Paranoia memories: Kon/Ōtomo simulwatch II

WMD

Death Scythe
Paranoia Agent 7

This epsiode reminds me a lot of Togusa episodes from Ghost in the Shell. I'm starting to wonder if its deliberate that Maniwa bears a resemblance to Togusa. I really enjoyed it. Maniwas decent into paranoia is so well constructed and interesting that its founded on his conviction and that he's right about it all.

Theres a lot to admire in this episode from Taeko and her fathers grim fake smiles, the way the Chief goes to town on the fake Lil'Slugger, Maniwas visions and dream sequences which all lead upto a brutal murder suicide.

It also adds to the sense of uncertainty that, to em at least, Maniwa felt like the character most safe in the show. As if he would be the one person not to succumb to paranoia. Until now hes been the most level headed and engaged person in the whole affair. But here we see that no one is safe.

Things sure are getting dicey.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Jumping back to episode 6 for a moment:
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.
I guess Kon is playing with the idea of crime and punishment. Hirukawa may have gotten off scot-free after being discovered — in the legal sense — but what happened instead with Taeko's amnesia turned out to be the worst possible outcome for him. She doesn't even know who he is now, so his entire sordid fantasy is destroyed.

Something vaguely similar was touched upon during his masked mugging spree. Outwardly he was going around committing these crimes and seemingly easily getting away with them, but inside he was screaming out to be caught so that he didn't have to do any more.

###

And now my pre-prepared episode 7 post:

Paranoia Agent episode 7

The "non-existence" of "Shounen Bat" that was dropped on us last episode is explained in full detail this time. And it's absolutely devilishly clever. Where the hell did Satoshi Kon get these idea from!? It's bordering on divine inspiration.

He was always great at wrongfooting the viewer, by turning things upside down or a different way up, and sending us back — not to square one — but to a different starting point.

And this episode has an absolute doozy of an example of that. I mean, how clever is this: Shounen Bat turns out to be his own fictional character born from someone else's hoax — a copycat criminal without an original. "Shounen Bat" was created in the moment that teenager Makoto Kozuka saw the artist's impression of the — we now know — non-existent attacker on TV and decided to become that character.

Stop and think about that for a moment if you will. Where does a story idea like that even come from??

It gets cleverer still. Even with Kozuka still in police custody, Shounen Bat claims another victim. Shockingly, though, and for the first time, the victim does not escape with their life. And the victim is none other than Kozuka himself.

But wait, how could Shounen Bat possibly kill Kozuka when Kozuka is Shounen Bat? This is the cleverest bit yet: if Kozuka killed Kozuka, then Kozuka killed himself. Yes: it's an allusion to his suicide. He always was great at wrongfooting the viewer, was Kon.

Detective Maniwa was our man centre stage for this case. His instinct proved correct, but it was too late to prevent Shounen Bat from becoming Shounen Bat's latest victim.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 7
  • I loved the visual of the empty matchbox as Chief said his detective instincts dried up a long time ago.
  • From the begining, the sound of the radio tuning instantly made me think of paranoia. Then when it came to the mid-episode break, the radio tuning is used in those inserts. At the end, it's revealed the radio room belongs to Maniwa, who has slowly gone down the rabbit hole.
  • The previous prophetic vision of two old men makes sense, with the mirror and the illusion he performs.
  • That illusion performance is basically the opening of Paprika, all it was missing was 'It's the greatest showtime'.
  • The 'suicide' really surprised me. I could not remember what happened to fake Bat.
  • The next episode is censored on the region 2 DVD release, which is the reason why I bought region 1.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Maniwa felt like the character most safe in the show.
Yeah, definitely. He seemed to perform the role of viewer's avatar to a degree, so it was a real surprise for him to get swallowed up in things.

That illusion performance is basically the opening of Paprika, all it was missing was 'It's the greatest showtime'.
Yes, definitely! 😀
I found myself thinking that too. This was almost like a test run for that scene.

The next episode is censored on the region 2 DVD release
It certainly is. 😑
My episode 8 post might make mention of that too.

(It does. I've already typed it, and the whole thing is just criticism of the cut.)

