31 Days of Hallowe’en 2019, Day 23: Paranoia Agent, Episode 1 [妄想代理人] [2004]

Another anime, and from 2004. Though it feels like it’s from 1984, due to its non-aesthetic character design, and the opening credits with its bizarrely affirming and strangely terrifying music. I still can’t get it out of my head.

To say the very least, Paranoia Agent is surreal. But less the dreamy sci-fi haze of Paprika and more the grimy, real-world ugliness of Perfect Blue. The anime series is about an artist called Tsukiko Sagi (with a very Ghibili-eque elongated forehead or receding hairline) who has achieved some success and fame through creating adorable character Maromi, who sometimes talks to her. Sagi shows the odd sign of depression/anxiety, and is frustratingly meek. She’s the kind of character who takes her time to get up and run away from a threat, and almost instantly falls over.

One night, she survives a brutal attack from a vicious middle-schooler with a baseball bat, who soon starts to attack other members of the public and becomes a notorious menace over the course of the series.

paranoia agent horror anime 妄想代理人

It’s hard to judge a show this deliberately obtuse from a short pilot, but from what I know, it quickly outgrows the box of its own concept – so this sounds like an initial slow-burner. If all of the above isn’t quite for you, it might not pay off. I wasn’t that invested in the main character, and the animation is in a style to which I am unused. So my score below is only for the first episode. I’m sorry. I guess I’m a little shallow.

Score: 🎃🎃

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