->''"He comes for those who are desperate."''

A grinning boy travels around UsefulNotes/{{Tokyo}} on [[RollerbladeGood golden rollerblades]]. He has a bent, golden baseball bat -- [[BatterUp and he uses it to whack people in the head]].

The police are searching for the boy code-named "Shounen Bat" ("Lil' Slugger" in the English dub), but none of the victims are co-operating fully with the police; in fact, many seem relieved and thankful for the mild concussion the boy gives them via his golden bat. All of the victims have something to hide -- but then again, so do the police...and so does the frail old man who draws chalk equations in the hospital parking lot... and so does everybody who spreads rumors about Lil' Slugger. Who is this mysterious boy, who seems to attack people only when they are about to have an existential breakdown and has never been seen by anyone but his victims? Is he a gang member, a creature of the paranormal, or something else entirely?

''Paranoia Agent'' is a thirteen-episode anime series directed by the late Creator/SatoshiKon, who specialized in mind-bending anime with some social commentary thrown into the mix. At times, the series resembles an anthology, with each episode throwing its star character through a TwistEnding -- but everything later becomes connected in a way that rivals ''Anime/SerialExperimentsLain'''s levels of conspiracy and surrealism. Besides being perfectly creepy, this show is noteworthy for the (Studio Creator/{{Madhouse}}) animation alone: the characters all have [[CastOfSnowflakes distinct designs]], and apart from some minor {{filler}} and StockFootage, cost-cutting tricks were kept to a minimum.

!!Tropes (spoiler warning!):

* TheAce: Ichi starts out as one. In the beginning of the episode, he was bragging about himself and towards the end, he was having {{Imagine Spot}}s.
%%* AgentMulder: Detective Maniwa.
%%* AgentScully: Detective Ikari.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Tsukiko is clearly not quite right in the mind and shows many symptoms of what could be interpreted as schizophrenia (vivid hallucinations and delusions, difficulty in interacting with other people, emotional fragility and inability to comprehend life in a logical fashion). That said, that being the case might somewhat undermine the show's message of [[spoiler:having to deal with one's own problems]], since it's not really fair to blame a schizophrenic for acting strange or having an unhealthy mindset.
* AnimalMotifs: A number of characters are designed to in some way resemble an animal either visually or through behavior (or both). Some of the more overt include Kawazu being a frog, Yuichi being a fish, Shogo being a cow, Saruta being a monkey (a fact which is even lampshaded in his episode) and Harumi being a butterfly.
* AnimeThemeSong: A very, very weird one, but very typical of Susumu Hirasawa, the song's author.
+ AntiEscapismAesop: The central theme of the show. The "Little Slugger" persona is constantly used as a scapegoat by numerous people who are looking for an excuse to get out of the problems they have. Along with imagining up fantasy worlds such as one straight out of a video game, being attacked or killed by Little Slugger is the go-to excuse for people.
** Though it ties into the show's overall message, there's also a centralized take on this in "A Man's Path". In it, the pathetic central character [[spoiler: Officer Hirukawa]] juxtaposes his increasingly desperate crimes of robbery, burglary and rape with a ClicheStorm {{Shonen}} {{Manga}} that he reads for stress-relief. It's ''disturbing'' how easily he mentally maps a male power fantasy narrative about HeroicResolve, IDidWhatIHadToDo and rescuing the DamselInDistress to [[AccidentalAesop justify violent crime]]. In-universe MisaimedFandom much?
* AnthropomorphicPersonification: [[spoiler:Lil Slugger is this for the desire of people to not face the hardships in their lives and find an easy way out.]]
* ArtShift: Usually a sign that things just got [[MindScrew weird]].
* TheAtoner: Played subtly. [[spoiler:Hirukawa has a sick, disturbing fascination with his daughter (and young girls in general) and is also a DirtyCop taking bribes from {{Yakuza}}, then committing petty robberies and break-ins when the Yakuza demand some money back. Eventually growing disgusted with himself (after being implied to rape a young girl), he accidentally catches what seems to be Lil' Slugger. After that makes him a hero, he seems to be trying to make a wholesome, honest connection with his daughter. However with the revelation that his daughter doesn't remember anything after her run in with Little Slugger, much less him, he seems more broken than anything.]]
* BareYourMidriff:
** A standard feature of one of Maria's outfits.
** The outfit the evil princess wears during episode 5 (who appears to be "played" by Harumi Chono).
* BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind: Occurs in the final episode.
