Monday, June 11, 2007

Paprika - Anime / Movie Review

Rating: A+++

Synopsis: Dr. Tokita has created the DC Mini, an unstable device still in testing that allows psychological researchers, such as Dr. Achiba, to look into the dreams of patients. Paprika is Dr. Achiba's younger, sassy alter-ego, who appears in dreams to assist neurosis diagnoses. An unknown villain steals three DC Mini's and begin wreaking havoc on the researchers by invading people's minds and dissolving all dreams into one. The mystery of the missing DC Mini's gets deeper as the world gets more surreal.

Quick History of Paprika:
Paprika is based on a science fiction novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui. It's a futuristic science fiction story he began in the late 80's/early 90's, and began serialization in the Japanese woman’s magazine Marie Claire in 1991. Tsutsui had many offers from other directors and producers, but chose Satoshi Kon to create an animated film of the Paprika story. The two bartenders in Paprika are voiced by TsuTsui and Kon.

Paprika is an amazingly beautiful movie. If you are in one of the U.S. cities showing Paprika, just GO SEE IT NOW! Now now now! Ahem, back to critiqueing - The brightly colored animation style lends itself perfectly to the surrealistic backdrops, and the story, though uncomplicated, definitely has some twists and turns.

The story follows Paprika/Dr. Achiba's efforts in reality and dreams to investigate the disappearance of the DC Mini. As the movie primarily explores realm of dreams and the cross-over between dreams and reality, some parts of the plot could be missed if you're not paying attention. Some of the characters are a bit stereotypical (beautiful uptight genius Dr. Achiba [and her beautiful uninhibited alter-ego Paprika], grey-faced sourpuss chairman, etc.), but it didn't bother me, as it helped keep the story going even in the midst of the most over-the-top craziness.

The consensus of the viewers I know is that they wished there was more. We did not feel like we'd been cheated out of our money, but rather, we could have spent twice as much time watching more and more dreams, more Paprika investigations, more everything. It is a gripping and awesome movie and I hope you all get to see it. Paprika (the character) has been one of Tsutsui's most beloved characters over the past 16 years, and having seen the movie, it is easy to see why. Paprika is perpetually courageous, young, excited, and whip-smart.

Pictured (l to r): Paprika and Dr. Achiba
In the opening sequence, we follow Paprika as she goes in and out of reality to travel around the city - hopping in and out of advertisements, skipping across the road, stopping time and traffic for fun - she's brilliant and bright. Then she changes into Dr. Achiba, yawning as she drives in to her office early in the morning. It gives the audience exactly the right idea about the characters in relation to each other and their surroundings.

In lieu of being able to buy you all tickets (which I would sincerely love to be able to do), here is a link to a free download of the theme song from Paprika "The girl in Byakkoya" provided by the creator Susumu Hirasawa's website. Susumu believes the song should be released for free.

So, in case you didn't get the drift, I think you should go see the movie because it's absolutely awesome.

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