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Mousou Dairinin Anime Cover

Score: 7.69/10

Synopsis

The infamous Shounen Bat (Lil' Slugger) is terrorizing the residents of Musashino City. Flying around on his rollerblades and beating people down with a golden baseball bat, the assailant seems impossible to catch—much less understand. His first victim, the well-known yet timid character designer Tsukiko Sagi, is suspected of orchestrating the attacks. Believed only by her anthropomorphic pink stuffed animal, Maromi, Tsukiko is just one of Shounen Bat's many victims. As Shounen Bat continues his relentless assault on the town, detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa begin to investigate the identity of the attacker. However, more and more people fall victim to the notorious golden bat, and news of the assailant begins circulating around the town. Paranoia starts to set in as chilling rumors spread amongst adults and children alike. Will the two detectives be able to unravel the truth behind Shounen Bat, or will the paranoia get to them first? [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Satoshi Kon, director of such classics as Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress, is famous for pushing the boundaries of anime. His latest effort (and first series), Paranoia Agent, is no different. But, like his other works, you’ll either love it or hate it. This short 13 episode series is full of more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at, and the animation style is anything but traditional.

The story begins with detectives Keiichi Ikari (AKA ‘the Chief’) and Mitsuhiro Maniwa investigating the street assault of Tsukiko Sagi, a famous designer for a toy company and creator of Maromi, a popular cartoon character. She claims she was walking home from work the night before when she was attacked by a boy on roller blades wielding a bent baseball bat. When rumours get out of her attack, the people in the town begin to refer to him as “Lil’ Slugger” (in the dubbed version) or Shounen Bat (Shōnen Batto 少年バット in the original Japanese version). Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to point Ikari and Maniwa to any significant suspects. They don’t have to wait long, however, before Lil’ Slugger strikes again.

The first four episodes of Paranoia Agent deal with Lil’ Slugger’s first five victims – Tsukiko Sagi, Shogo Ushiyama, Yuichi Taira, Harumi Chono, and Masami Hirukawa, respectively. Usually, Lil’ Slugger knocks his victims unconscious when he attacks them, but in the case of his fifth attack, Hirukawa manages to get to his feet and hit Lil’ Slugger on the head with a rock as he tries to skate away. With Lil’ Slugger captured, Ikari and Maniwa breathe a sigh of relief, believing the case is practically closed. However, they soon realise just how far from the truth that is…

I won’t give away anything else about the plot, but take it from me; it’s one of the most bizarre, mind-blowing anime series you’ll ever see. Satoshi Kon does such an amazing job of telling the story – fantasy and reality blur to the point of being indistinguishable from one another as the series progresses and the disturbing story behind Lil’ Slugger is slowly unraveled. The characters are rich and believable, and the writing is witty and intelligent.

Another thing about Paranoia Agent that really caught my attention was the animation style and character design. Madhouse really does a fantastic job on this series – the characters are dark, disturbed, and many are (perhaps most importantly) unattractive. Now that’s something you don’t see every day in anime. I’ve noticed that Satoshi Kon, who assists in character design for all of his works, feels the need to create characters that are actual people with actual problems – both mental as well as physical. Call me crazy, but I get tired of the traditional anime style. Paranoia Agent is a fantastic break from pink hair and over-exaggerated features.

The two detectives, Ikari and Maniwa, are interesting and easily relatable. Ikari, the chief, is a middle-aged man living in the past who can’t seem to get a grip on today’s world. He sees Lil’ Slugger as a symbol of what’s wrong with our youth in the 21st century, and is intent on tracking him down. Maniwa is much younger – an impressionable dreamer, but still very serious about his job. He provides the viewer with a different, more abstract take on who Lil’ Slugger really is. But, even with their clashing personalities and different opinions of the serial street attacks, they work perfectly together. I give it an A+ in the character design department, as it’s some of the best I’ve ever seen.

CONCLUSION

The moment I saw the first episode of Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent, I knew the series as a whole would be a masterpiece. I was totally right. Out of all the movies and series I’ve seen (anime or otherwise), PA – in my honest opinion – reigns supreme as one of the most intelligent, inspiring, and flawless pieces of visual entertainment ever.

For those who aren't used to a Satoshi Kon anime, be prepared. They usually start off as a normal type of anime, and then take a serious turn for the surreal. As for Paranoia Agent, it starts off as a normal detective-style anime but then the plot twists and turns worse than a twist-tie on a bag of wonder bread. For those used to Satoshi Kon's work (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, etc), none of this is news. Personally I enjoy a good "whodunit" anime since I also love CSI, 24, Prison Break, etc. These kind of shows actually get the viewer to really think how its going to unfold next or guess who is the real culprit. Just for general information I watched the whole show on Cartoon Network years ago, but then I rewatched the Japanese version and let me tell you there are ALOT of things they (Cartoon Network) cut in various episodes of the show. They even took out important parts of the show that were very important to making the episode make sense. But after watching the 'uncut' version many things made sense. Even with that extra knowledge I couldn't help but think that half the episodes had a filler feeling to them. Many times you'll wonder why certain story arcs are being told or how that person is connected to the overall story but it will all make sense in the end (except for episode 09). The character cast is extremely varied, in terms of look and personality. The details show in most of their faces.Whats most noticeable is the older the character is, the more detail their face becomes. The voice acting in the english and japanese dubs are extremely top notch as well. For the serious otakus you'll definitely notice Mamiko Noto's voice or Haruko Momoi, but if you're open minded enough to listen to the english side of the voices you'll notice good voices as well like Carrie Savage or Sam Regal. But the attention to detail don't just stop with character style and voice acting. Character props and background art is where this show shines the most, from an artists cluttered cubicle to an otaku's room filled with figures. I could have sworn you can actually see a layer of dust on an old bookshelf. Each scene is unique and different and you can tell they put alot of time and effort on all the small details to make this show stand out better than the rest. My only gripe out the artwork is that it is very earth tone and dark. Well not really dark per se but its color scheme is very warm and brownish looking which I didn't like all that much but you will soon overcome the problem the more you watch it. Another gripe I am not to fond of how Kon draws his characters. Some of them look very normal, ordinary and sometimes cute. But the characters who wear their personality on their sleeves look very drastic. Like abnormaly huge mouths, beady eyes, fishy lips, all very strange to look at. The most that suffers from this type of look are the male figures in the show. I'm not fond of it but im sure most people will enjoy the change of pace from all the cute moe cartoons that plage the anime world. If you have never seen a Sat-Kon anime, I highly reccomend watching this series simply because it will definitely be a different experience that you should see for yourself. With the outrageous plot twists and holes in some parts, the story does have a few problems overall. Like I said way back in the beggining the story starts out fine then it takes a serious turn for the surreal so take that however you may but I highly recommender this to anyone who doesn't mind a crazy mind trip of "Alice in Wonderland" proportions.

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