Paranoia memories: Kon/Ōtomo simulwatch II

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Paranoia Agent episode 4
  • Corrupt cop Hirukawa was introduced to us last episode — firstly as one of Maria/Harumi's clients, and then right at the end as the police officer who apprehended Shounen Bat, keeping up the theme of duality.
  • The ¥2,000,000 that Hirukawa is threatened for is (very) roughly equivalent to $20,000.
  • The yakuza manga segments hit all the cues and tick off all the clichés, in the dramatically masculine themes, the dialogue and the accompanying music. It feels like it's more tribute than parody.

And then Shounen Bat... gets arrested?! So soon?? 😱❓
Anyone who thought this series was going to be about the ongoing investigation, leading to his eventual capture and unmasking is wrong.

I first watched this back in 2012. And I was wrong.
 
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WMD

Pokémon Master
Paranoia Agent 4

It doesn't seem to make sense that this big nosed slob would be a cop but then that's a running theme in this episode. Theres something kind of sick about the way he talks about providing for his family while images if his debauchery and corruption flash by on screen.

But soon karma comes knocking. What's interesting in this episode is that you never really feel sorry for him in the way you do the previous epsiodes protagonists. He does some really awful things. And the twisted narration he feeds himself to make himself seem like a hero is very well presented but really shows how awful he is, especially in the home invasion scene.

What's really sick is that in his self pitying BS he actually does become a hero as he apprehends Lil'Slugger. As I said nothing much in this episode really makes sense. But as a subversion of tropes its wonderfully executed. Everyone else found peace after being attacked but this guy doesnt deserve it so he'll live as a hero he knows he isnt. In it's own poetic way it does start to fall into place. And as a whole the direction the story takes really subverts expectation.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 4
  • The guy is a scumbag and totally unlikable. Though I laughed when Shounen Bat tried to 'help' him but he gets back up and throws his shoe at him.
  • The juxtaposition of the sleazy montage with 'I'm an honest family man' narrative.
 
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Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Definitely a lot of Perfect Blue vibes in this episode.
Just wanted to come back to this point about episode 3. In the extras on MVM's disc 1, there's an interview with Satoshi Kon. It's only around five minutes, so I rewatched it. Kon is asked where the idea for Paranoia Agent came from, and he explains that, after completing his three previous films, he had "a mountain of leftover ideas" that had gone unused "because of time limitations and such".

Kon was such a quality director that he never cluttered his work by cramming in things it didn't need just for the sake of using them, so this series became a chance to clear his creative backlog and "recycle those ideas".
 
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Pokémon Master
Just wanted to come back to this point about episode 3. In the extras on MVM's disc 1, there's an interview with Satoshi Kon. It's only around five minutes, so I rewatched it. Kon is asked where the idea for Paranoia Agent came from, and he explains that, after completing his three previous films, he had "a mountain of leftover ideas" that had gone unused "because of time limitations and such".

Kon was such a quality director that he never cluttered his work by cramming in things it didn't need just for the sake of using them, so this series became a chance to clear his creative backlog and "recycle those ideas".
Interesting. Also a show like this where you have a new protagonist every episode is such a creative and easy way to use and develop "left over" ideas.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
a show like this where you have a new protagonist every episode is such a creative and easy way to use and develop "left over" ideas.
Hah, how about that! Another thing that Kon is asked about in that interview is his "relay method" of having a different main character in each episode.
 
