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Infinite interpretation
qiowisj24 June 2007
I had gone into Paprika not knowing much of what to expect, save for the fact that it was an anime with quite a buzz. An hour and a half later, this is one of the best films I've seen in 2007.

The plot, as best as I can describe it, concerns a group of scientists developing a device which allows one to interject your subconscious into and record another person's dreams. However, a thief is using the technology to terrorize and control others. As the scientists try to find their stolen property, reality begins to take on a different meaning...

Satoshi Kon is filmmaker I've never heard of before, but what he has created is truly visionary. Paprika continually amazes with imagery which transcends conscious understanding and coherence for what can only make sense on a subliminal level. Examples include a marching band of inanimate objects, dolls and animals, a giant aquatic leviathan with a man's face and humanoid toys that act as vessels for their dreamers bodies.

But what makes the film necessary viewing is not the visuals alone, it's the core of the story and varied themes that it poses. The subject matter deals with issues both contemporary and probable. The actual identities of ourselves are wrapped in an enigma. How science has its positive and negative aspects. That the advantages of the internet is better communication but also dehumanization. I'm sure others will find other symbolism and subtext.

Wheather you're familiar with Japanese animation or not, Paprika will expose any newcomer to something foreign and deeply personal as well.
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zerogirl4222 June 2007
Paprika isn't for the faint-hearted. Don't expect a story for children.

The story opens with a cop who's plagued by a recurring nightmare, so he seeks psychological help. If you've ever seen and enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, it'll help you understanding what's going on in the film.

The cop forms a relationship with Paprika, a dream character who becomes his guide in helping him understand what happened in his past that makes him feel such shame in the present. Paprika assumes many forms in the everchanging dreamscape to relate to the other characters.

This seems all good at the beginning, but the device that enables dream analysis is stolen. This creates an even bigger problem than just nightmares; what happens when people can't control their dreams and has them hijacked by evil? Paprika isn't the easiest movie to sum up. On one level, it's like watching dreamy, fantastical animation, but there's also a deeper psychological question being asked: What is a dream exactly and to what extent does it affect your consciousness and waking life? How much fantasy is good for a person whether it be in dreams or spending time on the Internet? If you bury guilt and desire into your subconscious, how will it manifest in your dreams?

Paprika is definitely a visual spectacle. I don't recommend waiting to see it on video. I had the honor of catching it on the big screen, which I believe is necessary to capture the depth of the imagery. Parts of it really seemed like dreams I've had (times when I've tried to walk, but couldn't get anywhere and the harder I tried, the worse it got).

I put Paprika up there with Pan's Labyrinth. A lot of people will be turned off from it by the subtitles and another set of people will be lost by the mythology in it. If you don't have problems with these kinds of things, you will probably have a delightful viewing experience.

It takes a person with an analytical mind to put the plot together. If you follow the recurring images, the mythology will make sense. A lot happens on the screen. I didn't have a problem understanding what was going on and I enjoyed putting the puzzle together. I don't think most moviegoers are like that these days, so I can see them getting bored or annoyed because they can't figure out what's going on. If you prefer the Disney genre of animation, avoid Paprika, it will just frustrate you. If you're crave more than a simple plot, Paprika will satisfy that hunger.

The soundtrack is quite good too. It's a refreshing break from Elton John power ballads.
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Benedict_Cumberbatch21 January 2008
I'm not an expert in anime, nor have I seen a lot of this genre, but I utterly admire the immense creativity of people like Hayao Miyazaki ("Princess Mononoke", "Spirited Away"). Satoshi Kon's "Paprika" is a great example of anime at its finest. The movie is a sea of original ideas and a visual blast. Apparently, the plot is about the theft of a machine that allows scientists to enter and record people's dreams, and how a detective and a young therapist called Paprika join forces to get it back. But there is so much going on and so many smart innuendos (remember: this is Rated R anime, not "Ratatouille" - even though I think the R rating is just too much in this case) that "Paprika" becomes one of the most original adult animations in recent memory - superior to Richard Linklater's "Waking Life" and even "A Scanner Darkly", I dare to say. I won't give away anything because I don't want to spoil a single scene, but I'd say that I see it as a movie about the power of movies over our life/dreams, and about the love people like me have for the Seventh Art. I don't know if that was Kon's original idea and honestly I don't care - it's not every day that you find a movie that amuses and says something to you in such an unpretentious way. Whatever was Kon's original idea, I think that he got what he wanted: a movie that both entertains and makes you think. Simply fascinating. 10/10.
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A Nutshell Review: Paprika
DICK STEEL21 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Adapted from a science fiction novel by Yatsutaka Tsutsui, Paprika is probably my favourite film from this year's Animation Nation. The closing film (technically, since it's the last film to be screened tomorrow), it is one heck of a thrill ride, and will definitely engage an audience at different levels.

