A Pale Yellow Voice and a Blue Young Woman

five in nine's dreams, five, five at the rising peace academy, childhood five, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance, five explodes into light

Prior to Twelve revealing his synesthesia to Lisa by telling her that her voice is a “pale yellow,” another character in Terror in Resonance had already been associated with that same color by her unruly mop of hair.

childhood five, five as a child, terror in resonance, five explodes into fire, five chasing nine and twelve, zankyou no terror, nine's flashback to the rising peace academy

Nine is haunted by Five. His recurring dreams of her always include the tow-headed girl stopping short of a chain-link fence that the Nine and Twelve climb, presumably to escape the institute that all three children were placed in. At first, we see him shout back at her before she is engulfed in orange flames and disappears.

nine shouting, childhood nine shouts at five, nine climbing the chain link fence, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

five bursts into flames, five on the ground, rising peace academy, nine's flashbacks to five, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance

As the series progresses, we are privy to more of Nine’s dream. Episode three offers the first flashback to the group of academy children. Five’s pale yellow hair immediately stands out from the rest of the children. The shot below occurs in a scene where a researcher speaks of eradicating any illusion of love or caring by eliminating their names.

rising peace academy, five, five as a child, child broiler, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance

The children listen to her, all looking somewhat horrified save for Five, who merely appears to be bored. Nine and Twelve peer into the room to watch the attendant deliver her speech and their eyes immediately focus on Five, as do ours by default. While the faceless researcher explains that they will be renamed with no pretense of love or individuality, Five stands out regardless to both us and the boys.

This sequence is then combined with the pieces of Nine’s memories that we already know. The two boys are chased by Five until they reach the chain link fence. As they climb, Five collapses onto the ground. Nine turns to yell. Five bursts into flames.

five arrives in japan, airplane, five, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

five profile shot, five painted fingernails purple lipstick, five, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

Episode five introduces present-day Five in a sequence of cool blues and purples. Gone is her signature pale yellow mop that identified her in the crowd of abandoned children. It is replaced by a head of white hair that reflects the blues that frame her entrance. Terror in Resonance tends to associate blueeven in its most vibrant formswith distance. Although she lands in Japan to chase after the two boys that she grew up with, the distance between Five and Sphinx continues to grow.

terror in resonance, rising peace academy, zankyou no terror, child broiler

nine and twelve at the facility, young nine and twelve, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror, nine's flashbacks to the rising peace academy

five in the group of kids, five as a child, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror, five with pale yellow hair

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five's fingernails, pink fingernail polish, five, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror, five types on a computer

five's earrings, ice blue, white hair, five, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

nine runs away from five, rising peace academy, child broiler, hide and seek, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

five chases nine, zankyou no terror, hide and seek, terror in resonance, rising peace academy, child broiler

Nine’s recollections in episode five build on the mysterious institution shown in episode three. The same music track used for previous nightmares and memories screeches through quick cuts of the previously established sequence: the kids at the academy, Nine and Twelve, Five standing out in the crowd of children. This transitions into Five holding her hands over her eyes in a game of hide and seek, repeating “Are you ready?” in a sing-song melody that matches the music.

In all of Nine’s flashbacks, Five stands out due to her hair color. This particular sequence is interspersed with Five’s furious typing and her swaying silver earring which, like her hair, is the slightest shade of blue.

five in blue and pale yellow, five, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror, five driving in a car

Terror in Resonance dresses Five in both pale yellow and blue throughout the above sequence. The blue figure is the flesh and blood Five, sitting in a car following her triumph over Nine. Shown in the car window and illuminated by streetlamps is the pale yellow Five, only seen in reflections and Nine’s recollections.

five stumbles, five twelve and nine try to escape, rising peace academy, nine's flashbacks, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

five collapsed on the ground, five, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance

five's hair begins to glow, pale yellow hair, five, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance

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nine looks back, nine illuminated, nine, zankyou no terror, terror in resonance

five explodes, five, zankyou no terror, zantero, terror in resonance

nine melts, nine, terror in resonance, zantero, zankyou no terror

Notably, in the sixth episode sequence, Five’s hair begins to glow. The shadows are where these characters are made more comfortable within the series, while the brightly-lit scenes are far more terrifying. As the figure of Five begins to laugh maniacally, her yellow hair – the defining feature that draws our attention to her – is illuminated from front to back. Unlike previous flashbacks, where Five was engulfed in flames before disappearing, Nine can only watch in horror as Five bursts into light before exploding.

“I wonder if she holds a grudge against us.”

“At that time, if she had wanted to run away, she could have. I’m sure she just wants to play a game.”

– Conversation between Twelve and Nine, Terror in Resonance, episode 6

Twelve and Nine are of two different mindsets when they speak of Five, just as they are when they talk about Lisa Mishima. While Twelve’s words hold a certain amount of guilt in them – perhaps if they had tried harder to save her, Five could have escaped with them – Nine is resolute, asserting that Five could have come with them had she wanted to.

However, Nine’s nightmares haunt him more with each passing episode, and they all center around the image Five falling short of the fence, unable to escape with the boys. Twelve audibly expresses guilt, but Nine’s every action is steeped in it, in spite of the fact that he maintains Five is simply playing a game. Meanwhile, he continues to rebuff Lisa, who is effectively Five’s stand-in.

twelve together with lisa on the roof, lisa mishima, twelve, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror, pale yellow voice

“It’s a pale yellow. Your voice. You know, I have this thing called synesthesia where I can see colors in sound. Yeah, but you know, I hardly ever see a voice in that color. It’s rare. I mean it.”

