Paranoia Agent: the best damn anime you’ve never seen
The legendary, late Satoshi Kon created a bunch of cult Japanese anime movies:
Should’ve been many more, but he was taken from us far too soon.
During his life and career, Kon-san made only one anime TV show: Paranoia Agent. It’s a niche show with a smaller, loyal following. And it slots neatly into the same psychological thriller as his other works.
When we say Paranoia Agent fans are loyal, we’re not kidding. Guess who loves this show?
It’s shocking that this show didn’t get more popular. You’ll see passionate, detailed essays on why the anime’s so great – just not that many. Anime reviews don’t usually go super deep, but Paranoia Agent’s way deeper.
How does a solid TV series from a respected, consistent anime movie director become a cult classic?
Bringing the WTF from the opening credits
This might be the weirdest anime opening music we’ve ever heard.
And we listen to a bunch of stuff by Yoko Kanno.
It does the seriously weird thing of showing all the characters before the first episode begins. Not that having them all there helps you understand the OP any better.
Is that… yodelling? What’s up with the clouds? Why is everyone laughing? It draws you in with so many questions. Paranoia Agent messes with your head in the first 30 seconds, and never stops.
So many plot twists, you’ll get whiplash
With just one series of 13 half-hour eps, the show doesn’t last long. It fits tons of significance, twists, Easter eggs and inside jokes into that short running time.
The deeper meanings in Paranoia Agent start with the names. Take the main character: Tsukiko Sagi. It’s a pretty unusual name by Japanese standards. ‘Sagi’ can mean ‘heron’ and ‘fraud’ – fitting the ‘animal’ naming theme and the anime’s uneasy feeling.
Curious now? In that case we’ll stop. Giving away too much would ruin it, anyway.
An English dub that doesn’t suck
Some anime shows get away with sub-par subs. Most don’t. Fans know when they’re having their ears ripped off. And they’re loud about it, because they have no ears left.
The English language cast for Paranoia Agent knows their way around a recording booth. Their voices do the visuals justice, matching the maturity and nuance. One of those shows that proves anime isn’t always for kids.
Changing ‘Shonen Bat’ to ‘Lil Slugger’ in English was an inspired move. It doesn’t quite fit the mouth movements – no dub ever does.
A feeling that never completely goes away
You can still get Paranoia Agent on DVD, either in volumes or as a complete boxset.
And if it doesn’t creep you out, there’s a bunch of other show merch – official and fan-made. T-shirts, bags, plushies, phone cases, the works. Get Maromi’s face staring out from as much stuff as possible.
Remind you of anything? Yeah, let’s celebrate the show’s satire of commercialism with… even more commercialism! That’s not ironic at all.
A small pink dog with huge eyes should not be this terrifying.
Assuming you’re not the type who gets nightmares, check out Paranoia Agent. It’ll change your life.