speed. Over the past week, I’ve been learning the ins and outs of the Unreal Engine, and have finally re-implemented most of the features from my Unity model. The next step will be to build a path interpolation mechanism and some prototype signalling pathways to demonstrate the reusability of my methods.

  • However, it’s not all business: I also had the opportunity to attend a Nerd Nite in my area, and on Friday, I had dinner at Big T’s BBQ; this year, I decided against visiting Otafest, and instead, decided to celebrate the successful implementation of several key elements of my simulation by having a full rack of St. Louis-style ribs with Maple Bourbon sauce, hush puppies and chili cheese fries. It was delicious, although in that food challenge, the hush puppies defeated me. Next time, I’ll probably go with steamed vegetables, or a half-rack.

  • Takumi appears to be adverse to being photographed, preferring to photograph, instead, and that leads to a rather amusing, though awkward, number of interactions between her and the parade’s viewers. On Sunday, I headed out on a day trip to the mountains, and although the morning was quite cloudy, the weather cleared up after an Angus burger lunch, and we took a hike on a quiet trail before returning home for a prime-rib dinner.

  • Kanae was coerced into fortune-telling at Sayomi’s hands, with Norie and Kaoru expressing disinterest in doing the same. While Fū’s got a propensity to append nano de (なので, lit “it is so”) to the end of her sentences, Kanae tends to say things twice especially when nervous, evoking Jacob Two Two’s speech patterns. I treat fortune-telling as good fun, but ultimately, unless it’s free, I tend to pass. Today, I spent a fair portion at IKEA: my ten-year-old desk lamp was cracking at the base, and I bought a new LED one. It illuminates a smaller area than my old halogen lamp, but has the region it lights is more luminous. Having arrived around the lunch hour, I had a hearty plate of fish and chips at IKEA’s cafe, as well; a year ago, I’d just come home from shopping, having purchased a new watch and proceeded to watch the finale of Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn: time really flies.

  • After Fū and Riho share a conversation, the former learns that the latter was also feeling quite agitated about not being able to tell Fū that she’s planning on leaving Takehara to help a friend open a gallery. This conversation puts both Fū and Riho at ease, and Fū finds the resolve to go into a career that involves both photography and travel. It is respectable that Fū has found her career interests, being inspired by the desire to bring people together through photography. This has been something that Fū’s been impressed by since ~More Aggressive~, where she learns that photography has brought her closer with a couple who owns a bed and breakfast.

  • With this conflict resolved, the first movie draws to an end. It is relaxing in the same manner as its predecessors, although the movie does stand out on virtue of introducing new conflicts for the characters, and then managing to capitalise on the series’ overall calming atmosphere to lead the characters to a solution. The next movie is going to come out in August, and unlike this first movie, which I only reviewed a month-and-a-half after release, I’ll try to be more timely with the next one. With that being said, I believe that this here talk is still the most sizable collection of screenshots around at the time of writing.

  • Fū and company wave goodbye to Chihiro and Tomo, who are leaving Takehara for home. It’s an appropriate close to the movie and this post. At present, I’m largely caught up with the Spring 2015 anime, and will spend the next post talking about Wolfenstein: The New Order after half of the game was beaten. After that will come a talk on the Ano Natsu de Matteru OVA, and a reflection of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan-chan at the ten-episode mark. Research is going to pick up, and I’ve got my advanced road exam coming up, so posting will resume after the exam concludes.

With the first part now over, part two (titled Hibike, translated as “Sounds” or “Echoes”) will see release late in August. I’m naturally looking forwards to this, having followed Tamayura since ~Hitotose~ was aired back in Fall 2011. While seemingly a calming slice-of-life anime, Tamayura as a whole weaves an uncommonly intricate story that deals with a variety of topics that are a part of life, and Graduation Photo is no different. Though a new installation in Tamayura, Graduation Photo act as a blend of the unfamiliar and familiar, bringing new characters in to liven up the inter-character dynamics while retaining largely the original casts’ defining features. Thus, Graduation Photo is reasonably accessible to those who’ve not seen Tamayura before, although all of the subtle aspects would be more appreciable for viewers that are completely caught up in the series. There’s a little more than three months before the next part is screened at theatres in Japan, which is ample time to watch the original four OVAs, ~Hitotose~, ~More Aggressive~ and all of the OVAs associated with their respective seasons.

