Paranoia Agent is an anime about several people who essentially get to the point in their lives where they pretty much snap. Going into this anime, I actually didn't know what it was really about, just that there was this kid Lil' Slugger and he hit people over the head with a metal bat. That and the fact that it was supposed to be kind of trippy. Now neither of these two things are false, but when you get right down to it, the anime is really about madness, which is a theme I can totally get behind and usually love in anything I happen to be watching or reading. The same rings true for Paranoia Agent.
The anime does revolve around several different people getting backed into corners and loosing their minds, in fact that happens pretty much every episode, but it truly comes down to the main character of Tsukiko Sagi. This anime sort of revolves around a mystery and essentially a big twist at the end, so I do not want to really give anything away. However, to talk about the characters of the show, she must be brought up because she is so essential. She is a good character, a sort of shy and quite type with a lot more going on then the average person might see and I like that type of person. She creates this little dog character, which could kind of be seen as a hello kitty type phenomenon, called Maromi. As Tsukiko slips into her own little madness, Maromi starts talking to her all the time and I would be remissed if I did not bring up the fact of how much I love this little dog. It is so cute and adorable, especially its voice, and the role it ends up playing in the big picture is absolutely amazing because of just how adorable the thing is. The other two main characters are these two police officers who sort of start loosing it too, but always maintain enough to continue to try and save the day. In fact if they had maintained their sanity entirely, they never would have been able to help anyone.
That is the thing about this anime, it throws out a lot of really interesting ideas about life and people throughout the course of the series. One example being the way four or five gossiping house wives talk to each other outside of their apparent complex, feeding everyone's paranoia about Lil' Slugger. It is little things like that which consistently makes the anime consistently so interesting. On that note, I almost forgot to talk about Lil' Slugger who is simply an entity that I thoroughly enjoy. He attacks once, someone hears about it, they start to loose their mind and so he shows up again, creating a mass paranoia that snowballs completely out of control. He's less of a character and more of an idea that becomes lodged into the psyche of an entire populous, which is as awesome as it sounds.
As for the voice acting (again I watched in English) it was rather good, especially little Maromi, however one might want to check into the original Japanese on this one because the voice acting in English is fine but it could be better. Now for my theory about the animation style of Paranoia Agent. Now this is just a theory, but it would seem to me that the animators did not exactly have a whole lot of money when creating this anime. The normal style of it is perfectly fine, good even, however it looks like they did not have the budget to keep it up for the entire show. So, what is an animator to do? What they do is simply brilliant, because every time someone starts loosing their mind, they use the animation to illustrate it. So the show is going along, looking just fine, but then detail go away, things become fuzzy or disoriented, clearly cheaper to animate, but it all makes sense because this is what this crazy person is now seeing. I'm not certain that this is a true story or anything, but that is just the feeling that I get and the anime is all the more amazing for it.
The only real negative thing about this anime is that it is more than likely an acquired taste. It really is not for everyone and becomes rather cumbersome and even confusing at certain points, but that is also the point of it all. Paranoia Agent is insane and the story matched with the animation really shows this. So for me it is a solid four out of five, but be forewarned that your mileage may vary.