Cracking Classics: A Newbie’s Guide To Paranoia Agent, Episode Three – “Double Lips”
You gotta fight! For your right! To exist as a complete person!
[Editor’s Note: Yesterday I made a grievous error and posted Paranoia Agent Episode 4 ahead of Episode 3. My apologies, friends! You can read Episode 4 and all previous Paranoia Agent recaps here. -Carolyn ]
Springing off of the last episode, where we dealt with dichotomy in what a child might look for in gaining value and self-worth (in Ichi’s case, it was validation through worship while Shogo sought to relate to him on a more human level) we take this episode to examine a middle aged women literally split in two with what she wants in life. Dissociative Identity Disorder is often times said to be caused by some sort of major (typically sexual) trauma in the past. So, maybe it’s not surprising that one of those said personalities seeks to *literally* liberate herself and actualize through sexual exploration as a prostitute while the other simply wants to live her life withdrawn but secure, seeking to marry someone noninvasive and accepting enough of her initial introversion. And so is the dance of Harumi Chono and Maria, two dichotomously strong women who simply wish to be free on their own terms… but neither ends that are healthy in the least, as we’ll see.
The episode starts off with Maria servicing a big fat ol’ otaku who, even in the throes of lust can’t seem to get his mind out of the cartoon world, making some narrative in his head where…well…
After Maria gets home we see her transform into the librarian in this virgin/whore draw, and I have to say I’m pretty impressed by how distinct Maria has made herself from Harumi’s initial character design. It actually comes across as a bit of a dramatic surprise when the wig comes off and Ichi’s tutor of all people is revealed.
Later on, we actually meet this guy Harumi’s dating and supposedly marrying… and… well…they’re weird. Their interactions at work are sterile and mundane, sticking strictly to business, and when the boyfriend proposes marriage, it’s as dry and casual as any other daily conversation. Of course, Harumi isn’t cool with Maria’s antics, and for a while it seems like she was willing to quit running the night and they were letting each-other live on relative terms. You see Harumi, somewhat hopeful, literally cleansing herself of Maria’s makeup in the shower and possibly looking forward to the future. Buuuuutttt then she decided to throw out Maria’s clothes, and someone ain’t quite willing to quit existing.
With a flash and flick Maria’s back in full force, and she don’t care who’s getting married. Andso she lashes out in defensiveness.
And still, Harumi is unwilling to tell her partner about the funky shit going on in her head. Yeah, call this a misstructured Segway, I think it’s important here to acknowledge that neither Harumi’s self-consciousness or Maria’s carefree, unstable lifestyle are the rout to any sort ofhealthy psyche. There’s definitely an underlying theme here aimed at women for acknowledging all facets of your personality, and to not allow yourself to be squirreled away because of the fear of what others think at the detriment of your mental health.
Now, before we get too much further plot wise, I think it’s an appropriate time to talk a bit about what’s up with crows in this episode, what with the talk of purity and all. Screeching crows seem to play a prevalent part in this particular episode, haunting Harumi from alone in the dump to on a boat with her partner. Crows are scavengers, typically associated with being generally unclean and ominous of future catastrophe, an acknowledgment and cawing embodiment of everything Maria is. In other words, everything that Harumi currently wants to stay far up an away from.
Anywho, with each women fighting for their right to party, there’s an absurd battle that’s initiated between the two, and here’s where the visual allegory comes in full play. Harumi, in a desperate attempt to eviscerate Maria from her life deletes all of her voicemails (one of the most important and validating aspects of Maria’s interactions, I’d say) and tries to break a literal portrait ofher. Maria ain’t happy about Good Girl’s flippancy, and has such a stronghold after so many days ofbeing pissed off and ignored (and the daily stress put on poor Harumi doesn’t help either) that she apperates to Chono in full glory, physically duking it out for top spot in the brain. But before things get… well… weirder, Lil’ Slugger takes his cue and sends both of them to the hospital as more attack victims, but not before we get a quick shot of the two of them in some bastardized clown makeup, signifying their lack of true identity. For Harumi, the battle for completeness will have to wait another day. Poor girl. You don’t have to give up on yourself.
Meanwhile, it seems like the media has gotten hold of a real suspect this time. For Tsukiko,Maromi is still self-affirming, and the sky is still blue.
Handy Dandy Things to look out for:
*What does the weird sexual fantasies of our nerd there have to do thematically with the rest of the
* Ya think Chono’s learned her lesson?
* Just what game is little slugger playing here anyway?
Rachael’s a student at a Florida university that frolics regularly in Disney parks and has an entirely too extensive collection of stuffed animals. If you wanna follow her other random musings on cartoons (or just stop by to say hi) there’s her blog https://lotsofframes.wordpress.com/.
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