I’m probably going to catch some flak for this one. A lot of you guys hate her….

I mean I get it, kinda… No. 5 is riddled with flaws and a lot of them are a bit of a frustrating echo of the drawbacks of the show itself. But, you see, just because a character is bad, doesn’t mean it’s bad….Awww yeah – Irina hits another argument out of the park. Point made, case closed, next post!

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and publish!

You see, when I was watching Terror in Resonance, a frustrating but not unrewarding experience, No. 5 was blamed with just about every ill the show could be considered guilty of, and then some. She was inconsistent, badly developed, unpleasant and simply a useless character which unbalanced the series in a way from which it never recovered. She was somewhat annoying, had no follow through and didn’t seem to make any sense. The story would have been better without her! The thing is, I think maybe that was the point.

Look, Terror in Resonance does have quite a few faults. It’s a bit overambitious. It gives way too much time to its build ups and ends up having to rush through conclusions making them feel deeply unsatisfying. The narrative does in fact lose its footing somewhere around the introduction of No. 5. However, can we really blame a single character for all of that. Or for any of it really?

No. 5 is a deeply traumatized survivor of atrocious experiments. She is clearly suffering from PTSD (as are most of the characters), and quite possibly a number of other issues both psychological and physical. We find out that she is in fact very sick and drawn out disease do have a way of playing tricks with one’s mind. The plain fact is that this character had no business being rational in the first place. It really would have been much less likely to have the character act rationally. You may not like these completely unpredictable characters but in this case, it’s perfectly justified.

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how does she make a light trim look so ominous?

As for her apparent last-minute reversal, ok I may have taken some intuitive leaps with this one, but once again I think it fits. Spoilers if you haven’t seen this show, although kudos for making it all the way here… I can’t imagine it would be that interesting for someone who doesn’t know the character I’m actually discussing. I can learn a lot from your attention span!

For a little reminder, after having aggressively opposed 12 and 9 for most of the series and generally acting like a heartless, insane, big bad, No. 5 has an 11th hour change of heart and seemingly sacrifices herself for Nine’s sake, apparently revealing she’s always had some sort of twisted feelings for him. At first glance this seems like a cheap copout and an overly simple way to get out of a difficult situation. A problem that plagues the series as a whole.

However, I didn’t quite see it that way. It’s not insisted on, but we are told that 5 is basically living on borrowed time. Her endgame is right around the corner and she has to do the most she can with the very limited time she has. This is an inherently selfish character, broken beyond the capacity of empathy, so the idea that she would try to be selfless for the sake of the world, or her employers, that she will leave behind, is preposterous. If she’s going to do anything, it’s going to be for her own sake. She doesn’t want to stop 12 and 9 because it’s the right thing to do or it will save lives, she wants to hurt them as she believes they hurt her. That’s it. If you look at it that way, everything she does is consistent.

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her original name was Gertrude

We know this isn’t a stupid character and that she is very familiar with our protagonists, as such it would stand to reason that she would know how to hurt them most. Playing on 9’s sympathies and feelings, exacerbating all those years of guilt and shame, is by far the most painful blow she can deal. It’s almost unbelievably cruel. Who cares if that screws up everyone else’s plans, that’s really none of her concern anymore. So yeah, I can see why you would hate her, but you have to admit, that’s commitment.

As for her lack of utility. Well the story did need a villain. Yeah, I would have preferred a better thought out game of cat and mouse with the police, but I think the authors were a little wary of blurring those ethical lines too much. They really went out of their way to establish 12 and 9 as anti-heroes rather that villains so they needed a more clearly compromised antagonist. Yeah it could have been done better, but so could have a lot of other characters and events in this show. For the records it also did a lot of stuff right.

I guess I feel compelled to defend 5, she really can’t catch a break. Abandoned by the closest thing she could see as friends, repeatedly beaten down by the plot and even scapegoated by fans and blamed for ills way beyond her control. She never had a chance and went out as she came in, unloved, unmourned and alone.