RWBY: Season One Review and Reflection

“As a girl, I wanted to be just like those heroes in the books; someone who fought for what was right, and protected people who couldn’t protect themselves!” —Ruby Rose

I took up RWBY on a request from one of my readers: going in, I knew that this was a fantasy series directed by Monty Oum set in Remnant, a world where mankind is pit against monsters known as the Grimm, making use of a resource known as Dust to fuel their weapons and powers. The series is named after Team RWBY (Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang), the main protagonists of the series. Ruby is admitted to the Beacon Academy, where youth are trained to be huntsman and huntresses, and after the first season, characters are established, and sufficient world-building has occurred to set the stage for a thrilling adventure. This adventure feels quite familiar (in fact, resembling Soul Eater upon first glance), although soon, it becomes clear that Remnant is a unique world with its own selling points. When all of these elements come together, the result is a series where viewers can quickly get into the story. This would be a strong point, but the episode’s shorter length somewhat constrains the series’ flow: RWBY is quite simply fantastic, and longer episodes would allow RWBY to tell a compelling story on par with full-budget series.

One season in, the main story in RWBY deals with the formation of Team RWBY and the other teams at Beacon Academy. One of the elements that I absolutely love seeing in any series is to follow how a particular team or group comes together, and this is especially rewarding when said team has a rocky start. At the series’ beginning, Ruby and Weiss do not get along at all, but after working together in their first trial, and after sharing conversations with some of the instructors, both Ruby and Weiss are able to accept their respective roles in Team RWBY. Quite similarly, Blake and Weiss do not get along well owing to their perceptions of the Faunus and White Fang groups, and it takes a bit of time for both to reconcile. The construction of each of the teams in RWBY illustrate that, for all of their differences in background, experience and beliefs, the huntsmen and huntresses in training at Beacon academy must learn to overcome these differences to combat much larger threats presented by the Grimm, White Fang and the organisation that Roman Torchwick appears to be working for.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I did not imagine that RWBY would have enough content to accommodate a full-sized post, but attesting to this web series’ quality, there’s plenty to talk about. The series opens with Jen Taylor (Cortana of Halo) providing exposition to this world, similar to Cate Blanchette’s opening monologue as Lord of the Rings‘ Lady Galadriel. This introduction immediately gives viewers a sense of what’s happening, and in stories that involve a fantasy element, such expositions become quite important. Ruby Rose is the protagonist of RWBY, and is one of the few scythe-wielders. Her first appearance involves her fighting Roman’s men after they rob a dust store.

  • Ruby’s ability with a scythe impress Professor Ozpin of the Beacon academy, and she is admitted as a student two years in advance of the minimum age. She’s excitable and loves weapons; here, she is with her older half-sister, Yang. Yang is hot-headed and wields two shotgun gauntlets into battle. I was disheartened to hear that Monty Oum had passed away, but his efforts and talents won’t be forgotten: RWBY is a fine series.

  • Ruby runs into Jaune Arc, a  sword and shield user whose relatively low combat capability is offset by is skill as a tactician. He forged his transcripts to enter Beacon, in the hopes of living up to his great-great-grandfather’s reputation as a huntsman, and as such, is unfamiliar with many aspects of combat. I’ve only just finished the first season: the second’s already out, and a third is supposed to come out at some point, so I wonder whether or not he’ll improve with the passage of time.

  • Weiss Schnee is the heiress to the Schnee Dust company, a major organisation involved in dust mining and production. As per her appearance, she’s very cold and insufferable, getting off to a poor start with Ruby after the latter accidentally knocks her luggage over. The sort of start is quite familiar, and while such an element is commonly used in media as a trope, seeing how different series allow their characters to eventually cooperate and care for one another via different experiences is quite rewarding.

