The four main characters of Zankyou no Terror feel empty, like something is missing from them. Not as in they’re shallow characters, but as in it seems like they’ve each been robbed of some spark of life and enthusiasm which makes life worth living for them. Like I explained last week, Hisami and Kokonoe’s loss of childhood is clearly from whatever went on at the mysterious institution. And Hisami may act super genki, but that too is just an act to overcompensate for what he lost at the institution. With Lisa she’s become too drained from the constant stress from getting bullied at school and having to come home to a mentally deranged mother.
This episode focuses a more on fleshing out Shibazaki’s backstory. His case is a little more complicated, but with this episode there’s a couple insights into his backstory that are very telling of why he acts the way he does now. Earlier in the episode while Shibazaki is talking alone with Kurahashi, he suddenly tells about his childhood in Hiroshima: “I hated summer. In the summer, the city became frighteningly quiet, because the old people almost never left their houses … I spent a lot of time with my grandma, but it was like she was stolen by summer.” Kurahashi then asks if the reason he accepted the case was due to a personal reasons, being a second-generation victim of the bombing on Hiroshima. Shibazaki though just answers ambiguously with “I wonder…”. So this scene shows that for, yeah, he probably does have a personal reason for the case. But it also gives us an idea of why he might be such a laidback and gloomy guy in general. Growing up in a town where there’s no one else you age, and you’re essentially isolated and alone for a few months a year, well, that’s just depressing.
Then later in the episode, one of the younger members of Shibazaki’s investigation team—who happens to show a bit of hostility towards Shibazaki for much of the episode—asks why it was that he was demoted to working in the archives. The reason, as Kurahashi explains, is because fifteen years ago Shibazaki got involved with a case where a Diet secretary allegedly jumped to his death in an act of suicide. But Shibazaki wasn’t satisfied with that explanation, and instead insisted that it was a conspiracy, accusing the leader of a political party to be a prime suspect. And because the guy was originally part of the police force, this lead to Shibazaki getting demoted.
And what does this tell us? For one, Shibazaki got screwed over for investigating a case just because he suspected someone in politics, so that would explain why he was hesitant to take up the job again. It also shows just how dedicated and committed he can get to a case, refusing to accept anything less than the truth. Also note that this was in summer too, the guy’s least favorite season of the year; both his childhood and his job was stolen by summer, so to speak.
So Shibazaki is another interesting character of Zankyou no Terror. As for the rest of the episode? …Eh, I don’t have much else to say about it. The story has still yet to really “start” and get into gear, though with how this episode developed—what with Sphinx now having a formidable foe in Shibazaki, and Lisa running away from her mother, I imagine things will get more interesting next week. This does seem like the sort of series where it’ll be hard to see just what it’s trying to say until its all over and we can see the big picture.
One other thing that stood out to me is an exchange before the OP starts, in which Hisami questions whether he and Kokonoe are making the riddles too difficult, and worries of what will happen if the police force simply never figures them out. This, plus the scene towards the end of the episode where they express excitement at Shibazaki solving their riddle. So they’re not just throwing out riddles to mess with the police force, but they actually want the police to solve them. They want to get more attention from the government, and apparently that goal extends beyond merely terrorizing the public with some bombs. What I wonder is just how this would tie into their plans to manipulate the police and government, or rather how that would possibly help them manipulate them. But you know, we’ll see.