In contrast to the dark doom and gloom hanging over Paris 2054 in Renaissance, Paprika at first glance is surprisingly light hearted and colourful, though it has its fare share of gloom and probably has darker themes which unfold as the story progresses. It's central plot revolves around a futuristic method of psychotherapy with the aid of a newly created invention known as the "DC Mini", which is a device that probes into the annals of your brainwaves, and allows the doctor to analyze and diagnose problems which surface in your subconscious.

Until the device is stolen that is, and it's up to our key project team members to try and contain the situation, prevent the device from falling into the wrong hands and get abused, and in essence, investigate the loss, with the help of fellow patient detective Kogawa Toshimi. In some ways, the movie's storyline resembles a bit like the Matrix movies (which of course, borrows from Japanese anime), in having the hero the champion of both worlds - the real one, and inside the artificially created one. surviving in both with the adoption of different personas. Here, our heroine is Dr Chiba Atsuko, who in her alter ego as Paprika, is able to traverse through the dreamworld with great ease.

There are plenty of stuff happening in almost every scene, and some might deem it a little "noisy" with so much to see, but so little time on screen. However, never for a moment does it feel very cluttered, and I am still pleasantly pleased at how so much story can be compacted into a nifty 90 minutes, without compromising on quality. Despite the dark themes in the movie, there are a number of light hearted moments which seem to punctuate the movie at the right places, no doubt most coming from the characters of Tokita the DC Mini creator, and Detective Kogawa in his (in)ability and slow enlightenment to the entire scheme of things, nevermind a dark subplot solely focused on his character alone.

At another level, it explores much about our dreams, and how within them, we can be who we want to be, but yet all comes to naught once we wake up from it. What if we're given the ability to merge both the real world and the dream world. Then what would become of life as we know? Will it be utter chaos when dreams and desire start to run amok?

Full of vibrant colours and energy, Paprika is just about everything that you would expect from an excellent piece of animation. A story that makes your brain work at figuring out what's happening on screen, yet doesn't allow such mysteries presented to stifle your concentration on what's going on next. A hauntingly mesmerizing soundtrack. Beautiful art pieces from background sets to character design so detailed. And with so much on screen at any one time, it definitely seeks a second viewing to truly appreciate and take in everything.

Director Satoshi Kon has made a fan out of me with this movie, and I think, if time and money permits, I'll be hunting down some of the earlier works, if this is any indication whether I'll enjoy them to bits.

Paprika will be shown tomorrow during the Animation Nation festival's closing, but I hear that tickets are already sold out (I bought mine on the first day when the tickets were out on sale). I do think there should be a general release, so keep your fingers crossed!
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Anime Excellence
aljen151516 April 2007
A couple weeks ago I was listening to the soundtrack from a movie called Paprika by Hirasawa Susumu. The music fascinated me, it was magnificent.

I was strongly compelled to watch the movie.

The story is based around a lovely lady named Paprika, she has mastered the ability to sail into others dreams and help them with their problems.... an internal dream analysis/counselor.

I found Paprika the movie is as fascinating as the soundtrack .

Needless to say the dream sequences are exquisitely and vividly portrayed. The pace is manic at times and dreams and reality often converge to confuse the characters and especially the viewer. It all comes together however, in what can only be described as the best closing battle sequence I have ever seen...... period!!! Paprika shines.

Now...I never do, with movies what I did with Parika. Firstly the moment the movie finished, I got another cup of coffee and started it up again. Secondly I wrote this review

And now I'm off to watch it again.

Like anime or not, Paprika is NOT to be missed.

Suggestion, if your not used to subs.... get the dubbed version......this is a fast paced movie and will require some attention.