* BigBad: Lil' Slugger, although [[spoiler:it's open to interpretation whether he's even sentient in the first place]].
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Nearly a DownerEnding. Tsukiko comes to terms with her past and saves Tokyo from the black ooze stuff. However, we have no indication that anyone else got over their problems. Ikari, whose wife is dead, is still a construction site security guard, and the final scenes are a [[BookEnds clear mirror of the opening scene]] of the show as if to say it will happen all over again, only this time with everyone taking responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming everything on everyone else. Maniwa, now white haired, replaces the old man from the beginning.]]
* BlackComedy: "Happy Family Planning" milks every bit of slapstick it can get from the characters' [[SuicideAsComedy suicide attempts]].
* BlameGame: The entire anime boils down to Sagi [[spoiler:blaming an imaginary villain for an accident that she was responsible for]]. However, [[PostModernism as if reflecting back on the core issue]], Sagi's co-workers also place the blame on her repeatedly for whatever goes wrong, continuously talking about her behind her back. Ironically, although this comes from their own dissatisfaction, jealousy and ineptitude, because Sagi is constantly trying to avoid feeling guilty about the one thing that she can be blamed for ([[spoiler:the death of her pet dog]]), she is [[NeverMyFault unable to confront any kind of blame whatsoever]], using Maromi as a shield.
* BlushSticker: Ushiyama has these.
* BookEnds: [[spoiler:The last scenes mirror the very first almost perfectly.]]
* BreakTheHaughty: All of episode 2, for Ichi.
* BreatherEpisode:The episode after [[spoiler:the prime suspect for Lil' Slugger is murdered by Lil' Slugger in his own cell, both Maniwa and Ikari are fired for their failure, and Maniwa starts going insane]], we get one. Easily the lightest and goofiest episode of the series, it of course involves 3 people trying and comically failing to commit suicide together.
* CastOfSnowflakes: All the characters have very distinct designs.
* CentralTheme: Two prominent ones:
** Giving into lies and illusions to escape the hardships of reality might feel good in the short term, but it can't last. Everyone has problems, and shouldering them onto other people only makes ''more'' problems. Your troubles are yours to deal with; that's part of growing up.
** [[UsefulNotes/{{Kawaisa}} Japan's obsession with cuteness]] is getting in the way of actually ''doing'' things.
%%* CloudCuckooLander:
%%** Tsukiko.
%%** Kozuka. [[spoiler:Subverted, in that he was lying the whole time.]]
%%* CompanionCube: Maromi.
* ContemplateOurNavels : Interesting case with [[spoiler:Mrs.Ikari]]. [[spoiler:Her telling Lil' Slugger her life story]] could be symbolic of meditation and mindfulness, which are a huge part of Buddhism. The fact that [[spoiler:she's the only character to reveal a great deal of her back story is a contrast to how virtually no one else ever discusses their past and how they became as messed up as they are]], and it's implied this happens because Japan is losing the ability to make peace with the suffering that comes with being alive. [[spoiler:And as per the theme of the show, this causes Tokyo to suffer - you ''can't'' take someone else's troubles for them, knowingly or not, and expect everything to be all right.]]
* CorruptionOfAMinor: When Kawazu downloads a pornographic image for the kids at the coffee shop.
* CouldHaveAvoidedThisPlot: Sagi Tsukiko [[spoiler:created Shounen Bat]] only to avoid her strict father's scolding for losing Maromi. However, Maniwa revealed that [[spoiler:her father always knew the truth. He only went to search for Shounen Bat to avoid the fact that he was so strict that his own daughter feared him, so he lied to the police and took a bat and pretended to search for Shounen Bat to show Tsukiko he cared for her]].
* CreepyCrows: When crows show up, something bad is about to happen.
%%* CuteIsEvil: [[spoiler:Maromi]], definitely.
* DaddysGirl: Hirukawa's daughter, [[spoiler:until she finds the pictures he took of her using the spycam in her bedroom.]]
* DeadAllAlong: [[spoiler:Zebra, Fuyubachi and Kamome in "Happy Family Planning". In a variation, they're actually alive at the beginning of the episode, but then die accidentally but don't realize it because they were busy trying to commit suicide. The resulting ghosts [[PlayedForLaughs keep on trying to kill themselves]].]]
