Posted by Lenlo on 4 April 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

And so Paranoia Agent gets back on its weird tracks! This week week see what’s happened with Maniwa and the chief, Shounen Bat gets one upped and Kon get’s a little weird again. Lets jump in!

I have to say, this was a unique episode. All of Paranoia Agent’s episodes are unique in some way, but that’s not going to stop me from pointing it out each week. This time, Kon give’s us a closer look into Shounen Bat himself, which is a very welcome surprise. I made a point last week of explaining my worries with the series. That it was moving away from the characters and towards Shounen Bat, when he had no character of his own. That there wasn’t a clear plot to actually end in the first place. Kon apparently realized this, knowing from the start if the setup is anything to go by. This week give’s me that characterization, that sort of plot hook, that I so desperately wanted last week. So credit where credit is do, Kon has assuaged one of my biggest worries. But what about the actual content?

Immediately, Paranoia Agent manages to catch my interest by tying the new character directly to an existing one. By focusing on the Chief and his wife, we have a history with these characters, even if we are just meeting her. Kon also gave both of these characters a sort of aged, downtrodden nobility to them. The strength of an older generation and how one should never give up. However, what made the Wife interesting for me, was the internal struggle. Shounen Bat continues to be a sort of Eldritch Force, not an actual person, changing in size throughout and bound by rules we can never know. But Paranoia Agent introduces a new idea into this, that he is a collective figment of social imagination. Combine this with her clear mental instability and you have a recipe for a fantastic, weird but fantastic, episode.

You see, this episode framed her entire confrontation with Shounen Bat as no more than a fever dream. As if he, once again, wasn’t even real but a figment of her imagination. She had lost hope, and so he appeared. But he played by her rules in that so long as she hadn’t given up completely, he couldn’t harm her. Shounen Bat was forced to listen to her story, growing strong and weaker with the rises and falls in her story. Then at the very end, when she finally dispels Shounen Bat, her own inner turmoil and resolves to life, she reaches enlightenment. There is no other way to put that, as the walls around her, that were limiting her, literally fall away to a beautiful field. Paranoia Agent paints this picture that the Eldritch Force which Shounen Bat represents is some kind of societal depression, in a way.

Her’s isn’t the only story though, as throughout this entire episode, Paranoia Agent was running 2 threads. To contrast his wife battling her inner demons and coming face to face with Shounen Bat, we have the chief, just trying to make ends meat. It was nice to see him still trucking along, indomitable in the face of his entire life getting upturned. Working multiple jobs, running from place to place, supporting his family. Based on what we saw before, it actually seems like he may be happier now to. The chief was much calmer, laid back and seemed to laugh and smile more with all of these jobs than he did as a police chief. I am not 100% sure what Paranoia Agent’s message is here, but what I got from it was this. You are not alone, whatever your problems, they are easier if you face them together.

The big example of this, which I loved, was the Thief. His meeting and interactions with the chief were simply fantastic, and brought a whole new dimension to his character. It showed us that for all his bluster as an officer, he still sees criminals as people. The man did the crime, did the time, and is now working a respectable job. The Chief is able to see this and treat him like any other person. It also seems like Paranoia Agent is making a point that no one is better than any other. A respected police chief and a former criminal he had caught have now wound up in the same place, working the same job. Neither is superior to the other, with the Chief even needing some life advice from his one time enemy. This “Friends in the most unlikely of places” fits perfectly with his wife’s thread.

Lastly, we need to talk about Maniwa and his ominous final line. Boy has Maniwa… He has not held up as well as the Chief, falling deep down Shounen Bat’s rabbit hole. It’s almost as if we have a circular Dark Souls style story here, where he might become the next Old Man. Foretelling the targets of Shounen Bat. I like it though, as Maniwa has always been a much more empathetic character than the Chief, able to connect with people. This connection however seems to have worked against him, in a “If you gaze into the abyss, take care it does not gaze back into you” sort of way. Maniwa did not take care, and so he has become a crazy homeless man out of work, with his foil hat and everything. I have no idea where Paranoia Agent is going with him, other than that I like it!

So all in all, how was this episode? It did a great job of furthering/establishing some kind of final plot, and drawing all the characters back in. There was a lot to unpack in this episode, and a lot of parts went unmentioned in my quest to focus on the big events/threads. Taken as a whole though, it was a very interesting episode. My only real complaint is some of the scenes with the wife felt a bit… lazy? Seeing Shounen Bat through the screen door drove home that he wasn’t real, only ever seen by those he is attacking really. A haze. But when that shot takes up a large chunk of the episode, it eventually becomes visually boring. It did lead to some payoff with the walls around her falling. But I am not entirely sure it was worth it. Regardless, the episode was good.

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