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A Stunning, Beautiful Feast For The Eyes
awagner7169212 June 2007
I have only seen this movie a few hours ago and am still stunned by simply how incredible it was. Who ever thought anime could be so fantastical? While the plot, at times confusing and going on the border of being a stereotypical anime, is terrific and i couldn't ask for it to be any better. Many reviewers condemned this film because of the randomness and lack of explanation for some parts, but i believe that Satoshi Kon did this on purpose. Kon simply made this movie like a dream; it is colorful, incredible, random, and offers scarce explanations. The film wants you to think about what the meaning of these "dreams" are, instead of telling you what the meaning is, much like what you would have to do with a real dream.

The best part of this film is that it can appeal to the non-anime fanatic crowd. I have seen all a few animes (only hayao miazaki films) so i wouldn't be called a true fan, and am not much into the science-fiction animes and what not that many people seem to love, yet i could not help but fall in love with Paprika.

Please, Please, PLEASE see this movie. Its too incredible to go under-appreciated by the world. Perhaps the best film of 2007, maybe one of the best from the past few years, if you see this movie you will NOT regret it.
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More lucid dreams from Satoshi Kon
Rustmonster9 October 2006
I saw this two days ago at the New York Film Festival.

The plot: What happens when we acquire technology that allows us to migrate the boundary between dreams & reality, and what happens when that boundary blurs?

The Animation: Stunning; Madhouse always does good work and Kon's movies always produce some fun reality bending sequences.

The Music: Susumu Hirasawa who did the Paranoia Agent soundtrack came up with the score here too. The opening song is a particularly infectious number. It makes you smiley. It's like the opening song from Paranoia Agent on steroids. I really could not get the grin off my face till the beginning sequence ended.

The Cast: The voice cast is headed by Megumi Hayashibara, probably the most prolific and well known female seiyuu ever, with roles such as Rei Ayanami (Evangelion), Lina Inverse (Slayers), and Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop) to her credit. Akio Ohtsuka and Koichi Yamadera, Batou & Togusa of Ghost in the Shell fame, both play major roles as well. All do a fabulous job as usual, but Hayashibara really shines in her Paprika role.

This film has great animation, music & actors, but the plot is really just a thin veneer for the lucid dreaming sequences that permeate so much of Satoshi Kon's work. I still recommend seeing it because it's a really light fun film, but I don't think it adds up to being more than the sum of some really great parts. I think this one needs to be enjoyed in pieces rather than as a whole.
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The most impressive since Akira
blaireaufarceur18 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes a movie can leave you feelings so mixed that you have to wait for a day or two before you realize whether it was actually a masterpiece or only decent entertainment. In my opinion, this amine is pretty close to being a masterpiece. The pitch was not easy to handle, though : a group of scientists (who are protagonists, which is rare in japanime which tends to focus on youngsters or weirdos) has almost completed the design of a brand-new high-tech device called the "DC Mini", which has the ability to display the subject's dreams on a screen. Once recorded, it can be used by specialized psychiatrists for therapeutic use. But one of these happens to get stolen by some tortured megalomaniac mind who uses it to penetrate other people's dreams and destroy their consciousness to death. The fellow scientists will try to discover who is doing that, while getting assistance from a mysterious imaginary girl called Paprika, who is unrivaled at finding the cure to mental illness by penetrating inside dreams and guide the subject to healing.

Curiously enough, though not particularly violent, this anime reminded me of Akira : as a matter of fact, the dream-related part of the movie which uses many distortion effects and frantic music (excellent score from Susumu Hirasawa, by the way). One who knows a little bit of Japanese culture can also distinguish critical viewpoints towards nowadays's Japanese society as well, which is faithful to Yasutaka Tsutsui's novel.

It really made me want to learn more about Satoshi Kon's other movies such as "Perfect Blue" or "Tokyo Godfathers". I guess that's a good odd... Perhaps not the best-suited for children who perhaps won't understand a rather complex script, but a heck of a show for the other !
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The dream world and the real world collide in Satoshi Kon's often magical thriller
dbborroughs7 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Just back from the New York Film Festival Screening of Satoshi Kon's Paprika.

Kon's new film is not the dark mind warps of Perfect Blue or Paranoia Agent, this is closer to blending of real and unreal of Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers light and airy touches. Its got its darkness but its mostly a light thriller.

