Posted by Lenlo on 7 February 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to week 3 of Paranoia Agent! Once again, we focus on a new set of characters, new problems, and a new part of society. So lets jump in!

Once again, Kon’s outlandish style shined through this episode. Everything about it was just so… weird and disjointed, but I loved it. First off, Kon introduced the central character last week as Icchi’s tutor, easing us into her place in the story. It makes for a much less abrupt shift in focus. Yet at the beginning Kon fakes us out, by basically hiding her character from view with the makeup and wig. At the very least, it successfully confused me at the beginning. But not in the “I can’t follow whats going on, this is stupid way”. It confused me in the sense that there was a mystery and I wanted to know the answer. Why was she leading a double life? How does this tie into Shounen bat? What societal issue is Kon commenting on this time? And over this episode, I found an answer to each.

On the first point, her double life, we got this answer rather quickly. Dissociation Identity Disorder! And fantastically portrayed in my opinion, though I know little about it. Everything from their personalities to their speech patterns were different. Making it easy to tell them apart, even on the phone, even in a foreign language. I would almost believe they had separate voice actors if the credits didn’t say otherwise! As for its purpose in the story, I think once again Kon was using it to comment on an aspect of society. The masks we put on when we go out. How we act differently based on the people around us or our situation. Never truly allowed to be ourselves. As even around her husband, Maria did not seem entirely comfortable. Like she was always holding back. Only for Shounen Bat to, as they say, “set her free”.

Another aspect of this that I think Paranoia Agent did well is the presentation. Both in terms of story and direction. For example, there was a seeming equilibrium between the two, with Harumi eventually backing off. It wasn’t until Maria tried to destroy her, to refuse that side of herself, that Harumi became destructive. Basically, the more Maria fought Harumi instead of accepting who she was, the worse it got. With Harumi trying to do the same to Maria. Destroying each other so that the other might reign supreme. We also see this in Harumi’s increasingly destructive actions. Such as screwing the taxi driver, or trying to inform Maria’s husband as to who she was. Like Harumi wanted their lives to intersect more so Maria would be forced to acknowledge her. Story wise, I found it brilliant.

Then there is the actual direction of the episode. Paranoia Agent starts the episode from Harumi’s perspective, but as the episode goes on and the conflict begins, that stops. Once Harumi sets herself against Maria, the only perspective Paranoia Agent gives us is Maria’s. It makes it clear with this just how far in her own head she is, and just how separate they now are, that we don’t even get to see Harumi until the end. I also thought it really added to the tension, as we the viewer have no idea when the shoe will drop or what Harumi has been doing. Just like Maria, we are unaware of any time skips until they become obvious. It puts us, the viewer, in the same shoes as Maria and makes for an organic connection so we feel the same terrified emotions she does. Great work Kon.

Her slow descent into madness also worked well, as all the hints were slowly dropped. For instance we see her reflected in the glass while leaving the hospital, displaying her dual nature. The raven returning and getting angry each time she did something against Harumi. At the end we even saw the Old Man, drawing butterfly, once again in relation to this weeks victims. I want to demand, to know, what his eyes see. Its the same kind of Lovecraftian or cosmic horror that I first pointed out with Shounen Bat. It’s something you rarely find in media, at least media done well. It makes me very excited moving forward that, only 3 episodes in, Paranoia Agent is getting weirder and weirder with how it presents thing. With the topics it is willing to delve into.

Lastly we have Shounen Bat himself, and how his victims all end up… better, after his assault. As if he is fixing them, or making them confront something. It also seems to me that every person hit so far has wanted him in some way. Kawazu wanted a scoop, Icchi wanted Usshi attacked and to be vindicated, while Maria wanted to be freed. We only need to find out what kind of escape Tsukiko wanted for it all to be complete. It’s as if Shounen Bat is, as a manifestation, fixing people and aspects of society piece by piece. A beneficial kind of cosmic horror. Its just… its so interesting! 3 episodes in and I am trying to figure out the benefits and reasoning behind vicious attacks in the street. Like an even weirder version of Death Note, in a way.

So, all in all, how do I feel about Paranoia Agent this week. Well, I love it. A part of me wants to say it dragged in places, and yet those beats fit in well with Maria’s story. I want to say the police officers investigation and clues are dragging or pointless to the story. Yet they have appeared in every episode, at each scene, slowly trying to track down Shounen Bat. With the younger, less jaded detective noticing details or connections the older one dismisses out of hand. Like a long con commentary on Societies tendency to ignore the young on the claim of “no experience” or a “lack of wisdom”. That each of these parts, so different and disconnected, manage to work together so well is simply fantastic. For this alone, Throwback Thursday was worth starting.

But don’t just listen to what I tell you! Let me listen to you! Tell me below what you thought of Paranoia Agent this week, maybe I missed something or am looking into the wrong place. Either way, I will see you next week!

2 Responses

  1. A very good choice of screenshot using the one with the butterflies, as that sets in very well with the whole metamorphosis thing such as her becoming another identity.

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