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Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Memories: 'Magnetic Rose'

Some thoughts and trivia:
  • Our director for this first segment is Kōji Morimoto. We know him as from the climactic Genius Party Beyond short "Dimension Bomb", @WMD.
  • The haunting soundtrack is excellent and creates an atmosphere of melancholy and loss. It's the work of noteworthy anime composer Yōko Kanno.
  • There must be something that director Morimoto likes about weightlessness, because he conveys it so well: just look at Aoshima's drifting cigarette change direction as he yells "Boss! Look at this!" at around 6mins 30secs in.
  • The film uses some 3D CG for the space debris, but it's very well integrated, especially for a production from 1995. Those elements blend in near seamlessly with the detailed, painterly backgrounds seen throughout.
  • The use of searchlights in the dark interiors, and the shadows they inevitably cast, is another outstanding element at play here. At 9mins 20secs (on the UK DVD, at least) is a great example.
  • The line subtitled "So do we get the lady or the tiger?" as our main duo go to leave the lift is "Oni ga deru ka, ja ga deru ka?" in Japanese. It's a phrase that literally means "Will a devil come out, or a serpent?" Mari speaks the exact same line in Evangelion 3.0.
  • The artwork of the marble pillars in the main foyer is absolutely exquisite. I can't imagine how long it must've taken to paint. Feel that decadence!
  • The garden is another absolute triumph of hand-drawn animation.
  • Miguel is voiced in Japanese by my favourite male VA, Kōichi Yamadera (Spike in Cowboy Bebop, Kaji in Evangelion). The voice he's created for this character is quite different from his usual style.
  • There's a random scrap of English text used to pad out a newspaper page about the opera singer, Eva, quitting singing. It reads:
"Johnny's own newly fpuréed mangoes made in his Sussex home, whanglaise, or egg custard, with his wife Rebecca athan cream, which remin [...]" (The rest is cut off.) None the wiser. 😅
  • The story of a celebrity performer who suddenly disappears from the public eye seems rather reminiscent of 2002's Millennium Actress. Kon wrote the Magnetic Rose screenplay based on a story by Katsuhiro Ōtomo.
  • The story of Heintz's tragic loss is so sad to watch, and for me it's the most compelling element of an excellent film. His pitiful yell as he picks up his poor daughter's lifeless body makes it seem very real. He's voiced in Japanese by Tsutomu Isobe, who is also "Bloody" Harry McDowell in Gungrave.
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
Memories: Magnetic Rose

That was exquisite piece of anime. Feels like someone mashed Cowboy Bebop, Alien and The Shining all together. The animation immediately stands out in the opening with the satellite explosion and only improves throughout.

In fact the generally design worl in this film is excellent. Little things like the hipflask having a straw with a button to let the liquid out is very well thought out as to how that would work in space. And the cockpit design is great and inventive too, maximising space efficiency in zero gravity.

As @Neil.T said the score is amazing. At times it has this unsettling Alien vibe, then we have the big sweeping opera in the grand shots. Really well constructed.

The part where the hologram was revealed as such was really funny and the way humour was used was really well done. And the way it gave way to more horror tones as it went along was just really good storytelling.

Also what a tragic story. All over it was so sad, almost Shakespearean in a way. No one git the happy ending they deserved.

The story of Heintz's tragic loss is so sad to watch, and for me it's the most compelling element of an excellent film.
Agreed.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
That was exquisite piece of anime.
It's really classy stuff, innit? It's anime as art as well as entertainment, I think. It's a great example of just what the medium is capable of.

In fact the generally design work in this film is excellent. Little things like the hipflask having a straw with a button to let the liquid out is very well thought out as to how that would work in space.
You know what? I haven't even noticed that detail yet in all the times I've seen it. There's something for me to rewatch it for already, then. 😉
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Memories - Magnetic Rose

I thought since I've got the Memories manga I would read the original short it's based, which turned out to be called Memories. The manga story is basically they investigate the SOS ship and get chased by robots(not the angel ones). Satoshi Kon puts his own spin on this and takes it up to another level. Adding the element of Heintz's tragic loss and blurring the line of which is a memory and which is reality.

This short will always be my favourite in Memories, although technically it is a feature with a running time of 44 minutes. The one scene that sticks in my mind is when the elevator doors open and you can see the specks of dust floating in the light.

Unfortunately the manga I have only contains this story, so I can't say what the original stories are for the other two.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Not joining for Paranoia Agent (I don't own it and, to be honest, my feelings on the show are broadly similar to Lain anyway), but I do intend to watch Memories.

