Being an amazing anime, I’ve given Zankyou no terror a ton of praise. Enough of that which I feel is so well-deserved, though a bit overwhelming. Honestly, I hadn’t delved too much into the opening aside from acknowledging the amazing song, but upon rewatching it, I decided to pay more attention at the incredulous amounts of detail that this beauty of an opening holds. Additionally, there is a ton of key information about the anime that comes with the understanding of its opening.
I know an article isn’t exactly the most reliable way of reviewing a short introduction piece by piece, but I will do my best to point out the utter brilliance of the opening.
Often, we discount the importance of openings. Take it as a minute or two break to do something else before the actual show begins. In actuality, its purpose is to draw you into the anime, more often than not upon seeing or hearing a great opening we are drawn to watching a show, especially if we see elements in it or characters that we are already drawn to. I know I’ve experienced this upon hearing Hikaru Nara, Shigatsu wa Kimi No Osu’s opening for the first time.
The thing about Zankyou no Terror is that personally, I found the opening so abstract. It gave me an off feeling about the anime; it seemed so oddly serene for a so-called destructive anime about terrorists, bombs, and all that. Serene reverberated through each frame in contrast to the wonderful first episode, when we dive into the destruction and are introduced to our main characters.
Trigger — performed by the Japanese band Galileo Galilei, it is an overwhelmingly mellow tune that accentuates the entirety of the opening. It’s beautiful and accompanies the soft imagery perfectly. The lyrics to it foreshadow the series and are volumes deep; the more you analyze it the more you see. I’ll be tackling the lyricism later on. The song is very light-hearted, yet sinister once you look into the lyrics. It’s the type of dark song masked with soft whimsical tunes, which is comparable to the nature of the characters in Zankyou no Terror itself.
Upon a closer look, the ‘abstract’ imagery and serene feeling that the opening gave truly contrasts the show, the sharp images, the bright colors that would fade into dark shades in the scenes of terror. The surreal, washed out colors in the opening are so much more than just ‘off’ feelings. It’s how you picture it.
At a quick look, the opening in its position in each episode is a breakaway from the mayhem that occurs; with all the investigation, whirring police sirens and drizzling allure of paranoia and fear all-around. Short and sweet just like the anime and characters itself, it is ultimately designed to show the other side to an anime about destruction. It is designed for the sake of bringing importance to what is lacking within these characters and their desires; the serenity and normality that such a rapid, destructive life did not allow for them.
With that, I’ll be speaking about the symbolism found in an opening that seemingly doesn’t match with such a dark show — when in reality, it brings out what is hidden. It brings out the parts of Zankyou no Terror that are obscured amidst the array of fog, bombs, deafening light blasts and more. It brings out the nature of the series, that these aren’t just terrorists. They are so much more.
Looking into the opening as a whole, and as if I haven’t given it enough praise yet — it’s a perfect contrast to what you would expect from such an anime. Stark action scenes, destruction and explosions, fleeting scenes of people scurrying away due to the terror of Sphinx’s reign, but this isn’t the case. We are presented with hazy colors, surreal visuals and abstract imagery. In fact, there is not a single scene of any ‘terror’ occurring at all. The opening greets you with what is mostly visuals of Tokyo, our main characters, plus Detective Shibazaki and Lisa, with hints of Five in the ever-changing seamless background that overlays the main scenes at a lot of points. In fact, the only form of ‘destruction’ we see is the personal destruction of our terrorists, not the actions that they have done themselves; not the bombings or whatsoever.
The opening does not mark the conception of destruction, it shows the bittersweet downfall of Nine and Twelve. Throughout the show itself, we are only given a glimpse at their nature — as characters, there is honestly not much to see in them. They can be compressed into words that describe their personalities. Stoic, aloof, mysterious, kind-hearted, and for the other; playful, needy, energetic, compassionate — both complete geniuses as well. More importantly, their character falls into their actions throughout the series. Their motives, the actions behind the bombings, the interaction with Lisa and even Five, their need for Shibazaki and his validation. Their lives are essentially compressed into eleven episodes because this sequence of actions is what ultimately makes their life, their story, their legacy for all of Japan to know — whether positive or negative. Somewhat mellow and hollow; yet pure at heart like their ideals and motives for their actions — this is what the opening displays. As I’ve said in my Zankyou no Terror review, Nine and Twelve are terrorists in a fashion that we do not expect them to be.