* DeathSeeker:
** Zebra, Fuyubachi and Kamome. It leads to such hilarious things like [[SuicideAsComedy failed suicide attempts]] and chasing after Lil' Slugger and [[RefugeInAudacity asking him to kill them]]. [[spoiler:It turns out that they died early in the episode.]] It's heavily implied that Fuyubachi is terminally ill, and that Zebra's boyfriend broke up with him, hence why they want to die. Why Kamome wanted to kill herself is more ambiguous, but her concerned over being abandoned by the other two might indicate coming from a broken home or being an orphan.
** [[spoiler:Kozuka apparently, as he had a connection to them; he was killed by Lil' Slugger before he could take his own life, though.]]
* DeconstructedTrope:
** Mrs. Ikari is set up to be a YamatoNadeshiko. [[spoiler:She acts like a submissive HouseWife because she is deeply depressed]]. Then, [[spoiler:as her episode goes by she seems becomes a {{Reconstruction}} of the trope; it's revealed that's she's happy being submissive to her husband due to the deep, deep respect she has for him, AND when Lil' Slugger appears to her, she is able to acknowledge her past, take responsibility for her actions, and give him a TheReasonYouSuckSpeech to boot. In a way, she could be considered a variant of SilkHidingSteel in that she is the only character to "defeat" Lil'Slugger while being calm and thoughtful, and without raising a finger.]]
** The producer from the "Mellow Maromi" in-show cartoon is a deconstruction of the PluckyComicRelief character, showing just how obnoxious such a person would be when put in charge of anything.
* DespairEventHorizon: This is how Lil' Slugger chooses his victims. His purpose is to fix the situations that have driven them there by making their problems irrelevant in the face of an entirely new problem -- recovering from being ''beaten half to death''.
%%* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu
* DirtyCop: [[spoiler:Masami Hirukawa]] looks like an honest cop, but in fact [[spoiler:he takes bribes from the Yakuza to cover up a prostitution ring]], and is revealed to be [[spoiler:quite the pervert.]]
* DisproportionateRetribution: [[spoiler:The entire city of Tokyo is swallowed up by a giant black blob because Tsukiko lied about how her dog died when she was in sixth grade.]]
* DoingInTheScientist: Despite Ikari insisting otherwise, Lil' Slugger [[spoiler:is not a human deliquent. He's a supernatural phantom unwittingly created by Tsukiko to escape responsibility for the death of her dog.]]
* {{Doppelganger}}: [[spoiler:Makoto Kozuka and Lil' Slugger.]]
* EarlyBirdCameo: The TitleSequence contains almost every character, even though many don't show up until later in the series.
* {{Earworm}}: The OP is tremendously catchy, despite being very ''weird''.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: [[spoiler:Revealing Lil' Slugger's true nature, origin, and purpose puts virtually everything that happens in the show in a new context, given that the majority of episodes are about how people encounter and react to him.]]
** {{Lampshaded}}. The final episode has an OnTheNext sequence that invites you to watch the series again, because knowing how it ends will alter the experience for you.
* EnterEponymous: Episode One "Enter Lil' Slugger"
* EpisodeTitleCard: It's always worked into the episode somehow.
* EssentialMadness:
** Mirawa. Really, the only way to beat Lil' Slugger is to go entirely insane.
** "Radar Man" has been [[GoMadFromTheRevelation driven mad by the revelation]], but his craziness also feeds him the information he needs to fight the menace to reality. [[MindScrew Sort of.]]
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: [[spoiler:Maromi]] tries to keep [[spoiler:Tsukiko]] safe during [[spoiler:the Slugger-induced destruction of Tokyo]].
* FailureGambit: Arguable. Though it's never fully explained why, the only way that Lil' Slugger/Shonen Bat is finally thwarted and life restored to some semblance of normalcy is for [[spoiler:the giant wave of paranoia that Slugger has become to devour EVERYTHING, resulting in the utter annihilation of the city and a strange inner-world revelation by Tsukiko that results in Slugger's ultimate erasure]]. The ending is so incredibly vague that it's impossible to determine if [[spoiler:Slugger]] had planned this outcome, but given that [[spoiler:he and Maromi are functionally the same entity in Tsukiko's mind, it could be argued that they both wanted only for Tsukiko to find inner peace]].
* FanDisservice:
** The topless shot of Maria after she has sex with the fat otaku, especially when [[spoiler:he starts talking to his action figures about the deed]].