  • Pyrrha Nikos (left) is a highly capable combatant who wields a combination rifle/javelin/xiphos weapon and can also control magnetism, and in spite of her accomplishments, is quite friendly. In spite of this, her reputation means that most have a difficult time befriending her because they feel that she’s in a separate league and would not be interested in friendship. On a rather unrelated note, this here post is not classified as anime because RWBY was not made in Japan, and because it’s the first time I’ve reviewed a web series, I’ll stick it under “General Discussion” for the present.

  • The ursa are giant bear-like Grimm. The new students must pass an initiation in the Emerald Forest, which involves moving through the forest, collecting a chess piece and making it to the rally point. Yang demonstrates here that she’s got an FPS_Doug-like tendency to fly into a rage whenever she sustains any sort of damage.

  • By sheer stroke of fate, Weiss and Ruby encounter one another, and fight off several Grimm en route to the destination. One of the aspects I absolutely love is the attention to detail: Ruby’s scythe doubles as an anti-materiel rifle, and some of the rounds she uses can be seen mounted to her belt.

  • Pyrrha and Juane explore a cave to see whether or not their objectives are in there, but they awaken a massive Deathstalker, a scorpion-like Grimm and are forced to flee. Owing to their setting in a fantasy world, and both their protagonists’ skills with the scythe, RWBY has been compared with, and crossed-over with Soul Eater. An action-adventure anime under the shounen genre, Soul Eater does not appear to be something that I’d watch, but my curiosity eventually led me to decide that this might be an anime I could enjoy.

  • Consequently, I will be watching Soul Eater, although whether or not I blog about it will be left to whether or not the readers would be interested in checking out my interpretation of this anime. Back outside, Ruby and the others face off against the Deathstalker, as well as the Nevermore, a crow-like Grimm. Their combined firepower is insufficient to simultaneously down the two monstrosities, but eventually, Ruby, Blake, Weiss and Yang devise a plan to take down the Nevermore, while Juane, Nora, Lie Ren and Pyrrha take on the Deathstalker.

  • The only caveat in RWBY is the fact that the episodes are quite short, with the longer ones clocking in at around 12-15 minutes; this leads to numerous cliffhangers that, while successful in building anticipation for the next episode, also disrupts the flow to some extent. As the only real downside, I was superbly impressed by how well Rooster Teeth were able to craft such a world and create characters that viewers could care about.

  • After initiation and the formation of teams, Ruby and the others settle in to life at Beacon Academy. Many anime style features make their way into RWBY, and consequently, RWBY does feel very much like an anime, whether it be things like character personalities or the artistic styles so prevalent in anime (such as use of Chibis to depict exceptionally excited characters). However, the use of English means that there are some jokes (such as Ruby’s remark that she doesn’t need people to help her grow) that work particularly well because the audience is inherently familiar with the subtleties of North American culture.

  • Professor Ozpin and Glynda Goodwitch observe Ruby and the others running to class. The former is the headmaster of Beacon and, similar to Harry Potter‘s Dumbledore, is widely respected and highly competent in their roles as headmaster. Glynda is an instructor at Beacon and first encountered Ruby fighting with Roman’s men. Her mannerisms and appearance is how I imagine Otafest June to be.

  • Weiss complains to Professor Peter Port, an instructor and veteran huntsman. Despite his tendency to recount his own experiences, he’s a capable instructor and expresses trust in Ozpin’s decision to have made Ruby the leader of Team RWBY. He tells Weiss that her role is not to worry about what the leader does, but instead, focus on being at the top of her game at all times such that she never lets herself and her team down.

  • Weiss and Ruby eventually reconcile, and the next arc deals with Juane’s revelation that he forged his transcripts to get into Beacon, as well as his being bullied by Cardin. The conflicts that occur amongst the characters illustrate a sort of realism in that, given that the teams have not properly fought together yet, there is still some conflicts amongst the students at Beacon. Thus, overcoming this and unifying themselves against the Grimm and other factions becomes of utmost importance to the students, and it is this journey that the first season of RWBY depicts.