Straying a bit from the opening itself and to add onto the past paragraph, Zankyou no Terror can be viewed as a social commentary on society. As we’ve seen Detective Shibazaki acting on investigations towards the Athena Plan after discovering the horrific truth behind it; the cover-ups for this unforgivable sin towards humanity were intense. It involved a faked suicide, and we can see that in middle-latter part of the anime, Shibazaki truly went through a lot of risks to uncover what had happened. With this, I detail the justified terrorism shortly. Moving along, Nine and Twelve’s existence was molded by Project Athena, their escape and their lives onwards — knowing that it would be short due to the irreversible damage that had been done to them, further insinuated by Nine’s flashbacks throughout the series, horrific scenes that also tell of his mental instability. All that they are is the mission that they have — the mission that was destined for them ever since the moment of their escape from the throes of Project Athena. This is what the series highlights, and in turn; what the opening itself has to say about the show. It isn’t about the destruction caused, it’s about the message sent, the purpose behind the terrorist attacks — not the damage done or the lives lost.
To resort to terrorism may be viewed as somewhat low, but as outcasts from society with no profile, no background, no family except for essentially each other — Twelve and Nine had no other choice. Aside from these striking issues, there’s no way to make a statement without luck. There are many things overshadowed in this world, from something as simple as an uploaded video not being noticed by the general public to atrocities like the Athena Project being so heavily covered-up as discussed in the previous paragraph. It’s not a foreign concept for issues and problems, moreso ones involving figures of high authority, national governments and the like — to hide things from the general public. Nine and Twelve are direct products of this, much to how survivors and other figures that have been directly affected by controversial issues do their best to speak up over what had happened and to bring attention to such. With their status and the situation that they were left to, they resorted to doing what they do best. Destruction, in the softest way. With their sole purpose in life to live the rest of their limited days to the fullest by accomplishing what they had strived to do for so many years, their methods are justified and are practically called for. In the finale, their hope did not go to waste. In the ending episode, we see that the Athena Project was made known to the rest of the world, along with Sphinx (if not already) and their actions. Perhaps Nine and Twelve’s exact stories hadn’t been shared along with the injustices that they were trying to expose, but their mission was completed and they did what they could in order to complete it. What matters is the aftereffect, their completion, the return of the bold to dark world into a hazy state of rebuilding, as the opening shows.
Thus, we see the opening, a mellow and abstract way of perceiving the series. Its contrast works wonders. The very first few shots show a burst akin to an explosion before fading into a flurry of black feathers — a shot of Nine looking up and then at a distorted Five. As I detail later on, black feathers are symbolic of different things. One, it can show change. The blast culminating into Nine and Five details the very beginning of their backstories, their lives together (accompanied by Twelve) in the grasp of Project Athena. The blast that Nine and Twelve initiated is shown, quickly moving onwards to a Nine who looks upwards, changed from the events in the past and determined to expose the atrocities that had been conducted by the Japanese government. Five however, does not share this in the opening. We see that she is quite different, half of her being shadowed. Ever since the beginning, Five had always been determined to surpass Nine; going as far to be utterly engrossed in him. Despite the skip in time, she remains the same person, except a bit more deranged. Another notable thing is that although not clear, we can see the word “Von” etched onto her cheek. Von, meaning hope in Icelandic is a major theme throughout the series (although quite obvious) that is ultimately revealed at the very last episode. In Zankyou no Terror, we find that hope takes form in a multitude of ways, and for Five — it takes form in her belief in Nine, starting with her determination and will to find him again even after all those years. It may be a bit warped and selfish, but everyone has their own personal goals, everyone has their own idealism on the world. It’s worthy to know that Five, along with our two other survivors — don’t really have much to live for. Nine and Twelve do remain idealistic despite all their troubles but really, we can see that in the series their desire for acceptance and compassion is insane. Twelve found comfort in Lisa and so did Nine but on a lesser level; though it’s understandable that due to the traumatic events that have occurred to them in the past – for Five to find hope in Nine as well.
The image above is the boldest depiction of the title card, which is still rendered quite softly in the fast-paced, changing backgrounds that it hovers against.
