Escapism in Paranoia Agent
Word Count: 3964
Satoshi Kon is an important figure in Japanese cinema. In many of his works, he analyzes the concept of society’s desire for escapism due to stress and anxiety which addresses the question of this essay—what is Kon’s perspective upon the nature of escapism and its impact upon society? This essay will examine a television series he directed called Paranoia Agent in order to explore Kon’s theme of escapism and its impact on society. Mainly episodes 1-5 and 9-13 will be covered in the essay. Sources ranging from interviews with Kon, reviews and news articles were researched to better understand Kon’s style of animation, thus understand Kon’s messages in Paranoia Agent. Through consulting these sources, we fully appreciate Kon’s techniques of framed narrative structuring, detailed and realistic art styles, diverse animation styles, sound effects and so forth which emphasize Kon’s critical portrayal of society’s escapism. Through examining characters and their interactions with one another, we understand the fearsome influence of escapism on society. Characters succumb to the temporary relief of escapism, represented by the character Shonen Bat. As we examine character motivations and actions, the absurdity of escapism is established. Kon depicts society as vulnerable, desperate to avoid reality, thus suffers the consequences which include lost of identity, hallucinations or even death. Through escapism, the fragility of human nature is revealed. However, through development of certain characters, society redeems itself in the show. In the end, we realize that we can relate to these characters and the desire for escapism is inevitable as Kon admits. We conclude that escapism is necessary in order to preserve our sanity in this stress-driven society; however we must ensure that we still hold the courage to face reality to avoid slipping too deeply into the world of escapism and consequently, lose our sanity.
Word Count: 299
Table of Contents
An Overview of Kon’s Art Style4-5
Plot Summary of Paranoia Agent5-6
The Beginning of Escapism—Stress from Society6-7
The Growing Influence of Escapism7-10
The Indirect Influence of Escapism10
A Symbolic Representation on the Theme of Escapism 11
Truth of Escapism Revealed11-12
Escapism at Its Utmost Absurdity12-13
Solution to Escapism13
Satoshi Kon is a director of Japanese animated films and TV series. In many of his works, he provides commentary on society, seen in television series Paranoia Agent. Paranoia Agent is a story of a hit-and-run assailant whose attacks strangely seem to bring relief to his victims rather than suffering. He places emphasis upon the portrayal of the human psyche as a fragile target of an assortment of societal flaws. Humans develop a natural instinct to avoid confronting reality to conjure a proper resolution to their problems whether it is pressure from work, bullying or family; instead they refuge in their own internal world. The act of retreating to an illusionary world comes in the form of escapism, becoming unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy due to their intensive anxiety and stress. This idea is developed through the characters of Paranoia Agent whom which the audience is able to empathize with. The internal world of characters appears to materialize into the real world as a result of their delusions. Kon expands upon the fearsomeness of the internal world by proposing that these illusions can “possess” others or provide a catalyst to the delusions of others. Through Paranoia Agent, we...