I was quite conflicted how to score this show. I was going back and forwards between an 8 and a 9 and in the end I settled on an 8.
The first thing I want to talk about is the art and animation for the show. Personally, I really love the look of the show. It has a very cinematic feel to it, which is no doubt down to Satoshi Kon. It looks and feels almost exactly like Perfect Blue, which is great. I'm not sure how high of a budget this show has, but it feels high. In both animation and cinematography, every episode felt like a movie. It was fantastic, and I haven't come across a series with that kind of feel before. The character designs weren't anything too great or memorable but they weren't generic either, quite middle of the road.
The story in this show is definitely the main attraction although I found it quite hard to follow. I'm not sure if I'd consider this a bad thing or not since I'm pretty sure that was the intention. Paranoia agent is a very psychological show, and that element is done very well. It often switches back and forth, sometimes in the same scene, between reality and what I assume is in the character's heads. However, this element being done well is what makes the story hard to follow, as you're not sure what is really happening or not. This also can create some plotholes sometimes. For example, there is a character who gains crucial information towards the end via some anime figures coming to life and helping him. How this occurred in reality is never explicitly said or even hinted at, yet he retains this information. There is also the fact that the story leaves a lot of questions unanswered, which could be seen as a positive or a negative. Some people like being left to their own devices and to fill in the gaps themselves where as others like to have definitive answers. I'm definitely in the latter category, so the ending didn't really satisfy me. This is one of the main reasons why I was conflicted on score. There may be some things that are answered that I just missed and may catch upon rewatches or may find answers to online. One negative thing I will say about the story is there is quite a few filler episodes. I can understand the need for them, but when the show is only 13 episodes long, having about 3 episodes in a row of almost pure filler is really pushing it. These episodes aren't even bad (Episode 10 in particular I really quite enjoyed) but they don't progress the story any, and when they're all in a row it can be quite frustrating.
The characters in this show were also quite well done but could be improved. The only characters that get any real development are Tsukiko and Ikari, and that is only towards the end. Many of the other characters are only really prominent in one or two episodes, meaning they aren't as fleshed out as I'd like them to be. If the show had used the episodes they wasted on filler to flesh these characters out more, I might have liked the show a bit more.
All in all, Paranoia Agent is a good, if not a little hard to follow, show and I'd definitely recommend it if you haven't seen it already.
Original Publish Date: 14/6/15