Pon. Well, this is the best-directed show we’ve seen in a while. Thanks Satoshi Kon. Rather than there just being weird angles and characters stuffed into the corner because fuck it why not, the visual stuff actually conveys information, and it does so in a way that doesn’t always feel blunt and obvious. It leads you to conclusions gradually. Visual storytelling. Imagine that!
Oto. No shit. So, I think this show is about how people suck. Or technology. Maybe video games. I think it’s mainly about people in general, honestly.
Pon. The internet’s made of people, so it’s all the same. Bear in mind that when this was made, social media didn’t really exist. So this is kind of about a different internet, or it was looking forward. In the west we had, what, MySpace? The seed was planted.
Oto. From what I remember from way back in 2004 or whatever, back when it was airing on Toonami late at night, it’s very psychological. Imagine that. A show called Paranoia Agent is psychological.
Pon. I don’t trust anything you remember from ten years ago because I don’t trust anything I remember from ten years ago, so just treat it like it’s new.
Oto. Nah, nothing specific. I remember some scattered scenes. That one where the creeper shows porno to the kiddies I remembered. And one later on that makes me super sad.
Pon. My point is, for our purposes, forget about what you remember. What do you think about the show right now?
Oto. I get a very real vibe from it. A lot of the characters feel very natural to me. The way these characters think feels believable.
Pon. My point before was that the reason you know how they think is because they act the way they do. You never get narration from inside the characters’ heads, but you don’t need it. You get enough information from watching them do things.
Oto. True, I like that. The scene that really stuck with me in this episode is where drawing lady falls down in the parking lot and drops all her shit everywhere. She wants to cry, but holds it in until on top of everything else she rips her jacket.
Pon. Well yeah, because you don’t weep openly in the street, right? You don’t admit to yourself how much you dislike your life.
Oto. That’s so real. I get that. That got to me.
Pon. I guess my other point 1/13th of the way into the show would be, it’s already very thematically coherent. You have these two threads, the frivolous modern society thread and the artist who churns out pop culture ephemera thread, butting up against each other. It’s really sad to me that Tsukiko cranks out these little character designs with no real idea of what will catch on. Maybe randomly the public with latch on to another of her things like they latched onto the first thing. But it’s impossible to even know what made them like the first thing. From here in 2016, we know that trend turnover will get even faster. Digital illustrators, to say nothing of just about every other kind of artist, will become even more undervalued. Man, I want to weep in the fetal position now. Hopefully this show will get more cheerful.
Oto. Uuuh … chin up, slugger. No, there’s no hope for us. It’s about to get a lot more depressing. Prepare yourself.