Posted by Lenlo on 12 April 2019 with categories: Paranoia Agent, Throwback Thursday

Hello all, and welcome to the Galaxy Brain episode of Paranoia Agent. Apologies for the lateness, but I really needed to wrap my head around this. Threads are brought  together, more questions are raised, and I am somehow entertained, confused and enlightened all at once. Lets jump in!

Now I have so much I need to talk about this week, let’s just skip animation and production. It looked fantastic, lots of awesome movement, onto the episode itself. And what an episode it was. I feel like I understand so much more now, all the narrative threads are coming together. Yet at the same time, I am confused and have absolutely no idea what is happening. That these two states can coincide, that I can understand nothing and still be wholly satisfied, is amazing. I am unsure how much of this was intentional by Kon though. Large portions were clearly foreshadowed early on, such as Maniwa or Maromi. However with the 2 or so episodes of filler, you also have to wonder, how much of this just… fell into place? Thats question for next week’s finale though, for now, onto specifics!

Starting off, let’s talk Maniwa and his delusions. He is, or already has I suppose, become just like Kozuka, the fake Shounen Bat. Believing himself a hero and getting trapped in that same sort of fantasy land. It’s interesting because Paranoia Agent has always had Maniwa be open to new ideas and methods. Empathizing with people and using that to figure things out. Now however he has fallen to deep into it. As Tropic Thunder says, “Never go full retard”, but in this case its “Never go full Shounen Bat”. This was clearly intended from the start, as Maniwa was the only one to fully embrace his role on Kozuka’s story. Yet, through Maniwa Paranoia Agent is neither condemning nor endorsing this kind of empathetic investigation.

What I mean is, Maniwa has managed to find results through this, but his life is ruined. He has found answers, to Tsukiko, Shounen Bat and Maromi. Tracking them all the way back to her father’s house and the original bat. Yet at the same time, the Chief seems perfectly happy in his ignorance. Just chugging along after losing his job, never actually solving the case, and stumbling upon it now. Its as if Paranoia Agent is saying you need both, to work together young and old, to solve problems? Like I said at the start, I am grasping at straws here. I have no idea what any of these means in the meta context. Just that it left me satisfied watching it, and narratively I can connect the strings. Like the Maromi and Shounen Bat threads suddenly make much more sense.

Speaking of Maromi and Shounen Bat, now I have even more questions. Both are seemingly tied to Tsukiko and her past. With Maromi being inspired by her now dead dog, and Shounen Bat the bat that seemingly killed it? So now the question is, are they being created by Tsukiko in the nascent God way of Haruhi? Or are they separate entities that have just latched on to Tsukiko? Another theory I have is that they are examples of a collective consciousness sort of thing. Where the more people that believe in them, the more power they gain. This came up because Maniwa made a point of not thinking about Shounen Bat, not mentioning his rumors. As if they make him stronger. And both have clearly become more active as they gained popularity/notoriety. But then, how do they pick their targets?

I ask because previously it was established that Shounen Bat only targets those who are desperate. And the Chief’s wife showed that Shounen Bat can’t attack those who are not desperate. Yet Shounen Bat has clearly attacked people who are inconvenient for Tsukiko as well. From the reporter in episode 1 to her manager in this episode. Both where a bit worried, but the timing of the attacks seemed very convenient for Tsukiko. Both were attacked when they were bothering her, almost as if they were willed by her. The issue with this though is that Shounen Bat is now attacking Tsukiko at the end of this episode. Like it’s growing out of her control. I really hope Paranoia Agent manages to explain or tie all of this together in the finale. Because for all that I am interested, a limp finale could really ruin it all.

The next question I have is, whats going on with the chief and the idealized past? Is this meant to show that Tsukiko never grew up past that age, mentally? She never moved on and the Chief, a grounded adult able to deal with life, is there to show her the way? Because out of every character in the cast, the Chief seems to be the most well adjusted adult Paranoia Agent has. Just a man trying to get by take care of his wife, and do his job. If anyone can help Tsukiko face reality it would be him. But then you have to wonder about the idealized dream world. Is he finally failing? Or is he tiring of the make believe when he finds Tsukiko? And what about the robber who led him to it? So many questions, so little time to answer them.

Lastly I want to talk about the old man, the Sage, and apparently Morgan Freeman. He seemingly became the elevator man to heaven after passion, in the most confusing part of the episode. I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no idea what is going on with him or how he plays into everyone else. He’s just this sort of enigmatic presence throughout the show, thats never really explained. Similar to the old lady, who we saw get washed away in the storm, yet is apparently still alive? Its as if half the show was planned out from the start, with Maniwa and such, while the other half has no idea what it wants to be. Id accuse it of rambling to the end, but I find doing that to Kon difficult. Really, this final episode will decide everything.

So all in all how was the episode? I loved it, I was wholly satisfied and entertained. I have no idea how the series as a whole will shake out, because of the important I place on a series ending. Paranoia Agent has so many themes, stories and threads to wrap up I can’t help but feel like the odds of success are astronomically low. Yet, for this episode, I loved it. There was just the right amount of absurdity, just the right amount of questions answered and threads brought together. I am hyped for a finale that I have absolutely no idea how it will address whats left. For a penultimate episode, I suppose that’s all it needs to do huh?

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