Magnetic Rose

Not too much I can add that hasn't already been touched upon, but having never actually seen it before, I did want to chime in on what an incredibly good film this is. It's one of those films where the visual storytelling is so strong that you could watch it without sound and still follow it perfectly, although the score is equally amazing, with Kanno's understated use of the saxophone both recalling the melancholy of Blade Runner while hinting at what was to come in Cowboy Bebop.

I was genuinely surprised though that Kon wasn't the director though. While, as Neil mentioned, the story's theme is quite similar to Millennium Actress, I thought Magnetic Rose also seemed to predict some of Kon's later visual flourishes. With the ghostly Eva flitting around like evil Mima in Perfect Blue, and Miguel running into the hologrammatic background feeling like one of the layered sight gags from MA or Paprika.

Not to downplay Koji Morimoto. He's a very interesting guy, but I always think of him primarily as an animator, rather than a director. In fact, he's one of the few people whose animation work I can usually recognise - he's often tapped for his distinctive flame/smoke effects, but he seems to enjoy using checkerboard patterns a lot too. I don't think it was ever available officially in English, but in recent years he did some excellent work on opening for the Italian Game Lupin Part IV compilation film and, going back a bit, he also helmed one my most favourite pieces of animation ever, the gorgeous opening sequence from Dirty Pair: Project Eden.


Coming back to Magnetic Rose, my only slight criticism is that Heinz's line 'the computer's gone mad!' rather dragged me out of it - it's a bit of pulp novel dialogue if ever I heard it.

As an aside, it also amused me that this would have been just a few years before the PlanetES manga started. Although very different in content and tone, it too follows the lives of space debris collectors, including a kindly blonde haired astronaut, quietly grieving the loss of his wife and daughter...
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Satoshi Kon puts his own spin on this and takes it up to another level. Adding the element of Heintz's tragic loss and blurring the line of whi
That's Kon's creation, that bit? Wow, I didn't know that. 😯

Coming back to Magnetic Rose, my only slight criticism is that Heinz's line 'the computer's gone mad!' rather dragged me out of it - it's a bit of pulp novel dialogue if ever I heard it.
Dunno if this reads any differently for you, Prof, but the sentiment in Japanese might be better translated as "corrupt" instead.

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Paranoia Agent episode 5

I was more than halfway through this episode before I realised that I hadn't taken any notes for a post. I was too engrossed in it. 😅
I think that's going to be an ongoing "problem" for me here!

But yeah...
  • The Chief, Ikari, (not Shinji 😛) gets a whole cavalcade of fantastically comedic facial expressions in this episode.
  • No joke, just as I started pondering "But where are the characters actually, in their own world, while all this fantasy stuff is happening?" Kon cuts back to the interrogation room, and then immediately links it right back into the fantasy world. This was another of Kon's skills as a director: he could see things with more than enough depth and clarity to be able to know where the viewer's head was likely to be at as the story unfolded, and was able to insert any cuts he needed to help keep them on the right track and in the moment.
  • Another of @Birdie Num Num's scene transitions is that hilarious standout one between the squashed frog and the extreme close-up of Kawazu's ugly mug. It's exactly as hilarious as it is unnerving! 😆
  • The butterfly princess is vaguely reminiscent of the scene in Paprika where Paprika is pinned to a table while sporting butterfly wings. The film was Kon's next work after this.
  • The circular flash that appears when the butterfly princess expires after being forced through the portal is rather similar to the pattern of flashes in the very last cut of Akira.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 5
  • Most of the episode is set in the mind of Shounen Bat while in the interrogation room, with the detectives along for the ride. The junior detective being willing to play along and take an active role. Very reminiscent of Millennium Actress.
  • Loved the comedic moments, especially with the chief detective, his name escapes me. In the fight scene, the Chief is just hanging out, having a smoke.
  • With the old man's ramblings, it got me thinking, do his ramblings at the end of episode make sense if you try and decipher them?
 