  • The spread of images I have for my discussion is uneven, and here, after refusing to yield to Team CRDL’s demands to toss a jar of sap at Pyrrha. CRDL is led by Cardin Winchester, an archetypal bully, and their actions eventually lead Juane to stand up for himself. Despite his low combat skills, with some help from Pyrrha, he manages to defeat an Ursa that overcame Cardin.

  • As Vale prepares for the Vytal Festival, Team RWBY hangs around and explores. They encounter a monkey-like Faunus, and Weiss expresses an interest in observing him, as well as a crime scene, where another dust store was broken into. Ruby believes that Roman Torchwick might be responsible, and while he’s seen here and there, besides the opening robbery, he’s not seen again until the finale of the first season.

  • On the hunt for the Faunus, Team RWBY runs into Penny, a seemingly oblivious girl, and despite the others’ protests, Ruby decides that they could be friends. It’s surprising as to how well the simplified white eyes can depict shock or surprise even in a CG environment, and after hearing Ruby’s response, every one else falls over. Anime-style expressions are effective at depicting reactions in a visual manner, and I remarked long ago that this expressiveness is one of the reasons why anime is appealing to me.

  • Blake turns out to be a Faunus, animal-human hybrids that were persecuted and discriminated against. She was one a member of the White Fang, until the group turned into radicals, and is at unease with her background, hence her uncharacteristic reaction to Weiss’ comments. Blake and Weiss later reconcile after the former is found, suggesting that for the most part, Team RWBY can be considered to be a single unit.

  • Sun Wukong is a member of the Haven Academy and is the Faunus that Team RWBY encountered earlier. Blake runs into him and the two decide to take a closer look at the dust shipment coming in. They learn that White Fang is working with Roman, and get into a confrontation when Blake attempts to interrogate Roman to learn more about this unusual partnership. I love all of the Chinese-style names seen in RWBY, and their allusions to Chinese mythology or heritage.

  • Despite her appearance, Penny is a highly skilled combatant who uses funnel-like weapons in combat; she single-handedly forces the White Fang and Roman to retreat. With this fight over, and Team RWBY fully accepting of one another, the first season draws to a close, and I will be watching the second season at a much more casual pace. With this here post now over, I will be looking to get a Tamayura: Sotsugyou Shashin (Graduation Photo) out quite soon, as well as a talk on the whole of Wolfenstein: The New Order.

From a technical perspective, RWBY is nothing short of impressive; the superb animation and fight scenes can be attributed to skillful use of the Poser 3D Animation Software, meaning that the series looks and feels fantastic during both the quieter moments, as well as the combat sequences. The sound and dubbing is also of a high calibre; RWBY might be a web series, but the production is well-polished, to the extent that some viewers initially thought that this was a CG anime and wondered where the “original” Japanese dubs were (the actuality is no secret: the original series was done in English). Taken together, RWBY demonstrates that armed with sufficient skill in the technical aspects, and the creativity to envision a world rich in lore, it is quite possible to produce exceptional web series that captivates the viewers as effectively as any series with a full budget.

Summer 2015 Anime

We’re about halfway into the Spring 2015 anime season now, and insofar, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the shows I’ve been following thus far. After sitting down to a fantastic dinner of bacon wrapped filet mignon with prawns and a fully-loaded baked potato tonight, I realised that we’re now around halfway into May, and therefore, also halfway into the Spring 2015 season. This far into the game, one must wonder… as the days lengthen and sunshine becomes an increasingly welcome guest in our days, which anime catches mine eye?

  • This is the earliest iteration of the anime chart out there, and typically, I do not update the chart unless something dramatic changes. Clicking on it brings up the full-sized version, and effective as of this preview, I’m going to go back and remove old anime charts more than a year old to conserve on storage space.

