Plot: A city is plagued by seemingly random attacks by Shounen Bat – a boy on golden rollerblades wielding a golden bent baseball bat. While hardly anyone pays attention to the first few attacks, the case continues to wrack up incidents as the true story behind Shounen Bat gets increasingly complicated and crazy.
Breakdown: Paranoia Agent is certainly one of the crazier and more thought-provoking anime I’ve watched. The series is kinda set up in an episodic way as most episodes focus on the story of one or two characters who are the current targets for Shounen Bat. The only linear aspects to most of the episodes are the detectives working on the case and Shounen Bat himself.
The individual stories are really well-written, and some of them get very dark with their subject matter. They range anywhere from a perfect kid at school getting suspected of being Shounen Bat, to prostitution, dissociative personality disorder and pedophilia.
The story of Shounen Bat is the craziest of all and I’m still trying to make complete sense of it. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s definitely an aspect of the series that I’m still trying to figure out fully.
One of the most interesting aspects to me is the ending. I’ll try to explain this without spoiling it all, but in a world where every episode supposedly ends with ‘freeing’ the victim from something and giving their story a somewhat happy ending, the actual ending to the show is not happy for the main characters at all.
The final two episodes as a whole are a little hard to swallow, but I can honestly accept it in the world that has been presented to us – a mirror of our world while still allowing for events such as that. They’ve basically been doing the same thing to a lesser degree during the whole series.
Some of the episodes are intertwined, and it’s really interesting to see what you believe to be two or three completely separate stories connect in some way at the end.
The characters are all very memorable. Not all are likable, but some of them you’re not supposed to like. They’re very realistic and interesting characters to follow through their different storylines.
Art and Animation: The art and animation are both very well done, expected from Madhouse. The animation in particular is very fluid and nice to watch.
Music: I love the soundtrack for this series. The opening is very unique, contrasting greatly with the average J-Pop we’re usually given. The ED is very relaxing and I love the melody. I’d definitely put it on my list of favorite EDs. The background music is also wonderful as it really set the tone for the series and created its own identity.
Voice Acting: Japanese – Everyone was good in their roles. I can’t think of anyone who annoyed me. Even cute little Maromi, with chibi cutesy characters almost always getting on my nerves, had a good voice that was fitting and nice to listen to. It would probably grate on me over time, but it never annoyed me during the series.
Bottom Line: This is a very funny, weird, interesting and thought-provoking psychological drama/thriller. The only reason I’m not more jazzed about it is because there was never a point that really wowed me in amazement. There’s still more than enough to enjoy in this series, and I highly recommend it.
Additional Information and Notes: Paranoia Agent was created and directed by Satoshi Kon, who was also the director of Perfect Blue, director and original writer of Millennium Actress, director and original writer of Tokyo Godfathers, and director of Paprika.
It was animated by Madhouse, and the English dub was done by Geneon, though the US license is now expired.
Recommended Audience: Psychological series are already quite a bit above child territory but add on to that prostitution, sexual references, suggested pedophilia, animal death, no nudity oddly enough, and they don’t even show the attacks on screen, child death…..14-15+.
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