– Twelve to Lisa Mishima, Terror in Resonance, episode six

Thanks to Twelve’s words, the color of pale yellow, featured first through Five’s hair, further unites Lisa and Five. In the entire scene that follows, and previously while folding laundry, she is placed near clothing of that color. There are a myriad of questions that Lisa could have asked of Twelve in this moment. She could have wondered what colors he saw in other sounds, or other voices. Instead, she speaks of  her loneliness by saying that she’s in the way. While hiding at Nine and Twelve’s place was a brief respite, there is still no place for Lisa with the two until they let her in.

lisa mishima, lisa, chain link fence, lisa on the roof, i'm in the way aren't i, terror in resonance, zankyou no terror

As Lisa affirms that there is not yet a place for her with Nine and Twelve, she grips the chain-link fence of the roof. Like Five, she has chased the boys to a chain-link fence and a point of no return. She must choose to aid them or lose her last place in the world.

“Um . . . Kokonoe . . . I mean, Nine! I want to be one of you. So even though I can’t handle bombs and stuff yet, I’ll try hard!”

– Lisa Mishima to Nine, Terror in Resonance, episode 6

Terror in Resonance once again shows attention to detail in naming. When Lisa begs to be included in this operation, she calls Nine “Nine” as opposed to the false name of Arata Kokonoe.

Lisa at the airport, Lisa Mishima, Terror in Resonance, Zankyou no Terror

Lastly, when Lisa is shown at the airport, she is illuminated from behind with pale yellow light and framed with foliage much like the Five in Nine’s flashbacks. However, the edges of the shot are tinted with green, not a foreboding orange. In lieu of the screeching background track of “lolol,” the music stops for the same amount of time that the camera lingers on Lisa. Only the muted sounds of the airport can be heard. Everything is quiet, and her figure serene.

 

12 comments

  1. Brilliant! I love posts that talk about visuals, and it seems as though Terror in Resonance is the most visually compelling series out there at the moment, as there are a lot of great posts (namely, the ones you’ve highlighted as well as yours right here) that have furthered my appreciation for the show.

    I consider myself a casual observer of art, and while my knowledge of theory is lacking to the point that I often leave it to others to fill in the blanks that I may have missed in my initial (albeit amateur) interpretation. In this show in particular, I noticed right away the usage of shade as a source of respite from their oppressive realities. While I noticed a significant usage of blue in this most recent episode, it was difficult for me to contextualize its meaning due to not noticing the brief inclusions of yellow, as well as the green that you mention acts as a buffer between both colours. Having realized this from your post, I further appreciated the final shot from episode three even more.

    Interesting that you mention the silence and sound direction at the end of the episode. As I did with Kyosogiga, I’ve gradually come to really notice and appreciate the usage of the show’s score and the composition of the tracks therein. Considering the big name behind this show’s music, I really owe it to myself to check it out even further. Thanks for this, Emily. it’s your writing that makes me love this show as much as I do.

  2. Emily, your depth of knowledge of all things art — art history and your understanding of visual language — just shines so bright in this post. Everything you discuss is so very high-level, and on top of that the way in which you discuss it is so commanding. You know what you’re talking about, and we know it to. All this makes it really intimidating to say anything because no matter what I (or anyone really) says will just pale in comparison to your authoritative analysis of this series.

    For all the time ZanTero spends constructing Five and Lisa as parallels and alternate versions of one another, the truly interesting part of the story will be when the two meet; the explosive confrontation between what is and what could have been. If Watanabe can pull off all of the intricacies and subtleties that doing Terror in Resonance justice will require, he will quickly jump to the top of my list of favorite anime directors.

    1. The cool thing is that it’s ancillary to understanding the series. I think one can resonate emotionally with Lisa without understanding the visual language specifically, or prodded along by it subconsciously.

      As you say, the question is, “Can it come together?” There’s a danger in such a slick visual presentation if it doesn’t have some subtlety and emotional nuance. For me it’s not a matter of Lisa and Five meeting, but how each of them relate/develop their respective relationships with Nine and Twelve.

      Thanks for commenting. ^ ^

  3. This is a good analysis. I’m having a hard time agreeing with the connection between Five’s hair and Lisa’s yellow voice, though, especially since Five’s hair was part of Nine’s flashback and Nine isn’t the one with synesthesia.

    I also hadn’t noticed the recurring imagery of the chain link fence until you pointed it out.

    1. This post isn’t about the characters making connections between Lisa, Five, and the colors, but about how the director of Terror in Resonance — Shinichiro Watanabe — is trying to use these colors to make us make a connection between Lisa and Five. It doesn’t matter that Five’s hair was a part of Nine’s flashback but Twelve is the one with synesthesia, because the connection between Lisa and Five transcends the in-universe story.

    2. For me, it’s not a matter of Nine’s lack of synesthesia. Twelve’s mention of pale yellow is more for the audience. We are pushed to compare Lisa and Five not only because they are the only two people shown in close proximity to the two boys, but because they are tied together by that color. All of these color decisions are meant to inspire a certain feeling from the viewer, not in the characters themselves.

      We see Nine associate pale yellow with Five and Five’s hair. We hear that Twelve associates pale yellow with Lisa and her voice. The only people privy to both pieces of information are the viewers themselves, who are then left to draw their own conclusions. Feel free to disagree.

      Thanks for the comment! ^ ^

      1. Ah, okay. Interesting. When you put it that way, it almost becomes a way of comparing Nine and Twelve in addition to comparing Five and Lisa. Especially since Nine and Twelve already made the comparison between Five and Lisa in the first episode, when Nine asked Twelve if he was trying to get him to “relive that day” by sparing Lisa.

  4. I would like to add (if this hasn’t been said before) that when Twelve is shot in the final episode, the sky behind him is both blue and orange (though pinkish in some caps).
    PS I love your attention for detail, very interesting colour-analysis.

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