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This movie is an absolutely mind-blowing phantasmic array of image and sound. You HAVE to watch it. I've never seen a sci-fi/psychological type movie implemented as well as this was. I don't have one even slightly negative thing to say about it.
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Even before the starting credits we are given an overwhelming thing to digest. This is scary. The complexity presented in the film is sublime to the point of inducing neurosis. I cannot think of a more intricate and elaborate creation.
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105 of 113 people found the following review helpful
In dreamsSept. 26 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Paprika - An Amazing Work of Imaginative Sci-Fi Anime!!! You Must See This!March 17 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Completely Delightful Paprika Runs Away with the MovieNov. 2 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
One of the best mind trips ever made. 98%Nov. 24 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I first saw Paprika last summer when a good friend of mine strongly recommended the works of Satoshi Kon to me and after gazing at the anime titles he made, Paprika grabbed my eyes the quickest given its trippy imagery and description, so I bought it on Amazon and am extremely glad to have seen it because it's one of the most enriching and creative titles I've ever seen in the medium.
In the near future, a huge advance in psychotherapy is created in the form of a device called the DC Mini, which is capable of recording people's dreams. However, the DC Mini is stolen and Dr. Chiba's science team and detective Konakawa join forces to get it back before it falls into the wrong hands. In their pursuit, follows one of the craziest mind trips ever put on celluloid.
What's a movie without good characters? Thankfully, Satoshi Kon kept this in mind and fleshed out very believable and interesting characters when creating this animated feast for the eyes and brain. What I also like is that while there's protagonists and antagonists in Paprika, they don't really fit any stereotypes and aren't one-sided morally speaking. Atsuko Chiba (At-Chan, as Kosaku Tokita calls her) has the alter ego in the form of a red-headed and energetic lady named Paprika but unlike most alter egos, Paprika exists entirely in the dream universe. Chiba tends to be serious and butts heads with Tokita. Detective Konakawa is one of the most interesting to me since he has repressed terrors and lives them out through dreams that play out like movies. Tokita is a more unique case since he's a kid trapped in a genius adult's body and given that personality, he acts just like that since all he cares about doing is "doing what he wants" instead of doing what he HAS to do. Even the more minor characters are better than mere plot devices because just like the leads, they feel very believable.
PLOTTING AND APPEARANCE
Normally in my reviews, I separate the plotting and appearance, but in Paprika's case, I have to combine the two since they're dependent of each other and would be awkward reviewing the two individually. This is where most of the fun in Paprika lies in. Kon, being the excellent storyteller that he is, perfectly meshes the dream world with reality and unlike Christopher Nolan's vision of the dream world for Inception, Kon takes full advantage of the opportunities he has and creates a dream world where anything, and I mean ANYTHING, can happen (visually and plot-wise). The plotting is brilliant as to where it's complex but not overly so, in the sense that the plotting isn't a gimmicky puzzle movie where it's a convoluted mess that you're trying to put together (though it's best to pay attention), but rather blending both fantasy and reality within a character's dilemma and ultimately fits what they're going through as a consequence of the DC Mini's severe abuse. An example of this is when Konakawa is pursuing one of the main antagonists, he gets caught in his recurring nightmare and acts out according to the nightmare, and the consequences from his actions affect the antagonists in the real world. There's so much more to this, but I think you get the picture (and that I don't want to spoil the whole movie).
Then there's the appearance of the movie. This is integral to the film since it's the imagery that breathes so much life into the dreamworld in Paprika. Kon took full advantage of this opportunity in the visual department and made a dreamworld like no other. In this dreamworld, toys, household appliances, and other devices coming to life and say complete gibberish. There's a scene where Paprika jumps into Dr. Shima's dream, she sinks into Shima's body and causes him to inflate like a giant balloon and explodes, causing him to wake up. When people dive into peoples' dreams, they can take the form of any object they merge with. The best example of this would be with Paprika since she takes a myriad of forms ranging from fairies to griffins in the film. Things get really interesting towards the end when reality and the dreamworld merge since you see businessmen gleefully jumping off a building in formation and Tokita running around as a toy robot firing missiles at a giant Japanese porcelain doll and rambling about fat content in coconut milk. In my first viewing of Paprika, I was left lying in a fetal position wondering what just happened mostly because of the dazzling imagery used to flesh out peoples' dreams.
The animation and artwork is fantastic. The frame rate is rather smooth and the imagery is very colorful and detailed. Like Shigurui: Death Frenzy, Paprika is another anime that uses both 2D animation and 3D animation and much like said anime series, Paprika mixes the two in a very tasteful manner since the 3D imagery exists only to supplement the primary 2D animation instead of overpowering it. The characters have very distinctive looks and me being a male in his early 20's, especially enjoyed the way Dr. Chiba was drawn since she looks beautiful but at the same time, her looks actually match her personality since she looks mature (and acts as such). In the case of female characters, Kon has a very distinctive way of drawing them and I personally love how he draws them since they look like anime characters but don't really fit the cookie-cutter styles abused in the genre. Once again, Satoshi Kon and Madhouse Studio crank out a high-quality anime.
To supplement the well-done characters, surreal imagery, creative story, and excellent plotting, Kon threw in some themes to make an already brilliant anime even better. While subtle, there's themes about the sacredness of one's dreams and the intrusion of technology in said area elaborated by the Chairman (the main antagonist). I felt this was pretty insightful since according to the Chairman, a person's dreams in the movie's current setting are all that's left that's "personal" to someone, and the DC Mini will violate that sense of uniqueness since it'll record the subconscious and have it shared with the whole world. There's also a theme of someone dealing with hard guilt since Konakawa has a film-like recurring nightmare because of personal losses he had in the past relating to film. These themes add more life to an already vibrant animated picture.
If you love anime that's intelligent, creative, has great characters, and chocked full of mind-blowing imagery, then Paprika needs to be in your collection RIGHT NOW if it's not. If you have the technology, I suggest you get the blu-ray version since the sharper picture and sound really enhances this great movie.
RIP Satoshi Kon. Your body of animated work may be small, but it'll be remembered and lauded for eternity.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A visual and story-telling spectacleApril 16 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was stunned with its visual creativity, and the film has certainly delivered. The dream sequences are fantastic. However, what really got me what the complexity and intricacy of the writing. You don't have to go far in the modern cinema to find a movie that looks pretty, but in this movie you would also find something that's deeply thoughtful and intelligent.
There are many storylines, some explicit, some weaving somewhere in the background. There are also many parallels, where different characters experience similar conflicts, though each one goes through it in a unique way.
After I watched it, my first reaction was, "I need to see this again. I probably missed half of it."
It *can* be a rather confusing movie. But do try to be patient in figuring everything out.