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Paranoia Agent Review

by: sothis
August 6, 2005

story 9.5/10

Paranoia Agent screenshot Paranoia Agent is a brilliant, intelligent story that is extremely hard to explain without spoiling. The general story revolves around what you see above: people are being randomly attacked by Shounen Bat. But around episode 5 or 6, a new plotline evolves, which becomes very enthralling and in depth. By the end, fear not, the main idea of the story is revealed, but you are indeed left with many questions, twilight zone style.

In general, the story is presented in an AMAZING way. It's hard to explain why the story flowed as good as it did. Each episode almost seemed like an autonomous story, but yet, in some cases they still ended up being connected to other stories in turn. Each episode was also told in an entirely different way, sometimes, but it still totally sucked you in and made you want to watch more. One episode, for example, was almost like a tour of an anime company, with still frames pointing out what each character did, etc. I think the best part was that each episode had some sort of punch line (or twist), and the twist was revealed slowly or in a really unusual way. No episode started out explaining what was happening, it was revealed slowly. It was this unique storytelling ability that followed through in EVERY episode, that made me love watching this series. No episode was slow and boring, each episode was a new story with a new mystery to figure out.

Also, although it was fairly confusing, it wasn't AS confusing as, say, Lain or other completely messed up series. You had an idea of what was going on, and could guess what you thought would happen as well. I really don't like series where I understand almost nothing the entire time, just to be given a small handout at the end which explains almost nothing. At least with Paranoia Agent, the mystery was engaging and interesting, so you could tolerate being confused for the most part.

Although the show is basically a mystery, there are very hilarious comedic moments, mostly dark comedy, or random/slapstick. All of it was told in a very subtle way, so it isn't like the kind of "humor" where a guy gets beat up by a girl every 2.5 seconds for no reason (ala Love Hina style). You'll be interested in the mystery, laughing at the comedy, and shaking your head at the truly disturbing parts of the story. (episode 6, anyone?)

I gave it a 9.5 for story, for the marvelous storytelling, and plot in general. .5 was removed for the plot points that just aren't explained well enough, or not explained at all. I like leaving some things to my imagination, but I would have liked a few more key things to be explained at the end.

animation 10/10

Paranoia Agent had a very unique style of animation that I've seen in newer series, and it by far is my favorite. No dark black lines are used for outlines (with some exceptions), especially on characters. Instead, many different shades of colors are used to show borders and such. Although this makes the visuals look flatter, it makes for a very rich and beautiful look. Paranoia Agent also uses a wide variety of lush colors to make the mood even more interesting. Although most series tend to do sunsets well, Paranoia Agent manages to excel at it with dark pinks and even purple to illuminate the oranges and reds. Dark purples, blues, and iridescent greens tended to dominate night scenes, which are fantastic compliments of each other, I think.

Characters themselves all were fairly simple looking as far as shading and coloring, but were VERY visually convincing as far as the person's character. There were two extremely slimy looking men who had the slimiest characters and stories, and you could tell. And I mean literally, you see them and think "oh god, this person is so slimy and disgusting!". By slimy, I mean sleazy and creepy, by the way. This was a total success as far as I'm concerned. Most anime characters all have a stock appearance, which was partially true in Paranoia Agent as well, but it also had characters who REALLY fit their molds.

sound 9/10

From the very strange yet oddly catchy opening track, you know the music is going to be a winner. Often, music is replaced by extremely creepy suspenseful noises that build and build, while repeating themselves. Music, though, was extremely varied depending on which episode you were watching (as each episode had it's own kind of tone and dynamic). Whimsical pieces were there, as well as creepy ones and general ones. It's hard to describe it more than that, so I'll just say that the music delivered 100%. It wasn't blaring and annoying, each piece was picked perfectly for the mood, and didn't sound generic ever, on that note.

Voice actors were VERY well chosen, from the slimy men's voices being slimy, to the bravado of egotistical children. Even secondary characters or walk-on roles had great voices chosen. You can tell there was attention to detail on that.

characters 9.5/10

Paranoia Agent was chock full of characters. There were quite a few main characters (usually one per episode, at least), with several being permanent fixtures such as the Chief and Maniwa. Tons and tons of secondary/third (haha, I know that isn't a proper term) characters as well. Although there wasn't a great deal of character development for any of these characters as far as emotional or mental growth, each one tended to have a very deep story or history attached to them. A lot of the episodes revolved around a single character and their story. This means that in only 20 minutes, the story had to be told to make you interested, and to make you feel like you really knew the character and their plight. And by all means, they succeeded every single time.

