July 2014 was a very hot time as we were in the middle of a memorable year for anime. 2014 was the year we got Tokyo Ghoul and Parasyte anime, but it’s also the year we got the cold but brilliant Watanabe Shinichiro thriller, Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance). The series was quite well-received, with its gritty feel and interesting plot, characters, and brilliant soundtrack. Zankyou no Terror’s themes of vengeance, terrorism, lost identity and hope make it quite the rollercoaster of a watch despite it being a mere eleven episodes long; however, something interesting happens when you consider it something like a cousin of the 2005 dystopian political thriller V for Vendetta...
Zankyou no Terror follows the activities of a pair of teenage terrorists who identify themselves only as “Sphinx”. The two upload videos of themselves as Sphinx, challenging the police to solve a host of complex riddles and threatening to cause widespread destruction across Tokyo. Things get a little complex when Twelve, one of the two boys behind Sphinx, ends up taking high schooler Mishima Lisa with him on their journey as a co-conspirator. His partner Nine disapproves; however, the two have a tragic mission to complete.
V For Vendetta is based on the DC/Vertigo comic series set in an alternate reality world that has been ravaged by war and disease; a world where the United Kingdom is under the rule of a totalitarian, neo-fascist regime that “removes” all who are considered undesirable. A vigilante in a Guy Fawkes mask going by the name “V” rescues British Television Network employee Evey Hammond from members of the police. V plans on demolishing the Old Bailey, one of the major courts in London. Letting Evey in on his greater plan, V keeps her at his home for a year as the British government continues to pursue them. So, what do these titles have in common?
Masked Vigilantes Causing Terror
The first similarity is the fact that in both Zankyou no Terror and V for Vendetta, the main characters are individuals who present themselves to the public donning masks. V wears the iconic Guy Fawkes mask, an element that highlights his ideological standpoint as well as the symbolism of anarchy in the film. Zankyou no Terror mirrors this with the masks of Nine and Twelve, although the masks themselves seem to be something akin to Power Rangers rather than historical figures, a nod towards their ideals and belief that they are heroes. The other similarity is with how both Sphinx and V use the channels of communication generally used to disseminate information in the public realm to push their threats of destruction.
V For… What??
The opening scene of Zankyou no Terror features the masked Nine and Twelve stealing a prototype atomic bomb in a terrorist attack. The scene ends with them tagging the scene of the crime in red spray paint with a cryptic message: “VON”. The scene is strikingly similar to the spray-painted V symbol that becomes synonymous with the character and the rebellion in the V for Vendetta film. There is also the fact that the characters of Zankyou no Terror have abandoned their names, using the codenames they were given while they were institutionalized, much like V did with his own name, fashioning the moniker from his cell number. Funny enough, Zankyou no Terror has its own “V” – she goes by the codename “Five”. “VON” is Icelandic for “hope”, solidifying the series’ position as a multilayered story, as well as Nine and Twelve’s position as displaying their own brand of activism.
Both sets of protagonists have a grudge against the system for allowing and even championing their suffering while also covering it up from the mainstream public. Zankyou no Terror’s Nine and Twelve were taken in as orphans with Savant syndrome by the Rising Peace Academy and experimented on with the intention of creating human weapons. V on the other hand, was experimented on in his time as an inmate at Larkhill Resettlement Camp, one of the concentration camps run by the British government where people were put through horrific experiments. All of the prisoners in the experiment die except for the man in Room 5, who is known to the audience as “V” as a testament to his extensive suffering in prison.
Another interesting similarity is how in both universes, the object of the main characters’ revenge (the institution) burns down prior to the events of the story, leading to their escape. Above that, the main characters in both cases are directly responsible for the blaze that burnt down their respective institution, using the increased intelligence and superhuman abilities they developed as a result of the experimentation in order to hit back at their antagonists.
Mishima Lisa is Zankyou no Terror’s tritagonist who joins the efforts of Nine and Twelve as she feels a connection to their disillusionment with the world. Lisa comes from a broken family and suffers bullying at school due to her introversion. She first meets Nine and Twelve when they save her from bullies, which is similar to V for Vendetta’s Evey being saved from the secret police on her first meeting with V. These interactions prove to be the start of the rest of these characters’ lives as they find themselves siding with people who are considered terrorists, developing special relationships with these unusual characters.
In a similar fashion, Zankyou no Terror and V for Vendetta end in the death of their mysterious main characters and the other protagonists witness their deaths. Evey’s journey throughout the film sets her up to be the type of incendiary force that V had been in his own life after initially being protected by her. This is similar to how Nine and Twelve had initially tried to protect Lisa from their tragedy; however, her involvement served to showcase her courage and perseverance, turning her into “Sphinx No. 3”, much like V’s psychological and physical torture became the catalyst for Evey’s development into the new “V”.
Zankyou no Terror and V for Vendetta have immense similarities and are both interesting depictions of rebellion against “the order” and have an unmistakable link between them when compared. Both go as highly recommended works of fiction and are definitely worth the time. Had you noticed these parallels? Are there other similarities between these works that we might’ve missed? Drop a comment below and tells us what you think!