Prepare to enter the realm of fantasy and imagination where reality and dreams collide in a kaleidoscopic mindscape of sheer visual genius. The magical tale centers on a revolutionary machine that allows scientists to ente... more »r and record a subject?s dream. After being stolen, a fearless detective and brilliant therapist join forces to recover the device before it falls into the hands of a dream terrorist in this gripping anime thriller from acclaimed director Satoshi Kon.« less
"It's no secret amongst fans of intelligent, adult sci-fi that some of the best genre films these days aren't originating from Hollywood, but rather from the masters of Japanese anime. Films like "Akira " and "Ghost in the Shell" display a quality of writing and visual imagination that few "live action" productions (post "Blade Runner") can touch.
One of the most adventurous anime directors is Satoshi Kon. In previous work like his incredibly dense and ambitious TV miniseries "Paranoia Agent", and in several feature films, Kon has displayed a flair for coupling complex characterization with a neo-realistic visual style that tends to make me forget that I'm watching an "anime". Most of Kon's work up until this point has drawn on genres that one does not typically associate with anime: adult drama ("Tokyo Godfathers"), film noir ("Perfect Blue"), psychological thriller ("Paranoia Agent") and character study ("Millennium Actress").
Kon's latest film, "Paprika" is actually the first of his animes that I would categorize as "sci-fi"... and it's a doozy.
A team of scientists develops an interface device called the "DC mini" that facilitates the transference of dreams from one person to another. This "dream machine" is designed primarily for use by psychotherapists; it allows them to literally experience a patient's dreams and take a closer look "under the hood", if you will. In the wrong hands, however, this could potentially become a very dangerous tool.
As you have likely already guessed, "someone" has hacked into a "DC mini" and started to wreak havoc with people's minds. One by one, members of the research team are driven to suicidal behavior after the dreams of patients are fed into their subconscious without their knowledge (much akin to someone slipping acid into the punch). Things get more complicated when these waking dreams begin taking sentient form and start spreading like a virus, forming a pervasive matrix that threatens to supplant "reality" (whew!). A homicide detective joins forces with one of the researchers, whose alter-ego, Paprika, is literally a "dream girl", a sort of super-heroine of the subconscious.
"Mind blowing" doesn't even begin to describe this Disney-on-acid/murder mystery/psychological sci fi-horror story. It is Kon's most visually ambitious work to date, with stunning use of color and imagery (mark my words-this one has "future cult midnight movie" written all over it).
Kon raises some engaging philosophical points (aside from the hoary "what is reality?" debate). At one point, Paprika ponders: "Don't you think dreams and the internet are similar? They are both areas where the repressed conscious vents." I think Kon is positing that the dream state is the last "sacred place" left for humans; if technology encroaches we will lose our last true refuge. A must-see for anime and sci-fi fans."
Add a little spice
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 09/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Besides the animated films of Miyazaki Hayao, I have rarely watched Japanese animation during the past six years or so. However, during that time period I did happen to see a film called Perfect Blue. Unlike much anime with their bug-eyed, florescent haired characters, Perfect Blue was animated in a more realistic style and like the animated films of Oshii Mamoru it delved into questions of the mind, image, and reality. Since the release of Perfect Blue, Kon Satoshi also directed Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and the television series Paranoia Agent none of which I have seen myself, but of which I have heard good things from my anime watching friends. I was attracted to the film Paprika when I saw some of the colorfully vibrant film stills and heard a couple of Hirasawa Susumu's pulsating electric tracks from its soundtrack. This past weekend I watched the film twice and I am still trying to unravel some of the threads of thought that it has left in my brain.
Paprika opens in...a circus. Detective Konakawa, apparently on an undercover mission suddenly finds himself within a cage after the emcee, supposedly a friend, points. He then falls through the floor into spy film, also a Tarzan film, and also a gangster film. We then see him open up a door to see a body falling after it has been shot and the culprit escaping. Konakawa then wakes up next to a lithe, red-headed girl. Using a device called a DC mini which allows an individual to enter another's dreams to find what is ailing the "patient." The girl, called Paprika, is quite experienced at her job and is quite knowledgeable about dreams and the inner psyches of individuals. However, Paprika herself is nothing more than the manifestation of the psyche of Dr. Chiba Atsuko, a very serious woman who is quite dedicated to her profession even if it means doing things a bit under the table. Problems begin when Dr. Tokita, a morbidly obese childlike genius, informs Chiba that three of the DC minis have been stolen. To make matters worse, Dr. Tokita never programmed security codes into the devices to prevent just anyone from being able to use them. The first evident victim of the DC mini is the section chief Shima who suddenly dives out a window when his psyche is invaded by another's dreams. Chiba goes to sleep in order to allow Paprika to jump into Shima's dream. There she discovers a very creepy circus led by a mailbox and a refrigerator just like Shima said before he jumped out the window. She soon discovers that the culprit is Dr. Tokita's assistant Himuro who is in the guise of a Japanese doll. However, do things truly end with Himuro or is there something much deeper at stake?