One day, I’m going to write one of these about a happy, super lucky character and I’m really going to have to get creative with working that line in…

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34 thoughts

  1. Honestly, I agree that the show felt rushed and confusing, as much as I wanted to like it, but I never considered it to be Five’s fault. I think that either 12 episodes was enough time or the story was far more complicated than it should have been, resulting in somewhat of a mess.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. pacing wasn’t great in general. I think more time would have helped ut they also could have done better with the time they had. They spent time on things that were irrelevant. Lisa entire character for instance. In my opinion

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand what they were going for with Lisa but with the time they had, I agree that they shouldn’t have included her. Time would have been better spent on the characters already there, especially Nine and Twelve, given how lacking their motives seemed.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Whilst I didn’t consider ‘5’ that bad of a character, I thought she was under-developed and had a lot more potential if given more screen-time. But as you have mentioned, lots of details are hidden in the glimpses of the past and her behaviour (which is something I do enjoy when watching her character make waves in the story).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually think character development (or lack thereof) was a generized flaw in this show. We got brief histories here and there but they never proded much into personalities and motivations were all very superficial.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Surprisingly, I had many of the same thoughts as you! I’d like to write an intelligent comment here containing my own thoughts and counterpoint, but I literally loved the tragic, selfish, explosive life that Five lived from beginning to untimely end. Plus, her character design has such a wicked allure to it that always captivates me so deeply—the stark contrast in her deep violet eyes against her snow white hair really does draw a great deal of attention. Love this appreciation post!

    Oh, and by super happy, lucky character, you wouldn’t by chance be referring to one Nagito Komaeda? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t remember having much of a problem with 5 in particular. I didn’t like the show at all, and I didn’t like a single character therein, and on balance I wish I’d dropped it earlier, and around the time 5 showed up I was really losing my patience, but it’s not her fault. I can’t really talk about specifics because I don’t remember them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s nothing I disagree with in your post after all (except the “but not unrewarding” part, so make that “almost completely” – I’m being difficult).

        Liked by 1 person

          1. No, you’re right. That aspect was good. The music, too. The OP and ED, come to think of it. Tedium has probably pushed out the good parts of my memory too much. But they were there. (Probably.)

            Liked by 1 person

  5. “Hm, the loneliest number… I wonder why… Maybe it’s because it’s a prime surrounded by non-prime numbers?.. Wait what?” And that’s how I understood that it’s not a post about math.
    When watching the show I remember turning my brain off with a stance of “whatever”. Probably need to rewatch the show and try to make more sense of it as 5 is really an intriguing character. Or I just crave for an excuse to listen to Yoko Kanno’s soundtrack one more time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think the bigger issue is that someone put that traumatised and unstable person in charge of anything. I could see them using her, but allowing her to make decisions that include allowing a bomb to explode on a passenger train just seems slightly ludicrous from the point of view of the governments supposedly trying to cover up the old experiments. That anyone follows her orders astounds me and it definitely creates several world breaking moments where the audience is left so incredulous that it throws them out of the narrative.
    I really like Terror in Resonance, but 5’s character needed a significant overhaul for it to make any sense. It would have been better if she was just supporting the American unit but working behind their backs to make the situations worse, rather than ordering them to allow things to happen that they just wouldn’t. her character would have been far more interesting, the plot would have made more sense, and her final actions once she ran out of time and options would have been far easier to sympathise with.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. You know, maybe this isn’t the best venue for a political debate… Yes that move made little sense. I don’t remember the details but as a slight excuse, i do *think* it was a last minute change of plans that had not been approved by any higher agency although they should have stripped her of authority afterwards.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Well it could be that it would further destabilize 9 as he will consider himself indirectly responsible which will both hurt him and potentially corner him, making him do a mistake. It will also give her a measure of satisfaction by taking it out on the masses that failed to help her and are now living happy carefree lives while she suffers (that’s often the spiel of bombers and mass shooters) and finally it’s an unmistakable volley that’s impossible to ignore. It forces 9 and 12 to pay attention to her and keeps them in the game. It’s a little worrisome that I can adjust to a sociopaths POV so easily…
              Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this was the best execution. Like I said, I believe the authors wanted to give us some clear black and white sides where I would have prefered shades of grey and that’s why this character is so over the top and unsubtle but I do see some justifications.

              Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe she just represented the turning point to when the anime really turned awful. For me, at least. Her appearance felt unnecessary and her motivations seems confusing. The anime kinda had a sharp decline when she appeared, but I don’t think she’s at fault. For me, the role-less girl that tag along with the duo is worst than 5, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you represent to anime community at large although I’ve seen a lot of vitriol thrown her way personally. If I had gone through what she did – my motivations would probably be utterly incomprehensible (even to myself…)

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I dropped SAO really early so I’ll take your word for it. I know there’s all the big FranXX controversy going on as well. We’ve come a long way as a species when our biggest problems are the personalities of imaginary drawing people….

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I take it as a sign of a passionate crowd expressing their love in an unhealthy way, lol, but it has always been a part of the fandom. I smile though when I see other people defend these characters, and I’m reminded that it’s part of the fandom as well 🙂

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