|Oh dear... That's not very good.|
Paranoia Agent is about a social phenomenon in Musashino, Tokyo caused by a juvenile serial assailant named Lil' Slugger. The plot relays between a large cast of people affected in some way by the phenomenon; usually Lil' Slugger's victims or the detectives assigned to apprehend him. As each character becomes the focus of the story, details are revealed about their secret lives and the truth about Lil' Slugger…
Tsukiko Sagi, a shy character designer who created the immensely popular pink dog Maromi, finds herself under pressure to repeat her success. As she walks home one night, she is attacked by an elementary school boy on inline skates. Two police detectives, Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa, are assigned to the case. They suspect that Tsukiko is lying about the attack, until they receive word of a second victim attacked by the mysterious assailant.
Soon the attacker, dubbed Lil' Slugger (Shōnen Bat in Japanese, meaning "Bat Boy" in English), is blamed for a series of street assaults in Tokyo. None of the victims can recall the boy's face and only three distinct details are left in their memories: golden inline skates, a baseball cap, and the weapon: a bent golden baseball bat. Ikari and Maniwa set out to track down the perpetrator and put an end to his crimes. Their hunt is unsuccessful, however, and the investigation eventually leads to both men losing their positions as police detectives.
As the attacks continue, it is revealed that they are not random. Instead, Lil' Slugger seems to target people who are in crisis (or rather, driven into emotional corners), and the attacks, though violent, lead to some improvement in the lives of the victims. Maniwa becomes convinced that Lil' Slugger is a supernatural force, driven to rescue the desperate from their tragedies through the violence he inflicts. He becomes obsessive, broadcasting his warning about Lil' Slugger via a shortwave radio and seeking a way to kill the supernatural assailant.
As public fear of Lil' Slugger intensifies, so do his (supposed) attacks, and the line between truth and fiction becomes blurred. At the same time, public anticipation for the launch of the Maromi television series reaches a fanatical high, almost as if the fear of one is feeding (and feeding off) the anticipation for the other.
Things come to an end on the night that the Maromi show is set to air. Ikari, now a construction security guard, and Maniwa, now a wandering "knight", attempt to battle Lil' Slugger, now an incredibly powerful force. Maniwa confronts Tsukiko, revealing the truth that Maromi was based on a real puppy that Tsukiko had in her childhood, whose leash she had one day accidentally dropped, allowing the puppy to run into traffic where it was killed. Instead of taking responsibility for the puppy's death, young Tsukiko invented a story about a bat-wielding, skate-wearing puppy killer—Lil' Slugger's first "attack".
Ultimately, Lil' Slugger is revealed to be a paranormal figment of Tsukiko's guilt and fear, brought inexplicably to life when the adult Tsukiko desperately needed a way to escape from her responsibilities and then fed and nurtured further by the fear of the populace. In a way, Tsukiko does fulfill her job by creating a new character (Lil' Slugger) that becomes just as big a sensation as Maromi. When Tsukiko finally confesses to the truth, and in doing so accepts the guilt for the death of Maromi, and Lil' Slugger is defeated.