(I'm not going to go into a discussion of specifics concerning the plot, since I was told things by reviews I read prior to seeing the film which, while they didn't reveal a great deal, spoiled just enough to take the wonder off some of the story and images) The plot concerns a device called a DC Mini which allows people to enter other peoples dreams. It also allows your dreams to be recorded for play back. Three of the revolutionary devices are stolen before they could be encoded with a software that will prevent total access to anyone at anytime, which means that anyone with the devices can not only enter anyone's dreams at anytime, but also enter there mind and put them into a dream of their choosing. Unfortunately the head of the project suddenly begins spouting nonsense (the result of being dropped in the dream of a mental patient) and before anyone can stop him he leaps from a high window. The race is on, with our heroes getting the help of a mysterious girl named Paprika, who seems to be able to move with in dreams in ways that are completely unnatural.

I liked this movie. It takes a while to get going but once it does its really good (it has a gangbusters last third). Kon blends the real and the dream in ways that can only be done through animation (see his earlier films for how good he is at it). Its wonderfully done, so much so that you can never be sure whats real and whats not, as one character says late in the film, "is this real or is it a dream?" In the end you can not tell, especially as the worlds begin to overlap. I know for some, myself included, the plot line may seem a bit of been there and done that (ie Dreamscape) but Kon's visual sense pushes the film from a run of the mill retread into something worth going out and seeing.(As I said I'm not going to go into some of the wild things that Kon has cooked up for his dream world since somethings should remain a surprise.) For those looking for some of the darkness of Kon's Perfect Blue or Paranoia Agent, its not really here, actually the movie is frequently very funny. Certainly some of the dream imagery can be frightening and disturbing in a not normal (dream)) sort of way, but other than one moment where a villain shows how he can control anything in the dream world, there isn't anything thats mind twistingly scary. (Though that one moment is sure to send shivers up and down most peoples backs) This is just a good little fantastical thriller.

At this point I have to make a confession. This movie reduced to tears a couple of times. There are a couple of moments when this movie is like a shot of pure joy. The title sequence with its J-Pop ear worm of a song had the tears rolling down my face. Later when Paprika dives into a dream and rides a cloud the marriage of music and image, however fleeting had me blissed out. Best of all the films exploration of who we are underneath it all will make everyone grin from ear to ear.

See this movie. Its a good little thriller. Its not the best thing that director Satoshi Kon has done, but its a good time in the movies (which it celebrates).
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My new love
jvanmaare12 June 2007
I saw Paprika on the Fantastic film Festival of Amsterdam and i was amazed. Being a movie buff since the age of 14 and running to 30. Once in a while i get blown away by a new production. Always been a fan of manga this production from anime master Satoshi Kon is his latest entry is the magic world of drawing. Taking all the space and freedom this genre offers you will be sucked in to a world of fantasy en wonders. Kinda like when you first saw Charlie and the chocolate factory as a kid. The characters are totally lovable en the drawings are of the most beautiful i have ever seen in theater. The story is complex so, if you want to know what all the fuzz is about read another review en check the film.

it's my new love: Paprika 9 a.o.10
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A surreal and entertaining exploration of dreams...
jmaruyama2 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
There have been other movies which explored the subject of dreams to varying degrees...Akira Kurosawa's "Yume" (Dreams),"Dreamscape", "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Wizard of OZ" come to mind, but none have quite did it in such a surreal, fascinating and inventive way as Satoshi Kon's recent anime feature "Paprika".

Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui's 1993 novel, "Paprika" is part mystery/detective story and part "Alice In Wonderland" with a bit of a sci-fi element thrown in for good measure.

The title character of Paprika is a "dream detective" who is able to enter peoples' dreams to correct or resolve psychological/personal trauma by directly interacting with the dream. She is the alter-ego of Dr. Atsuko Chiba, a brilliant psychologist/scientist who helped create the "DC Mini", a device that is able to control, manipulate and record an individual's dream. Chiba has secretly appropriated the technology to aid her in her secret dream adventures as Paprika.

The bulk of the story revolves around the "DC Mini" technology being stolen and used to assault key researchers who worked on the "DC Mini" project. Detective Kogawa Toshimi (who bears a humorous resemblance to J.K. Simmon's "J. Jonah Jameson" character in the "Spider-Man" movies) assists Chiba/Paprika in her efforts to find the stolen technology.

