| "Enter Lil' Slugger"
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"Enter Lil' Slugger" is the first episode of Paranoia Agent.
Tsukiko Sagi, a shy character designer who is having trouble creating her next character, feels pressured and overwhelmed. At the height of her despair, she is suddenly attacked by an individual with a golden baseball bat. When a pair of detectives interrogates her, she describes the suspect as an elementary school-aged boy wearing golden inline skates and a red hat. The media preys on the story, and a sleazy reporter tails Tsukiko in an attempt to get further details.
Many people hold conversations over their cell phones and other electronic devices, flinging accusations at their conversation partners, cut off from the people around them. An old man writes an extremely long and complicated mathematical equation with chalk on the pavement of a hospital parking lot. As he is finishing the equation, he suddenly stops and looks out to the street and stares at a young woman standing inside a bus. The young woman, Tsukiko Sagi, notices the man staring at her, but the bus starts moving again, revealing the graffiti reading: "ENTER LIL' SLUGGER!"
At M&F Inc., a firm that designs and markets mascot characters, Tsukiko Sagi attempts to create a new character, to no avail. Her effeminate, flamboyant boss, Hatamura, gently but directly urges her to create a follow up to her successful character design of Maromi, a cute pink dog with big eyes.
Later, at night, while Tsukiko is walking home alone, she laments her situation to her stuffed toy, Maromi. Tsukiko is startled by an old homeless woman, and quickly walks away from her. A moment later, she turns around, but the homeless woman is already gone. As darkness fills the street, Tsukiko becomes frightened and frantically runs until she falls down in a parking lot, emptying the contents of her bag. She begins to gather her belongings. As she is reaching for a character design that has slid under a car, she scrapes her arm. Beginning to cry, she turns around, and is attacked.
Back at M&F, many calls are being received as Hatamura talks on his cell phone, expressing concern for Tsukiko. In a news broadcast, Tsukiko Sagi is identified as the victim of an assault. In Tsukiko's hospital room, she is being questioned by detectives Keichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa. Ikari, the older of the two, is rather harsh with her, but Maniwa, a young, attractive man, talks to her calmly and coaxes her to give them even the smallest details. Soon Tsukiko draws a sketch of her assailant: a middle school-aged boy, wearing a red hat and holding up a bent golden bat.
In the lobby, the old man from before, sits in a wheelchair and seems rather senile. His son argues with Akio Kawazu, a sleazy tabloid reporter who hit the old man with his car. Kawazu says that he does not have the money to pay for the old man's hospital bills at the moment, but will have the money when his next article is published. As the old man and his son leave, Kawazu catches Ikari and Maniwa leaving an elevator. In an effort to find a story, he tries to get the detectives to tell him what case they're working on. They ridicule him and tell him nothing, but Kawazu tricks a passing nurse into telling him what room the detectives have just been in: room 510.
Ikari and Maniwa discuss the case as they get into their car. Maniwa admits that Tsukiko is a bit strange, but Ikari points out the case is suspicious and that Tsukiko may have just made the whole thing up. Maniwa bets that if the case is real, Ikari will buy him dinner. Ikari accepts.
Outside the car, the end of the old man's equation is finally revealed: the number 510.
Kawazu searches for information on Tsukiko, first at a public computer (where he also pulls up a pornographic web site, to the delight of two young boys), then at Tsukiko's workplace.
The description of the suspect is made public, and the media preys on the story, while the public discusses it eagerly. The media names the assailant "Lil' Slugger" (in the original Japanese version, he is called "Shonen Bat," which translates to "Bat Boy"). Ikari and Maniwa ask several people in the neighborhood about the description. They run into an overweight otaku, who mentions that an old homeless woman, "as short as a child," may have seen something. The detectives find her makeshift tent, but run into Kawazu instead (the old woman is nowhere to be found). Kawazu walks away, putting a piece of paper in his pocket.
At her apartment (#510), Tsukiko looks over a message board, which is full of condolences for her. Soon, however, the messages start to accuse her of lying. Tsukiko begins to breathe heavily and look panicked. At this moment, Maromi seems to come to life and comforts Tsukiko. Tsukiko treats this as a normal occurrence.
The next day, on her way back to work (she uses a crutch to help her walk), Tsukiko runs into Kawazu. He asks if he can ask her some questions regarding her assault, but she politely refuses. As she attempts to walk away, he takes out the piece of paper he stole from the old woman's tent; it's one of Tsukiko's drawings. She agrees to the interview. At an outdoor restaurant, Kawazu compliments Tsukiko on her designs. He also brings up the fact that her co-workers are jealous of her, and then begins to question her. When some kids rollerskate past her on the street, she covers her face in fear; she has remembered something. She later tells Ikari and Maniwa that the assailant was wearing golden inline skates.
Later that night, Kawazu shows up at Tsukiko's apartment. He receives a phone call from the old man's son, who demands that Kawazu pay the money. When Kawazu sees Tsukiko, he hangs up the phone. Tsukiko tries her best to walk ahead of Kawazu, but her crutch and injured leg slow her down. Kawazu is desperate for the story, but soon he turns around and Lil' Slugger hits him in the face with the bat. As Kawazu lies unconcsious, Lil' Slugger skates up to Tsukiko, says "Hello again," then skates off into the night.
Back at the police station, Ikari and Maniwa are reading newspapers. Maniwa intends to collect on their earlier bet, telling Ikari that he wants to eat Korean barbecue tonight. The newspaper headline reads: “A Second Street Assault With a Metal Bat! Male Victim Seriously Injured.”
- Adult Swim Edits:
- When the old man's son throws down Kawazu's bouquet of flowers, he tells him to "stop this bullshit". During the first airing, it was left unedited. During the second airing and from there on, the word "bullshit" was replaced with the sound of a swinging bat.
- When Kawazu lets the boys get back on the computer, they are looking at a pornographic image of a naked high school girl. The image of her loads to the point her breasts are clearly visible and her pubic area is briefly visible. The image was modified to remove the nudity.
- Lost In Translation:
- When Lil' Slugger rolls up in front of Tsukiko at the end of the episode, in the Japanese version he actually says "Tadaima", which is what the Japanese announce to everyone when they return (to a place, like home after school). Translated, it means "I'm back".
- In the Japanese episode, the bat is said to be shaped like the Japanese character "ku". Sometimes used in scolding, it means "truth". In the English version, the bat is said to be shaped like a dog's leg.
- Episode Title Appearance: Graffiti after the bus rolls away when the old man looks up
- The nurse that speaks to Kawazu looks exactly like Gin's daughter from one of Kon's previous films, Tokyo Godfathers, who is also a nurse.
- Symbolism: When Lil' Slugger rolls up in front of Tsukiko at the end of the episode, Maromi lays in his shadow. Given the connection established between the two at the end of the series, this can be translated as foreshadowing.
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