After the title card, we see a quick shift into a shot of Twelve jumping in the air and quickly fading away. This relates to the first episode, wherein we see Twelve jumping into the pool. I find this symbolic of birth — as pools, water and the like are symbolic of baptism, the beginning of one’s life. Twelve found compassion and a sense of humanity when he first met Lisa Mishima, somewhat of an anchor to ground him and welcome him to a normal life — although warped and not the picturesque one that they wished, it was still a life worth living. It wasn’t dramatic, as evidenced by the soft harmony of colors that we find in the opening — in fact, it’s more melancholic than it is upbeat.
Silhouettes of characters are portrayed, clipped inside with scenes of the aftereffects of the attacks, but not the attacks themselves. Twelve in particular, shows their personal branding, the marking of the word “von” in action. This can be taken to mean that the importance of the anime, the message and all – as well as the actions of the characters themselves are done for the sake of the aftereffect, the message thereafter. We see why Sphinx had resorted to acts of terrorism to get their message across, and why they so valiantly went through strenuous amounts of lengths to avoid injury or death (as evidenced by helping Lisa when they easily could have let her die, and Nine risking his life to save a girl in the incident with the bus). Ultimately, the goal is to spread hope; the hope that the losses that they had gone through and seen with their own eyes won’t end in dismay. The hope that Nine and Twelve had envisioned for Japan, to wake up and see the reality of what they had done, and all they can do to change. The display of “von” after the building that had been displayed can be shown to be almost reminiscent of the crimes that they committed, etching the words wherever they could. Looking deeper, we see that this is for the sake of hope, the hope that others could not decipher immediately due to barriers, such as not being able to realize that von means hope because of the difference in language. Minds are barricaded with the lack of knowledge to realize what the term von means, as the schemes that had occurred during Project Athena are lost and retained only in sealed lips and in the minds of Nine and Twelve; the barriers that had prevented the public from knowing.
We are then greeted by a shot of the young boys, their youth in captivity; their youth as mere subjects of experimentation. Standing in front of a blazing and blurred background, like the explosion that they had caused in order to escape the facility, we see their silhouettes standing static, perhaps portraying their numbness and how it was absolutely necessary for them to do what they had done amidst the ever-fiery blast, growing further. Black doves and feathers return, showing mystery and change. Initially, we do not see the motives behind Twelve and Nine; we just see them as cold-blooded terrorists that do it for the kick of personal gain, there’s no justification or reason for it all in the beginning of the series — in truth, it just seemed like they toyed with Tokyo, with the videos as an additional way of manipulating the mass public. In contrast to white doves, which are very known for their portrayal of freedom, hope, justice — and all that, we are greeted with black ones. Instead of justice, Nine and Twelve are left with the need to earn it, they change over the years, honing what they know how to do with all they can in order to make a change in the world. We are greeted with closer looks at the youthful Sphinx, them looking confused and distraught at the scene they’re in with the ever-present fence of the facility looming behind them. They are trapped in a world at such a young age, further surrounded by birds of graphite that encapsulate them and hide their minds, their hearts and their true wishes. As the series progresses, we see more and more of Nine and Twelve’s character, especially in their encounters with Five and Lisa respectively, though somewhat weaker for the former. This also traces their roots back into their earliest memories, with them standing side-by-side and glancing at each other that they truly are partners, especially with everything that they had went through. The distance between them shows that although partnered, there is still a gap between the two, be it in personality or in physical gaps that we can see later on in the series despite the initial thought of them never leaving each other’s sides. Again, the black feathers and birds show that such a bond also changes with time, but never truly wanes.
We can see this as later on, the black birds are now met with white ones as they fly heights over Tokyo — Tokyo being their city of redemption, the playground that would lead to their plan at work. With every action and every continuous execution of Sphinx, they grow closer to hope, their dream and goals, accentuated by the symbolism of truth, justice, and hope itself that comes with white doves. This is also one of the darker shots of the opening, one of the only ones that make use of bold colors rather than mellow yellow tones. Like the series itself, Tokyo is not vibrant or whimsical, it is sharp and contrasting, somewhat gloomy and realistic. The opening brings importance to this — Zankyou no Terror is not just explosion after explosion; Sphinx are actual criminals, highly wanted ones at that — that are being chased by the Japanese government for a million reasons. Although their motives are kind-hearted and pure, although it is for the sake of hope, there is doubt that such paths are questionable. The wish of chasing a dream comes with the harsh reality of the obstacles you have to face; the unforgiving world that comes no matter how well-intentioned you are.
