Movie review: Paprika
A new tool has been created for psychotherapists, the “DC Mini”, which allows them to view their patient’s dreams. But as with all powerful inventions it is being misused, for both good and evil.
On the good side is Paprika herself, doing vigilante psychotherapy to help patients outside the system. On the evil side is a mystery villain who has stolen some DC Minis and is using them to intertwine his victim’s dreams and reality – leading to madness and death.
Paprika must find out who is behind this evil plot and stop them before all of reality melts into chaos.
If you’ve ever jumped into a deep lake off a floating dock, there’s that moment – just as your feet leave the wooden edge – when you realize you’re not sure what’s going to happen. The first few seconds of Paprika go one step further, tossing you into the most surreal and frightening place there is: a circus. And that creepiness doesn’t let up for the next 90 minutes. Neither does the saturated colour and fluid animation. This movie is first and foremost a pleasure for the eyes. But true to Satoshi Kon, it is also a disturbing look at the human psyche.
This film has an incredibly small cast of characters. You get to know each one well and the film feels very intimate. But the master stroke in Paprika is that by setting the main plot device as a mechanism that allows others to witness and participate in dreams, Kon is free to blend fantasy, desire, surrealism and politics with the banality of daily life.
The only reason I didn’t give this movie full points is that it doesn’t feel like a completely realized idea in and of itself. After watching Paranoia Agent, Kon’s previous TV project, Paprika feels like a continuation of those same thoughts on the dark side of human nature. And as opposed to Paranoia‘s fluid and almost random storytelling style, Paprika is much more conventional – a good ol’ fashioned thriller. At the end of both stories, however, Kon points out that we are all potential villains and heroes.
Highly recommended for Satoshi Kon fans as well as those looking for anime that pleases the eye while challenging the spirit.