There is a single anime that immediately pops out: Non Non Biyori Repeat, which I will be following with great interest. Beyond this, there’s also Sore ga SeiyuuWakaba * Girl, Danchigai, and Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Takakaeri. From the OVA end of things, the second episode of Tamayura: Graduation Photo will be airing in late August, and an Angel Beats! special. Taifuu no Noruda is a movie that looks quite interesting, as well, although being a movie, it’s likely that I won’t view it until next year, once the home release comes out. Of this list of anime (barring the OVAs), I’ll be blogging about only about Non Non Biyori Repeat and one other title (either by request, or by inverse frequency). This could change as I revise the list of anime I plan on watching, but at present, I feel that the pleasant summer days would be better spent strolling along the riverside, driving to the mountains for a day trip or enjoying St. Louise-style ribs and chilli cheese fries à la Adam Richman of Man v. Food, hence the projected reduction in blogging.

Non Non Biyori Repeat

The second season of Non Non Biyori follows Hotaru Ichijou and her friendss’ daily lives in Asahigaoka, a remote and peaceful country village in Japan.

  • I’ve been waiting quite some time for this: the first season was an excellent anime that proved quite relaxing to watch, depicting an idyllic life in the countryside free of the pressures and stresses associated with living in urban areas. Non Non Biyori is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, so back in December, I took a look at the later chapters and speculated on what the second season could cover. Even with a rough knowledge of what could happen, animated adaptations have access to audio-visual elements that enhance the different events and moments, so in spite of this a priori knowledge, I’m certain that the second season will entertain and impress. As the only one of two anime I’ll likely blog as episodes are released, Non Non Biyori will follow the same format as Kantai Collection, with a total of five posts (one for the first episode, and one after every third episode subsequently).

Terror in Resonance: Review and Reflection

“It is almost always the cover-up rather than the event that causes trouble.” —Howard Baker

An offering from the Summer 2014 season, Terror in Resonance (Zankyou no Terror) is a thriller set in present-day Tokyo, following Detective Kenjirou Shibazaki of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the two youth, known only as Nine and Twelve and calling themselves “Sphinx”, who are responsible for a series of terror attacks in the Tokyo area. After managing to solve the Sphinx’s riddles, Shibazaki delves deeper into the mystery behind Sphinx and learn that they were once a part of Project Athena, a top-secret government initiative that aimed to produce super-intelligent individuals. Sphinx’s objective was to grab the headlines, and through their riddles, pull a worthy investigator to unearth this past. However, both Sphinx and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police are troubled by the FBI’s decision to involve themselves in the case: with them come Five, another individual with origins in this test program. A harrowing game of cat-and-mouse, and in the end, Five perishes after confessing her feelings for Nine, while Shibazaki finally solves Sphinx’s motivations for their bombing and Project Athena is ultimately uncovered, fulfilling Sphinx’s objectives.

Terror in Resonance presents two terrorists whose objectives are political in nature, and whose modus operandi is unusual compared to most contemporary forms of terrorism; rather than maximising casualties, Nine and Twelve plan their hits to maximise psychological impact to catch the authorities’ attention. Once Shibazaki draws this conclusion and begins an off-the-books investigation of Project Athena, Terror in Resonance shifts thematically towards the idea that even if an immoral project could be successfully covered up or dismissed, the consequences themselves may linger. Terror in Resonance also touches on human experimentation and an off-the-books nuclear weapons programme as such projects, and use Five, Nine and Twelve to illustrate that the results of said projects have come back to haunt its creators. This might be a very subtle reminder of one perspective on Imperial Japan’s own involvement in human experimentation back during the Second Sino-Japanese War (most infamously, in the Harbin area of China, where Unit 731 was stationed), and while the perpetrators were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for data, it remains a very controversial topic. When everything is said and done, Terror in Resonance suggests that in general, past atrocities could very well mark an unwelcome return in the future, necessitating that justice be dealt accordingly to minimise any trouble future generations may encounter as a result.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Here’s a bit of a fun fact: this post has been sitting as a draft for quite some time, primarily because of the fact that it was quite difficult to come up with the figure captions for each image. It’s done now, but owing to the fact that it’s been nearly a year since I first saw this, I cannot vividly recall all of the details. However, I’ve done my best to keep this post up to my usual standards: this one was requested by one of my readers, and although I’d watched Terror in Resonance, I was not sure if I would write about it.

