Paranoia Agent was my first experience with the master Satoshi Kon, though it wasn’t until later that I would connect the dots to his other work. This title earned a spot on my top 10 most influential anime post but I’ve been waiting to rewatch it till I could watch it with my sister (she was too young originally). The time finally came but I was a little apprehensive if I’d still enjoy it as much after all this time.
Final Series Score: 12/12 Perfect
Rewatchablity: 3.5/5 – Medium; Holds up well when re-watched
Ending: 4.5/5 – Sublime; An action packed ending that kept me on the edge of my seat even when I knew how it ended and it was also able to nicely tie the plot threads up.
Animation: 4/5 – Very Good; Madhouse does not get enough praise for their animation quality and this series is a great example of how well they can do animation
Pros: a great Satoshi Kon experience with a unique and interesting story, the mystery surrounding Lil’ Slugger has handled superbly and left the view guessing until the very end, the story was able to be a bit odd without sacrificing a clear and satisfying end, the diverse cast where developed into real characters and didn’t feel like cookie-cutter characters, well done animation
Cons: The story meanders a bit in the middle with a few episodes that where interesting but at the same time did not really advance the overall story
Tsukiko Sagi is the designer of the latest craze sweeping Japan – a cute pink dog plush toy named Maromi. It should be smooth sailing for Tsukiko but she’s having trouble coming up her next big idea. Feeling the increasing pressure, she desires an easy solution and one night, help comes in the name of Lil’ Slugger – an elementary school boy wielding a bent golden bat and wearing golden roller-blades. He assaults her and this allows her to not have to worry for the foreseeable future. Two police officers are put on the case to find Lil’ Slugger but they’re unsure if he really exists until the next person is attacked. Soon a string of attacks occurs with no solid leads and the police officers have to hurry before the terror surrounding the attacks envelop the nation.
Thoughts and impressions
This show lost none of it’s punch the second time through and the ending still left me breathless. If you’re familiar with Satoshi Kon’s other work and haven’t watched Paranoia Agent yet then I definitely urge you track this title down and watch it.
For those unfamiliar with Satoshi Kon (Millenium Actress, Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers), the thing I’ll mention first is the story of Paranoia Agent. As with any mystery, the story isn’t as straightforward as it originally looks and Satoshi Kon’s unique view of reality just adds to the un-straightforwardness. This is a very good thing when a person is looking for an interesting and different show to watch but the danger is the misdirections and weirdness behind the events will derail the series or, at the very least, harm the ending. This isn’t the case with Paranoia Agent; rest assured there’s a clear, logical, and satisfying end to the show.
Outside the story of the show, the most memorable aspect of the show are the individual characters in the show. They’re a wildly divergent bunch with vastly different goals, motivations, and characteristics. Just the thing that’s needed when you want to show how an event like Lil’ Slugger effects people. So you won’t like all the characters nor will even the “good” characters be without their failings but that just increases the realism of the show. An example of this would by my favorite character – the grizzled senior detective in charge of the investigation. Personally, he’s a very admirable person, worthy of the praise people have given him, but this case unmasks his inability to adapt to the increasing odd times he lives in and this causes him to flee to a world that he still feels a part of. I can hardly fault the guy for this desire since it’s a very human desire and one I think almost everyone will have to grapple with as they get older. In the end, he’s still someone I’d call one of the good guys but he’s not perfect – just like real life.
The one negative, which my sister also picked up on, was the couple of episodes in the middle that didn’t add much to the overall story of the show. I hesitate to call them filler because they did show how Lil’ Slugger was influencing the wider society of Japan but not much would have been lost if they had been cut. Of course, I say that but since I’ve seen the episodes it would be difficult to accurately measure the show without these episodes so while I think they could have been left out, it’s not enough for me to downgrade the show.
Something that I don’t get to talk about too often when I do a series review is the English dub. This, along with a few of the older shows like Ghost in the Shell, I was first exposed to the English dub. Nowadays, I prefer to watch anime subbed but I’m not such a sub perfectionist that I can’t enjoy a good dub at times which is how I would characterize the dub of Paranoia Agent. It’s a good dub and it leaves me with no desire to watch the show subtitled with the original audio.
In conclusion, Paranoia Agent is a great anime and one that I would most highly recommend to most anime viewers. It would be a blanket recommendation but there are a few scenes that aren’t appropriate for younger viewers and the couple bloody scenes might be too much for some. If it makes a difference, I don’t feel these scenes are gratuitous but fit into the idea of making the show feel more realistic. I also own it on DVD and have not regretted the purchase so I also recommend this title as being worthy of buying on DVD.
- 13 episodes
- genre: Mystery, Psychological horror, Satire
- animation studio: Madhouse
- director: Satoshi Kon
- OP: Yume no Shima Shinen Kouen by Susumu Hirasawa
- ED: Maromi no Theme by Susumu Hirasawa