Kon continues his exploration of the themes of reality vs. fantasy that were covered in his previous works "Sennen No Jyoyu/Millennium Actress" and "Perfect Blue" but also adds the element of "fusion" or the merging of reality with fantasy. This opens up the opportunity for Kon to create truly bizarre scenes where the dream world invades the real world (people morphing into cell phones and other objects, inanimate objects taking on human human characteristics, etc.)

The true draw for this film is the fantastic and wondrous imagery complements of the Madhouse Animation Studio and character designer Ando Masashi who create elaborately detailed images, drawing from a variety of sources (traditional Japanese dolls, Buddhist statutes, European ceramic figurines, plastic toys).

It's amazing how Kon was able to incorporate and explore a lot of the common dream themes in the film (flying, falling, childhood toys, mirrored reflections, metamorphosis, running) as well as some of the Jungian archetypes (shadow, Anima, Animus). The medium of animation is the perfect vehicle suited to bring this imagery to film.

Hirasawa Susumu's musical score adds to the fantasy with its fusion of various musical styles and influences.

The voice work is also quite stellar, bringing together a host of veteran "seiyuu" talents like Hayashibara Megumi, Otsuka Akio, Yamadera Koichi, Furuya Toru, and Emori Toru.

While "Perfect Blue" still remains my favorite Kon project, "Paprika" was a pleasantly enjoyable and wonderful surprise and further solidifies Kon's growing reputation as a truly innovative animation director in the same vain as Miyazaki Hayao, John Lasseter and Oshii Mamoru.
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Another excellent film from Satoshi Kon
kevin-pack12 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I had the pleasure of watching Paprika during its UK premiere at the Leeds International Film Festival.

I must start by saying that I am already a fan of Satoshi Kon's work. Films like Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfather are amongst my favourites in any medium, not just anime.

I sometimes feel that much of his work could just as easily have been performed in live action features as anime, but this isn't the case with Paprika. One of the main aspects of this story is the way in which the dream world intrudes on the real world, and how it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two - until something totally bizarre appears. Many of the images just wouldn't work in any form except anime.

While the story itself follows an investigation into the theft of three devices that enable users to drop into people's dreams, the movie is also a homage to both films and television. In dreams we see everything from Tarzan to Monkey, and film posters to several previous Satoshi Kon films.

To summarise, the film was very well received and should appeal to both anime and non-anime fans. Chris Fell, the director of the film festival reported that after its first screening Paprika had achieved a higher audience score than any other film since he had been involved with the festival. You can't get much more of a recommendation than that.
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Sugar and Spice
GyatsoLa19 October 2007
I'm still a bit stunned after watching this movie - and that amazingly OTT theme music is running around my head. I'm not much of an Anime fan - I find most of it simply too juvenile. But this is something else entirely - a crazed storyline, like something Phillip K. Dick would have come up with on mescaline...

I won't attempt much of a summary as its entirely possible I've gotten it all wrong, but it involves a dream detective who may (or may not) be an alter ego of a scientist involved in a machine to read dreams, a detective who may (or may not) have had some involvement a murder he is investigating, a wheelchair bound CEO who..... oh, nevermind, this is pointless! Suffice to say from the very first scene there is a stunning overload of images and overlapping stories, and its difficult to know if even the director had a clear idea of what he was saying. But its never, for one moment boring, and i strongly suspect there are multiple deeper meanings going on here, this is a movie that will stand up to multiple viewings to try to decode all the sub plots and metaphors.

Even if you are not a fan of anime, if you just like dazzling film making that will stretch your imagination - Paprika is for you (and no, i have no idea why she is called Paprika).
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What a great film!
Wookieetreiber28 August 2007
The following review has been translated by Google:

If dream and reality merge

Paprika is one of the most unusual, most beautiful and craziest films, which I saw for a long time, decorated by an incomprehensible picture force and under from a fantastic music. The work acts first of an invention, which makes it for humans possible to note the own dreams in addition, dreams of others to see. However also one of the scientists underestimated danger is inherent in to this new technology. As always the starting point a noble goal, i.e. the equipment for the healing from psychologically ill humans to, is to be used by analyzing the dreams and thus their subconsciousness and her in the dream to a solution to then lead.

