Paranoia Agent Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent Vol. #2

    November 16, 2005
Release Date: September 26, 2005


Paranoia Agent Vol. #2
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Then darkness overcomes the heart and Lil' Slugger appears...

The detectives interrogate the boy arrested for the Lil' Slugger attacks, he claims to be a "Holy Warrior" who has only begun to help those waiting to be saved. However, he also only claims two of the five attacks! Just as the detectives begin to find witnesses and think they are uncovering the truth, a rash of attacks fuel the hysteria- especially the two inside the police station! As the police begin to doubt their own beliefs, even suicidal citizens begin to believe a golden bat can solve their problems.

Episodes comprise:

5. The Holy Warrior
6. Fear Of A Direct Hit
7. MHZ

The Review!
Satoshi Kon’s twisted tale of fear and paranoia returns to follow up the very popular first volume after a bit of a break.

Audio:
I listened to the English stereo track for my main review, and I thought the dub maintained the exceptional quality of the first volume. This is one of the best dubs I’ve heard in a long time, and captures the atmosphere of the original Japanese track perfectly. The cast manage to capture the nuances of their characters extremely well, and I can only continue to praise voice director Jonathan Klein for getting such great performances out of these actors. Everyone involved clearly made a great effort to get it right. From a technical standpoint, the track is pretty much your standard stereo track, though it manages to completely immerse you in the atmosphere. I noticed no dropouts or distortions on this track, or the Japanese track which I briefly sampled in places.

Video:
The transfer for this show is excellent. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, there’s really nothing I could find to complain about. Colours are vibrant, cross-colouration and aliasing are non existent and I really didn’t see any artifacting as I watched the show. This is a transfer that really helps you get lost in the atmosphere of the show.

Subtitles are in a clear to read yellow font, and I didn't notice any major grammatical or spelling errors.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
The menu begins with a brief introduction sequence featuring the show's tagline leading into the main menu. This has the show’s logo at the top with an image of Taeko looking frightened on the left side. A shadowy image of Shonen Bat looms in the background, while the disc’s selections are on the bottom right. A piece of background music plays over this menu. Sub-menus are all static with no music playing, and while access times are very fast and the menus wholly functional, they do feel a bit bland and static in general.

Extras:
On this volume we’re given the opening and ending in both textless form and, in a practice I really like, the original Japanese credit sequences for both as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After quite literally gushing over pretty much all of Satoshi Kon’s anime works, including the first volume of Paranoia Agent, I entered the second volume with the usual high expectations. Once again, one of the masters of the craft doesn’t let us down, as volume 2 goes in an admittedly different direction, exploring different aspects of the Shonen Bat theme, but its quality doesn’t dip at all.

The first episode goes for an interesting concept that’s quite reminiscent of Kon’s second anime feature Millennium Actress in that it involves the characters in a story being told by one of them, even though the theme of the story is completely different. Here, the two detectives are interrogating a young boy called Makoto Kazuka who’s being held under suspicion of being Shonen Bat. As they talk about the attacks that Shonen Bat committed, and where Kazuka was at the time, he recounts events that sound like something out of a videogame. He talks of being the Holy Warrior, sent to defeat the evil Gohma. Gohma appears around people as a yellow light, and the “Holy Warrior” is the only one who can defeat it.

The detectives tie what he’s saying back to the attacks, but as they do so we get to see the fantasy world that Kazuka is describing, with him dressed up as the Holy Warrior. It’s this aspect that resembles Millennium Actress, as like in that film the detectives, at least initially, are in the fantasy world but in their normal clothes. They interact with the world as if they are they, touching what Kazuka is describing. To add a little bit of humour one of them even becomes a legendary character by the end of the episode.

Potentially, this is the kind of episode that could throw a lot of people off as on the surface its tone is completely different to the previous four episodes and it contains far more humour, albeit dark, than any of the other episodes combined. But the underlying themes remain, with paranoia, fear and darkness all at the forefront of the story. And while Kon may have lifted the narrative idea from one of his own films, it works really well and I look on this episode as one of the standouts of the series so far.

Episode 6 opens with the detectives questioning the old lady, as it would seem she was at the scene of the crimes. She speaks cryptically though, talking about her granddaughter, and her story is remarkably similar to the story of Taeko. We follow Taeko as she walks the streets despite hurricane warnings, and reminisces on her life. Her father lost everything, including their house, but at the time they were just settling in to a new one. She’d always been a daddy’s girl and always said she loved him a lot, once even saying she wanted to be his bride when she grew up. But now she’s a bit older and instead of going to karaoke after school one day, she returns to her new home to give her father a surprise. She downloads a new wallpaper for him onto his laptop that thanks him for the new house. But while on his computer, she clicks on one of the shortcuts, which opens up a series of images from a hidden camera in her bedroom, as she’s getting undressed.

Naturally she goes a bit crazy and on a bit of a rampage, eventually leading to her breaking down and burning down her house. Her reminiscing continues, but it’s not long before Shonen Bat appears. Meanwhile, the detectives go back and question Tsukiko Sagi, having uncovered a shocking truth that could turn around the case.

Thoroughly disturbing, this episode is a real eye-opener and contains some really disturbing themes, not least of which being Taeko’s father’s fascination with her (though it does explain why he likes the prostitutes he visits to call him daddy). While the narrative is a little confusing in a couple of points during this episode, it all ties back together so well that it really makes watching the last disc again beneficial, and provides a real turning point in the case as well. The revelation about Tsukiko’s case is really quite surprising and leads nicely into the final episode.

“MHz” follows Maniwa as he tries to piece together all the clues they’ve gathered about the Shonen Bat case. As he keeps a watchful eye on Taeko’s progress following her attack, he and Ikari interrogate Kazuka again to try and get him to confess. But he only does so regarding two of the attacks, not all of them. Ikari is having none of it but Maniwa realises something else; all of the victims were under high stress before the attacks, and were relieved afterwards. But when he finds out that Taeko was attacked at the same time Tsukiko fainted when talking to them, he realises that Shonen Bat can be both nowhere and everywhere...

This episode is one of my favourites as well, as the pieces of the puzzle come even further together and all the hints and interjections in previous episodes start to make sense. Maniwa is clearly getting really involved in the case now, and it’s eating away at him all the time as he’s desperate to uncover the truths about Shonen Bat.

In Summary:
The creepy atmosphere of Paranoia Agent doesn’t let up for this volume, with the stories being just as abstract as those in the first, yet they maintain a consistently high quality throughout. The series is truly captivating and as the story continues to unravel I just find myself more and more hooked, looking for every hint and clue as to who or what Shonen Bat really is. This show gets my highest recommendation; my only gripe with it being the length of time between discs at the moment.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Opening: Textless & Original Japanese,Ending: Textless & Original Japanese

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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jnager 3/13/2012 9:45:34 AM

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