Posted by Lenlo on 15 March 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Hello and welcome to another weird week of Paranoia Agent! This time we have suicide pacts, gallows humor and some interesting filler content. Lets jump in!

As always, lets start with production. Paranoia Agent was… acceptable, is the best I can say. It was expressive when it wanted to be. But it simply doesn’t match up with some of the previous episodes. It used a lot still shots, which had some interesting direction, but didn’t wow me at all. Not a bad showing for a glorified filler episode, but that’s all this week was. A filler episode, with loose ties to the central plot. It was interesting, as we will dive into later, but at the moment it feels inconsequential. As if were the episode removed, the overarching plot would be the same. For such a plot driven, thematic series, that leaves me a little disappointed. After all, the only character really connected to the main series here is Kozuma, and even then only loosely. Yet still, this filler was richer than most other series.

For the story content itself, the most descriptive word I have is ‘intriguing’. Not only was it focused on suicide, a rather touchy topic for most, but Paranoia Agent explored it with 3 different age groups. Giving each person their own reasons for it. From Zebra the homosexual to Kamome who just didn’t want to be left alone. While it didn’t connect to the main plot much at all, it did provide some interesting commentary on how Japan treats some of its sub-cultures. What happens to cogs that stick out. My favorite part of it all, that was also very weird, was how it was played for laughs. Suicide and, essentially, depression being played up for laughs. For someone like me, who prefers gallows humor, it was fantastic. However I can see how this episode would bother some people. Especially with how the ending went.

The ending was simultaneously brilliant and insane. Finding out they had been dead the entire time, that at one point their suicide succeeded? Madness, and yet there were hints all throughout. From a lack of shadows and no one noticing them, to the man who crawled out from under the train. Hints that they were ghosts abounded for those wiling to look. It’s the kind of hints and mystery that I love. However I can see this being problematic for some people. As our trio seemed to be happier as ghosts, happier dead, enjoying themselves together. The episode could go either way on either saying “do what you need to do” or saying “enjoy the life you have”. Personally, I lean towards a “enjoy the little things” or “your time together” for a message. I think it fits with how long it took them to notice their deaths.

Speaking of their deaths, I think I know where it happened. Paranoia Agent did a great job hinting this throughout the episode, as was previously discussed. Because of this, I believe that our trio died right at the start, with the collapsing building. The reason for this is two fold. The first is the jump cut once the workers break in, as they wake up in the street and no one makes note of them. It’s from that point forward that they never interact with anyone else, no one taking notice. The second is that it is after that when they go to the subway, and attempt to jump in front of the train. There they see the man who did jump afterwords, clearly showing him alive. However that’s impossible, so the only explanation is he is a ghost, and so are they. They did “meet” some interesting people however.

Those people being both our real and fake Shounen Bat’s. For the fake, we see that Kozuma was in contact with our trio on the net. Giving them advice on how to commit suicide. It’s an odd connection to make to Kozuma in my opinion, as I have yet to decide how I feel about it. I am leaning towards not being a big fan of what it does to his character. That he would help people die, while at the same time seeing himself as a hero in his head. Did he make all those delusions up? The second one however, our real Shounen Bat, was more interesting. For one, he can see ghosts, and is apparently afraid of them. Two, he has more victims than we are seeing. It expands the scope of the story, if only a little, in my opinion.

So with all that said, my opinion of this episode is this. It was alright. It had some interesting commentary, Paranoia Agent would have to do very poorly to not be engaging. But it doesn’t push the overall story forward in any way. Unlike other episodes, where the characters merged back in or pushed the Shounen Bat case forward like the police officer, I don’t see how Paranoia Agent can do that here. The trio are dead, at best they could be passing mention in another story. It just feels like another way to explore the society Kon is trying to present. It’s not bad. I don’t think Kon is capable of making something “bad”. Its just irrelevant to the overall story in my opinion. And when a story is as good as Paranoia Agent’s, that’s a damn shame.

But what do you think? Am I being impatient, does this link back in the future? Let me know down below and I will see you next week!

5 Responses

  1. Avatar anon says:

    It kinda does though not the trio specifically and not directly. Without spoilering, I’d say Paranoia Agent is in transition now.

  2. Avatar Vonter says:

    What I find curious is how Paranoia Agent, despite being so good, it wasn’t that much of an ambitious project by its director.

    “During the makings of his previous three films (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers), Paranoia Agent creator Satoshi Kon was left with an abundance of unused ideas for stories and arrangements that he felt were good but did not fit into any of his projects.”

    I suppose that’s why not all episodes from the show are part of the larger story. But at least are thematically linked to what the show is trying to say.

    I think the review comes hard on filler, and while I can understand how pointless, or even waste of time filler episodes can be, I do think they can also serve a purpose to make the story feel bigger. For example, a story within a story, like in Avatar in where a recap episode was made using a play that sort of tell what has happened in the story so far.

    I don’t know, it seems like sometimes it can be hard to link all events to the main story, but sometimes it can be more interesting telling a sidestory happening in the same world. Star Trek had a several stories no tied to an overarching story and it let them tell interesting phylosophical debates.

    In short, there’s a way to do fillers right.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      There is a way to do filler right, and Paranoia Agent was the best filler I have seen in a long time. Mayhaps I was a tad hard on it, because I want to make clear, I still enjoyed the episode.

      My issue is just that, Paranoia Agent is an all around good show. So I have come to expect a lot from it. To get a filler episode after Maniwa’s breakdown was just a bit disappointing for me.

      That said, like I believe I mentioned, it was definitely interesting. The commentary on how Japanese society treats some of its minorities or undesirables, to the point of driving them to suicide, was great. And I enjoyed the gallows humor, like the hanging being played for laughs. I suppose I just wasn’t expecting it after last week.

  3. SuperMario SuperMario says:

    This is one my favorite standalone episode of all time and it still gives me a mixture of chill, sad and laugh every time I watch it. The subject matter is dark for sure, but it has lots of heart.

    So doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit much to the central plot, as long as it manages to make me laugh and cry in the span of 20 minutes, I’m all down for it.

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