Paranoia Agent
Volume 3 - Serial Psychosis

Starring (voice): Mamiko Noto, Haniko Momoi and Mayumi Yamaguchi
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 06 February 2006

Lil' Slugger's legacy spreads throughout the city becoming a legend. To those who want to die, he is a saviour; to housewives, stories of his exploits are the hot topic of the gossip circles. However, to the distressed staff struggling to get the animated TV show
Maromi The Dog back on schedule, Lil' Slugger is the menace who has been striking them down, one at a time...

In Happy Family Planning, three people who have been conversing in an Internet chatroom plan to meet up and commit suicide. They don't know each other's real names, only their chatroom names. So when Fuyubachi, an old man and Zebra, a young man are awaiting the arrival of Kamome, they are a little unnerved to find that the third person in this suicide pact is a cute 11-year-old girl. After a big adventure going from Tokyo to the countryside, they encounter Lil' Slugger at a hot spring.

This episode is one of the best in the series so far. The three characters we are introduced to seem to have the worse luck in the world. Every time they attempt to kill themselves, something or someone intervenes to stop them. Or do they? This is one of those episodes that you need to watch more than once in order to pick up the subtle references as to what is really going on. There clues early on as to what is happening... Why is it that Zebra sees the suicide victim who dives in front of the train, after he is supposedly already mangled under the wheels?

Also, was that an audio homage I heard to the Peanut's Snoopy show? I'm sure that in the scene where the three main characters are travelling through the countryside by train, that someone gave a nod to the work of Vince Guaraldi. A very deep and intelligently constructed episode, as well as one of the more humorous.

ETC: After hearing of the incident in Happy Family Planning, several women share rumours related to Lil' Slugger, most of which are farfetched. However, one of the women, a newcomer to the area, is having a hard time impressing the other women with her stories...

This tale is rather silly - especially when compared to the previous episode. It's really nothing more than a collection of urban myths, with Lil' Slugger at the centre of each tale. There is a twist though, but this is a little predictable.

In Mellow Maromi, Maromi is getting her very own anime. Unfortunately the staff start to fall behind as the deadline approaches. The delays are made worse as each member of the production team ends up the victim of various accidents that put them in the hospital or the morgue...

This episode is by far the weirdest to date - and certainly the hardest to follow. Why is Lil' Slugger behind each attack? And what is his problem with Maromi? Yes, in case you hadn't been paying attention over the previous episodes, Mellow Maromi shoves the fact down your throat: That Maromi is tied in to every victim (for example in Happy Family Planning it was the fact that the three suicide pact members had all agreed to wear Maromi backpacks so that they would recognise one another. So, what does Maromi have to do with everything that is going on? All will be revealed (hopefully) in the next three episodes on the fourth, and final, volume.

Extras are pretty thin on the ground. All we get are Japanese cover art; character art, trailers and DVD credits.

Another interesting collection of episodes, but, as there are only three more episodes left I hope that everything will be resolved in a way that won't have us scratching our heads and asking "Eh?"

Darren Rea

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