is a Japanese anime television miniseries about a social phenomenon in Musashino, Tokyo caused by a juvenile serial assailant named Lil' Slugger (Shōnen Bat, or Bat Boy in the original Japanese version). The plot relays between a large cast of people affected in some way by the phenomenon; usually Lil' Slugger's victims or the detectives assigned to apprehend him. As each character becomes the focus of the story, details are revealed about their secret lives and the truth about Lil' Slugger.
It was created by Japanese director Satoshi Kon and produced by Madhouse.
The series first aired on Japan's WOWOW between February 2, 2004 and May 18, 2004. A series of four English dubbed and subtitled DVDs produced by New Generation Pictures were released in North America and Europe between October 26, 2004 and May 10, 2005 distributed by Geneon. A UMD version of Volume 1 was made available on October 10, 2005. The English dubbed version began airing in the U.S. on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on May 28, 2005 followed by an encore airing that began on June 6, 2006. In Canada, it began a run on the digital channel G4TechTV Canada on July 27, 2007, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.
During the makings of his previous three films (Perfect Blue
, Millennium Actress
, and Tokyo Godfathers
), Paranoia Agent
creator Satoshi Kon
was left with an abundance of unused ideas for stories and arrangements that he felt were good but did not fit into any of his projects. Not wanting to waste the material, he decided to recycle it into a dynamic TV series in which his experimental ideas could be utilized.
In the case of a film to be shown at theatres, I'm working for two years and a half, always in the same mood and with the same method. I wanted to do something that allows me to be more flexible, to realize instantly what flashes across my mind. I was also aiming at a sort of entertaining variation, so I decided to go for a TV series.
An elementary school boy on inline skates dubbed Lil' Slugger (Shōnen Bat in Japanese, meaning "Bat Boy") is said to be responsible for a series of mysterious street assaults in Tokyo. None of the victims can recall the boy's face and only three distinct details are left in their memories: golden inline skates, a baseball cap, and the weapon: a bent golden baseball bat.
Two police detectives, Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa, are assigned to the case to track down the perpetrator and put an end to his crimes. Starting with the first victim, Tsukiko Sagi, a shy character designer who created the immensely popular pink dog Maromi, the detectives follow what little clues they have and try to apprehend the mysterious boy. Just when they think they have solved the case, new evidence about the attacker leads them towards a frightening revelation.
Although Paranoia Agent has an ensemble cast of characters, the following five are the main characters for the plot.
- : One of the central characters of the series, she is a famous, but timid character designer best known for a cartoonish dog named Maromi. She carries a plush toy copy of Maromi everywhere. She is Lil Slugger's first apparent victim in the series, and the catalyst who jump-starts the plot.
- : The enigmatic figure the series revolves around. He appears as a grinning, baseball cap-wearing juvenile who travels on golden inline skates and attacks people with a gold-colored metal baseball bat that is curiously bent.
- : One of two police detectives assigned to investigate the attacks by the Li'l Slugger. He is extremely old fashioned and yearns for the simpler, less hurried times; he is often chastised for this by his young and idealistic partner Mitsuhiro Maniwa.
- Detective Mitsuhiro Maniwa : Young, idealistic, and a flexible thinker, Maniwa is the perfect complement as well as foil to the more rustic Keiichi Ikari. He is open-minded and unconventional in his methods.
- : Maromi is a popular Sanrio-esque mascot created by Tsukiko Sagi. A pink dog with big black eyes and droopy ears, Maromi is a parody of real life (relaxing characters), such as tarepanda and rilakkuma. The little plush toy is seen by the audience as life-like because it gets up, walks around and talks to Tsukiko.
- Misae Ikari is a girl born with a weak body that will cause her to live a short life and leave her unable to have children. She lives a quiet existence, while enjoying peaceful moments.
Many of the characters in Paranoia Agent
are often referred to with animal names, especially in each "Prophetic Vision" (a segment at the end of each episode that previews the next) and the episode "The Holy Warrior
," in which some characters are depicted as animal-like creatures. In many cases, their Japanese names translate directly to the type of animal which they are referred to as: "sagi" means heron
, "kawazu" is an archaic term for frog
, "ushi" means cow
, "tai" means sea bream
or red snapper
, "chō" means butterfly
(chō-cho can also mean butterfly, possibly alluding to her split personality), and "hiru" means leech
. Kamome means seagull
|| Original airdate
|| English airdate
Symbolism plays a vital part in the revelation of the plot, both on the episodic level and in the series overall, a better understanding of which provides more insight into the characters and the story for the original Japanese audience, but to a lesser extent for those unfamiliar with Japanese folklore
Satoshi Kon weaves social commentary into Paranoia Agent (see Baseball Bat Assaults in Japan). Commentary on his views of school peer pressure, loss of identity, prevalence of cultural icons (such as Maromi, often seen as a criticism of highly marketable anime mascots), ambiguity of morality, nature of social and personal growth, criticism of the harsh conditions of Japanese animators, and criticism of the otaku subculture is found throughout the show. Much of the commentary can be tied to Takashi Murakami's superflat manifesto, with the views of how reality and fantasy are being blurred in postwar Japan. Kon has been critically acclaimed for making social commentary a major and effective part of his work.
- Paranoia Agent Volume 1 – Enter Lil' Slugger (October 26, 2004, Geneon, DVD)
- Paranoia Agent Volume 2 – True Believers (January 11, 2005, Geneon, DVD)
- Paranoia Agent Volume 3 – Serial Psychosis (March 8, 2005, Geneon, DVD)
- Paranoia Agent Volume 4 – Sayonara Maromi (May 10, 2005, Geneon, DVD)
- Paranoia Agent Complete Collection (July 5, 2005, Geneon, 4-DVD set)
The music in Paranoia Agent was composed by Japanese electronica pioneer Susumu Hirasawa.