(CREDIT: to the late Satoshi Kon and all who helped him.)
Rank: 1.8 out of 5 <-- so much wasted potential
An elementary school kid dubbed with the title "shounen bat" or "lil slugger" has been going around attacking people with his bent, golden bat. Now, two detectives are investigating so they can stop this kid from making any more attacks, but they will find out soon enough... that this case is much more than they expected.
(From Anime News Network)
Once again, my opinionated, cynical self cannot agree with the majority. This must be my destiny.
No matter where I went, everyone said nothing but full praise for this series and all for the same reasons: Satoshi Kon, the music, the animation, the maturely intricate plot etc. Everyone said that this show is for all anime fans to watch and be marveled by such a masterpiece. Everyone said how scary and shocking Paranoia Agent is because of its relatable themes.
13 episodes later. ... ... ... was that the best this "psychological horror" anime can do?
Fine, maybe Higurashi had so much show and bravado that this is bland and thumbed down in comparison. But despite how more realistic it was, almost nothing about Paranoia Agent scared me... or shocked me. Maybe it's wrong to compare two different series, one based on an amateur visual/sound novel and another made by a late "genius." Pardon my rudeness.
Well, I only found one critical review that had fairly reasonable arguments. That's a plus.
One of the biggest flaws with this show is the cast with many bland and irrelevant characters. Some of them appear for one episode and add nothing to the progression of the story; others appear frequently but never get much development or relevance ever again. Furthermore, they lack depth or at least one trait that can contribute to the greater part of the story. Fans say that the series derails from episode 9 to 11; however, I can call bullshit and say that things derailed by halfway of episode 6. The cast is so big, yet so pointless that this makes every character in most shonen anime (like Naruto and Bleach) look complex.
Plus, if you have characters this shallow and bland, the psychological twists they go through look silly, boring, or just ridiculous. Again, I hate to bring it up BUT... Higurashi had developing characters go through slow psychological torture before they went batshit crazy. Paranoia Agent just assumes we care and makes crap happen... far... too... quickly.
The final verdict for the plot? Average. Nothing was shocking - not even the ending, which was just more random than anything else. Potentially good ideas were provided but never went through. Possibly good characters were wasted. There were no plot holes, but there were lots of dead ends.
Might I also add that the plot is fill of "scrapped" ideas Satoshi Kon wanted to use for movies but never made it. Well, it shows.
However, to the show's credit, the animation is very good and character designs are very realistic, rather than going by typical anime designs. The opening theme, as stated earlier, is hauntingly creepy and yet beautiful; I am almost tempted to download it. Paranoia Agent might have been really random at times, but some issues were covered in a decent manner: mass hysteria, coincidental misunderstandings (one innocent kid was thought to be Lil' Slugger), split personalities, and escapism. It's only a shame that these highlights could not make a sloppy story get a high score from me.
I'm sorry, fellow anime fans. I tried to like this show, but it took far too long for me to get interested - no, I had to force myself to watch every single episode. Paranoia Agent did an awful job at "sucking me in." I'm sorry. But yet, I do not regret watching this show. This is something any anime fan should try out at least once and see what he/she thinks. BUT as sad as it is that it is out of print, I will not recommend trying to buy it at all. I quite frankly don't think I can watch this show ever again. At least I tried...