Posted by Lenlo on 8 March 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Hello everyone to the catch up Paranoia Agent! First off, apologies for being late. Work was killer Thursday and really impacted writing this. No excuses though, on to the show! This week Paranoia Agent might as well have slipped LSD into my drink, because we get weird. Lets jump in!

Right off the bat, Paranoia Agent gets weird with these two episodes. Even from a production standpoint, there are a lot of interesting decisions made. For instance the use of the fish-eye lense when talking to Kozuka, even though its an animation, really nailed the tension for his character. There were also a number of message-filled decisions with some character actions. Such as when Maniwa and the Chief were discussing having run out of ideas, and it being time for new ones. The Chief’s box of matches is empty, while Maniwa’s modern lighter was filled up and ready to go. A clear symbolic message of who has good, right ideas, and a differing method. On top of all of this, Paranoia Agent got weird near the end of episode 7 with the Old Mans sequence. Painting a very clear picture of Maniwa’s degrading mental health. Fantastic stuff all around, really.

For specific episodes, let’s talk Episode 6, Fear of a Direct Hit. Whew boy, this was a doozy. At first I was very curious how Taeko was going to tie into the main cast, why she would be targeted. Paranoia Agent did a great job here of slowly revealing information and clues for how she fits in though. First with concealed shots of characters, then voices and then her environment. It successfully made me dread more and more the outcome of this episode, and made me hate Hirukawa even more. He could have been a corrupt, but ultimately redeemable dude. Now he’s just disgusting. And what makes it even more memorable is, he gets off scott-free. Shounen Bat helps Taeko escape and in doing so, eliminates all evidence of his crime. Effectively freeing her with an “ignorance is bliss” approach. Its disturbing and yet… effective in the story.

Speaking of Shounen Bat, this episode also returned him to mystery. Naturally, Kozuka was a fake as I suspected. However what still isn’t clear is just how “real” Shounen Bat is. Detecting when people need to “escape”, and also managing to strike Tsukiko in the station. With how it’s all setup, and how unclear it all is, it’s still possible Tsukiko herself is the Shounen Bat. That or some kind of universal eldritch force. As we saw in the Detectives story she struck herself with the lead pipe. Of course, this is by no means a true story, the Detectives have limited information. But there are so many competing stories, that when combined with episode 7 makes anything possible. Yet, I don’t feel disheartened. There are enough clues in the series that I can figure it out with the Detectives, instead of requiring an info-dump to do it for me.

For Episode 7, MHz, it focuses largely on Maniwa and his discovery. He was always better at finding the truth than the Chief, and it seems that is starting to come back to haunt him. Previously I have guessed Shounen Bat might be some kind of Eldritch Force, and this episode only reinforces that. As Maniwa gets closer and closer to the truth he starts to lose his mind. With no one believing him, while he tries in vain to spread the truth. Even finding the Old Man and his prophecies, gazing ever deeper into the void that is the truth. Even if Paranoia Agent ends up resolving it differently, it is without a doubt the best Cosmic Horror anime I have ever seen. With this episode alone it nails the insignificance of humanity and the dangers of knowledge, while focusing on its characters. I understand nothing, but desire more.

I also enjoyed how Kozuka was slowly driven into a corner this episode. Climaxing when Maniwa realized what was happening himself. It raised the stakes, as Shounen Bat has never knowingly killed before. As if it does that when there is no other “escape” available. Paranoia Agent also tied his escape through a wall in early, during the Old Mans make believe magic show. Making it a bit less bullshit when it occurred. I still demand an explanation by the end, for some kind of cohesive story. But in the moment, and Maniwa’s growing insanity? I think it worked. We have no guarantee that Shounen Bat was actually there after all. That Maniwa wasn’t just hallucinating something. I say this, because Tsukiko was seemingly struck with no one around to do so. Whatever the case though, it has become clear that Shounen Bat is no mere “assailant”.

As much as I enjoyed all of this though, Paranoia Agent wasn’t perfect. These two episodes, timeline wise, confused the hell out of me. Supposedly Hirukawa’s house is complete, long enough for his daughter to grow up in it while the camera’s were active. The house was set up early, so we could identify it, I liked that. But it was still being built during his own episode, so how recently have they moved into it? Recent enough for her to move in, get recorded, discover the camera and run away at the least. Combine that with the actual timeline of attacks, it just left me a bit confused. I suspect her running away was a new thing, that very day most likely. But that still doesn’t explain when they moved in. No doubt there is a valid timeline for this, but Paranoia Agent didn’t depict it well.

So all in all, my thoughts on episodes 6 and 7. I think they cranked up my interest in the series. I was interested before, I thought the premise and depiction was interesting. But in the back of my head I always figured it would be some kind of thriller/mystery, with a real assailant. Now I am no longer sure. Now Paranoia Agent is, in my mind, a valid Lovecraftian style story. Where characters affected my the Eldritch power come out changed, but ultimately… happy? Depends on what you want to tall Taeko and Hirukawa I suppose. Regardless, while I left very confused, I was also satisfied. Sounds like I might also be turning into one of Shounen Bat’s victims huh?

But tell me what you think! Does it all make sense, were you confused as well? Let me know down below and I will see you next week!

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