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Movie Review: Paprika

Directed by Satoshi Kon
Written by Kon and Seishi Minakami from the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui
Sony Classics

For me, anime tends to fall under that “anything goes” style of film, where things are beautifully weird, but it gives the filmmakers license to destroy all reason and sense.  Sure, most of these random occurrences have their own merit, and it invites multiple viewings.  It’s that David Lynch effect.

I wouldn’t say I understood all of Paprika, but it is one of those films you don’t have to understand every single thing to enjoy.  A big corporation is funding the research and development of a device known as the DC Mini, a contraption that records people’s dreams and allows therapists to walk around in their dreamworld.  Therapist Chiba Atsuko (Megumi Hayashibara) has been working with the device, created by heavyset nerd Tokita (Toru Furuya), and has the ability to change into her alter ego, Paprika, who seems to know the right buttons to push in the dreamworld.  Her big client is a detective (Akio Otsuka) who is having trouble tracking down a killer.

One day, the DC Mini is stolen, and considering there are no failsafes in place, the device can be used to wreck human minds.  People around the lab start acting goofy, speaking in non-sequiter.  It’s discovered that the theft had to have been an inside job.  Eventually, dreams and reality merge, and Paprika needs to use all of her wits to make it stop.

The movie is often funny and weird, and though it’s not entirely coherent on the first viewing, it’s an involving film, one that made me want to watch until the very end to see what happened.  Anime isn’t the most fluid of animation of course, but it’s actually a welcome sight nowadays when everything is digital.  Paprika also earns points by being a movie you can argue and philosophize about.  Clearly, it wasn’t made to be ingested in one sitting. 


Comment from KW
Time: June 4, 2007, 10:12 pm

Man, I can’t tell you how much your description of this style of animation agrees with my own. Beautifully weird. I enjoy watching them, usually, but nearly never understand a thing I’ve seen.

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