** The pictures of [[spoiler:Hirukawa's daughter undressing]], partly because [[spoiler:she's in her early teens]] and mostly because [[spoiler:the pics came from the spy cam her father had in her bedroom]].
* {{Fanservice}}: Despite the disturbing atmosphere, the show manages to get some fanservice in here and there, especially in episode 5.
* FreakOut: Most episodes have a climax involving the central character experiencing this. [[spoiler:This is literally what summons Lil' Slugger to his targets. The entire point of his actions is to make your problems insignificant by turning you into a victim of a violent crime. And that's only a 'net gain' for somebody who's been driven to the point of complete despair.]]
* FreudianExcuse: Though she herself is not evil, [[spoiler:Sagi's destructive turmoil comes from her father being too strict, making her an introverted child, leading to the creation of Maromi and Shonen Bat]]. This is "Radar Man's" interpretation, so he may be oversimplifying. [[spoiler:Tsukiko has such a fragile mind, that the one relatively innocent lie she told as a child distorts into a psychosis that dominates her whole life because she doesn't even have the capacity to accept that it happened]].
* GainaxEnding: Creator/AdultSwim said in a blurb "we've got some new shows that are pretty f'ed up. And we know f'ed up - we saw the end of ''Paranoia Agent''"
* {{Gayngst}}: Zebra. It's never revealed what exactly brought it about, although his lover is later seen in bed with the Yakuza that bribed Hirukawa.
%%* GenericCuteness: Averted. Kon's fond of this.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: The first episode's airing on Creator/AdultSwim had the word "bullshit" uncensored. This was fixed for all future airings.
* GogglesDoSomethingUnusual: "Radar Man"'s goggles are connected to the police database, amongst other things, but considering how bat-shit insane the guy in the costume is at that point, it's hard to tell.
* GoodCopBadCop: Maniwa and Ikari both intentionally and unintentionally fall into these roles during interrogation.
* GossipyHens: "Etc." focuses on a group of them.
* HorrifyingTheHorror: Lil' Slugger ''[[CrowningMomentOfFunny runs away in horror]]'' from [[spoiler:Zebra, Fuyubachi and Kamome]]; it's all but stated that [[spoiler:[[DeadAllAlong he saw them as ghosts.]]]]
* HypocriticalHumor: In "ETC", the gossipers share ridiculous stories. The first to come up is the story of a student, under pressure because he's studying for an all-important exam, who vomits out typed text and dies; this is believed to be connected to Lil' Slugger by the typed word "bat" landing on his forehead. The next story involves a girl and her overbearing, abusive guardian. The women say "How tragic" and so forth. We get to the new girl telling ridiculous stories, some more and some less, and she gets singled out.
* IllGirl:
** Misae Ikari, an ill Middle-aged Housewife with traces of PluckyGirl -- unless she's too old for the trope.
** The girl from the third story the housewives tell.
* TheIngenue: Tsukiko is a variation. She quite literally has the innocence of a child and doesn't understand why the people around her blame her for what's happening.
* {{Irony}}: Because of the anime's success, you can buy Maromi merchandise in real life.
* JekyllAndHyde: Harumi Chono/Maria. Tutor by day, [[spoiler:prostitute by night]].
* JerkAss: According with the theme of the series that you can bring the worst on yourself, many of Little Slugger's victims are terrible people who've created the circumstances through selfishness. In a weird way Lil' Slugger brings about a chance for some of them to change for the better (though if that's what's intended is up for debate).
** Kawazu is a sleazy, perverted reporter who stalks and harasses marks for potential stories. At the beginning of a story he's dealing with a lawsuit after hitting an old man with his car, and views himself as the victim of the circumstance; after all, he's the one who's had to pay so much money after hitting him.
** Yuuichi. Even when the person he threatened was defending him, he still had it out for him. This grudge seems to have disappeared by the sixth episode, though.
** Hirukawa is introduced first as a man who frequents prostitutes. Then it's revealed he's a dirty cop who's rubbing elbows with Yakuza. [[spoiler: Then it's revealed he's a pedophile who takes pictures of his daughter and may or may not have raped a woman during a break-in. Sort of playing with the trope a bit, Hirukawa is one of the few characters who takes Lil' Slugger's attack as a chance to change himself and attempts to be a better person who re-establishes a connection with his daughter.]]
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: In the DVDCommentary, [[WordOfGod Kon himself]] says that one of the challenges of working on the show was deciding how much of the story he should tell the viewers.
