The general story revolves around what you see in the above header…people are being randomly attacked by Shounen Bat. Two detectives are on the case to stop this kid from any committing more attacks but they soon find that this is much more than they can handle. I’ll end it there since I would be risking spoilers if I told anymore of the storyline. What I will say is that if you are looking for action, explosions and an exciting romp of anime this isn’t it. If you are looking for intelligent anime with a good plot line and interesting character develolpment, Paranoia Agent is what you want. I really don’t like series where I understand almost nothing the entire time, just to be given a small handout at the end which explains almost nothing. Yes, this does a fair share of that trait but what is interesting about this series is that the show is about paranoia. It’s about the pressure of modern life, and the mythologies we build for ourselves. It’s about distinguishing between victimizing and being victimized.
Director Satoshi Kon once again blurs the line between reality and fantasy with Paranoia Agent, his first TV series. Too bad he passed away because I felt he was just warming up with this one. The opening credits are arguably the most memorable in anime history. We see our many characters standing in the midst of a disaster, flood, fire, earthquake, nuclear bombing. However they are all laughing uncontrollably in an insane manner, as to make us think that these characters may have come to except the horror of their lives. The animation is excellent, if somewhat a little psychedelic at times. Paranoia Agent also uses a wide variety of lush colors to make the mood even more interesting. As the show progresses, so does Little Slugger. It becomes quite obvious that he is super natural. It also becomes quite obvious that Paranoia Agent has absolutely no intention of wrapping things up or ever explaining the truth about Little Slugger or any of the bizarre events. And it doesn’t. Truthfully, it is quite irritating but I can’t be mad at a series that made me want for more.
This is a brilliant illustration of the power of fantasy to portray truths of the world to those with open minds and the power of a closed mind to blind you to those same truths. The stories get more and more involved from there as Lil Slugger’s list of victims continues to grow. A reporter, a schoolboy and his rival for class president, a tutor, a corrupt police officer and his daughter…and all the connections the cops think they can draw turn out to be dead ends. And just when they think they’ve got Lil Slugger behind bars, the REAL Lil Slugger appears…Sound complicated? It is, but even if all this talk of metaphors and psychology turns you off, Paranoia Agent is still a very fun series that comes highly recommended.
In addition, this has a very unique way of telling you each person’s story, which sometimes are a bit slow or seem fragmented. The next twelve episodes examine how the the idea of lil slugger goes from a few isolated attacks and spreads to become part of the cultural psyche. The episodes are self contained and yet all connect to each other. Some are better than others. Yet, each episode is very different from the last, all done in different styles, and with different kinds of stories, but they all tie in together remarkably. It is well produced, well animated, and well directed. Such uncanny elements are equally strengthened as the series progresses by way of its remarkable soundtrack. Paranoia Agent is very much a Kon Satoshi series. The plot was stitched together out of left-over ideas he had from his feature films, like Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers, ideas that he liked but couldn’t figure out how to fit them into the various movies.
Believe me, I know what I have written so far seems odd. But stick it out and you’ll see that it works as the storytelling style is always evolving, constantly challenging the viewer’s mindset. After the first seven episodes that set up the premise, the story seems to descend into Twin Peaks weirdness and there is no doubt some filler material included, but it all adds to the legend of Shonen Bat, before his origins and his legacy are revealed in the explosive apocalyptic conclusion. One anime review had called it as “having four anime in one.” I agree, and I wonder if they even can come up with more episodes. It would be difficult to top this one. I like this series because the story is interesting, the acting is very good, and the animation is high quality and very artistic. Give it a watch, and I am confident you will like it too.