“ETC” Paranoia Agent S1E9

Paranoia Agent, Season 1 Episode 9
Grade: C+

Just as the last episode ditched Koyto to show the Lil’ Slugger phenomenon’s geographic reach, ‘ETC’ shows the exponential growth in the number of his attacks in the form of an anthology of Lil’ Slugger stories told as increasingly implausable housewife gossip.

A student who literally sneezes out equations he tried to ‘cram’ into his head calls out for help and has the black letter equations flood the floor. As alluded to in the brutal background of last episode, and as started with his murder of his impostor in the police station, this Lil’ Slugger often murders.

An insufferable Mother-In-Law pushes her Daughter-In-Law too far and the intensity of their conflict summons Lil’ Slugger, seemingly to ‘help’ whoever wanted to win more. A doctor covering up a In Vitro fertilization error is faced with a Lil’ Slugger ultrasound.

The ending of the doctor story prompts the three more gossip-experienced housewives to question its plausibility. They dismiss the newer housewife as unworthy of a wife of a writer and suggest she get better material. Their subsequent stories turns out to be even less possible, the first as its plot mirrors a popular bout of Japanese mythology, something obviously repurposed to add Lil’ Slugger in. This prompts the newest housewife to briefly question it before being shot down by the other three.

Lil’ Slugger appears on national television as a batter in a baseball game, where the pitcher has been stressed out about getting the final out in a game- something far too public to have happened. He appears to a boxer obsessed with all the food he couldn’t eat in an alleyway with a giant feast and hits him in the head, which subsequently rids him of his controls on his boundless hunger- at least, according to the three other housewives.

The newest housewife pitches an inventive tale of Lil’ Slugger appearing with his bat appearing first like a shark’s fin to a stranded ocean goer, but her narrative is roundly rejected. A gangster unwittingly thinking of Lil’ Slugger as a servant of whoever calls him, triggers the fears of his subordinate that calling Lil’ Slugger would be successful. His fears then draw Lil’ Slugger anyway. The other three housewives shout the fourth down in their disappointment, not really favoring inventiveness, but rather luridity in their narratives.

A final story about a rocket blowing apart upon launch causing Lil Slugger to appear to the entire launch crew changes nothing. The fourth housewife walks home dejected until she finds her writer husband bleeding from a Lil’ Slugger attack, at which she lights up, delighted for an actual story to tell that can’t be refuted by her social circle, even as her husband pleads with her to call an ambulance before passing out.

The question to be answered is if Lil’ Slugger’s fame has grown in response to his ambitions, or if his fame and the rumors surrounding him were actually giving him direction and purpose and doing the work of summoning him to life.