%%* KillerRabbit: [[spoiler:Maromi.]]
* LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn: The OP theme is already very creepy. Having it suddenly blare out of a radio is enough to scare anyone out of their wits.
* LotusEaterMachine: Ikari's 2D cut-out world.
* LyricalDissonance: The song accompanying the opening credits. In a sense, also applies to the superficially soothing song that plays over the end credits, although the dissonance is with the images rather than with the non-existent lyrics.
** Both are intentional. WordOfGod gives the reason for the cheery opening music and the soothing ending music as being due to the late timeslot the show received in Japan.
* MacGuffin: Shonen Bat is much less important than how the cast reacts to him.
* MadDreamer: Tsukiko. The things she creates ''[[spoiler:talk to her!]]'' Most of the time she's off in her own private world [[spoiler:read psychotic delusion]]. If those delusions are threatened, expect her to turn into a NervousWreck.
* MadOracle: The Old Man, whose equations reveal numbers that are important to the plot. [[spoiler:In the end, Maniwa seems to have taken his place.]]
* TheManBehindTheMan: Invoked by all the characters who are attacked by [[spoiler:Shonen Bat]]. They want a villain who they can blame for their own problems -- and thanks to an in-universe MemeticMutation, they get it.
* MagicRealism: This shows up in multiple ways:
** [[spoiler:Lil' Slugger]] is not a person, or even a living thing. He's [[spoiler:a physical avatar of the desire to abdicate responsibility for being in a bad situation]].
** [[spoiler:Maromi]] is the same thing, but also represents [[spoiler:the comfort that something familiar and harmless brings, and giving too much significance to trivial things]].
** An otaku's dolls [[spoiler:come to life and assist with the investigation briefly]].
** [[spoiler:Ikari]] ends up trapped in a world literally made of [[spoiler:his own nostalgia]], where everybody is two-dimensional and poorly animated.
** One episode follows [[spoiler:a group of ghosts who don't realize that they're dead]].
** There appears to exist a sort-of 'imaginary realm' that reclassifies real things and people as fantastic characters and items, such as [[spoiler:Maniwa's golden bat becoming a sword]].
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: ''Mellow Maromi'' combines this with DangerTakesABackseat. The episode is told in flashbacks, with the present being Saruta (the production coordinator) driving frantically to deliver the taped episode for the new Maromi anime to the network to air while he frequently flashbacks to the past, which presents how the anime was made [[spoiler:and how Saruta basically offed several members of the staff over the course of the production process. As the episode returns to the present, we begin to see Lil' Slugger trailing behind, getting ever closer to the car with each jump. Saruta finally notices him and drives frantically to escape. For a moment, he seems to have lost Lil' Slugger only to find out that the guy is now ''behind him in the backseat''!!!]]
* MeaningfulName:
** The production manager in the episode "Mellow Maromi" is called UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga after the famous warlord. [[spoiler:Just like the real Nobunaga, he is betrayed by his subordinate and killed.]]
** Sagi can mean 'heron' or 'fraud'
** The "cho" in Chono is one way of saying "butterfly"; another: chocho [[spoiler:The former is tied into the main plot; the latter refers to Harumi's multiple personalties]].
* MemeticMutation:
** An in-universe example - In the episode "ETC", the [[HouseWife housewives]] are talking about the attacks they heard about, trying to outdo each other, with each story becoming more surreal and outrageous than the last.
** [[spoiler:Shounen Bat ''himself'']]. It's a particularly bizarre and violent example, but it has been brought up. That is because [[spoiler: Shounen Bat is nothing but another side of]] Maromi. Maromi's idea is everywhere in Japan: toys, drawings, clothes and an animated series.
%%* MindScrew
* MovingTheGoalposts: In "A Man's Path," the {{Yakuza}} boss keeps raising the amount of money the corrupt cop owes him so he'll be forever in his debt.
* MyCard: Kawazu hands his business card out a lot.
* NaughtyByNight: [[spoiler:Harumi Chono, a mild-mannered tutor, has a split personality named Maria, a prostitute that takes over at night.]]
* NiceGuy: Ushiyama. Even when Yuuichi threatens him and has pictures taken of the event, he tries to defend Yuuichi by claiming that someone's trying to ruin his reputation. Although, [[JerkAss Yuuichi]] doesn't seem grateful.