  • Thus, if there are points I have not covered in my discussion, feel free to drop a comment or two below. These unidentified individuals turn out to be Nine and Twelve, the principle members of Spinx; the former is a secretive young man with a bright mind and calm demeanor, while the latter is childish but skillful at operating vehicles. For brevity’s sake, I’ll refer to Nine and Twelve as Spinx from here on out.

  • Spinx’s first attack evokes imagery of the September 11 attacks on New York, although there are numerous differences, most noticeably, that Sphinx’s planning results in no casualties. Their continued adherence to this means that it becomes apparent even early on that Sphinx are no ordinary terrorists, and therefore, must be embarking on such actions to attract attention, and perhaps a mind capable of piecing the clues together to solve their puzzle. I’ve got a friend who enjoys employing puzzles and dropping clues for his followers to solve regarding an online series, and while I consider myself reasonably capable of solving his puzzles, I usually only do a few of them, given that my occupation isn’t to solve them.

  • Kenjirou Shibazaki is the a member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department who used to be part of the police force’s investigations division, but now works for its records division after an incident several years ago. With an uncommonly good eye for riddles, as well as ancient Greek and Egyptian narratives, he plays a critical role in acting as a foil to Spinx. The allusions to The Tragedy of Oedipus Rex and obscure Japanese cultural relics is brilliant, although those unfamiliar with them may find their mention to be quite obfuscating in places.

  • A part of the brilliance in Terror in Resonance is the fact that Spinx’s initial motivation seems completely haphazard and irrational: why would anyone perpetrate a terrorist attack while deliberately employing means to keep casualties to an absolute minimum? This approach thus forces the audience to wonder, and in doing so, builds their curiosity to see how the story unfolds.

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD from here on out) holds its meetings in a room reminiscent of the one that was last seen in Death Note. I consider Terror in Resonance to be remarkably similar to Death Note on its initial premise, with uncommonly good minds squaring off against one another, orphans playing a major role within the story and the FBI’s eventual involvement. However, Terror in Resonance also does numerous things well that Death Note was unable to, and consequently, the pacing and focus in Terror in Resonance means that I consider it to have a superior execution relative to Death Note.

  • The American involvement with the Spinx case foreshadows their interest in the missing plutonium, and might be interpreted as a commentary on the Japanese perspective on American influence within their country: the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan states that America may continue to maintain a military presence in Japan and has an obligation to provide full support in the event of any domestic conflict.

  • While such a treaty has led the Abe administration to act belligerently, some Japanese residents (especially those in Okinawa) are opposed to the American presence, citing the military as polluting the coral reefs in the area and producing excessive noise. Other Japanese citizens believe that having the Americans provide armed defense minimises the Japanese need to remilitarise. The artwork in Terror in Resonance is quite impressive, making use of both vivid colours and a consistent palette to bring out the moods in each scene.

  • I won’t go too much further into my views on the political landscape in Japan and return the conversation to Terror in Resonance. Five is an American FBI agent sent as part of the team to apprehend Sphinx, but her methods are dubious in both manner and efficacy. She has a personal connection with Sphinx, originating from the same program as they did, and treats their pursuit largely as an unfinished game from their childhood days.

  • Thus, a chess game Five orchestrates turns into a potentially deadly situation, and the roles are suddenly reversed as Sphinx finds themselves racing against time to locate Five’s bomb. Terror in Resonance does not do much to provoke thought per se, since its message is quite clear: most “thought-provoking” anime must be those that are open-ended enough to encourage discussions, and things like Death Note would hold a small edge in this department, given that it plays out as a thought experiment.

  • As the series wears on, Shibazaki’s persistence into his own off-the-books investigation of Sphinx and the eventual reveal of the Athena Project leads him to be suspended from duty. Undeterred, he pushes on in his investigation, and several of his subordinates risk their own positions to help him reach the bottom of the mystery. Shibazaki’s persistence soon pays off, and all of the pieces, including those past moments that haunt him, fall into play: the Athena Project was a human experimentation project that aimed at increasing human intelligence, but unlike the SPARTAN II project, was not successful and scrapped.

