Cracking Classics: A Newbie’s Guide to Paranoia Agent: Episode 6, “Fear of a Direct Hit”
Maken' men out of monsters and victims into conversation pieces.
A sudden but brutal storm cell is raging through our enigmatic enclave, and while most are tucked away from the rains, our detectives are facing the harsh winds full force while investigating an old but suspect women that was at the scene on the fateful first attack. In another episode that explores child development (except this time in relation to the family as opposed to society) we are introduced to the world of a scared, hurt little girl through the extensive use of pathetic fallacy and parallelisms between family relations that not only helps to strengthen the social phenomena narrative, but to also give a fairly empathetic looks into, shall we say, one of the less morally couth characters of the series.
We pick up from the last episode, with our detectives questioning the old women that supposedly has a pretty tight connection to the case. Unfortunately, they’re unable to get very far with either gruff or soft lines of questioning, and instead she laments on not being able to see her granddaughter and the separation of their family by economic factors, with the parents eking out a living on their own and the daughter brought to her aunts for what’s initially presumed to be a more stable life. She nearly chokes out of desperation at the sight of Ikari’s smokes, which is already set in the show as being a precedence for the act of how nostalgia is used as emotional crutch (I mean, it’s called “Rising Sun” for Pete’s) but hey, who could blame her at this point?
We then shift our view to a young girl wandering the streets, when the sight of Ichi and Ushiyama running about triggers a childhood flashback. She’s revealed to be a content kid who’s in that time of life where parents are pretty much the center of everything. The scene is instantly brighter, accompanied by a lighter pallet to illustrate her rosier perspective of the past. The name’s Taeko, and she’s naturally attached to the hip to Daddy, who serves as her security figure in her confusing little world (hey, she *literally* looks up to him when the perspective turns to her). All seems well for now (but that storm in present day tells you something’s up.) The father’s identity is even muddled for the majority of the episode (a whole different voice direction, never showing the face). Buuutt following the context clues from the previous episodes, it’s not too much of a trek to come to the conclusion that it’s Hirukawa.
Back at the investigation, the subjects switches from the past back to the actual case at hand (and more freakoutface from Ikari), where it’s revealed that the old women, much like Taeko, no longer has a home to go back to. Oh, and Tsukiko was totally alone that fateful night. Back to the young girl, we see her digging around a toy machine for what else???
This transitions back to another childhood moment at a different claw machine (insinuating another parallel between elder and child: they both have an intense desire for disassociation by regressing to the past.) Anyhow, she overhears a family discussion on moving, but as a child she believes everything is naturally perfect with a family that fulfills her emotional needs. Her parents (‘specially daddyo) not so much.
Back in present time, it’s obvious that these reflections are an incredible source of pain, and with her rising rage the wind and water starts to sweep away small objects. Including grandma’s tent. Luckily, that happens just in time for our detectives to get some very important Intel that we naturally assume is that “Tsukiko made up everything”. (btw, I think it’s appropriate to mention at this point that both grandma and Taeko were reflecting on the same things at the same time…) And a romp back to the police station it is. But not before we get intermediate flashbacks of Taeko. My theory of why they do this is to articulate two girls as being dichotomous about how they view the past (Tsukiko= running away, Taeko= harboring forever. Both no good), but while Taeko projected onto her *literal* environment, Tsukiko sent her paranormal shit to social factors.
In this particular reflection it’s reveled (on her dad’s birthday of all days) that Masami, to help pay for the new home has set up bedroom cameras on his own daughter. Yeah. As you can imagine, seeing this man, who has not only provided emotional comfort and security, building trust and love his entire life sweep all of that away like a wooden plank in a flood (HMMM) causes her to feel … well, abandoned, amongst other things that I won’t even attempt to articulate here. Another shared trait with the old lady.
Near the end, we get another rather heartbreaking beat where Hirukawa’s home, his aspirations for himself and his family are being rendered apart by the flood, but he cries for his daughter over the phone in the rain. It’s a fairly well acted scene that really shows some pathos for this man being torn to tatters over his self-loathing. But before the flood can sweep away everything, we’re shown just what happened to grandma after the tent blew over (hey, I choose to believe that the detectives just thought she was trapped somewhere relatively safely in the cloth).
With the storm passing the town is literally slated clean, and so is Taeko’s mind. As in, like, she has retrograde amnesia! Whoo! But interestingly enough, Grandma is woken up in the hospital with her memories intact, suggesting that her sense of identity wasn’t fazed by the incident, which all makes a pretty cool statement on childhood self-actualization being pretty contingent on environment.
Handy Dandy things to look for:
- What do you make of the fact that Ichi and Ushiyama were running around in the rain? Anything to do with their mental states?
- With it being revealed that Tsukiko is definitely more than meets the eye, what do you make of our suspect, and what do you think he’s really trying to do here?
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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