* NightmareFace: The hideous clown-like makeup worn by [[spoiler:Harumi Chono]] as [[spoiler:her internal conflict with her "Maria" personality reaches its boiling point]]. It shows up twice, once before [[spoiler:she's whacked by Shounen Bat]] and once as [[spoiler:the black sludge swallows her in the last episode]].
* NoblewomansLaugh: "Princess Flyer" in Makoto's story.
* NostalgiaAintLikeItUsedToBe: [[spoiler:Ikari]]'s LotusEaterMachine is powered by this trope; [[AvertedTrope rejecting it]] is how he eventually breaks out.
* NotSoImaginaryFriend: Maromi. Sort of. [[spoiler:Sagi is psychotic, though, so this is very much debatable]].
%%* NuclearWeaponsTaboo
* OffscreenTeleportation: One of the first signs that something about Shounen Bat is...a bit off. Most JustForFun/{{egregious}}ly used in episode 10.
* OldCopYoungCop: Ikari and Maniwa, respectively.
* TheOnlyOne: One character pulls a successful TheReasonYouSuckSpeech on Shounen Bat—that nearly destroys Tokyo. There is only one person who can stop Shounen Bat. Justified because it's the person who created him.
* OnTheNext: The episode trailers are narrated by the Old Man, and are mini-{{Mind Screw}}s in and of themselves. More specifically, they're told in the form of metaphors that won't make any sense until after watching the episode they're describing.
** The last episode even has one, with [[spoiler: Maniwa]] replacing the Old Man, and it essentially encourages the viewer to rewatch the show in order to better understand the series.
* {{Otaku}}: An unnamed but recurring character. Given the series' overall themes of people running from real life, it's not difficult to see how this archetype ties in.
* PaedoHunt: Played very darkly. [[spoiler:Hirukawa]] (a police officer who was taking Yakuza bribes) was something of a pedophile and had a fetish for young girls calling him "Daddy." Later, [[spoiler:when he begins robbing houses to pay off a loan, the daughter of one family walks in on a drugged-up burglar and her parents BoundAndGagged.]] It's implied that he raped her. Still ''later'', it is revealed that [[spoiler:he set up a secret camera in his own daughter's bedroom so he could spy on her getting undressed]]...[[BreakTheCutie and she finds out]].
* ParanoiaFuel: As you might guess, this show contains a good deal of in-universe Fuel. [[spoiler:Li’l Slugger is basically powered by it.]] This may inspire you, however, to [[spoiler:fear fear itself]].
-->''Must not run away... Must not turn your back on him... He comes for people who've been driven into a corner and have nowhere to go. Must not talk about him... Must not think about him... [[spoiler:Rumors help him grow. Imagination... paranoia nurtures him!]] Nowhere to go...''
* {{Parody}}: Maromi takes after the real world Tarepanda.
* PerpSweating: Ikari tries this repeatedly on [[spoiler:Makoto Kozuka]].
* PervertDad: [[spoiler:Hirukawa]] set up video cameras in his daughters room so he could watch her undress.
* PintSizedPowerHouse: Lil' Slugger. [[spoiler:Subverted when it's revealed that he can change his size at will.]]
* PlagueOfGoodFortune: "Happy Family Planning".
** [[spoiler:Less "good fortune" and more "dead people can't commit suicide" by the conclusion.]]
* PlayingSick: Early on, a number of characters think Sagi is doing this by claiming to have been attacked by someone who never existed. [[spoiler: They are wrong--sort of. See, Sagi DID make up Lil' Slugger to get out of taking responsibility for something, it's just that he's become real through the power of people's collective desire to avoid responsibility.]]
* {{Postmodernism}}: The animation team must have had fun working on "[[ShowWithinAShow Mellow Maromi]]", eh?...
* PsychologicalHorror: The series definitely delves into this; many episodes are driven by a character's FreakOut and/or SanitySlippage portrayed from their own point of view.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: A huge one from [[spoiler:Mrs. Ikari]] directed at Shounen Bat and [[spoiler:Maromi]]. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:that's ''not'' who he needed to hear it from, and everything goes downhill]].
* RedHerring: [[spoiler:Ushiyama. Not only was he attacked by a Lil' Slugger impersonator, but he's the only character that isn't emotionally cornered.]]
* ReformedCriminal: After [[spoiler:Ikari is fired from the police]], one of his co-workers at a new job is a man he put in prison years ago who seems pretty lighthearted about it.
