At first, I was a little reluctant to watch this anime since I couldn't see anything in the show that could "tempt me to move forward and watch more."
However, I gave this show a chance since it has been praised by many and is almost a cult-classic. And i am really thankful that i did so.
I loved everything of this show, from the opening to the story to the message it seeks to deliver to the audience. I read an in-depth review and analysis of this anime by internetbambi5 and i highly recommend others to do the same, if you want to understand the show on a deeper level. I will not attempt to write an analysis here since I don't think I could outmatch the mentioned review. However, the show is filled with many Easter eggs and indirect references to real-life issues of the contemporary world, which I guess everyone has noticed.
When the show said that Maromi (the dog mascot) and Shonen-Bat are the same, I think that it means to say that both serve as relievers and perpetrators of salvation to cornered people. They help troubled people to escape from responsibilities and social expectations. So, if I were to connect them to our world, they could be considered as the digital media modern man consumes in order to stimulate him and allow him to 'escape and relax from daily work.'It can also be considered as how many people perceive death as the sole provider of escape. A major reason of suicide is to escape life and the problems that come with it.
The only way we can escape from the paranoia of Shonen-Bat is to realize and accept reality, as shown by Chief Ikari's wife and Tsukiko (in the last episode). No matter how troubling and suffocating your current situation may seem, you have to stand up and hold strong against it. No storm is permanent.
This show also seems to tug at the issues of Japan and its post-war social and economic conditions, especially with the prolonged mention of the atomic bomb in the opening. Once again, I recommend reading the mentioned review to get elaborations on the point.
The last scene really stuck out to me because it basically increases the mind fck level of the show to a thousand times. The last scene adds a whole new layer of new information to the overall plot and message of the show. Maniwa is shown to be 'inheriting' the place of the Ancient Master by writing elaborate calculations on the parking lot. After the previous Ancient Master's death, Maniwa succeeds him in his position as he was the only one who saw through the deceptions of Maromi and Shonen-Bat and followed the path of truth (with his Gucci glasses). At last, he is shown to be looking up in shock(like the old man in the initial parts of the show) , which could indicate that everything that happened will be bound to happen again. This could also show a cyclic pattern of how humanity will always fall into delusions to escape from reality and that it's going to be a generationallly recurring issue. Maybe the previous Ancient Master was also a detective or something similar like Maniwa, who was affected by a similar casemanyu years ago (what if he was in charge of Tsukiko's initial street assault case that happened ten years ago?)
This show has probably infinite things to decipher and it's very late right now. I only wrote this because my mind would've exploded if I didn't sort out my thoughts here.
If you have reached the end of this review, I recommend watching other Satoshi Kon anime such as Perfect Blue, and other anime such as Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain. 🌛🌸