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Cidolfas's Anime Reviews: Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent is not, as it might sound, a spy caper. There are no agents, paranoid or other, in this series. That should give you an inkling that it's not what you'd expect. In fact, it's not what anyone would expect, unless someone expects the unexpected, which gives rise to an oxymoron (or, if you'd prefer, a paradox).

The show is ostensibly about the exploits of one "Shonen Bat" (Bat Boy), a junior high kid who goes around on roller blades with a broken metal bat bashing people's heads in. The plot starts off following Shonen Bat's victims and the frustrated police sergeant who's dedicated to bringing him in. The first few episodes have a lot of promise, showcasing several well-developed characters and how their worlds begin to fall apart around them. Each character is pretty much given a single episode and then we move on.

Unfortunately, after a few episodes this starts getting repetitive and irritating. To make things worse, rather than stay with what we thought was the "main cast" (who was at least marginally connected to each other), the show starts darting around all over the place. Several of the thirteen episodes are simply vignettes involving people who pop up, present a short but screwed-up backstory, get bashed, and disappear, never to be seen again. Even the two or three people who do return in later episodes have been changed entirely from their previous roles. The end result is little to no continuity - despite the fact that these are hardly episodic shows.

That all makes for enough annoyance, except that the last few episodes descend into complete and utter insanity. If anyone can actually make sense of what happens there, I actually feel sorry for you. You'd need an amazingly twisted mind to do that. It's simply ridiculous. I enjoy mysteries as well as the next guy, but when the last two episodes serve to confuse rather than explain, I find myself asking why I wasted so many hours watching it. It's almost an insult.

Someone on the forums characterized this series as "abstract storytelling". Not only have I never heard of such a thing, I can't even wrap my mind around the concept. If it's a story, it should be told - or at least hinted to. Not presented in a morass of drug-induced weirdness. If you want to do that, don't try wrapping it around a story and selling it as a series.

Favorite Character: Nobody is particularly memorable. -_-

Overall Rating: 3.5

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