* ReluctantPsycho: A couple, most notably [[spoiler:Harumi Chono]]. She's not exactly a straight example, though: [[spoiler:she treats Maria as the EnemyWithin who's ruining her life, and society would back her up on that because a chaste tutor in love is more "acceptable" than a call girl, but Maria fights back only when Harumi tries to erase her and, early in their focus episode, it's shown that '''Maria''' was the original personality and '''Harumi''' the split personality.]]
* ReplacementGoldfish: [[spoiler:In the fantasy world Ikari and Tsukiko escape to, they become this to each other as he fills in as a protective father-figure and she acts as the daughter he always wanted who died before birth.]]
* RPGEpisode: Episode 5 is this, told from the warped perspective of Makoto Kozuka who played one too many [=RPG=]s and saw the world and his victims as game characters. [[spoiler:Only not really, as is revealed in episode 7. He was just doing it to screw with people before he died.]]
* SanitySlippage: Most of the cast suffers it over an episode. Three suffer it over the series. One does not ever lose it. Two recover from it. Everyone is smiling by the end. [[spoiler:Unless they died already. Except in "Happy Family Planning," where all three died and were singing happily in the end.]]
* ShoutOut:
** Tsukiko Sagi looks like a grown-up version of Osaka from ''Manga/AzumangaDaioh'', though given the context it could be more of a TakeThat.
** Ikari's younger self also looks identical to young Genya in ''Anime/MillenniumActress'', both of whom are played by Shozo Iizuka so it could double as an an ActorAllusion.
** Radar Man hitches a ride on a "Speedy Bat" delivery truck in a nod to Franchise/{{Batman}}; it's also a play on words since you know...Shounen Bat.
** ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus''. In episode 5, Kozuka seems to have defeated the monster. Then he looks up:
--->"...oh, its-! [[CrowningMomentOfFunny *crushed by giant foot* ]]
** Much of episode 5's [[EasternRPG jRPG]] material is from Japan's go-to series on the trope, ''VideoGame/DragonQuest''. The BigBad Goma being based on [[VideoGame/DragonQuestIII Zoma]].
** In episode 6 Taeko's last line in the episode is oddly reminiscent of [[Anime/PerfectBlue another work]] by Creator/SatoshiKon.
** One of the gossiping women telling stories about Shounen Bat’s actions tells a story about a boy and an IllGirl in love; the ill girl claims she will die when the last leaf on the vine she can see out her window falls. The boy spends all night atop a ladder, painting over the fallen leaf until he makes a perfect painted recreation of it, [[ShootTheShaggyDog only for him to see Shounen Bat kill the girl and fall in horror off the ladder to his own death]]. Another woman starts to [[LampshadeHanging point out]] it’s from a ‘famous...[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Leaf story]] by Creator/OHenry’, but is cut short by the other womens' angry glares.
* ShowWithinAShow:
** As Hirukawa falls farther and farther from grace, he begins modeling his mindset on the {{Determinator}} hero of a RatedMForManly manga in a desperate, twisted attempt to justify his actions to himself.
** ''Mellow Maromi''...
** Makoto Kozuka's video game. The series has quite a few of these.
* ShadowArchetype: Maromi and Lil' Slugger are both shown to be disturbing in how obsessed people are with them, [[spoiler:and they're both fictional characters, in-universe, created by Tsukiko Sagi that have come to life. They're also both symptoms/causes of people hiding from the truth.]] The difference is that people fear Lil' Slugger, because he is overtly hostile, while Maromi [[spoiler:only ever displays concern for people.]] Misae lampshades this in 'No Entry'.
* SlasherSmile: Shounen Bat frequently sports one.
* SnowyScreenOfDeath: When the black blob invades the TV studio in the final episode.
* SomethingPerson: "Radar Man," whose powers include mastery of metaphor and non-linear thinking.
* SpaceWhaleAesop: If you have some sort of weird wild psychic powers to make your imagination come to life, [[spoiler:don't lie about how your puppy died]]. Good advice!
* TheShadowKnows: Used subtly to show TheReveal in [[spoiler:"Happy Family Planning"; Ghosts don't have shadows. Zebra, Fuyubachi and Kamome lose theirs when the construction equipment unexpectedly tears down the building they're in, bathing them in sunlight and killing them accidentally.]] [[TheEndingChangesEverything It changes the context]] of most of the episode, and gives a nice RewatchBonus for those who watch the whole thing already knowing the big secret. %%* SplitPersonality
%%* SplitPersonalityTakeover.
