Paranoia Agent changed gears entirely this week, leaving Shonen Bat behind to tell a heartwarming story about suicide. This was definitely an unexpected choice, but the end result was wonderful – an almost self-contained vignette that basically established a small makeshift family, telling lots of great jokes in the process. It was witty and warm and endearingly awkward, pretty much nothing like Paranoia Agent as I’ve come to understand it. Apparently Satoshi Kon just had some loose ideas or something, and figured this was the place for them. Normally that’d be a problem narrative-wise, but this episode was so very good that I can’t complain, and Paranoia Agent’s spent so much time jumping between viewpoint characters already that it basically came off as a lighter but still vaguely coherent intermission piece. Fair enough, Paranoia Agent!
You can check out my full review at ANN, or my notes after the cut.
Two people with the mascot backpacks meet in a square. Seems like they’re otaku doing a live meeting? Their conversation is conveyed through cutaways to chat room dialogue
Zebra, Fuyubachi, and Kamome. The girl is actually still a kid
Fuyubachi, the old man, is freaked out that Kamome is a child. This episode’s much lighter in tone than the usual show stuff, and covering totally new characters. Honestly, after the tension of the last two, I’m okay with that
Now they’re both running away. Complete with a silly comedy big band song
Oh, is this a suicide club?
The character animation’s a little wonky
Kamome throws a tantrum, but it’s… barely animated? Like, weirdly so
Fuyubachi thought she was an adult. The nature of online identity, generational divides again, but they’re arbitrary
Kamome just having a grand old time
They try to jump in front of a train, but of course someone beats them to it. This is a pretty great dark farce – the humor’s kind of dry, which works well
“So that’s how you end up looking if you get run over by a train”
“It’s hard to die, isn’t it?” “These are hard times.” I really like these three
The crows keep following them
Kamome doesn’t want to drown, because her clothes would get wet
The three of them are pretty adorable
“I wish I could have gone somewhere far away on a train”
And now a nice travel song and a perky wipe cut as they get on a train. I think this is the first wipe cut of the series, perfect for this episode’s campy tone
A slight hint of Fuyubachi’s sadness
So they create nooses up in a mountain
And of course the branch breaks and they go tumbling down the mountain
And we see Zebra was gay, and had a lover. More context
“Don’t leave me behind! I don’t want to be alone!” These characters are all extremely loveable
apparently the last member of their online group, FOX, was the Shonen Bat impersonator. Not surprising
And this also points to how everyone has their own story
“If he comes to people who are driven into a corner, he should have come to us long before now.” What else might that mean, Fuyubachi?
Oh my god, now they’re all chasing Shonen Bat so he’ll kill them. Amazing
I love how they use the classic Shonen Bat music to set up this joke
Fuyubachi has some kind of disease – when he doesn’t take his pill, he suffers vertigo and momentary delusions