In addition, everyone fit their roles perfectly. From the person who feels they are a victim, to the slimy men, to the Chief and Maniwa, and their doubts about Shounen Bat and the case in general.

overall 9.5/10

Paranoia Agent is one of the most intelligent series I've seen, with a story that will keep you intrigued and guessing until the end. If you are looking for something mindless and action-filled, this is not for you! PA has a very unique way of telling you each person's story, which sometimes are a bit slow or seem fragmented. Be assured that the outer story does play itself out eventually, and you probably won't be too disappointed (except wishing more things had been explained!)

The animation is beautiful, the sound is fitting, the characters are realistic and deep, and there is no reason you shouldn't watch this. If you are looking for something with character, that will challenge your mind more than mindless ecchi crap, check this one out.

Anime Info

In the streets of Tokyo, a new menace has surfaced: Shounen Bat, a young boy who wears golden roller skates and a baseball cap, and likes to whack people on the head with a golden baseball bat. These seemingly unconnected and random attacks soon become a police investigation... but after all is said and done, is there a pattern to this chaos?

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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

More Reviews

comments

Tornplaya avatar Tornplaya
Jul 21, 2012

This anime feels like a bunch of stories mushed together to make a series, but it works. I recommend this anime to anyone simply because it's different, and actually good.

Jageri avatar Jageri
Jun 24, 2012

I have to disagree with the reviewer here. The good is that is started with a great premise, features generally stellar aesthetic design and music work, and an intruiging storyline that led me wanting to see what was going to happen next. UNTIL. Episode 5 seemed extremely inconsequential, and was jarring to me, though it did point out a few major plot points, so it can be forgiven, but there is no excuse for episodes  Eight through Twelve.None of the characters introduced here have any weight, and aren't connected in the least, like the characters in the first half. Because of their unconnected status, their storylines feel cheap, though sometimes still interesting, but they left me disappointed. What consequence did they have?Lastly, I think their biggest misstep was turning Bat into a mindless slavering beast. (Complete with glowing red eyes.) Anyone who watched the last two eps I feel honestly cannot disagree with that.  he became so much less interesting and engaging once reduced to a simple beast acting on instinct. Gone was his mystique and intruigue.  In the end, I feel like Paranoia Agent captivated me with a stellar first half, but everything I loved dribbled away. 

Yuffles avatar Yuffles
Jan 25, 2012

The english voice acting is terrible... under no circumstances should you watch the english dub of this show.

NerdFail avatar NerdFail
Oct 30, 2011

Just finished watching it, and I'm in total agreement with the reviewer. It was absolutely brilliant in the way it was presented. Usually, the mystery animes that I prefer are ones that seem to have a mystical heir to them, but can actually be presented logically, however this anime is an exeption. Completely loved it, and was just so absorbed by it after I got through the first episode. I'm not gonna lie though, I think there were a bit too many untied ends. I mean, I get that leaving the end to your imagination is a good thing, and I don't disagree with this, however, I feel like they've left a little bit too much information out (perhaps adding in an extra episode or two would have wrapped the anime up more nicely).

And for all those who are hating on the show, the reviewer already gives you a for-warning. The anime isn't meant for people who just want to relax and enjoy watching an action packed / comedic anime. It's definitely going to force you to think extremely hard about things (perhaps even more than school does), and is bound to confuse you greatly. However, if and when you are able to get past that, then the anime will be extremely rewarding; otherwise, it's definitely not for you.

NihilisticNinja avatar NihilisticNinja
Aug 8, 2011

R.I.P Satoshi Kon.

Incredibly well said. If you want a mindless, fluffy anime that allows you to turn your mind off and just relax, this is definitely not the show for you. If you want a clever anime that both manages to provide interesting social commentary, allow the viewer to think, and succeeds asthetically, musically, and in the VA work, you will find a lot to love about this show.

Honestly, as much as some of the loose ends really bug me (The hell was up with that old man, for instance? What exactly WAS his purpose?), it might be best that everything isn't wrapped up in a neat little package. That isn't how life works, after all. And it allows the viewer to think even after the show has ended, about the purpose of those plot points, and what exactly they could mean. Or maybe they were just there to screw with us. Who knows, at this point.

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