Paranoia Agent – Episode One

SO. This season I get to do some classic episodic reviews for ANN, diving into Satoshi Kon’s one full-length series. I was excited to start this one, and the first episode definitely didn’t disappoint – we’re already playing in some compelling psychological headspace and front-and-center themes, all elevated through Kon’s excellent direction. Anime rarely managed to do horror well, but Kon makes it look easy, consistently setting an atmosphere of distrust and hinted violence. This should be a fun ride!

You can check out my full writeup over at ANN, as well as my full notes below!

Paranoia Agent

Opening with that maniacal laughter opening the shadow of the bomb. Things are not right here. Things are terribly wrong

So, modern paranoia, obviously. Fake laughter in the shadow of oblivion

Those great establishing shots with strong sound design, like in Perfect Blue. Incidental sound – here, a jackhammer in city traffic

People arguing and lying on their phones. Again, distrust of the modern age, of technology

It builds into static, and then fades to a little old man who looks a bit like Einstein writing a complex equation, ending with mc squared =

“Enter Lil’ Slugger!” More of these great match cuts and natural transitions

Tsukiko Sagi’s our lead, who designs mascots. Empty characters. A very modern age job

Maromi was her big hit character

“Everybody’s so looking forward to your next miracle!” A job all about the “spark”

Hatomura is her boss, breathing down her neck

Creepy old lady in the trash, disappears. The light fades. Building white noise, again, slowly complemented by a train warning

Another one of those great match cuts – the bat coming down into pens falling from their container

Vaguely remembering details of the assailant (short, fifth or sixth grade, a bat), and then the ringing alarm comes back

And now we see the “genius old man” comatose in a wheelchair at the hospital

One of the cops doesn’t believe her, the other’s a creep

The detectives roll off the equation, revealing the answer to be “510”

Akio Kawazu is the scummy reporter looking for a scoop

“It’s widely known that there’s been an increase in juvenile offenders in society” What’s wrong with the youth of today?

“It’s not my son!”

“This is the result of our repressed society having the worst impact on those who are the most vulnerable… our children.” Directly after a scene of kids looking at porn, facilitated by an adult

“We have to teach children about the difference between the real world and virtual world”

Other kids also talking about kids today, and what they’ve read on the net

“Keep the violence in the videogames!” says a kid. The adults search for easy answers that absolve themselves, the kids are more integrated

Tsukiko checking her message board, which gets progressively more awful. Kon definitely gets the internet

Aaand Tsukiko’s already talking to her animated mascot. The animation of the mascot, how it waddles around with its huge bobble head and floppy limbs, is fantastic

Akio finds her drawing in the old woman’s tarp, and convinces her to talk with him

Akio’s a creep too

“You’re not finished yet?”

Once again building tension across the cuts. Heavy breathing, the building mechanical sounds, the drink perspiring, Akio making those awful slurping noises

And now she’s limping down the street being pursued by him

2 thoughts on “Paranoia Agent – Episode One

  1. I’m glad you review Paranoia Agent, in fact the series is the very first anime series I watched, out of my fascination towards Satoshi Kon. He’s still my personal favorite director ever, animated or not.

    I hope you enjoy the series.

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