Like the comics of Shirow Masamune, Paprika delves into the question of science and technology and its relationship to mankind. The Chairman states that dreams should not be invaded by science because they are precious to humans. With the intervention of science this purity is lost and humans lose a vital aspect of themselves. The self and the Internet is also an issue within this film. People create lives and personas completely different from their true selves online. Be it being a jerk on You Tube or creating a fantasy life, individuals allow for their psyches to span in cyberspace. These are just a couple of questions that the film raises. Sexuality in the being of Dr. Chiba, a mature woman, and Paprika, a teenaged girl, also plays a significant role, but I feel as if I need to watch the film a couple more times before I delve into that topic.
With its pulsating soundtrack and wide ranging milieu of colors, Paprika is quite an experience both aurally and visually. Definitely an animated film to be watched for those interested in the genre expanding potential of animation, Paprika will definitely spark one's thinking cap."
Paprika - An Amazing Work of Imaginative Sci-Fi Anime!!! You
Mark | East Coast | 03/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
Paprika is simply the most compelling work of anime and science fiction I have seen in a long time. It may not be easily understood. But it's so amazingly animated and imaginative it has become my personal favorite.
The story is based upon a new invention, the DC Mini, that allows people to enter and experience each other's dreams. The idea is for therapists to enter a patient's dreams to aid with analysis and treatment. But the invention falls into the wrong hands and causes an epidemic. Psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba uses her alter-identity, Paprika, to investigate the nightmare and track down the abusers of the DC Mini.
Most of the story takes place within people's dreams, which allows for some amazing "Alice in Wonderland" type dream imagery. It all ties in with the story. Anybody who has ever read a book on dreams or tried to figure out their own will get a kick out of this.
One thing that I really liked about the story is that it's both playful and grown up at the same time. They resist the need for unnecessary emphasis on sex that is often used in many anime films. Several of the main characters are women, but they wear real clothes. There is almost no nudity to speak of, the only exception being a dream sequence that ties in with the story.
Music is used minimally. There is some cool Japanese electro-pop that plays at a few select points in the background. Still, there could have been a lot more music in the movie. The moderate use of music seems to have been done to make you focus on the images, and the effect is a good one.
Sony Pictures Classics has done an amazing job with the DVD transfer. The images are beautiful and crisp. The US market for Japanese style anime is always growing. So I'm sure there are many who will want to check this out.
As far as special features go, there are still too few of them here. This is a trend that has continued for too long. You get the audio commentary option if you want to watch the movie again with the creators talking in your head. Then there's a short interview type segment that explores the thoughts and approaches of the various members of the creative team. Other than a few extras, that's pretty much it. I wish they could have added much more.
Fans of Sotoshi Kon will remember his popular works, Millennium Actress Millennium Actress and Paranoia Agent Paranoia Agent - Complete Collection. Still this movie is so amazing it will appeal to a wide audience and win Mr. Kon new fans.
If you like science fiction, anime and imaginative cinema, you will most likely love this movie.
The Completely Delightful Paprika Runs Away with the Movie
Timothy Perper | Philadelphia PA USA | 11/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So the psychologists have invented a "DC-Mini" machine that lets the therapist enter another person's dreams. The only teensiest problem is that it also lets the dreams OUT of the dreamer's mind. And once outside, the dreams coalesce in vivid colors and shapes and then run around loose on the streets of Tokyo. Fortunately for civic order and sanity, Paprika, the flirty and delightful goddess of the Dreamtime, comes along too...
It's a good thing she does, because the Bad Guys have stolen three DC-Mini machines, which - bad planning, this - don't have access controls. So Dr. Chiba, the woman psychologist, and her co-worker, Dr. Tokita, who invented the contraption to begin with, have to chase down the thieves. But they have help from Detective Konokawa, provided he's not dreaming that he's Tarzan swinging through the vines carrying Dr. Chiba, and the two bartenders of a bar located somewhere in the Dreamtime, done with cameo voice acting performances by Satoshi Kon, the director, and Yasutaka Tsutsui, the author of the original novel. Meanwhile, outside - well, it's not really clear what "outside" means anymore - the dreams are bringing dolls, refrigerators, umbrellas, mailboxes, vending machines all to life in a vast and enthusiastically noisy procession through Tokyo. And, as the Bad Guys start gaining control, people commit suicide too, because sometimes dreams are nightmares.
Paprika herself simply runs away with the film. She and Dr. Chiba are alter-egos - which is *not* the same as saying that Paprika is merely Dr. Chiba looking a bit dreamier. Paprika really is a goddess - "kami" in Japanese - of the Dreamtime, and the ending alone is worth the price of the film.
But don't expect psychobabble from "Paprika." The film offers no fake explanations or pseudo-philosophy about The Nature of Reality. Yes, if you want to go there, "Paprika" is a serious analysis of art, reality, and dreaming, as one would expect from Kon. But, in the meantime, that procession is crashing in through the ceiling, so maybe it's time to move on out of here, say by swinging off on some vines?
"Paprika" is delicious. Very highly recommended."
Restored my faith in Anime
Brenda Johnson | Marquette MI | 05/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been looking for a good anime for a very long time and just could not find one, until I found Paprika. Satoshi Kon is one of the best anime directors out there and has an amazing ability to suck you right into the story line. The immagry is beautiful, while the plot is given equally good detail and attention. I'd recommend it to anyone."