  • Five’s efforts to undermine and intimidate Sphinx become increasingly brazen: following the airport incident, Lisa is captured and strapped to explosives. Against Nine’s wishes to carry out their plan properly, Twelve rushes out to save Lisa: Lisa’s played a minor role throughout Terror in Resonance, and initially encounters Sphinx owing to her own challenges. However, whether it be the series’ relatively short length or plot direction, Lisa winds up being the age-old “damsel in distress” whose presence is comparatively inconsequential.

  • After saving Lisa, Twelve takes Lisa to an amusement park. Elsewhere, Nine decides to turn himself into the police, and reveals that he had stolen not plutonium, but a prototype nuclear device from the Aomori complex. With his plans crumbling before his eyes, he plans to detonate the weapon above Tokyo.

  • The romance element in Terror in Resonance feels extraneous, and Five’s actions contradict her words from earlier; while jarring, it’s quite possible that this is done to show that despite their augmentations, the orphans from the Athena Project lack a proper set of social skills and have a difficult time expressing how they feel to one another, which could explain their prima facie irrational decisions and actions.

  • With Spinx’s final message, the finale was quite a fitting ending to the series. Shibazaki, with Haruka’s help, quickly deduces that Sphinx’s non-killing practises are likely to be still in effect and predicts that the nuclear weapon is to be detonated aerially, generating a massive EMP wave that would disable all electronics.

  • In the final moments before detonation, air traffic controllers scramble to land all airborne aircraft, and a squadron of JSDF F-15 fighters is launched to assess the situation, but lacking the means to stop the explosion, the F-15s are pulled from the airspace, as well. The final moments before detonation is marked by some of the tensest moments in the anime.

  • With the buildings on the ground providing an approximate scale, I estimate the fireball to have a radius of up to 600 meters, which would roughly correspond to a maximum yield of 310 kilotons. As an airburst detonation, the fireball does not touch the ground, which dramatically reduces the fallout on the ground.

  • In the detonation’s aftermath, Lisa, Twelve and Nine flee Tokyo, returning to the orphanage where Twelve and Nine once lived. With their message out, they’re free to relax a little and conduct themselves as youth would, immediately setting about playing ball and messing around with a hose in Terror in Resonance‘s most light-hearted moments.

  • Unfortunately, this is short-lived, as American forces show up and executes Twelve to cover up the incident. Nine succumbs to his headache moments later, but their deaths were not in vein, as Shibazaki aided them in revealing the truth behind the Athena Project to the world, leaving the Japanese government under scrutiny. Such an ending is decidedly optimistic, and while unlikely in light of the current political landscape, Terror in Resonance might be interpreted that the possibility of Japan publicly acknowledging and fully apologising for their actions during the Second Sino-Japanese War nonetheless exists.

  • In the year that passes, Lisa and Shibazaki become more familiar with one another and regularly visits Five, Nine and Twelve’s graves. Lisa reveals that VON is Icelandic for “hope”. This here post is now finished, and up next will be a the Summer 2015 season preview, as well as a talk on RWBY.

Stepping away from my thoughts on Terror in Resonance‘s theme (this seems to differ between viewers, as some find it to be a commentary on the dangers of nuclear power), and more onto a general perspective on the anime as a whole, Terror in Resonance stands out from the other titles I’ve seen with respect to the direction and structuring. Each episode serves to build tension and suspense, whether it be what Nine and Twelve’s next moves are, or Shibazaki’s choices as he moves closer towards the truth behind Project Athena. These two aspects come together in a haunting finale that answers all the questions and wraps up the series in a highly satisfying manner, and with that, I am quite inclined to say that this is a thriller done correctly, given that all of the pieces fall neatly into place. This anime is something that’s fairly easy to recommend to a general audience, and captivates its audience through suspense and anticipation, even where the characterisation feels limited.