Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Paranoia Agent - Enter Lil Slugger |
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
"When the darkness overcomes the heart, Little Slugger appears..." After the first victim's story, the police felt the overly stressed woman was having a breakdown and lied to cover-up for some crime. However, after the t... more »
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Utterly strange and absolutely brilliant
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By any standards, this is one of the most remarkable animated shows that has ever been produced. PARANOIA AGENT deals with a number of characters who are linked both in an odd chain of acquaintances and by being the victims of an attack by a juvenile on roller blades who unexpectedly strikes people with a bent metal baseball bat, called by the press Shouen Bat. The first disc introduces the viewer to five victims of Shouen Bat in four episodes entitled "Enter Li'l' Slugger," "The Golden Shoes," "Double Lips" and "A Man's Path." The opening credits of each episode, with an especially frenetic theme song (with the usual odd lyrics typical of anime) and dynamic animation, announces what a unique show this is.
The first episode deals with the first victim of Shouen Bat, a famous designer who has designed a pink dog that has brought her great fame and success. The trouble is that she is at a loss to repeat her success, and her boss is putting pressure on her to come up with a design that will be equally successful. Her story of a boy on roller blades who attacked her is greeted with some skepticism, until a seedy journalist who is harassing her for an interview is also attacked.
The second episode deals with a young boy who is an acquaintance with the designer. He fancies himself the coolest kid in school and the most popular, but one day he discovers that his popularity has plummeted because his roller blades and his skill in baseball have made many imagine that he is Shouen Bat. To make things worse, the overweight, brainy transfer student who is running against him for president of the student council (and who he imagines is behind the rumors) looks like he might win the election. Everyone except the young woman who works at the university and who serves as his tutor suspects him of being Shouen Bat. That is, they do until first his school nemesis and then he himself are both attacked.
The third episode is the best of the first four, an absolutely brilliant episode whose story would be worthy of Philip K. Dick. The tutor of the boy who is the fourth victim works during the day at the university, where a researcher has asked her to marry him, an offer she accepts. But at night her alter ego, Maria, emerges, and plies her trade as a prostitute. In Philip K. Dick's A SCANNER DARKLY, a police officer investigates a drug dealer who distributes an extraordinarily powerful drug whose primary side effect is to induce a profoundly split personality. Only gradually do we learn that the detective and the drug dealer are the same person. (A SCANNER DARKLY is currently being made into an animated film by Richard Linklater, who previously made the fascinating animated film WAKING LIFE, along with many live action films.) In the same way, the tutor and Maria are utterly disconnected from one another, though each is aware of the other's existence. In a succession of fascinating moments, the two leave messages for each other, throw away each other's clothes, and manage to undermine the other in various ways. She becomes the fifth victim of Shouen Bat.
The fourth episode follows the life of one of Maria's regular tricks, a crooked cop with a penchant for prostitutes, gambling, and drinking. A gangster in turns begins shaking him down, demanding more and more exorbitant amounts of cash from him, until the evening when he is attacked by Shouen Bat, but nonetheless manages to subdue and arrest him.
The creative force behind the show is Satoshi Kon, who was previously best known for PERFECT BLUE and MILLENIUM PRINCESS, but who in the future will probably be better known for PARANOIA AGENT. Those previous films were rightly considered significant innovations in anime, though I felt that both had some difficulties with narrative. The story here is much tighter and more coherently told than in either of those films, and represents a significant maturation of Kon as an artist. It is almost impossible to over praise the animation in this film. His characters possess little of the woodenness and derivativeness that afflicts so many anime characters, and he pays attention to foregrounds and backgrounds to an extreme fashion. For instance, you might have a shot over a cop's shoulder of a bar top, with an ashtray that is a perfect representation of just about any ashtray every seen. What is amazing, however, is that Kon does not allow the camera to linger over it. It is a perfect detail, marvelously drawn, but it exists to give the imagery depth. There are a host of marvelous touches in nearly every scene, many of them of shade and lighting, but many consisting merely in marvelously drawn images. He also achieves some superb framing of his shots. The tutor, for instance, might react with horror to see that the alter ego she has suppressed has reemerged. As she recoiled, the camera will jump from one angle to one shot from inside a recess looking out at her, with various make up and grooming items forming the foreground. In one superb shot, the crooked cop stands outside his station house, the camera moving at a turtle's pace behind his right shoulder. All in all, this is some of the best animation that one is ever likely to see."