%%* TheStinger: Borderline GainaxEnding.
* {{Superhero}}: "Radar Man". Although, how much of his "powers" are made up and how much is actually happening is, [[MindScrew as always]], up for debate...
* SurrealHorror: [[spoiler:Lil' Slugger starts as some punk kid with a bat, and becomes both more threatening and more bizarre as the series continues, culminating in him becoming a massive black blob that emerges from several unconnected locations at once, and overtakes virtually all of Tokyo in less than a few hours.]]
* SweetieGraffiti: A drawing shaped like an umbrella is seen drawn on a door in a school, in Ikari's dream world.
* TalkingTheMonsterToDeath: [[spoiler:Mrs. Ikari comes ''very close''; her TheReasonYouSuckSpeech clearly causes him real, physical pain.]]
* ThatManIsDead: [[spoiler:Maromi of all things. At the start she is introduced as a beloved icon in Japan. At the end, it is strongly implied that because of Maromi's apparent role in Tokyo's near-destruction that the character has virtually vanished from the public, with the city's citizens refusing to speak of her again.]]
* ThemeNaming: Nearly all the major characters have animal names - Sagi (heron), Ikari (boar), Maniwa (horse, also his internet handle), Ushiyama (cow), Chouno (butterfly), Hirukawa (frog), the {{Otaku}} Kamei (turtle), the internet handles of Zebra, Fuyubachi (Winter Wasp) and Kamome (Seagull) in "Happy Family Planning", and so on. Note that some of them have character-related double meanings, as well - written with a different kanji, Tsukiko's last name, Sagi, means "fraud".
* ThemeTuneCameo: In episode ten, one of Shounen Bat's victim accidentally turns on his car radio and the show's opening theme song plays.
%%* ThereAreNoTherapists
* ThisLoserIsYou: The unnamed otaku. [[spoiler:Even his figurines don't give him any respect.]]
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness: In many episodes, you aren't sure ''what's'' supposed to be real. Tsukiko is the most notable example though, [[spoiler:considering that it is her initial paranoid psychosis based on a lie that devolves into the current situation]]. Your first clue that there's something more substantially wrong with her than just being a CloudCuckooLander is when you see ''Maromi talk.''
* TheTokyoFireball: [[spoiler:The black sludge that Shounen Bat becomes as his power reaches a crescendo]] devastates Tokyo in the final episode.
* TokyoTower: Maniwa perches on it while delivering an emergency message to Ikari in the final episode.
%%* TookALevelInBadAss: [[spoiler: Maniwa, full stop, near the end. Although what's genuine badassery and what's insanity aren't very clearly divided.]]
* TwinkleSmile: Yuichi "[[TheAce Ichi]]" Taira starts out with one (along with AudibleGleam, natch) in the second episode. He even practices it in the mirror before he leaves for school. However, he quickly loses it as things start going wrong for him.
* TwitchyEye: A number of character display this briefly. It ties into the show's theme of everyone being at least a little crazy.
* ViciousCycle: [[spoiler:The anime is implied to be this at the very end by Maniwa, who's seemingly taken the place of the old man.]]
* VoiceChangeling: Kawazu is able to perfectly mimic Tsukiko's coworkers, all of whom are women.
* WhamEpisode: [[spoiler:Episode 7. The reasoning behind the attacks are somewhat explained and Kozuka, the prime suspect, is in jail. And then he turns out to be a copycat criminal... who is murdered in his cell by the ''real'' Lil' Slugger, who skates through the walls in plain view of the police, proving his supernatural nature.]]
* {{Yakuza}}: These drive the plot of "A Man's Path" by demanding money from Konikawa, causing him to [[spoiler: turn to crime]].
* YourMindMakesItReal: We find out in later episodes that [[spoiler:Shounen Bat/Lil Slugger is a negative apparition fueled by the paranoia of the growing and out-of-control rumors of the public (hence the title). How he came to be was due to Tsukiko lying due to stress of her successful anime character (Maromi). Of course the original lie was due to her losing a puppy after begging so hard to get it and not owning up to the consequences from telling the truth. It isn't until she eventually confronts and admits her mistake that Slugger disappears.]]
** Crosses into WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic territory when you realize that [[spoiler:Maromi/LS are all about excuses. Think about the BookEnds for a sec. They give you a valid excuse...but that doesn't mean they're helping you]].