Following the first appearance of the white doves, we are greeted with a first-person perspective of one of the boys running towards the chainlink barrier that surrounded the testing facility. In the anime, we are made aware that they successfully scaled the chainlink fence and were able to escape; symbolizing their successful freedom from such a demented place. With similar colors to the shot wherein we see Nine and Twelve as kids, we see them standing as adolescents, having planned their whole life for the mission that they are about to execute – a product of change throughout the unknown years of growth that they had gone through. Change again, proves itself a prominent and distinguishing feature in the anime, change that leads to the prevailment of hope in the eyes of Nine and Twelve.
The symbolism of capture and entrapment returns when we see Lisa, with the barrier quickly fading as we get a closer look into her. Much like in the anime, we first see Lisa as an obviously trapped girl with not much in her character. She is extremely similar to Twelve and Nine; who are trapped with their past and find redemption in the hope of escaping it by revealing what it had done to them and their fellow children. Mishima in turn, is trapped due to her strict and over-protective mother, damaging to the point where it is abusive. Throughout the series we are graced with a closer look into her character as she breaks free, most especially with the part in episode four where she is saved by Twelve from the bindings that have restricted her to her past. Although still the shy, unconfident girl that lacked in bravery that she was before, we can see her slowly developing — attempting to cook for Sphinx is a primary example of her desire to become more independent, and to start acting for others. (Although this resulted in failure, that is a part of change.) Sphinx was her first step into breaking from the shell that she was in, to stepping outwards and becoming more aware of the world around her — to be less afraid. The distance in the first shot in contrast to the one with the abolished fence is significantly farther, showing the mystery and lack of depth to her character to the viewer initially until we begin to understand more about her role, which albeit small — is substantially important to the growth and healing of Sphinx, most especially Twelve.
Symbolism involving the fence returns when we are given shots that allow us to look very closely into the gaps of the fence. Lisa appears, closer than ever; again showing her growth and her ability to recognize her upbringings and the barriers that had stood before her that she has now vanished. Sphinx is seen walking, displaying how despite their freedom from the facility of Project Athena, they are still binded to their past; though we see them walking with strength and zeal despite the past that is binding them. Each character in the series, as I’ve stated — is finding their own personal form of hope, striving towards it in their own different ways – no matter how extreme. Their idealism of ‘hope’ all reflects that have occurred in the past. For example, Five’s idea of hope is in Nine, surpassing him and meeting with him — maybe even just seeing him as an equal. This hope has stemmed from their very roots as experimentees in their youth. Twelve and Nine share idealistic thoughts and viewpoints regarding the world. Altruistic yet questionable in nature, their von is the revelation of the public, the scrutiny of the Japanese government as they apologize for their actions; the assurance that such would never occur again in the world, that no human would be subject to the pain and irreversible consequences that they had to bare for the rest of their short lives. Lisa’s hope is in breaking free, releasing herself from the grasp of her mother and finding herself so that she could be accepted, that she could finally be herself, the rebirth that she had so desperately longed for, to change and be the person she never thought she would be. We can see this in her desire to assist Sphinx, particularly in the airport mission as well — where she directly volunteered to offer a helping hand in grand schemes. In the beginning of the series or in the case of Five — the introduction of these characters, we all see them for the barriers that they are trapped in, the defining points of their character – the utterly devoted girl to the point where it may be bordering on insane, two terrorists that voice out their hearts only in the form of elusive videos and attacks to the general public, and a lost girl who is defined by her sadness, her troubles and her problems regarding her mother. With the excellent character development in the series, it ultimately shells out to each character using each other, with the aid of Sphinx, to achieve their goals and retain their hope in the world to their last dying breath.