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Neil.T

Chuunibyou
the chief detective, his name escapes me
As I wrote in my above post:
The Chief, Ikari
😉

His junior is called Maniwa.

With the old man's ramblings, it got me thinking, do his ramblings at the end of episode make sense if you try and decipher them?
They do, actually. I just tried watching the previews for episodes I've recently watched, and they do actually relate to them — in a very roundabout, cryptic sort of way. 🤔

I'd never tried that before, so great question. 👍
 
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WMD

Pokémon Master
Paranoia Agent 5

This epsiode is lot of fun. Bu far the funniest and most lighthearted episode yet. I think it might be the first epsiode that doesn't mention the first epsiodes protagonist Tsukiko.

Something that's been apparent throughout but is used again excellently at the start is the use of gossip to deliver exposition to the audience. It's a nifty tool to summarise the previous episode and set the scene for this one without having to replay shots/scenes we've already seen.

The close ups are also very well used in this episode, distorting the faces for comedic/unsettling effect. It works especially well with the Chiefs exasperated shouting.

As mentioned I enjoyed the use of the tricks from Millennium Actress in having the cops taking part in the fantasy world. It was all very entertaining. In a strange way this epsiode functions like a clip show/recap episode but with all new animation.

It was a funny bit of visual storytelling when we see the three of them being carried by the flying beetles. The holy warrior riding in top. The deputy hanging below and the Chief just being carried, not even remotely playing along.

I also enjoyed how, at the end, the story is progressed with the cliff hanger of meeting the mysterious old lady we've seen a few times.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Paranoia Agent 5

This epsiode is lot of fun.
It really is. Who'd have thought we'd be enjoying a daft RPG episode when we started out watching a psychological thriller?

Can we even say it's an isekai? In Another World With My Paranoia? 😅

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Paranoia Agent episode 6
  • The continuing use of passing scenery to display the title is more classic Kon. It just adds that extra bit of ominous portent, doesn't it? Especially here when we're talking about something as menacing as an approaching typhoon.
  • The protagonist relay continues too. This episode it's a runaway girl called Taeko.
  • Satoshi Kon has never shied away from exploring the lowest depths of the human psyche, and here... well, Taeko's father is somewhere near as low as a human being can get. You can actually feel the poor girl's panic and distress, and then the nausea it gives way to as her warm and comfortable home life is destroyed before our very eyes. In fact, Kon turns us ourselves into voyeurs, forcing us to watch every painful detail, creating another bit of ingenious interplay that extends outside of the animated medium itself and into the viewer's own personal space.
  • And yes, it turns out that we've actually met Taeko's father already. It's corrupt cop Hirukawa. Now we know why he wanted the prostitutes he slept with to call him "Daddy". 😬
  • What a chilling end as Taeko is freed from her torment by amnesia.
And wow, what an incredible twist this episode had in store. "Shounen Bat", the assailant who was taken into police custody and who we've seen being interviewed by the two detectives, doesn't... actually exist?! The first victim, Tsukiko, made the incident up and inflicted her leg injury upon herself??! 😱

But we've seen him. Kawazu identified him as well. We even know his name! What does it all mean?
 

WMD

Pokémon Master
Paranoia Agent 6

Perhaps moreso than any other epsiode so far Satoshi Kon really displays his ability to weave multiple story threads together tricking us into thinking we're seeing one story play out at the start only to discover we're watching 3 separate stories all play out.

It's very well intereweaved at the start with grannies commentary nicely overlaying Taekos past and later with the cops questioned cutting to Taeko on the phone. In the end it's all the more tragic when the truth is revealed.

In the end I'm not very pleased with Taekos amnesia. It's just another crime corrupt cop guy is going to get away with. This time a far more insidious crime. I cant help but feel this just opens the door to him committing more acts of violence against her.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 6
  • The crossing between the Detectives interviewing the old lady and Taeko's phone call was expertly done.
  • Everything and everyone is connected.
  • Shounen Bat 'helping' Taeko is a kind of blessing for her, while her dad takes dirty cop to another level.
 
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