Review of Paranoia Agent (2004)

Moving picture, 5.0 hours

Modern Tokyo. The designer of a cute mascot is under a lot of pressure to repeat her past success. She’s about to crack when an unknown assailant suddenly skates up behind her and whacks her with a golden bat. The crime is repeated throughout the city, and the effect is relief. Who is the assailant who spawns so many rumours? A traditional duo of cops appear to have the answer in a neat little package, but the urban legend still rises to dominance.

Surreal detective story highlighting the endemic neurosis of (Japanese) modern society. Psychosocial satire. Excellent music and visuals, some really nice metafiction, and as usual with Kon Satoshi, the occasional odd cliché thrown in with the constant skillful twisting of the story. Loads of cultural fetishes and condition humaine stuff is treated very effectively, and the various themes of Kon’s movies are also touched upon. Written by the creator of Boogiepop Phantom (2000) (this is much less extreme), and featuring a soundtrack by the guy who composed for Berserk (1997).

The original title is interesting. Mousou dairinin, where mousou means “wild idea”, “illusion” or “delusion”, and dairinin in this context means “agent”, “proxy”, “representative” etc. Going by the conclusion of the plot, the intended meaning is a scapegoat or sublimated stand-in for socially unacceptable thoughts.

References here: Academic essays.

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