The DC Mini is a revolutionary invention that allows users to access their dreams and perform psychotherapy. Although still in the development stages, the creators have been secretly using it to treat patients, via a mysterious and spunky lady called Paprika. Now, the DC Mini is stolen from the laboratory and believed to be an insider job. It is up to Paprika to find the culprit and prevent him from using the DC Mini that will allow dreams and reality to merge and cause chaos.
Taking on Paprika is one of the most challenging reviews that I have done. I was excited to learn that Satoshi Kon had a new work and because I have always love his work so much that it is very difficult to hold back, be objective and not rave on and on about Paprika. First thing first about this review, I'm going to be drawing some comparisons to his previous work like Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress, so if you have not watched them, I'd highly recommend that you do.
The most striking feature of Paprika, like his past works are the rich and vibrant characters. They are very complex and multi-dimensional - and so realistic it's almost frightening. And they are radical, not your usual tall, macho, tanned bronze prince and the long-haired, cute, wide-eyed fair princess.
Sure, our lead Dr. Chiba Atsuko fits the profile of the classic beauty bestowed with both looks and talent. But alas, she is so cold and glacial that one narrowed-eye stare from her could freeze hell fires. Yet she and Paprika are one and the same but as dissimilar as day and night. We see Dr. Chiba as a strict, no-nonsense researcher. As her altered ego, Paprika, she discards her coats and lets her hair down (literally) and immediately morphs into a feisty pixie, totally carefree and not bounded by proprieties. And the audience can and do associate with her feelings. How many times have we felt the urge to get away from it all? To be able to drop your guard and be yourself without a care and thought for others?
Her fellow researcher, the equally talented Dr. Tokita whose genius is eclipsed by a child-like disposition and layers of fats. Admit it. In our modern society where everyone strives to be the best and look bronze and tanned with six pack, who finds a sweaty, fat person appealing, despite them being geniuses?
The one that drives the story is Detective Konakawa. In him, there is a resemblence to Tachibana Genya from Millennium Actress - the Protector. Yet he is a troubled man, saddled by a past that he cannot let go and seeking the help of Paprika to help him find peace and solutions in his dreams. And it is rather ironic that in reality, a lot of people actually do believe that dreams are the solutions concocted by the subconscious mind to real problems in life.
The centre of the story is how dreams can be manipulated and be "accessed" even while awake. The beauty of making this type of story an animated feature rather than live movie is that the switch between dream and reality is perfectly flawless and only limited by the imagination - with clowns and giant dolls all taking part in what could have been a "normal" parade. Although this is slightly reminiscence of Perfect Blue, the difference in Paprika is that the characters "dive" into a series of separate realities as oppose to Perfect Blue, where Mima losses track of reality.
Viewers of eye-candy rejoice!!! MadHouse did an excellent job in animating the film and bringing all the characters to life. Viewers will not be disappointed from the grand parades that are full of vivid details to the fluid movements of the characters. The most impressive moments are the "dives" of Paprika into different realities, especially the scenes in the opening credits. Be sure not to blink.
The only "iffy" issue with Paprika is the music, composed by the same composer for Millennium Actress, Hirasawa Susumu. Although all the tracks fit the film like a glove, the OST cannot stand alone, unlike Millennium Actress. The only tracks on Paprika that made a very powerful impression are the opening and ending credits. Therefore, I would not recommend Paprika OST for everyone, especially not for those who have not seen the film.
At the end of it, all viewers should enjoy Paprika as a wild and fun ride. I especially love the poignant elevator scene, where they bridge the differences between Chiba and Tokita. And I think the movie is trying to send a message - that it is alright to be ourselves and we should live life to the fullest without feeling any guilt. And that is the feel good factor of Paprika.
As a final note, we must still bear in mind why Hayashibara Megumi is the "Queen of Seiyuus" even after a hiatus. She switch between Dr. Chiba and Paprika at the drop of the hat so smoothly that you would not have believed the voice-over is done by the same person unless stated otherwise by the credits. This is not a simple feat considering Dr. Chiba and Paprika's personalities are poles apart. Welcome back! Megumi-san!
Not really a classic but still very unique and enjoyable in its own way. I do believe I have been fair and objective and that Paprika deserves the highest rating. Watch this film. — Diane Tiu
Recommended Audience: Teens and above. Rather violent at times and it really does take a mature mind to understand that these are adults and why they behave the way they do. Expect some nudity.
Version(s) Viewed: R2 DVD release
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Paprika © 2007 Madhouse Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
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