I bought region 1.
You lucky devil, getting to watch the complete episode in its original untampered form.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Memories: Stink Bomb

But of a weird one this. On the one hand it was very entertaining and funny but on the other hand several aspects were so stupid it kinda wound me up a bit.

I absolutely adored the attention to detail. The little red clip holding the glassware together on the rotary evaporator was great to see and shows the animators must've seen a working lab before making this.
20200808_162043.jpg

Also not having enough space in a working lab is all too real!

What isnt real however is the notion that a staff member would be allowed or encouraged to just take experimental medicine. Also if you thought there had been some sort of chemical leak or incident you wouldnt be telling the one survivor to come meet you in Tokyo. Containment would very much be the only priority. Also secret military drugs aren't going to be kept on the boss's untidy desk. Those would surely be under lock and key! Also, surely by the end the main character has worked out hes causing the mist that's taking everyone out. Would he really take the space suit off?

Anyway, those contrivances exist so the story can be told. And it's a pretty crazy watch. The bit where he emerges from the tunnel to be greeted by the entire air force was pretty funny and kinda showed that filmmakers weren't taking the film all that seriously. They just wanted an excuse for a crazy action set piece. And it was fun to watch and also the animation in general was a real joy. The scenery was pretty stunning, the carnage crazy and the mist animation with the electric effects were great!
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
My slightly belated post:

Memories: 'Stink Bomb'

♪ O-ha-yo-u, Yamanashi~ ♪

Ahh, I love that jingle.

So, then...
  • The character designs in this are every bit the work of Katsuhiro Ōtomo. They're unmistakable.
  • We've got another standout soundtrack here. The main theme feels like a kind of "complimentary clash" with the setting, much like with Akira, actually.
  • There's some delightful little subtle touches of body language to be seen here.
  • Oh, Tanaka-kun, you're hopeless! You've got your colours mixed around. 😅
  • In the zoom-out shot before the sequence with all the government officials, I counted no fewer than six separate layers being used. One is the background, one is for the fluttering flag, and the other four are separate scrolling foreground elements. A very ambitious and impressive cut.
  • The clamour that follows that scene very much recalls Roujin Z.

This is probably still my favourite segment of Memories. 😋

###

And I just wanted to come back to this point that the Prof made about the previous part of our trilogy:
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
I think that's very much so, and this aspect of anime was actually one of the things that first got me into watching it in the first place. I've always loved things like the expressiveness of the characters, facially as well as the wider visual language that the medium has cultivated. It conveys mood and meaning so well when it's done with care and attention.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
In the zoom-out shot before the sequence with all the government officials, I counted no fewer than six separate layers being used. One is the background, one is for the fluttering flag, and the other four are separate scrolling foreground elements. A very ambitious and impressive cut.
Indeed. The quality of the animation amd cinematography in both parts of Memories so far have been top notch.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Memories - Stink Bomb
  • As mentioned, the animation quality has been really great in both parts, even my brother who doesn't really watch anime wants to watch this later.
  • Tanaka is a really likable character, he's kinda like a sleep walker and I laughed when he fell down the stairs after getting the news choppers attention.
  • My favourite scene was definitely the entire army vs one man. Just silly fun.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Tanaka is a really likable character, he's kinda like a sleep walker and I laughed when he fell down the stairs after getting the news choppers attention.
Haha yeah that was good. The comedy was very good in this one. Given the dire situation they still made it really funny. Almost like the old parody disaster films like Airplane

My favourite scene was definitely the entire army vs one man. Just silly fun.
Indeed it was great. I almost feel like they wanted to make this scene and built the whole film around it.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
I almost feel like they wanted to make this scene and built the whole film around it.
Yeah, I'd agree with that. I can easily imagine the whole thing being born out of a single image. Then all you need is a setup for it, and then a conclusion.

And you can get away with more by making it a black comedy.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Memories - Stink Bomb

Strangely, this is the only part of Memories I've seen before. I admire Stink Bomb as a short film, but I don't love it - I certainly don't enjoy it as much as Roujin Z (like Neil, I got a bit of deja vu from the latter half). It's entertaining as a Kafka-esque farce (Tanaka's clumsiness is pretty great right enough), but the implications of it are quite chilling and I think, revisiting it now, the idea of this horrific outbreak caused by a mix of negligence, incompetence and sheer misfortune feels a bit close to home.