One important shot that particularly struck me, even without rewatch of the opening is the childish and carefree smile of Twelve, quickly diverting to VCR-like shots of a more twisted version of himself. It is noteworthy that Nine is often seen as the brains of the operation, Twelve being somewhat the heart, the one with more displayable emotions; more life-like and not just cold-blooded, further emphasized by his relationship with Lisa. Personally, I found it difficult to take him seriously as a serialkiller since he seemed so lax over all that was occurring. He remained happy and thoughtful, even during the videos that Sphinx had released online. We often forget to remember that Twelve is just as intellectual as Nine; he just seeks compassion and acceptance more than Nine does. Although sometimes comedic, the jokester and the playful one within Sphinx is also exceedingly crucial, he practically brings out a much more life-like experience to watching the show — I even found it detrimental at first, but who would want to stick with the notion that terrorists do not have feelings, that they are all work and no play? Twelve is an interesting contrast to Nine that balances out the emotions and the tension between the two of them.
The shot reminds us that although Twelve is yet another anchor to the reality of human nature, he is also similar to Nine in their roots. The terrorism attacks and all, sheer brilliance and genius regarding their plans; the lack of remorse for public property and buildings owned by the Japanese government — at his core, Twelve is different. He is more than just a slight comedy relief color, he is Nine’s cohort, as Nine is his. Singular entities that are dependent on each other, that acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses, relationships that have been built from the unstable ground that was the facility. Twelve is twisted, a psychopath as he laughs in the face of destruction — brilliant at hiding himself behind a smile. He initially waves Lisa off as something close to nothing, but we see the growth in feelings that he feels towards her, moreso with the betrayal occurring in the ferris wheel. Twelve is twisted to different people at different times, but in truth, there is something warped in him, just like Nine and Five.
Depictions of Tokyo are seen, prominent in the backgrounds throughout the entire opening. We see that in the moments after Twelve’s shot, it is stripped down to its core. Symbolic for how Twelve and Nine again, see it as Sphinx’ playground; for which they spread their message and mark their own presence throughout. Being the primary location of the anime, it’s no surprise to see how important it is. In other parts of the opening, we see a train station, referencing their failed terrorist attack on a train; another one references the falling electrical post that had let to a power outage, successfully paving the way for their foolproof first plan in the first episode.
Shibazaki, another crucial character in the anime takes his place. We see technological effects around his character, depicting him being analyzed to his very roots by Sphinx. This can also allude to how he is practically the most analytical and perceptive detective throughout despite his laziness and lack of reputation. He is so engrossed in Sphinx that they eventually begin to notice him, use him and rely on him to solve their problems — as if he was some human toy that they were utterly fascinated with. It is a war between realizing how the two are, Shibazaki first questioning their motives and then beginning to take measures into his own to unravel the covered-up Athena Project and see if it was all a hoax or not, to him being rendered Sphinx’ own personal detective. He also appears in the heart of Tokyo, where the mayhem and destruction takes place throughout the course of anime.
Five’s appearances throughout the opening follow a general timeline of her growing older. We see her, pale and holding what appears to be a pair of scissors as she cuts her hair.* There are multiple notions for this act to be interpreted. The cutting of one’s hair can be taken to mean liberation, freedom, and in relation to all that — hope. When one drastically changes their appearance, they are making a change from their past selves. This appears to be the opposite occurrence in Five’s case. As we are unaware of her actions throughout the gap in the series that is not shown to us — we return to the present day to see that she is still obsessive towards Nine, never letting go of her desire to defeat him. There is no guarantee that she knew they were going to cross fates once again; and the act of cutting her hair can be taken to show her abandonment of the woman that she had changed to be (if she had changed at all), returning to the young girl that they were once with in the facility. In the image, we see that her hair has grown significantly longer to what is shown in the anime, as she cuts it back to a length almost exactly like the hairstyle she donned as a child. Five’s growth in this case is nearly backwards — nevertheless, it is still growth significant to her, and her own ideals of growth.
Next, traditionally — lengthy hair is seen as a symbol of strength. Biblically in the case of Samson, his hair is the source of his power, and without it he misses the strength that he had once wielded. In the case of the Dothraki in Game of Thrones, long hair symbolizes your strength as well. When you ended in defeat, you were supposed to cut it short. Thus, the most powerful of warriors had extremely long hair. This can be taken to showcase Five and her ailment, who in the case of the three Project Athena survivors, is the most prominent and life-threatening, even leading to her collapse and bed-ridden state in the series. We are made aware of the fact that in the anime, she had risen to positions of high power and authority within the Nuclear Emergency Support Team. Upon her move to assist in Japan, she was reckless with her power — disregarding lives, the safety and the general public of Japan. Her assistant had even informed her to stop her reckless abuse of power – showing that she indeed had lost all control over it. Five had abandoned all that she was for the sake of once again, completing her life’s mission; catching up to and defeating Nine.
