After Episode 1 filled in on the expositional bits needed to get viewers up to speed, Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 — “Desire” dives deep into cozmez, and also the different attitudes of what hip-hop means and who should and shouldn’t be allowed to perform it. Fans of hip-hop will likely choose sides between Kanata (Yūsuke Kobayashi) and Allen Sugasano (Gakuto Kajiwara) by the episode’s end. It comes down to a matter of perspective.
Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 starts by reviewing the harmful side effects of the “phantom metal” introduced in the previous episode. The “phantom metal” is incredibly helpful in aiding rappers to create illusions that tie in with their emotions, lending itself to making their performances more visually dynamic (and likely to make up for the lack of actual energetic movements on stage). There is a downside, though. What comes up must come down, and, for “phantom mental” users, they crash hard.
The wear and tear on a rapper’s psyche after using “phantom metal” is dangerous. Forced to confront their worst nightmares, it has been known to completely destroy the user if not careful. In Episode 2, Allen’s side effects are front and center and lead to a vulnerability that could have easily turned deadly had circumstances gone south.
This leads us to cozmez. More specifically, Kanata. After BAE’s powerful opening performance at Paradox Live, his confidence is weakening. He’s placed so much pressure on himself to win in order to fix his twin Nayuta’s health and get them both out of the neighborhood they live in. But is the pressure breaking him down before he even has a chance to make an impression? From a self-destructive standpoint, yes. But his motivations make sense.
Fixating on BAE, and more specifically, Allen, Kanata waits for an opportunity. This is hand-delivered to him via Allen’s post-phantom metal crash. And the results lead to some much-needed self-awareness for Kanata in seeing how far he has fallen.
From the first episode onward, cozmez is arguably the most interesting group out of Paradox Live The Animation. Compared to BAE, which seems to be operating on the coattails of shiny protagonist syndrome. They wear their struggles on their sleeve, which you can hear in the lyricism and can feel their drive. Compared to BAE, who is pursuing the contest to prove themselves rather than do it for the prize money, cozmez is doing it to lift themselves out of poverty and create a better, healthier life for themselves.
This shows itself in the debate between Kanata and Allen about who hip-hop is for. In Kanata’s eyes, hip-hop is the greatest equalizer, even when he steps into the bounds of hypocrisy with his perusal of hip-hop. Mirroring the sentiments in the States from the 80s onward, hip-hop was about the struggle and lifting themselves up to declare to the world that they were here. They could not be ignored.
Pushing back against Allen, Kanata points out that he doesn’t know the struggle of poverty. For that, someone like Allen hasn’t earned the right to be a rapper. Everyone has struggles, though. Maybe not in the realm of poverty, but there are invisible struggles not easily accessible to the eye. And that’s likely where viewers will feel the dip in Kanata’s argument. Regardless of which side you are on at the end of the debate, it does put forth a thought to viewers – what is hip-hop, and what does it mean to the individual and the collective?
Continuing the thought bubble that my colleague brought up in Episode 1, when it comes down to the performance element at the end of Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2, there is a stilted quality to the animation that makes it read awkward on screen.
A general note about BAE’s opening performance and cozmez’s performance at the end of Episode 2: with so much emphasis placed on the “phantom metal” creating illusions, why not animate them more intimately interacting with the illusions created? It would create a more impactful visual but also inadvertently pick up the energy in these otherwise so-so numbers. The low energy works better with cozmez’s lyricism, but both BAE and cozmez read pretty low energy compared to what one might expect from a hip-hop group.
While the animation could be cleaned up more, particularly in the stage performance, Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 — “Desire” dives deep into the intriguing twin duo, cozmez. This deep dive proves beneficial in providing more background on Kanata’s desperation and mindset going into this competition but also peels back the curtain on Allen’s perspective just a bit more. With Cat’s Whiskers and Akanyatsura left to fill in the blanks, viewers will be left to decide who to back, hopefully in a couple more episodes.
Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 is available now on Crunchyroll.
Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 — "Desire"
While the animation could be cleaned up more, particularly in the stage performance, Paradox Live The Animation Episode 2 dives deep into the intriguing twin duo, cozmez.