June 20, 2024

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Every Satoshi Kon Movie Ranked, From Perfect Blue To Paprika

“Paranoia Agent” is a 2004 mini-series created and directed by Kon. And yes, it is a TV series, not a long movie chopped up into 13 chapters like “mini-series” tends to mean these days. Due to Kon’s limited body of work as a director, I’m overlooking this technicality and including it.

“Paranoia Agent” begins with Tsukiko Sagi, an animation character designer who has created the new hit Maromi (a pink cartoon dog rivaling Hello Kitty! and Pikachu in its cuteness). One night, she’s assaulted by a roller-skating boy with a baseball bat. The assailant is dubbed “Lil’ Slugger” by the media, while Detectives Ikari and Maniwa are assigned to track him down.

The series never stops following the threads it spins in the first episode, but it initially takes an episodic approach. In the first half, every episode follows a new protagonist who, by the end, has hit their personal rock bottom and becomes Lil’ Slugger’s next victim. Episode 3, “Double Lips,” follows a woman dealing with a split identity (she’s a teaching assistant by day, call girl by night). In episode 5, “The Holy Warrior,” Ikari and Maniwa follow one of their suspects into his fantasy world, which looks right out of a “Dungeons and Dragons” style video game. This surrealistic twinge escalates as the show goes on, making it feel like a test run for “Paprika” (the two projects share a writer, Seishi Minakami).

At times, “Paranoia Agent” feels like a short film collection stretching the boundless ends of Kon’s imagination. Watching it reminds you of how lesser the world is without that imagination.

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