Paranoia Agent is a cult classic series that is primarily known about thanks to its short run on adult swim in the early 2000s. Unfortunately its low episode count difficulttodigest nature and lessthanstellar dub prevent it from attaining the superstar status that other shows like Dragon Ball and One Piece enjoy. Tis a sad reflection of the fact that as the two animated incarnations of Fullmetal Alchemist proved the audience at large is more interested in arbitrary facepunching than in food for thought. But if I started on that Id be at this all day. The point is that Paranoia Agent as with anything touched by the late and great Satoshi Kon is anime not only as entertainment but as an art form. ... Writing: Those who are familiar with my other reviews already know that writing is by an extremely wide margin the most significant some might say the only factor in my judgement of a series. It should come as no surprise then that Paranoia Agent boasts damn near the best in the industry. Death Note trembles Baccano bows even Ghost in the Shell must pay respect to the concretebutinterpretive gravebutwhimsical layereduponlayereduponlayered narrative of Paranoia Agent. As a series that originated from a series of unused ideas too short to be adapted into films its an incredible achievement that Kon is able to work the seeminglyepisodic narrative together into a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Not only this but such that theres an awesome amount of depth to the delivery such thaton an anecdotal noteI pick up on something new each and every time I rewatch the series like the significance of the title Happy Family Planning being placed as a brand on a package of condoms as an allegory for the plight of that episodes trio or the subtle foreshadowing of Tsukikos secret as early as the first episode. A good writer knows how to make his plot setting and circumstance work for him and Satoshi Kon does this in spades. As the mysterious Lil Slugger/Shonen Bat begins to feed on the rumors and paranoia of the cityfolk suddenly all of their seeminglydisconnected experiences and even a series of completely fabricated tales of the inline menace begin to show great significance. Paranoia Agent illustrates flawlessly how even the smallest choices in life are still choices and choices have consequences. The contribution of humans as individuals to a far greater whole affects all of us in ways we rarely think about and this is especially apparent in the introductory montage of various people avoiding their responsibilities we are all individually responsible for the whole that results from our contribution. The series is an anthole: The further down you dig the more intricacies you find and the more complex you learn the whole to be. Animation: True to Satoshi Kons style the visual production values on the series are extremely high for its era and remain well above average today. A generally very realistic truetolife art style beautifully animated to mimic the human form Paranoia Agent is symbolic of what has always been to me the selling point of animation: the ability to portray any world you want to even the real world without being limited by the confines of real world physics. Satoshi Kon is historically a master of this as he employs some incredibly creative and experimental animation and composition techniques that have influenced the entire film industry taking place in a very realistic animated world not unlike our own but injected with just a little bit of the supernatural. Movement is fluid and seamless and the characters all breathe personality without having to be identified by wacky getups. Sound: As may or may not be common knowledge Ive always been partial to dubs. And like anyone who was introduced to the series through adult swim the dub was the first version I saw. My immense respect for the series extended to the dub until my last watchthrough where I took a step back and realized that the dub is very mixed in terms of talent. The veterans like Michael McConnohie Michelle Ruff and Liam OBrien all bring it home beautifully with stellar performances on all fronts but much of the shows other talent and especially the newer folks leaves much to be desired. Theres a big difference in quality between main characters and bit characters whose voice lines are at times abysmally performed. And of course because Satoshi Kons work is so thorough with its animation going beyond the typical anime technique of nondescript threeframe mouth flaps the detailed lip movements conflict with the English dialogue at times creating a Gojira effect. The subbed version is of course absent all these issues. There are still some terrific deliveries from McConnohie and OBrien in the dub though so go with your preference. The music comes from Kons standby composer Susumu Hirasawa and while not the best listening music I own the soundtrack fits the show to a T. From the wonky brass to the abstract synth the strange and unsettling nature of the shows events is captured flawlessly and with plenty of theme variation as well. Speaking of the somewhat infamous theme song is a disturbing earworm if ever one existed with an opening sequence to match. ... Satoshi Kon is a legend among anime directors for a reason right alongside the likes of Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo. Paranoia Agent is a triumph of animation celebrating all that he represented in his work and this 13episode series is required watching for anyone claiming to be an anime connoisseur. Its a psychological thriller like youve never seen before.
100 /100
31 out of 43 users liked this review