|#||Title||Japanese Airdate||United States Airdate|
|01||Enter Lil' Slugger
Shōnen Batto sanjō (少年バット参上 )
|Tsukiko Sagi, a shy character designer who is having trouble creating her next character, feels pressured and overwhelmed. She has already created a very successful character, a pink toy dog called Maromi, and her boss expects the next character to be even better. On her way home she is startled by a homeless woman rummaging through rubbish. At the height of her despair, she is suddenly attacked by an individual with a golden baseball bat. When a pair of detectives interrogates her, she describes the suspect as an elementary school-aged boy wearing golden inline skates and a red hat. The younger detective (Maniwa) sympathizes, but the older (Ikari) suspects her of lying. The media preys on the story, and a sleazy reporter called Kawazu Akio tails Tsukiko in an attempt to get further details. He is then attacked himself.|
|02||The Golden Shoes
Kin no kutsu (金の靴 )
|Taira Yuuichi, a popular schoolboy in 6th grade is bullied in school on suspicion of being Lil' Slugger because he too has a red hat and golden skates. He only confides in his home tutor. He starts believing Ushiyama Shougo has done it. He is a fatter, less sporty pupil who is running against him for student council president. He accuses Shougo aggressively, then someone photos it and texts it to the whole class. Shougo defends him, much to his embarrassment. Meanwhile, the detectives continue to question Tsukiko who is now witness to two attacks. They also question Yuuichi. At his birthday, only his mother and tutor turn up. On the streets, Shougo comforts Yuuichi who just gets angrier, willing Shougo to be the next victim, which he promptly is. Eventually Yuuichi goes insane with egopathic delusions of reclaiming his fame and is attacked by Lil' Slugger himself.|
Dabururippu (ダブルリップ )
|Chouno Harumi, a woman with dissociative identity disorder attempts to defy her prostitute alter ego, Maria. Her two personalities leave answering machine messages for each other. Harumi becomes increasingly desperate when a colleague at Jiai University (where she works as a research assistant), proposes marriage. She accepts but is terrified of being found out. She attempts to throw Maria's 'work-clothes' away, but changes to Maria's personality just as she arrives at the dump. Her psychiatrist insists she must tell her fiancee. Harumi is also Yuuichi's tutor and while visiting him in the hospital, he remarks that she needs a doctor more than him. Eventually her personalities fight each other (in reality she is pulling her own hair in the street at night) when Lil' Slugger strikes.|
|04||A Man's Path
Otokomichi (男道 )
|Masami Hirukawa is a portly low-level police officer who, despite calling himself a family man, accepts bribes in the form of cash and women (in fact, his favorite prostitute is Maria/Harumi, the protagonist from the previous episode) from a local Yakuza group. Masami even purchases a house for his family using this money. However, Masami falls behind in his payments, and the Yakuzas send one of their men, Makabe, to reclaim the "stolen" funds. Masami manages to get the "loan" extended, but has to pay an extremely large amount of interest. Desperate, Masami dons dark clothes and a ski mask and starts robbing the helpless. He even develops a drug habit to deal with the stress. As he walks alone on a deserted road at night, he cries for help, for someone to "stop him." Suddenly, he is attacked by Lil' Slugger; however, unlike the other victims, he is not incapacitated, and instead gives chase to Lil' Slugger. Masami then arrests Lil' Slugger, who awaits to be questioned by Ikari and Maniwa.|
|05||The Holy Warrior
Seisenshi (聖戦士 )
|Ikari and Maniwa interrogate the boy known as Lil' Slugger, who turns out to be an eighth grade student named Makoto Kozuka. Kozuka admits to the attacks, but he believes that the world around him is a medieval-style role playing game. Kozuka believes that in attacking people, he is liberating them from a villain named Gohma who has possessed them. Kozuka retells the chronology of attacks from his game-based perspective, and Ikari and Maniwa follow along in a narrative device quite reminiscent of the director's Millennium Actress; Maniwa, taking an emic point of view, especially gets caught up in Kozuka's role playing. Various characters appear in different guises. Kawazu appears as a stepped-on frog, Kozuka as a warrior, and Maria as an evil butterfly woman. Maniwa cleverly pretends to be a minstrel who must record all the heroic details. The detectives see that his tale corresponds with all of the attacks — with the notable exception of the case of Tsukiko Sagi. However, Kozuka points the detectives to someone whom he believes can help him take the game to the next level, and whom the detectives believe may be an important witness to that initial attack.|
|06||Fear of a Direct Hit
Chokugeki no fuan (直撃の不安 )
|Ikari and Maniwa question the old lady who saw the incident of Tsukiko and find out what happened the night of the incident. After some yelling from Ikari, frustrated at the woman's vagueness, she admits there was no one with Tsukiko when she was supposedly attacked. The detectives question Tsukiko and confront her with the truth- a bent pipe found nearby which she used on herself. She faints at these words. Meanwhile a runaway teenager called Taeko wanders through the stormy city wanting to forget about her past. Her father, who she adored, is policeman Masami Hirukawa. She has just moved in to the house he built for her when she discovers a file in the computer's recycle bin. It turns out to be security camera photos of her undressing. Horrified, she smashes furniture and finds a camera hidden behind a bookshelf. Just on the brink of despair in the storm, Lil' Slugger knocks her out. She wakes up in hospital with her father waiting on her. The first thing she says is 'Who are you?'?|