Watching it this time, it did also strike me that the idea of the one immune man watching all the people and animals fall around him in the wake of a deadly cloud was kind of similar to Victorian sci-fi novel, The Purple Cloud, but it's probably just a coincidence. It actually wouldn't surprise me if Stink Bomb was inspired by unused ideas from Roujin-Z, or maybe even just a desire to see what it would be like if the finale of that film had played out differently.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Before episode 8...
Now that you've phrased it that way I'm convinced that Ghost in the Shell: SAC has inspired elements of this show. It only came out 2 years prior afterall.
Wow, so SAC had a copycat criminal without an original too? 🤔

I haven't seen the whole SAC, only the highlights films, but I certainly couldn't dispute the apparent overlap there. Very interesting, especially including your Togusa observation as well.

###

Paranoia Agent episode 8

"Happy Family Planning", BBFC →🖕😑

Well, this post was never going to be anything other than a broadside at our favourite overfunded fiction police, so here we go.

This is an already well-documented story, but the TL;DR version is that a small segment of this episode was forced to be removed from the UK release due to the Board's irrational fear of what might happen if a CHILD tried to copy something that they saw in a video that THE BOARD THEMSELVES HAD GIVEN AN 18+ CERTIFICATE TO. The imbeciles.

The hilarious thing is that the visual component of the apparently offensive footage is actually used COMPLETELY INTACT in the preview at the end of episode 7. The hypocrites. This leads me to believe that disc 3, on which this episode appears on MVM's DVD release, was just plain unlucky to land in the lap of either someone with some kind of twisted agenda, looking to extend their role beyond its agreed remit, or a Board member who was simply having a bad day at the time. I don't know which is worse, but fans of Satoshi Kon specifically and fans of anime generally are the ones being made to suffer for it.

I can only hope that a reclassification for Blu-ray could be a possibility and could right a long-standing wrong. Is that too much to hope for?
 
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WMD

Death Scythe
Paranoia Agent 8

Its interesting given the subject matter of suicide in this epsiode that its largely written as a farce. There attempts to die being thwarted in increasingly comical ways until they are chasing Lil'Slugger around like a scooby doo cartoon.

Also aside from the girl who simply doesnt want to be alone we dont really get a sense of why they want to die. They never seem that depressed, get along well and and as far as I can tell actually have a lot of fun together. Maybe it's that juxtaposition that's supposed to feel sinister but this episode never feels as heavy as I feel it should to me.

It largely feels like a fun romp which after the much more affecting downfall of Maniwa last time just seems a bit odd.
 

Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 8
  • It's a shame the UK release is cut, as it cuts into one the best gags and into one of the best episodes.
  • Interesting to find out that the fake 'Bat', aka FOX, also wanted to kill himself. Job done then?
  • They definitely put more time into the middle section of this episode, the animation style changes.
  • I'm wondering if they died before the episode started or in the building that began getting knocked down while they were still in it. Probably the former.
  • I suspect Zebra lost his partner or had a bad break up, based from his locket and I think Fuyubachi lost his grandchild, carrying the sweet bag and saying their name in his sleep. Still unsure about Kamome, just she didn't want to be alone.
  • The best line, after Fuyubachi goes flying down the hill, he says 'I thought I was going to get killed.'
Coincidentally there was a mention about the cut on this episode here: BBFC Comments on Paranoia Agent Censorship
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
I'm wondering if they died before the episode started or in the building that began getting knocked down while they were still in it. Probably the former.
Yeah, I meant to go back to the start of the episode and have a look for that. 🤔

I think you're right, but I'll take a look when I get the chance. I'll look out for the shift in animation quality, too.

Coincidentally there was a mention about the cut on this episode here: BBFC Comments on Paranoia Agent Censorship
And thank you very much for the link, Birdie; that was a very interesting read. 👍

In their quote in that article, the BBFC succeed in destroying their own reasoning and actually prove that the censorship was not a valid move on their part. I quote directly here, with the key phrases highlighted:
"In the case of Paranoia Agent, a compulsory cut was issued in 2006 in response to material relating to the issues of suicide in episode 8. Our classification guidelines state that portrayals of potentially dangerous behaviour, especially relating to suicide, self-harm and asphyxiation, which children and young people may potentially copy, will be cut if a higher classification is not appropriate".

