Harumi & Taeko
Why is it that this show, which is pretty much an uncompromisingly merciless attack on sensationalism and escapism from beginning to end, played the medically dubious Split Personality
and Hollywood Amnesia
cards absolutely dead straight? Aside from these two characters, each story hammers home the point that every tiny bit of responsibility for self-delusion and buying into boneheaded moral panic lies squarely in MY hands, but thenů These two blatantly unrealistic characters came along, totally counter to the whole message of the series without the slightest hint of irony or snark, and absolutely just stuck in my craw as the only imperfections in this masterpiece.
- Did they escape? Are they Happy? No and No.
- But that's the thing, it wasn't their fault, and their psychological conditions were utterly implausible.
- I think it was supposed to be artistic use of those particular tropes to establish the underlying themes about being torn between two extremes, neither which is satisfying or wholesome. (like the contrast between Maromi and Lil'Slugger.)
- Multiple personality being medically dubious was a plot point, I think. Harumi & Taeko redressed her issues as a clinical condition, therefore freeing her from having to cope and overcome them.
- The point of Harumi's problem was that she didn't want to tell her husband about it and just thought that if she ignored her problem, it would go away. That's exactly the same thing Tsukiko had been doing. Split personality in this case is just a plot device. Taeko, on the other hand, doesn't even have amnesia. Yes, they say she does, but look at her. She never moves an inch or says anything. She just sits there grinning. She's basically catatonic. In essence, she's dead. That says that the only way to escape her problem (instead of facing it) is to die.
The palm tree
In episode 2, why was
Ushiyama carrying that palm tree? Yuichi even pondered why he had it, but, to the best of my recollection, it remained unexplained. Was he going to a party with a South Pacific Island theme? Does a palm tree carry symbolism that Japanese viewers would understand but that I'm missing?
- It's a Visual Pun. In spoken Japanese the word "Ki" means both "spirit" and "tree". As a result the idiomatic phrase "ki o motsu", which means to keep your spirits up or to think positively, can also mean "carry a tree".
The title sequence cast
Why do the opening and ending credits sequences contain no characters from episodes 8-10? It seems odd that they'd exclude that group, yet include the homeless lady and Hirukawa's daughter, neither of whom receive the depth of exploration or attention applied to the other characters in the opening sequence. Were the character models for 8-10 unfinished when they did the opening sequence or what?
- This is only a guess, but maybe the characters featured all appear in multiple episodes.
Shounen Bat's simultaneous attack
Why was it necessary, story-wise, to have Shounen Bat strike Sagi and Hirukawa's daughter at the same time? Maniwa would come to believe in Shounen Bat's supernatural quality whether or not this happened, so his observation about the simultaneous attack seems quite unnecessary. In fact, it appears that S.B. needs to take on a physical presence whenever he strikes (even when he's a giant, powerful blob, he has to physically reach people before he can hit them), so it's strange that he would be invisible while striking Sagi—can he attack invisibly only
for Sagi? Was she collapsing due to her inner, personal demons rather than the "real," physical S.B.? If that's the case, the simultaneous strike would be a mere coincidence and, again, unnecessary. If we had further evidence that it was only coincidental, Maniwa's observation would hint that he's becoming obsessed and seeing things that aren't there; but without said evidence, it doesn't add anything significant.
- It may have been a hint of how Sagi was the original "source" of Shounen Bat. Or it may have symbolised the point when Shounen Bat's power grew or changed - after all, before that, he didn't kill anyone, just "fixed" them. After that moment, he started his killing spree, so as Shounen Bat's creator, Sagi reacted to the change, maybe?
- It's possible that it was to give two clues, the first that Shounen Bat wasn't a real person, and to give a hint that it was Sagi that created him. As for Maniwa's observation, well he is going crazy. He's grasping at straws as to what Shounen Bat is and what just happened with Sagi, he has no concrete evidence for anything, he just happens to be right. He doesn't come at anything other than what actually happened to Maromi through real detective work from that point forward and ends up losing his mind completely trying to solve it.
Happy Family Planning episode
I don't understand how this episode connects to anything at all. Is it only to show that ghosts in this world exist so people aren't surprised when Misae talks to Keiichi in his fantasy world? On the Wiki Page
they have a quote from the creator stating that he did the anime so he could just put down whatever came to his mind. Is this just something he did on a whim? It seems like Little Slugger was just shoehorned into the episode and was pretty pointless. It doesn't seem like this episode ties into anything.
- This troper thought that the purpose of Happy Family Planning was to show how truly messed up the universe of Paranoia Agent is. We are seeing three people who want to die and are willing to seek it out, even at the hands of Lil'Slugger, after all. It also seems that the episode is addressing a form of escape that many people in Japan have been attempting: suicide, and it's doing it in such a ironic manor that whenever we laugh we don't know whether or not that's a good thing.
- This is a personal interpretation: Whenever someone is approaching his personal Despair Event Horizon, Shounen Bat appears and he is Moving the Goalposts for that person: To recover for being beaten half to death is a small price for Moving the Horizon of his Despair. Every way of escape the protagonist try conduces to a dead end, and only then Shounen Bat appears and he helps them not to cross the Despair Event Horizon. But one of the themes is that humanity can endure: If only they would accept to face their problems, they would somehow live with them and solve those problems. Suicide is the only way of escape that succeeds; at the cost of those who take it will never solve their true problems and will have Unfinished Business. When Shounen Bat saw the ghosts, he was truly afraid of them because they are Barred from the Afterlife and the only ones he cannot help: They will have Unfinished Business forever, trapped behind the Despair Event Horizon.