Cowboy Bebop Director’s Terrorism Anime May Cause Controversy

Hot off the hype of Space Dandy, Wantanabe is premiering yet another new series later this summer.  Zankyō no Terror or “Terror In Tokyo” will team Wantanabe with Cowboy Bebop composer Yoko Kanno and Samurai Champloo character designer Kazuto Nakazawa.

We’ve actually been hearing from Shinichiro Wantanabe a lot more in recent years. For the uninformed, Mr. Wantanabe directed two episodes of the Animatrix (Kid’s Story, Detective Story), the animated sequence in Kill Bill, the hip-hop infused Samurai Champloo(2004) and the critically adored Cowboy Bebop(1998).  In more recent years, we’ve seen the release of Kids on the Slope, a manga adaptation about misfit high school kids bonding over jazz, reuniting him with Cowboy Bebop music director Yoko Kanno.  Only two months ago the duo also premiered Space Dandy, a self-aware spoof of classic space-themed anime, on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block.   Often described as “Cowboy Bebop on acid”, you would do yourself a great disservice by not checking out this trailer.

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Quite the resume, is it not? Though his new series looks to carry quite a different tone from his previous works…

Terror In Tokyo depicts a modern-day Tokyo in shambles after a massive terrorist bombing has wrought unimaginable death and destruction upon the city. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the terrorist group behind the violent attacks, known as Sphinx, are just two young boys…two young boys with grandiose plans that will encompass all of Japan.

Yes, that’s right. In his new series, the child protagonists are behind terrorist bombings in densely populated areas. While morbid concepts such as this are not exactly foreign to the medium, it’s quite shocking to see Wantanabe take this kind of route. Maybe the series will play out like Death Note, a cat and mouse game where the protagonist isn’t the good guy and is someone we eventually desire to see fail…most of us anyway. Even so, it’s hard to imagine a series like this reaching television without any controversy or objection, especially when it inevitably begins airing on Cartoon Network in the United States.

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Look at the two smoking buildings in the promotional poster. If that’s not a bulls-eye for Fox News to use the word “anime” for the first time in it’s 18-year existence, I don’t know what is.

It is possible that the trailer and promotional materials are meant to mislead the audience, causing us to speculate how we could possibly root for child-characters who successfully execute 9/11-style attacks on a massive civilian population.  “Trust in Wantanabe” I say, he is a master of the unexpected and knows how to build a series that can be appreciated by an internationally wide audience.

He has my curiosity that’s for sure. Check out the first trailer:

Terror In Tokyo premieres in July.