MHz (MHz )
|After Tsukiko falls unconscious, Maniwa thinks there is a possibility of another Lil' Slugger and investigates that there are connections between the victims in an attempt to pinpoint the next victim. Kozuka continues to protest that he is a holy warrior, Ikari angrily tells him the first attack was a sham and that he 'jumped on a bandwagon'. Kozuka admits he only attacked Ushiyama and Hirukawa. Maniwa gets more manic as he finds nearly all the victims felt cornered and pressurized. They all seemed relieved at their attack. Maniwa thinks it odd that Ushiyama was the only victim without any worries. Ikari advises Maniwa to take some leave. Then, Kozuka is found dead in his cell following the appearance of another Lil' Slugger as he mysteriously escapes through the police station walls.|
|08||Happy Family Planning
Akarui kazokukeikaku (明るい家族計画 )
|An Internet suicide pact meet each other for the first time in attempt to come up with ways to commit suicide but hope to see Lil Slugger. There are three members- Fuyubachi, an old man; 'Zebra', a young man; and a little girl called Kamome-kun. The two men are shocked at her age and try to run away from her. She finds them in a house trying to gas themselves with Carbon Monoxide but the house is suddenly demolished. Then they try to jump in front of an underground train but someone else does it first and that puts them off. *Afterward, Zebra sees the spirit of the man who jumped in front of the train walk away from the accident into the crowd of people on the platform. Finally, the three members try hanging themselves from a tree on a mountainside; but it snaps. The men fall down a slope and get separated from Kamome-kun, but then decide to go back to her because they fear she will get lost in the forest if she's left alone. At a bathhouse, the three try to sleep when they see a silhouette of Lil' Slugger. Delighted, Kamome-kun and Zebra run at him with open arms with Fuyubachi trailing behind, but Lil' Slugger flees the building. At the end of the episode, Fuyubachi notices that the three of them don't have shadows when a man walks between them without noticing it. While singing and skipping hand in hand in the last scene, the three members stop behind a group of girls getting their picture taken by another girl with a digital camera. When the girls check to see how their picture turned out, they are shocked and frightened by what they see in the picture (which is not shown to the audience).*
(The UK release of this episode has a 1 minute 20 second mandatory cut made by the BBFC. The removed scene shows the three protagonists (including a young girl) attempting to hang themselves. This cut was made in accordance with the Video Recordings Act 1984.)
ETC (ETC )
|Four housewives share their gossip that they have heard about Lil Slugger. Their first story is of a teenage boy desperately trying to revise for his maths exam. In the exam he sneezes out a maths equation, runs to the toilet where he sneezes out masses of them, he ignores knocks on the door, then looks up to see Lil' Slugger peering down. A teacher enters to find a sea of equations. The second story is of a young wife stuck at home with the mother-in-law from hell. Her husband is away on his wife's birthday, she gets a cookery kit from her mother-in-law (a sly dig at her lackluster meals). Enraged, the girl flies at her, then hears a knock on the door. Both rush to it, thinking it's her husband, it's actually Lil' Slugger who knocks out the mother-in-law. The third story is of a doctor whose nurses mess up an in-vitro fertilization so the baby's unrelated to either parent. The woman comes back in agony, an ultrasound shows the embryo is a miniature Lil' Slugger. The others make fun of Kamohara, who is the youngest and newest to the area, for this story. The stories grow ever more implausible. Kamohara returns to her husband (a script editor) to find him on the floor bleeding from a head wound. He asks her to call a doctor, saying it was Lil' Slugger. She's delighted and demands more details, but makes no visible attempt to call for an ambulance.|
Maromi Madoromi (マロミまどろみ )
|The production staff for a show called Mellow Maromi, a show based on the famous character drawn by Tsukiko all have difficulties meeting the deadline. Production coordinator Saruta Naayuki--frequently the cause of everyone's difficulty--is fighting traffic to deliver the first episode of the show to the network. Throughout the episode, he nods off, and when he awakens he frequently sees Lil' Slugger pursuing him, only to disappear. His dreams recount the production of the series, and the gradual murder of the entire production crew. Eventually, Lil' Slugger appears in the car, and Saruta's beaten corpse is found in front of the TV Network's building. While the network takes the tape from his hand and rushes it in to air, we hear Maromi saying 'just take a break' over and over again.|
Shinnyū kinshi (進入禁止 )
|Ikari's wife, Misae, confronts Lil Slugger about what humans really are and tells him about the problems he's caused.
