|The Golden Shoes|
|Episode 02||Next >|
"The Golden Shoes" is the second episode of Paranoia Agent.
Taira Yuuichi, a popular schoolboy in 6th grade is bullied in school on suspicion of being Lil' Slugger because he too has a red hat and golden skates. He only confides in his home tutor. He starts believing Ushiyama Shougo has done it. He is a fatter, less sporty pupil who is running against him for student council president. He accuses Shougo aggressively, then someone photos it and texts it to the whole class. Shougo defends him, much to his embarrassment. Meanwhile, the detectives continue to question Tsukiko who is now witness to two attacks. They also question Yuuichi. Believing it would clear his name, Yuuichi would have his popularity restored, but at his birthday party, only his mother and tutor turn up. On the streets, Shougo comforts Yuuichi who just gets angrier, willing Shougo to be the next victim, which he promptly is. Eventually Yuuichi goes insane with egopathic delusions of reclaiming his fame and is attacked by Lil' Slugger himself.
A young boy named Yuichi Taira, riding on his golden inline skates, passes by a group of girls who call him "Ichi" (Ichi means "one" or "number one" in Japanese). He stops for a moment and flashes them a smile with a gleam, while the girls excitedly call him "Ichi" again. He explains (in his internal monologue) that everyone calls him Ichi because he's "number one" at everything from academics to sports to popularity. Whatever he does, he ends up on top. As he continues to ride on his skates, he jumps over a flight of steps in front of a billboard, which displays the episode's title: "The Golden Shoes."
Some time later, Ichi leaves for school in his usual manner (practicing his shining smile in the mirror several times). He passes a group of girls and greets them, but they ignore him. He finds himself ignored at school, as well. Confused, he opens his locker to find a note that says, "You're Lil' Slugger (Shounen Bat)!"
After listening to a news report detailing Kawazu's assault (from the previous episode) and the description of the assailant, Ichi realizes why he's being ignored: he fits the description perfectly.
Distraught and angry, Ichi decides to blame fellow student Shogo "Ushi" Ushiyama. Ushi makes good grades, but is bad at sports due to his being overweight (his nickname, "Ushi," means "cow" in Japanese). Ushi is also passive and generally likeable, but Ichi can't stand him, mostly due to the fact that Ushi decided to run for Student Council President against him. Ichi maintains that Ushi is spreading the rumors in an attempt to win the election, but Ichi decides to not take any direct action until he has more proof.
Ichi, being further ignored and harassed, seethes in anger at Ushi. An image of Ushi laughing with some classmates is monstrously distorted, illustrating Ichi's paranoia.
At M&F, Ikari and Maniwa question Tsukiko about Kawazu's assault. Tsukiko acts in her usual shy and aloof manner, so Ikari elects to get through to her by talking to Maromi. Tsukiko asks "is he brain damaged?" Ikari angrily believes that she is referring to him, but Tsukiko clarifies that she was referring to Kawazu. Ikari cools down and mentions that Kawazu is in stable condition, while Maniwa attempts to stifle his laughter.
Back at the school, Ichi is further ignored as his class plays basketball. He fumes to himself that his classmates are idiotic, as they are being manipulated by the media. Ichi catches a glimpse of Ushi, whose image distorts yet again, scaring Ichi.
Ichi skates home and attempts to take comfort in his tutor, a young woman in her twenties named Harumi Chono. Although Ichi does not need a tutor, he feigns ignorance, since Harumi is "an oasis for [his] heart." He explains the situation to her. Harumi offers to tell his teacher about the problem, but Ichi declines, indicating that Harumi's concern for him is more than enough. Ichi believes getting adults involved will only make things more complicated, but he also believes that he can't leave things the way they are, since the Student Council elections are coming up soon.
At school, Ushi runs around looking for Ichi as the bell rings. Ichi tells Ushi not to act like they're friends. Ichi insults Ushi directly, and accuses Ushi of spreading the rumors. Ushi is scared as Ichi threatens him, while several photos are taken of the two together.