In other words, this makes it clear that if there is concern for the welfare of children and young people who are the intended audience of the material, there are two options:
1. Raise the age limit on the certificate to exclude those groups from the audience, or;
2. Leave the certificate set at the age range for the young audience that the material is aimed at and mandate cuts where it is felt necessary.

Note that adults of age 18 and over are not "young people" for the purposes of this terminology. What was therefore required in the case of episode 8 of Paranoia Agent was to raise the certificate to age 18 to indicate that the material is not suitable for children or young people, and this would have by the BBFC's own admission fulfilled their criteria. The only reason to remove any content from the release would have been if the decision was made to settle for a 15 certificate or lower, which would then have involved children and young people potentially viewing it.

Somebody fetch a lawyer.
 
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Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Paranoia Agent episode 9
  • The gossip ladies are back again. It's another clever story format.
  • We've even got a send-up of shoujo tropes here. Actually, the music for that segment reminded me of Hirasawa's score for Millennium Actress, and then there was also that mural painting as a subtle connection, too.
  • Shounen Bat's lopsided sinister grin as he got ready to hit in the baseball game reminded me of none other than stalker Me-Mania from Perfect Blue.
  • In the episode's end credits, each of the ten "stories" has its own separate credits list. The stories themselves are listed as "IQ", "LDK", "EBM", "OH", "HR", "TKO", "UMA", "SOS", "HH" and the main episode framework itself, "ETC".
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Paranoia Agent 9

Interesting episode where the stories start very grounded in the established narrative and get more wacky and absurd as the ladies try to 1up each other. Another good facet of the storytelling is that the 3 older ones stories are no less absurd than the put upon protagonists but they are using her as the member of the group they beat down on. I was kind if hoping the 3 of them would get attacked by Lil'Slugger so the way the epsiode ended instead was very effective. The manic grin on her face seeing her husband attacked and only concerned for the story was pretty shocking after her permanently demure attitude until then.

The stories themselves were also good. The kid forgetting what hes learnt by it physically falling out of his head was visually very effective. Also that mother in law was the worst so I wasnt all that sorry she was the Lil'Slugger got. And that doctor certainly was playing a dangerous game!

I think because of the different stories being told this episode seemed to go by very quickly.
 
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Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Quick episode 8 catch-up:
I'm wondering if they died before the episode started or in the building that began getting knocked down while they were still in it. Probably the former.
Yep, before the start of the episode. The very first shot is of Fuyubachi's lower legs as he crosses the road in the shadow of a building. That's followed by a view of Zebra, whose shadow (or surely his lack of one) is tantalisingly just off the bottom of the screen. Kamome first appears in the shade as well, also doubtless masking her lack of a shadow.

For the record, as indirectly pointed out by the preview at the end of episode 7, the trio's user names are all animals. Fuyubachi is "Winter bee" in Japanese, and Kamome means "Seagull". Zebra is obvious.

I also did now notice the spike in art quality in the mountain scene. The artwork elsewhere oddly smacks of budget saving, and quite heavily so at some points. 🤔
 
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Birdie Num Num

Dandy Guy, in Space
Paranoia Agent - Episode 9
  • The Old Gossip gang get a full episode with a new recruit
  • Another great episode, with the ladies telling quite unbelievable stories but only questioning Kamohara, the new neighbour.
  • The first story had a great sound transition, the sound of a ticking clock moving from one scene into the next, going from the kids bedroom into the classroom, with the teacher holding a stopwatch. And his knowledge spewing out of him, he was too full.
  • At the end, Kamoharas face literally lights up, overjoyed that she has her story to tell rather than concern for her husband.
  • Best line: You won't tell anyone.
Yep, before the start of the episode. The very first shot is of Fuyubachi's lower legs as he crosses the road in the shadow of a building. That's followed by a view of Zebra, whose shadow (or surely his lack of one) is tantalisingly just off the bottom of the screen. Kamome first appears in the shade as well, also doubtless masking her lack of a shadow.
Confirmed. Thanks.
 
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