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Title:
  Paranoia Agent vol 3 - Serial Psychosis

UK Distributor:  MVM (DVD Only)

BBFC Certificate:  18

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  19.99

Episodes:  8-10 (of 13)

Audio Options:  English 2.0, Japanese 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

Of all the anime series released last year, Paranoia Agent's blend of Lynchian surrealism and tense drama made it the most critically lauded.  It's taken a bit longer than expected for volume 3 to come out, but it's still showing why the critics loved it.

Following the string of assaults shown in the previous two volumes, news of Shonen Bat (Lil' Slugger in the English dub) has spread.  To those who wish to die he is seen as a saviour, to others he is an urban myth, whose legend grows and distorts in the re-telling.  He is fear, paranoia and violent relief personified, but as stories of his attacks become increasingly unbelievable the truth - if any - is becoming obscured.  Is Shonen Bat responsible for all of these attacks?  Is he even responsible for any of them?  Or, possibly, does he exist at all?

Once again Paranoia Agent delves into the murkier side of suburban Japan, skilfully linking together three seemingly unrelated stories which add to the legend of the mysterious Shonen Bat.  This time round we have a group of people who are trying to find him, a group of gossips who tell increasingly unlikely tales of his exploits and a group of animators who are seemingly falling one by one to his bat, but once again the focus is less on the attacks than on the victims.  Prejudices and people pushed over the edge by their peers are the order of the day, whether driven to suicide, excluded by bitchy neighbours or messing up at work, Paranoia Agent looks hard at people and turns up some things that you will feel uncomfortable recognising.

This volume continues to be uncomfortable but gripping viewing, depicting a seedy underbelly to everyday life that is unique in anime.  The stories on display here are great as always, with the bitchy gossips being uncomfortably realistic, but for me the highlight was episode 8 which had a superb (if not original) twist.  The animation, acting and music is excellent once again, but it's in the characterisation that the brilliance lies.  Each character is a superb depiction of someone driven to the edge in a different way, and although you only see them for a short time they are so well constructed that it feels like they have been in the series for much longer.

The cleverest aspect of Paranoia Agent though is the fact that through 10 episodes of attacks and incident involving Shonen Bat it still isn't clear if he exists or not.  Nearly all of the attacks have a motive, and the mysterious attacker could be no more than a scapegoat for the real perpetrators, however, we are not going to know for certain until the final episode.  I really can't see how the series will conclude, and I'm looking forward to finding out.  Surreal, dark, yet disturbingly familiar, Paranoia Agent continues to be one of the most original and interesting anime series available in the UK.  Don't miss out on it.

Extras

Trailers for Fullmetal Alchemist and Tsukihime Lunar Legend and two art galleries.  The character art gallery is pretty extensive, but this is still a pretty standard set of extras.

Ratings

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