Posted by Lenlo on 31 January 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Hello to week 2 of Paranoia Agent, now with an extra dose of weird! This week we focus on some new characters, the cruelty of children and the supernatural presence of Lil Slugger. Lets jump in!

In general, this was an odd week of Paranoia Agent. Only 2 episodes in and I expect to see myself saying that often. It started off very subdued with its animation. Lots of nice details, but nothing like Kawazu’s beautifully creep fluidity. It did have some awesome direction though. Showing how Icchi views himself and his growing paranoia and solitude. A lot of the shots were very evocative, and really sold the growing dread, even if the animation was more subdued. That isn’t to say Paranoia Agent didn’t have its moments of Kon greatness though. It just reserved it. Every time Icchi started to freak out, the art changed to a more simplistic but exaggerated style. Really playing with the camera angles and stretching the models. I think reserving the fun animation for these moments was a great idea, as it made them really stand out from everything else.

Now lets get into specifics, such as the aforementioned Icchi and his counterpoint Usshi. Paranoia Agent pulled a fast one this week, completely switching the focus from Tsukiko to these kids. I was nervous about this at first, but it helps show the effect of Shounen Bat from a different angle. What I loved about this though was how Paranoia Agent characterized them. Before Icchi really even said a word, we got a good idea of his character. Practicing his smile in the mirror, a designed look at attitude. His actions told us volumes about his character before any dialogue did. We also saw Usshi characterized through actions, rather than Icchi’s words as our unreliable narrator. Considering a majority of the episode was also from his perspective, this was necessary in my opinion.

Before going further though, I want to spend more time on the unreliable narrator aspect. The entire episode, excluding some bits with Tsukiko, were all from Icchi’s perspective. Another brilliant choice from Kon in my opinion, as I don’t think the growing dread would be near as impactful if split up. It forces us to pay attention to his words and compare them to what we see, as the narrator is a character with stakes in the show. There were some moments this was broken up, such as the phone camera shots, that took me out of the flow. However given their place in the narrative, I think they were necessary. I just wish there was a different way to present them. Given I have no idea what could be better though, I really have no place to knock points for this from.

For Icchi’s actual mental state, I touched on it a bit before, but I quite liked his slow breakdown. All the little things adding up. He starts able to ignore it, its just a stupid rumor. But as it builds and builds, he starts to get more and more irrational about it. Eventually directing it towards Usshi specifically because of how different they are from each other. We even got to see how Usshi’s kind actions can get twisted when stuck in this paranoid mindset. Kind actions instead becoming devious manipulations. I can’t say I have much experience with this personally, but I do distinctly remember over thinking other peoples actions when worried about their response. This is the same thing, but taken to an extreme, and for me it was surprisingly accurate.

The big thing for me about all of this though was Kon’s commentary on bullying and children. How unfounded it can be and how it can come from nowhere. The littlest things setting you apart eventually cascading out of control. Generating more and more victims. Because as much of an ass as Icchi is, he is without a doubt a victim in all of this. Simply owning a pair of skates caused everyone to turn against him, the equivalent of ruining his life to a sixth grader. Kon even goes into how the actions of adults can have negative effects in the politics of children. The detectives visit and clear Icchi, yet their simple act of visiting made him stick out even more. Worsening it all.

Paranoia Agent doesn’t descend into physical bullying either, but focusing on the mental and social aspects of it. Drawing on his poster, destroying his robot model and writing on his desk. Its all these, admittedly not small but still little, things adding up. I do have some questions about it though. The big one being, who took those pictures? Was it Shonen Bat? But that doesn’t fit his style at all so far, which means it was someone else. I refuse to believe it’s Usshi, he had no idea and I doubt he actually is some kind of mastermind. So who took the photos? I hope we find out, as I think it would be very disappointing for such a large plot point to be some random passerby.

Finally, we get back to Shounen Bat. In this episode, it is all but confirmed that Shounen Bat is on some level real. He isn’t Tsukiko’s imagination nor is he a split personality. Afterall, someone else saw him, and he doesn’t fit Tsukuko’s profile at all. So at the least, he exists. However, I am not convinced that something paranormal is not happening. Shounen Bat appeared at precisely the right time, story wise, and I am sure there is some kind of internal logic to his targets. There has to be, as the Old Man pulled his math once again, and got the number 1. Icchi. Meaning he predicted Icchi would be attacked. I have to wonder though, did that one also include Usshi? Where was his math? I hope all of these questions get answered, because I find the mystery around Shounen Bat to be fascinating.

So all in all, another interesting episode of Paranoia Agent. There was a lot here worth thinking about. From the actual story involving Shounen Bat to Kon’s commentary on society. Its like every scene or character has deeper meaning. Were written as if the author were thinking about how they relate to everyone else. Its a different, much more personal touch than Planetes had in our last Throwback Thursday. There the story was more about the world and the effects of privatized space travel. In Paranoia Agent the focus is very much focused on the characters and their effect/relation to society. I think the best way to describe these kinds of series is heavy. They are heavy series. You can’t turn your brain off and relax, you have to be invested. Watching an episode of Paranoia Agent requires preparation. And so far, I love it.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar Tayo Jones says:

    If you think this episode was great, wait until Ep 3.

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