Another noteworthy thing about this frame and image is that her nails are painted with the colors of red, white, and blue. These are the colors of the American flag — the flag of the country that had rescued her and molded her into who she was, giving her opportunities. She was practically representing it. It is a symbol of her disconnection from Japan and her loyalty to another nation, a sign of her change and distance from the rest of the characters of the series. These colors are also shared by the flag of Iceland. These can represent hope, as Iceland has been a recurring theme of calm and serenity for Sphinx.
In the initial shots of her in the opening, the cheek that is covered by her hair was stained with the red marking of von. If we interpret this in another way, we can see the cutting of hair as a complete loss of power — as I’ve said. A complete loss of strength, which is caused by her having no reason left to live after vanquishing Nine. The only hope she had harbored for the entirety of her life is meeting him and defeating him, with no hope present — she took a shot at herself in the anime; ending her life as it no longer had purpose.
Lisa is shown running through a street, going the opposite direction from the people walking down the street. We can take this as a cry of her desperation to escape from the abuse and clinginess of her mother, instead setting her back since she does not know how to escape — or that she is simply lost, confused, incapable; just as her mother tends to claim she is. As Lisa begins to run faster, her image fades into a silhouette where we see Twelve riding his motorcycle. We can take this to mean the scene in which he had saved her from her encounter with a cop, that perhaps running in the wrong direction — a direction wherein two terrorists lie in wait for her was ultimately the right path that boosted her unto a track that ultimately led her to a changed life, leaving her the thankful woman that she was in the finale. Misguided and lost, she once again was graced with the touch of the boys that brought her back, running into a life that she had lost.
One may also take this to see that Lisa is not a normal person, she is broken and misguided; just as I’ve said many times before, just as Sphinx is. When we see her rushing through a crowd of otherwise normal people, we question her decision and instincts, wonder what she is running from; yet we do not bother to help the stranger who seems to be lost. Although this is somewhat of a good thing; we see Lisa desiring to blaze through life after living it dark and sheltered in the past. It’s part of the learning process. She may still be in the wrong direction, she may be running with no goal or destination in mind; but the start is set in the fact that she had begun to run. Twelve giving Lisa a ride on his motorcycle is the advent of her lost upbringing; we see that all the freedom that she had never experienced is given to her in tiny steps as she grows closer and closer to Twelve; each finding compassion in the other.
Nuclear and biochemical symbols appear as we see the motorcycle racing away towards edge of the shot. One can interpret this in the most obvious and blatant way — the stealing of the chemicals needed for the atomic bombs that Sphinx would construct to use in their grand schemes. There is another perspective to it though — in relation to the motorcycle and the ‘rescue’ of Lisa and in turn Twelve, we see them running away, as Twelve did from Nine in the ferris wheel scene where the former had chosen to abandon the latter. To drop association with the terrorist attacks and to leave it in Nine’s hands, they found freedom and relaxation together, although a bit more tense than what is wished for. As the motorcycle had first insinuated the blossoming of their relationship, it again marks the strengthening of it in the actions that Twelve had done in the events of the ferris wheel incident. To go as far as to abandon his lifelong partner for the sake of Lisa — truly an escape from the past, the hazards and the danger associated with it.
What follows is practically one of the most beautiful scenes in the opening, a wonderful conclusion to such an abstract telling of the story, packed with symbolism.
We see Nine, without his glasses, descending into a freefall amidst the hazy and cloudy scenery around him. Falling is symbolic of fear; the fear of what happens, the fear of your perspective of the world around you not resonating with your own moral views, the fear of failure. Although Nine remains possibly the most stoic person in the series, he remains a fearful person, especially in his nightmares that tend to leave him in disarray despite the constant repetition of the same events over and over. Nine is trapped by his past, perhaps more binded by Twelve — we can see Nine’s genuine determination in revealing the atrocities that had happened for him to finally be at peace, after all – it is his hope.