Later, in class, Ichi gets an image text on his cell phone. He is frightened by what he sees. Suddenly, the other students' phones go off as they all receive the same image text: Ichi threatening Ushi. The teacher gets angry at the cell phone use, and then Ushi stands up and tells the teacher that Ichi is being bullied. This makes Ichi even more angry. His paranoia heightening, he imagines Ushi's image warping again, while (in Ichi's mind) Ushi mocks him.
Elsewhere, Ikari and Maniwa walk around a neighborhood. Maniwa asks Ikari if Tsukiko is naturally out of tune. Ikari responds that he is out of touch with what young people are thinking these days. Maniwa points out that he himself is one of those young people, and Ikari responds that Maniwa is strange, as well. They also mention that the old homeless woman is still missing. The two meet with a local woman and show her a sketch of Lil' Slugger, and she seems to know who he is.
What follows is a montage of various neighbors discussing Lil' Slugger (Shounen Bat), and Ichi's resemblance to him. This is cross-cutted with Ichi's Student Council election poster displaying more and more graffiti.
Later, Ichi is questioned by Ikari and Maniwa. Ichi confirms that he does not know Tsukiko personally, although he has heard of her. They add that Ichi is not a suspect. The teacher explains that Ichi has been bullied, and that the detectives should catch Lil' Slugger (Shounen Bat) as soon as possible. Ichi feels that now that the police have made it official that he is not a suspect, the bullying will stop.
At his birthday party, everyone in Ichi's class (except Ushi) is there and wishes him a happy birthday. The classmates all blame Ushi for making them so suspicious, while offering him presents. Everyone cheers and claps... but it is revealed to be just a daydream. At his actual birthday party, no one has shown up except his mother and Harumi.
Ichi realizes that the police investigation has just made things worse. Ichi reluctantly (and tearfully) throws away his beloved golden inline skates. Later, as Ichi is walking home, Ushi runs up to him, carrying a fake palm tree. Ushi wishes him well, and hopes that the real attacker is caught soon so that Ichi's life can return to normal. Ushi compares Ichi's situation to his own, since Ushi was bullied at his old school. The fact that Ushi is comparing himself to Ichi angers Ichi even more. He stops and fantasizes about Lil' Slugger attacking Ushi, and Ichi being a hero. He awakes from him his daydream, as the real Lil' Slugger passes him and knocks out Ushi with his bat. Ichi becomes excited and chases after Lil' Slugger, ignoring the injured Ushi. Lil' Slugger fades away and disappears into the sunset.
Tsukiko watches the news report detailing Ushiyama's assault in her apartment. Tsukiko talks to herself, saying that she may have met Lil' Slugger somewhere before. Before she can follow this thought, Maromi animates and tells Tsukiko that it's all her imagination. Maromi tells Tsukiko that she should forget things that happened a long time ago.
At the hospital, Ikari and Maniwa visit an unconscious Ushi. As they leave the parking lot, they pass the old man writing a different equation. The answer is revealed: the number 1.
Ichi holes himself up in his room, watching old videotapes of himself, reliving his "glory days." Ichi's mother knocks on the door, trying to get him to go to school, since today is the day of the Student Council elections. He thinks that everyone will blame him for Ushi's attack, since he was present.
Ichi snaps, the world around him becoming distorted, resembling what would be a bad trip. He sees himself on the street, surrounded by his classmates. Their distorted faces insult him and call him a murderer. Distorted versions of Ikari and Maniwa tell him that they've figured out that he's Lil' Slugger. He sees the real Lil' Slugger, and the street becomes empty. Ichi gets hit in the head with the baseball bat. The screen goes black, while voices yell out, "Ichi!"
- Yuichi Taira
- Shogo Ushiyama
- Chouno Harumi
- This episode's title is written in big, golden Kanji characters on the billboard Yuichi jumps past in the opening sequence. It also reads: "Now dance! Dance! Together with the cursed golden shoes!"- a parallel to Yuuichi's situation based around Lil' Slugger.