The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Paranoia Agent

Title: Paranoia Agent aka Mousou Diarinin
Genre: Drama
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 13 episodes
Date: 3 Feb 2004 – 18 May 2004

Synopsis: One day on her way home from work, famous character designer Sagi Tsukiko is assaulted. The only details she remembers are that her assailant was a young boy wearing golden roller blades and brandishing a golden baseball bat. Two police detectives take the case and try to hunt down any information on “Shounen Bat,” their name for the unknown assailant. It isn’t long before Shounen Bat strikes again and again, and with each assault more and more strange things start happening.

The Highlights
Coherence: Somewhat difficult to piece together; leaves many unanswered questions.
Symbolism: Several motifs as well as some social commentary.
Appeal: Interesting to watch; will leave you anxious for the next episode.

Right from the intro sequence I knew Paranoia Agent wasn’t going to be one of Kon Satoshi’s more straightforward anime. Bearing more similarities to Perfect Blue than Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent will definitely appeal more to those with eccentric tastes. It isn’t long before the scenery and events transform from normalcy into nightmare making for an intriguing anime. At the very least, you will have a morbid curiosity to find out what happens next and whether it makes sense to you or not, Paranoia Agent will hold your interest from start to finish.

To the dismay of many, the disjointed presentation of the story makes it hard to understand what is going on at times. The plot is told from the perspectives of many different characters and some of the episodes don’t directly affect the progression of the plot. Near the end, Paranoia Agent becomes almost as confusing as Neon Genesis Evangelion and much like the latter anime leaves many important questions unanswered. The fates of a lot of the main characters were left ambiguous and the purpose of some of the characters and events is equally obscure.

Of course Kon Satoshi wasn’t out to tell a coherent and normal story, his intents were to provide social commentary with a unique presentation. There are some symbols such as the moon, Shogo’s palm tree, and the crows in episode three that offer a little insight into the characters, but might as well be red herrings for as little as they tell us about Kon’s intent. Where Paranoia Agent truly shines is in the social commentaries it makes. Covering a wide variety of topics from consumerism, to self-victimization, and even commenting on otaku sub-culture, Paranoia Agent has a little something to say to everyone.

Paranoia Agent is a great work that exemplifies many of the things that make Kon Satoshi’s anime so wonderful. While far from being his best work, it is more than satisfactory and a great choice if you want to have your mind screwed with. Despite the convoluted plot, we are given just enough answers to important questions to make the ending decent. Kon fans will love it, and it’s worth seeing for everyone else.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kuma

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