A genre-establishing masterwork
Robert Parker | Pasadena, CA USA | 06/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I had to describe this series in one sentence, it would be: think Twin Peaks as directed by Orson Welles. If I was asked to add a second sentence, it would be: I ordered the entire series before I had finished watching the first DVD.
Satoshi Kon's previous works Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress blur the distinctions between the real, the super-real, and the imaginary, often calling into question the meaning of the concept of what is truly "here" and truly "now." Paranoia Agent has a clearer narrative than his earlier cinematic works, but the question of what, if anything, is "real," remains unclear until the end of the series.
As cinema--and this series is of such caliber that it should be judged as, and discussed as, cinematic art--it is impeccable at every level. The "acting," if one can describe what the painted people do as "acting," is superb, and the life, hopes, fears, and private hells of each character are brought forth with an exquisite (and often heart-rending) truth. The layer upon layer of mise-en-scene'd nuance is mind-bogglingly complex upon analysis, but it is utterly invisible in the service of telling the story. It is expertly paced, with "comic relief" episodes appearing from time to time (which nonetheless still serve in the furtherance of the larger story arc), and the conclusion--nearly always the weakest moment in any anime series--may not be "satisfying" to all its viewers, but it is superbly crafted and expertly executed.
There are clear homages to Twin Peaks--an old man is alternately the Log Lady, the giant, and the dancing dwarf, and there are Badalamente-esque moments in the sound track--but it is far better thought through than Twin Peaks, and in many ways, more powerful.
I cannot recommend this series highly enough. The opening credits alone tell you that you're in for a very unusual ride. I would add the caution that this is for emotionally mature viewers only: not so much because of the alchohol and tobacco use (referenced in the Amazon review) and the occasional "adult situation," but because some of the central plot twists can be horrifyingly heartbreaking.
I predict that Paranoia Agent will be regarded as a genre-establishing masterwork. Just as "cyberpunk" is attached to works like Ghost in the Shell...I wonder what term will be attached to this new genre, which is at the same time fantastic yet immediate; surreal, yet utterly and poignantly human; unnerving, yet able to truly touch the heart?"
Intelligent & challenging
Terry Dawson | Appleton, WI USA | 11/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Satoshi Kon strikes again: watching this anime is a bit like getting hit with a golden bat; the viewer is left boggled. In his first-ever TV series, accomplished writer-director Satoshi Kon presents an anthology of linked stories. The wonderful opening credit sequence for the episodes clues us in to the fact that this will not be a regular story about regular folks -- this will be disturbing.
In each individual's story, a character stuggles with personal problems. Some of the characters' struggles are painful to watch. At times the lines of reality blur, leaving the viewer nearly as confused as the characters, but hugely entertained. There are some linkages between the main characters from one story to the next. There are minor or background characters who may prove to be more important as the series develops. The common thread between the stories, and the characters, is the mysterious assailant Shounen Bat (aka L'il Slugger), and the detectives trying to trace pattern of crimes.
Kon seems to be spinning a complex and sensitive story for mature viewers. This is a video that demands the viewer's full attention, and leaves us anxious for the next installment."
There is anime and then there is Paranoia Agent
M. Hencke | New York, NY United States | 10/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Satoshi Kon's (Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers) anime television series Paranoia Agent starts out sooooo well there ought to be a law to be this amazing. And really the biggest problem I had with it is that they didn't put enough episodes on the disc. Which brings me to another issue...WHY THE HECK NOT? I mean there is no reason whatsoever that a brilliant show like this (truly brilliant) should be stretched out till January for us to get the next installment. I mean come on Madhouse, Geneon, whoever it is putting this thing out...This is one of the most addictive films I have ever seen and I have to wait months to see more of it? But back to the praise - The first four episodes are a masterpiece of style and substance. The animation will thrill you and the story will astound and provoke thought. Why can't more anime be like this? I don't want to give too much away but basically there is this kid named Lil' Slugger running around with a "golden" baseball bat that is having a more than interesting effect on the people around him that he has either attacked or...Well, that's all you're going to get out of me. The rest is up to you. This is a must own item that will impress, disturb and delight. BUT you will be angry there aren't more episodes on the disc so proceed withn caution."