Later in the evening, Tsukiko walks down the alleyway home and sees an old woman. As she tries to avoid her, the woman disappears, with the darkness starting to close in on Tsukiko. In a fit of paranoia, she runs and falls down in a parking lot. While trying to collect her things that have fallen out of her bag, she hears the sound of roller blades. As Tsukiko turns her head to the source of the sound, she is promptly struck in the head by a baseball bat.
Forming out of a plenitude of unused story ideas, Paranoia Agent finds Satoshi Kon at his most versatile and surreal. It patiently and thoroughly weaves together a tangled web of people from different walks of life, connected to each other like pieces of an elaborate puzzle through one common factor: a serial assailant by the name of 'Shōnen Bat'. Rollerblades; a golden baseball bat; a wicked smile. The boy is seemingly omnipresent, showing up behind any person who feels cornered in life. The city of Musashino enters mass hysteria; rumors, false sightings and fear take over. The busy nature of this suffocating urban hellscape finds itself in the midst of paranoia.
As I mentioned earlier, Tsukiko Sagi represents the obsession that detective Ikari has for his work. According to him, it is being a policeman who brings order to his life. Putting work at the center of his world inevitably makes him lose his humanity, making him increasingly blind, insensitive and cynical towards others, just like Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto. In the end, the detective Ikari, thanks to the intervention of his wife Misae, finally manages to come to his senses, to understand what he has to put at the center of his existence: love, good feelings. Proof of this renewed mentality is the way in which he behaves with Tsukiko Sagi after having managed to escape from the illusory two-dimensional world created by his sick mind. Instead of insulting or despising the young illustrator, as he had done until then, Ikari tries to save her life at any cost, helping her dig into her past in order to destroy that collective paranoia called Maromi / Shonen Bat, and along with it her existential pain.
Paranoia Agent is a 2004 anime by Satoshi Kon and consists of gradually connecting episodes revolving around various victims of attacks by a mysterious boy on roller skates and armed with a metal baseball bat, given the name Shounen Bat by the public. As fear and tension rises from people hearing rumours, making accusations, and despairing over their own circumstances, the city gives way to paranoia without any basis for why. In true Kon style, Paranoia Agent focuses on the dualities of urban life and how repetition, overwork, and social constraints drive people to their limits.
Yuichi's paranoia begins to overwhelm him as he begins to lose his grip on reality, and begins to wish for Lil' Slugger to save him by proving him not to be the perpetrator. When Shogo is attacked while walking with Yuichi, the pressure of realizing he's now clearly suspect brings Ichi to his knees. Yuichi is a perfect example of one suffering from delusions of grandeur.
I mentioned in my Wonder Egg Priority article how much that anime resembled a Satoshi Kon production, but here's an actual Satoshi Kon series. From the opening sequence alone, Paranoia Agent intercuts character drama with surreal imagery that makes you question just what the hell is really going on and whether you can trust what's on the screen. This is, of course, a key part of the experience of watching a Kon movie, and the filmmaker did talk about how much of the show was him trying to recycle many unused ideas for stories he couldn't fit into his feature film work.Paranoia Agent is an anthology, and each episode tells a separate story focusing on a different character that only tangentially relates to the rest. The genius of the show is the way it jumps from comedy to horror, and fantasy to drama. There are episodes with washed-out lighting and hard cuts to create a constant sense of unease, followed by a bizarre yet cute scene of a talking Hello Kitty-like toy. That's sandwiched between an episode about a guy stealing from old ladies to pay the yakuza, and an episode about us finding out how much of a creep he is. We also get a goofy fantasy adventure where a kid tells detectives he attacked a bunch of people to save them from Dragon Quest-style monsters. Then there's a trio of standalone episodes that are not really about the show, but about the general idea of paranoia and other barely-related topics, like a very, very bleak comedy about internet friends failing to commit group suicide, a group of women gossiping about Lil' Slugger, and an incredibly prescient episode about the production of an anime show. Overproduction and bad working conditions were not new in the anime industry, but they certainly weren't nearly as widely discussed as they are today. Over a decade before Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken taught us about the struggle between the artistic and economical side of anime, Satoshi Kon turned that idea into a bleak yet poignant black comedy where an animator dies at their desk, but their supervisor doesn't notice because everyone sleeps at their desk all the time. 041b061a72