Monday, August 20, 2012

Anime Review: Paranoia Agent

Despite my love of strange shows I had never actually seen this one until this past summer (which did surprise some other anime fans who knew me when we saw a few episodes of it in my school's anime club), honestly it's just because the series is out of print in the US and I do try to keep my pirating down to as little as I can. But the college near me had the first three discs in their library, not a full set but close enough, so that gave me the incentive to go try the series out. After all, I had seen and liked PaprikaMillennium Actress, and what I had seen of both Tokyo Godfather and Paranoia Agent so this show was right up  my alley, right?

Paranoia Agent

Summary: Starting with an artist at a popular design company, Tokyo has been struck by a wave of strange crimes, all involving various people being injured by a boy on golden roller blades with a baseball bat (Shonen Bat in Japanese, Lil' Slugger in the English translation). There seems to be a tenuous connection between the crimes but soon the crimes grow and expand and the line between reality and fiction begins to blur.

The Good: Fans of Satoshi Kon's other works, especially I feel those who would list Paprika as their favorite of his works, should check this one out since this show has his stylistic fingerprints all over it. Nothing is as it first appears, or even as it later appears it turns out, and it is truly a show that can be defined by the word "mindf*ck". I can easily see why it appeals to so many fans out there, while there are many shows that could also be called mindf*cks this one is strange in a way that's different from most of them (it reminded me a lot of the little I've seen of Serial Experiments Lain, although that's not necessarily a good thing).

The Bad: By about half way through the show it was clear, I just really didn't like this series. I don't know what went wrong, in the first few episodes I was hooked and really liked how each story had a duality through it and thought that would be connected in the end. But by the time they caught (?) Shonen Bat I had just lost interest and slogged through hoping the show would recapture it and that simply didn't happen. By the end I still didn't have a clue what had really happened (my earlier theories involving people with dual sides having been shot down), many of the characters didn't seem important in the end, and my beset guess is that it had to do with some kind of mysticism/power of thought and I'm really picky about those themes in shows*. In the end this show was a complete bust for me, which might be a good thing since now I don't have the urge to track down the horribly overpriced, OOP DVDs. 

The Audio: Right, I know that the opening theme here is one that many anime fans just adore but I really don't like it. I'm not sure why but it just rubs me the wrong way and I fast-forwarded through it nearly every time. The ending theme did grow on me a bit 

The Visuals: One thing that amazes me is that Satoshi Kon's works not only has distinctive themes but also a distinctive art style to them. It's not an over the top style, if anything it leans slightly more realistic than un- but many of the characters have the same eye shape and facial structure across series. I thought the art was okay, at times it seemed a bit lower budget (which easily could've been my computer messing with me), however it worked well whenever the visuals became the most important part of a scene and I have no complaints here.

Perhaps I would have liked this show more if I had a chance to discuss it with people between episodes, instead of watching it in chunks over about a month, but as it stands I really didn't not like this movie. Thankfully the library had some other Satoshi Kon to balance this out later with.

*EDIT: Just checked tvtropes and it looks like I was on the right track actually, although there are still holes in that you could drive a truck through.

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