Sphinx sends the Anti-Terror agencies of Japan into panic when they begin executing a number of terrorist attacks in Tokyo, with no clear motivations, and a very roundabout way of doing things. The only one who can seem to keep up with the riddles they release before their attacks is a man named Shibazaki Kenjirou, who had been demoted to a desk job for getting too passionate about an investigation being covered up by various higher ups, but still had his knack for investigation and a very strong sense of justice.
Sphinx on the other hand, are a group of young men, the cold-gazed Nine and the warm smiling Twelve, who are incredible geniuses. They very much have a goal in mind, and are willing to die for that goal. This gets more complicated when a girl named Lisa that goes to their high school ends up getting involved with them, and continues to get further and further involved with them and their plans.
Things get even more complicated when American Anti-Terror agencies get involved as well, specifically bringing out Five, a girl with very strong connections to Nine and Twelve’s past. She too possesses the same super intelligence, but a more ruthless disposition, which puts her at odds with the Japanese police, but because she has strong support from the higher ups, she can mostly make them stand down, with some obvious exceptions.
With the mysteries of where they all came from, why they’re like this, and what they’re goals are, a game of cat and mouse comes into play with the various factions with their own goals, ultimately ending in something quite explosive.
The premise behind Zankyou no Terror is incredibly interesting. There are few animes about blatant terrorism. Fewer where the terrorists are the ‘good guys’. So the distinctiveness alone helps a good deal in making it stand out and interesting. The plot too is very interesting for the majority of the anime. The anime begins out pretty slow where the underlying motivations behind the plot are revealed very slowly as you get used to the various characters involved and get hints at what lies beneath the surface. Things feel less involved, and things don’t seem especially dangerous. Things get significantly faster once Five gets involved, and the stakes go up tremendously, leading to it being far more intense. The plot starts moving faster, and things start getting revealed in some ways much more quickly, but for the most part the true motivations behind everything still stay under wraps. The journey to the ending is done very well and has you in strong suspense of the finale. But the payoff at the end I felt was ultimately very lackluster. The final and key elements of the past leading up the anime are revealed through essentially just info dumping, which feels awkward compared to how it was slowly fed before hand. And when the final motivations are revealed for everything that occurred, they are certainly consistent and wrap everything up fairly, but at the same time, seriously lacking. My final reaction upon getting to the ending was very emotional and strong, but at the same time there was also a very strong sense of “That’s it?”.
As for the characters, there were several that I liked a good deal. Nine was the true star of the show, being the most capable, the most determined, and the one with most depth. Five too was interesting in that she was obsessed, amazing, and completely unpredictable, but in the end she made sense and I was pretty sympathetic to her. Lastly, the detective Shibazaki was one of the main people that pushed the plot forward, and he did so in a very determined and intelligent way with a lot of integrity. He was very much the guy that stood out as simply being a good person in a cast of characters with complex motivations. The side characters too were interesting enough, and the overarching motivations created by them for the plot was a whole were realistic. I didn’t really like Five and Lisa however. The entire romance felt completely out of place. Rather, Lisa as a whole felt completely out of place, with everything she was involved with feeling random, and five being the closest to her gets swept in with that very strongly. She either needed to get more involved and be a proper and competent part of them, or less involved as more of a bystander. She was in the strange place in between where she just felt wrong and unclear. It felt like they were going somewhere with her, but that just never came.
The animation quality was good and fit the atmosphere very well. The OP and ED fit well, which here means they were very different from the ones in most other anime, in that they were much more soft and somewhat haunting. The soundtrack was decent, with some tracks being very good and used very well, though some of the insert songs were awkward.