Paranoia Agent – Episode 6

This was a bravura episode of Paranoia Agent. This show is all about creating a specific mood and revealing synchronicities in modern fears, and this episode did a better job of both of those than pretty much any episode before. Taeko’s story, the old woman’s testimony, and the gathering storm all played off each other to create a heavy, oppressive atmosphere that built to a triumphant peak drawing all of them together. At its best, this show feels like one long, ominous note, gathering in intensity, building and building up to that moment of release as Shonen Bat arrives. This is a damn good show.

You can check out my oversized writeup over at ANN, or my notes below!

Paranoia Agent

Opening with great atmospheric shots of the city as a storm approaches. Once again, it’s just the wind that offers a soundtrack. This show is so great in creating a fully realized tone – pacing, visual palette, and diegetic sound

A typhoon coming

Slowly checking in on characters, with just the wind and rushing cars as soundtrack

The chief being bad at communication as usual now that they’re questioning the old lady

“I wish I could see my granddaughter. I haven’t seen her in so long.”

“There’s no home to go back to, even though I want to.” Everyone seeking a place in a fractured world

Her granddaughter seems to be this episode’s focus character, who ran away from her aunt’s family when her own family dissolved after her father’s company went under

Great distance shots, and slowly building mysteries. More natural sounds, no music at all this episode. Really strong sense of tension

Also great sunset lighting for this flashback

Taeko is the granddaughter

“She was such a daddy’s girl”

“We’re not here to listen to that story!” Once again, the chief wants these events to fit into a coherent, crime-based pattern. But what he’s getting is the real story – everything really is interconnected, there really is synchronicity, but it’s through these vague patterns, and the way everyone is fearing in their own way

The Chief’s losing it

“That strange woman was all alone the whole time” uh oh

Another great sound transition using the horns and sirens of traffic, cut off by a plaque falling

And then a transition using the framing device of the catcher game

This episode’s wonderfully understated. About as different from the last as possible

“How dare you call me”

And then the rain begins

Now contrasting the police officers on the left with Taeko on the right. Great cuts

“No, that’s not my home. I wish the house would disappear!” And then the old lady’s shack gets blown away in the storm

So now the police think the boy was a copycat

Taeko’s family actually did end up getting a new house

Oh god, her father was spying on her

The first song of the entire episode

This twist honestly feels kinda pat and crappy. Satoshi Kon’s cynicism is normally smarter than this

Tons of match cuts between past and present

The granddaughter and grandmother pass each other in the street, but don’t recognize each other

“In short, you felt relieved and wanted to escape…”

Another song, but it’s basically just the alarm as a train approaches

She sees herself in the overflowing river, but it’s actually the old woman

“Help me. I don’t know what to do anymore…” Transitioning directly to the Chief saying that. This is probably the most carefully constructed episode

“I want to forget…” She wants to go back to the simpler world, where she could love her father

Taeko’s house is washed away in a landslide

And then Saki and Taeko are “struck” at the same time

Saki gets struck when she’s about to remember

Grandmother reunited with granddaughter, and Taeko’s memories are gone