Paranoia Agent – Episode 3

Classic watch continues, with an episode that felt more impressive than emotionally resonant, as I go into in my piece. I suppose it’s just the kind of show this is, but I’m kind of worried about Paranoia Agent steering too far into cynical condemnation of its characters. This episode seemed to exist on the far side of that line from the first moments, where we got about as big of an “otaku are gross” moment as is humanly possible. I guess we’ll see where it goes!

Here’s my full piece over at ANN, and my notes are below!

Paranoia Agent

Wooop, otaku. Opening with shots of figures as a fat otaku has sex with a prostitute, and then complements his dolls on their performances. Satoshi Kon does not pull punches with his feelings on these dudes

The woman checking her messages, one call from presumably her mother

Crows picking at garbage in front of ads for prostitutes. A low metallic rumbling music rising.

“Who am I?” “I’m Harumi Chono”

Arguing with herself on the answering machine. Her other self, “Maria”

Harumi Chono looks demure and professional. “Maria” has long hair, heavy makeup, a beauty mark

Looking at herself in the mirror

Oh right, it’s Yuichi’s tutor

Shonen Bat is threading strangely through characters, connected by conversation and need

“No matter how chaotic a crime may seem there is always some law of causality.” A great metaphor for the series itself – people want these fears to make sense, they want there to be a cause

This is a much more low-key episode than the last, fitting with its subdued protagonist

“I often feel like I don’t know where I am. Who am I? I feel like I’m nobody.”

“Maria is hoping you will find a place where you belong.” So it’s an actual split personality

Harumi is searching for something in an even more direct way than the others – her own identity

Her boss at the university asks her to marry him

One of her clients stifling a tear as she says goodbye

Great alternate version of the opening song for her triumphant “this is my life” putting-away-Maria scene

But now they have her cell number. A crow settles on her boat

So now Maria’s fighting back against her

Another scene using just natural sounds, with that harsh cellphone cutting out everything else

“You’re the fake!”

Her doctor advising her to tell the truth. And Yuichi says “you’re the one that seems to need a doctor”. But did he actually say that?

Putting Maria’s things in trash bags. And again, the crows

She keeps raising her head and “waking up” in that same posture. Like a miniature version of Perfect Blue

“Shonen Bat set me free!” “I want to be free too”

The changing shadow as she fights with herself in the street. Great stuff

“All of them looked relieved after they were attacked”

And Shonen Bat has been caught! Question marks???

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