Reviewed by: Azure
Released by: MVM Films
Age Rating: 15
Region: 2 - UK
Volume 1 of 4
Length: 100 minutes
English Dolby Digital Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
A stressed character designer claims she is attacked by a boy on roller blades, the police think she’s stressed and won’t believe her until an epidemic of similar attacks breaks out. The attacks all have strange quirks leading the debate whether Lil’ Slugger as he’s been termed is real or some kind of sinister apparition.
Director Satoshi Kon has a reputation for directing ‘weird films’ such as the physcological thriller Perfect Blue and the moving Millennium Actress. Paranoia Agent fit firmly into this category though the morbid humour that’s scattered throughout evokes his unusual comedy Tokyo Godfathers. What’s important here is that this time Kon is working on a series giving him more scope to experiment, and he admits on the interview included on the DVD that it proved an excellent place to try out stray ideas. The animation is distinctly Kon’s work and bares a striking resemblance to his films remarkable for a series. The music by Hirasawa Susumu is also distinctive and haunting suiting the disturbing visuals perfectly, repeating themes heighten tension and work with rather than against visuals.
Each episode focuses on a different person or group of people and their encounter with Lil’ Slugger, slowly weaving their storylines together as the series progressives. The first episode ‘ Enter Lil’ Slugger’ follows a character designer called Tsukiko Sagi who is struggling to come up with a follow up character to a smash hit Hello Kitty type mascot she’s designed. This stress seems almost ready to boil over, as she’s sure she cannot deliver then quite suddenly she is attacked. At first no one believes her but as other victims start to emerge Tsukiko’s story starts to gain acceptance. The story is well handled as all the victims bear signs of physiological instability so the viewer is never quite sure if Lil’ Slugger is real or not or some kind of mix of both. The story progresses surprisingly fast introducing all the characters featured in the intro sequence on this first disk.
The DVD features storyboards for episode one as well as a interview with Satoshi Kon as he explains his aims for the series. The dub is also of good quality.
Paranoia Agent is a gripping anime but will surely prove to be a love-it-or-hate it experience, the lack of firm information will likely annoy some viewers, but that isn’t really the point of the anime. It’s more about sitting back and enjoying the experience, fans of more unusual titles like Serial Experiments Lain will find plenty to like here.
The composer has put a number of tracks that didn't fit into the OSTs
for download which is a perfect chance to get a feel for the series.