There is no guarantee that Sphinx and their plans would work how they planned – and further no guarantee for their story to not simply be buried in the dust, for their names to be forgotten. Firstly, Nine’s descent downwards represents the everlasting paranoia of the destruction of their plans, what they’ve worked for, and all as such. From the bus incident and the code not being deciphered immediately to the conflicts caused by Five, from the delay of the press conference — all of these are just logically planned out details, that may not fall into place. Next, with Nine’s perspective around the world, there is no doubt that these thoughts may be doubted; in fact when his own partner had betrayed him, we can’t tell what hope was left in Nine’s heart for the events to fall into place. Nine resorted to drastic measures in order to assure that things would still work.
Nine’s glasses are missing in these shots, signifying the lack of clarity. He is disillusioned by the world of him, and although not visibly scared, he is placed under immense pressure throughout the series. Clarity is truly unstable throughout the series, we are unaware of Sphinx’s plans, shocked with them at the turmoil that unfolds, and more.
Nine descends and feathers of hope follow him downwards, he continues in his descent as these feathers transform into glass shards. This is also symbolic of the lack of clarity, there is no clear reflection in each shard, revealing the uncertainty in the roads that Nine and practically Sphinx themselves have to cross. Accentuated by how blurry and dreamy the entire opening is, we clearly see no real path and no end to the fall that Nine is eventually doomed to. However, Nine manages to give off a smug grin and in one sweeping motion; he pulls a trigger, the title of the song itself amidst the flurry of broken glass and all the shards that surround him. Upon pulling it, white feathers shoot out, clouding the screen and eventually covering up all the uncertainty in Nine’s head and in his life. Hope; no matter who’s hope — prevails in Zankyou no Terror. Each major character had accomplished their goal, Nine not being an exception. His grin is the proof of hope, that although it seems impossible — that although he cannot see what is truly going around him and is blinded by the events that overwhelm Sphinx, he had prepared eternally for this very moment. Triggers of hope always take their stand, they always find their way.
The trigger can be taken as a literal one, each time Sphinx character had pushed buttons or triggered explosions, it brought their message closer to being revealed to the entirety of the world. Each success further giving them hope in the completion of their purpose in life, the motivation that kept them going which was the redemption of their childhood. Hope continuously paved the way towards the revelation of the entire world, and hope continuously showed itself in even the darkest times — the cloudiest and most uncertain of moments. The ferris wheel scene in which it seemed like Nine and Twelve would never reconcile from such a dark feud, to the scenes against Five wherein the odds were stacked against them. In even the haziest of moments where analysis and logic began to fail, hope always ended up conquering in the end.
In a final peaceful shot, white feathers fly around to reveal Nine and Twelve looking over the scenery of Japan, the motorcycle that symbolized freedom, escape; the tool that played a crucial part in the beginning of their plans — it is a beautiful shot that simply resembles serenity, the hope that Nine and Twelve had always yearned for is finally there. As they look at Tokyo from a distance, they study the city that had played a crucial part in their life’s journey. In other ways, I also take such a relaxing shot to show the still calm of Tokyo once Nine and Twelve had passed and completed their mission. Eerily homely, for the first time we see Tokyo in mellow colors, in the dream-like haze that we are so used to seeing, with the white feathers fluttering around. Hope is accomplished, their hearts are at peace.
In my eyes, Nine and Twelve aren’t supposed to be in this scene physically — but their memories, their stories, their actions; and all the lengths that they had to go through certainly do deserve to be in this position. Hope for them had come with a cost of lives, but the costs were repayed once more in lives, full lives that were worth living.
An opening may just seem like an opening; but its importance is undeniable when you look closer into it and analyze each and every detail. It is supposed to foreshadow, bring out the elements of the anime that one wants to see — and Zankyou no Terror does this perfectly. With wonderful animation and a mellow song that rings of melancholy, it holds much more than what I had ever expected it to be. With that, an opening may just seem like an opening — but it holds so much more, often overlooked or just skipped — the nature of the characters exposed in feathers and shards is truly astounding and wonderful.
Hopefully this interpretation proved to be of interest. Everyone can see things in their own way; and I relate each frame heavily to the story that Zankyou no Terror follows — but hopefully I exposed some of the magnificence that is hidden amidst this beautiful tune.
When winter comes again, the snow will tell all.