She has had to turn down life-saving treatment, her husband can't afford it now he's a security guard. She tells Lil' Slugger how her life changed when she met Ikari, how supportive he was even though she couldn't have children. She then feared he was so devoted to work because he wanted to avoid her. Lil' Slugger grows large as he hears her despair, then shrinks when she dismisses these thoughts as unworthy. He grows larger again when she says how much he has ruined their lives, he cackles prepares to hit her. She is afraid at first then laughs at him. He hits her, she carries on, calmly saying "we have made a new beginning". She says humans are strong enough not to need to escape into a fantasy world and that he and Maromi are one and the same. He screams, then vanishes along with everything except Ikari's wife against a peaceful rural setting where she decides "I will have surgery". Meanwhile Ikari meets Mikari, a burglar turned guard. Ikari reveals how he always wanted to be an old-fashioned cop catching simple burglars, not psychological criminals. He is then transported to a fantasy world just like that. Maniwa turns up looking for Ikari. His wife is in despair: "He won't come home."
Rēdāman (レーダーマン )
|Maniwa engages in a fight with Lil Slugger and investigates his past. First he visits the old man in hospital before he dies, his last words to Maniwa are 'dance with the rabbit'. Misae tells Maniwa that Maromi and Lil' Slugger are the same. Tsukiko is being interviewed about Maromi's conception, among her early sketches is one of Lil' Slugger. Maniwa sees a miniature bunny girl. Remembering the sage's words he follows to a doll-maker's shop (whose owner makes dolls of all Lil' Slugger's victims) where all the dolls speak to him, telling him they want to defeat Lil' Slugger too. They plug him into an AR link to the net where he accesses Tsukiko's past. They find a case where she was attacked when she was 12 by a figure on roller-blades carrying a golden bat. Maniwa visits Tsukiko's father and finds a golden bat in the family shed. After finding out the truth he phones Tsukiko telling her her father says don't be afraid. Maromi cuts the phone cable. Maniwa appears and fights a giant Lil' Slugger with the original bat. After an inconclusive fight, Tsukiko and Maromi disappear into the cartoon world, all trace of Maromi vanishes from our world.|
|13||The Final Episode
Saishūkai. (最終回 )
|The series ends with Tokyo in ruins because of a black blob that envelops the town leading back to a character's past. Maniwa contacts the chief on a screen in the cartoon world telling him what he knows, Ikari smashes the screen, is hailed a hero and changes into dress uniform. Tsukiko becomes her 12-year-old self and calls Ikari 'dad'. Maromi becomes a real dog. Ikari muses how he always wanted a daughter, then his wife appears and he remembers what he said to her in her despair, that people mustn't create fantasy worlds to escape from reality. He takes the original bat and smashes the cartoon world apart to reveal a ruined Tokyo and a sea of Maromi toys. Maniwa tells Ikari how Lil' Slugger was made up by Tsukiko to explain the death of her little dog Maromi. She said it had been killed by a roller-blader, in fact she let it go due to a painful cramp from her first period and it was run over. She was afraid her dad would punish her. The black blob appears as a giant Maromi, Tsukiko and Ikari flee into the underground but are eventually submerged. As she sinks Tsukiko has a flash back to the original event-she comforts her old self and accepts it was her fault. 2 years later, Tokyo's finally been repaired. Ikari is still a guard. Maniwa is doing the complex equation in chalk on the street that the sage was doing, he has just found the answer and gasps.|