In run the first experiments, one of the prototypes however one steals. The team around corroded and scientists assumes terrorists behind the theft, who placed themselves against the possibility, into the secret of humans to penetrate… evenly their dreams and desires. But at the end once more some surprises stand ready…

One would like to assume that also this Anime rose again from the feather/spring of Hayao Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli, is nevertheless from this team outstanding works meanwhile nearly already accustomed one. But Paprika production of Satoshi Kon, a further brilliat film director and draughtsman from Japan, which have responsibility among other things also for Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia agent and Millennium Actress. It concerns thus no beginner and only quite no beginner.

The music was written by Susumu Hirasawa, which worked already more frequently with Satoshi Kon together and also this mark composed again a wonderful sound TRACK, which one can hear again and again.

Clay/tone and picture film are not stand out, it give anything to criticize. On the second disk e.g. are very beautiful extras, like a long Making OF and a kind discussion round with two the synchronous speaker, Satoshi Kon and the author of the book collecting main Yasutaka Tsutsui.

To all lovers of the Anime applies: buy!
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first time anime viewer -- loved it
sjr5-17 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is the first anime I've ever seen, so I can't compare it to any others, but on its own terms, it was quite good. Very imaginative commentary on dreams and reality, and what might happen if dreams and reality merged and someone could control dreams. There's also the romantic concept that sharing dreams will bring people closer together or also become a therapeutic tool. The latter is the premise for this film, in which a device (the DC Mini) has been invented that will allow a therapist to see the dreams of her/his client. What happens when this device is stolen and the thief's dreams start intruding on the dreams (and reality?) of others is the plot. Then the viewer is sucked into layer upon layer of dream/reality, like when you wake up from a nightmare, you think, but you're still dreaming. The effects are beautiful, imaginative, almost but not quite scary, and fascinating throughout. (Also interesting how many English words have been adopted into Japanese.)

I haven't seen "The Science of Sleep," but I understand it's a similar theme, about the boundary between dream and reality -- would be interesting to see the two together. And maybe it's a commentary on our time: we wish the current reality were really a dream that we could wake up from and find a better reality.
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Confusing... in a good way
Tweekums10 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was most impressed by this film, the visuals are stunning and the plot interesting. It is a little hard to understand on first viewing as one isn't too sure what is a dream and what is reality.

The main plot concerns the efforts to find out who stole a device called the DC Mini which enables the user to enter another person's dreams, when misused it causes a persons dreams, and the dreams of others, to infect their reality.

Our heroine Dr Chiba Atsuko and her alter ego Paprika must search both dreams and reality to find the thief and stop them, as she does so things get stranger and stranger and the viewer is frequently unsure whether we are looking at reality, a dream or a mixture of the two.

This is a film worth watching more than once, the first time to enjoy the confusion, the second to make sense of it.
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Paprika is original, well-done, and thought-provoking (very mild spoiler)
tedne28 March 2008
Don't walk into Paprika thinking that you have seen this sort of film before – not if you are merely expecting dark dystopias, dehumanizing technology, alienation, or brooding meditations on what is or isn't real. Paprika has some nightmares but it doesn't brood over them and it also has optimism and even joy as personified by the pixie-like eponymous heroine who dashes fearlessly through the blurry boundaries of all kinds of dreams: good ones, bad ones; personal dreams, collective dreams; even movies and the Internet. She does not agonize about what is real or not real, she can work with anything. She personifies the fun that people can have when their imaginations run free. Her job is to enter and guide the dreams of psychologically disturbed people but she is not going to be grim about it.

Of course it's natural for Paprika to be perky since she is the dream-persona of a grim and very un-spicy psychiatric researcher who created her to engage in surreptitious psychotherapy via a newly invented dream-monitor called the DC Mini. Dr. Chiba has much to be grim about; three of the experimental gadgets have been stolen and the thieves know how to implant dreams into victims even while awake. One ploy is to trick people into jumping off ledges. Dr. Chiba and her colleagues (both real and virtual) team up with a police detective -- who also happens to be her patient -- to track down the stolen machines. That's not easy when the thieves can smear the boundary between dreams and reality. Paprika should be in her element here but Dr. Chiba doesn't completely trust her. The other scientists each have their own vulnerabilities, the detective keeps having anxiety attacks, and they have to hide Paprika from their boss. The motive of the thief is unknown, and there may also be a traitor. The plot is not easily explained or understood but it is exciting and thought provoking.

Paprika is a paean to movies. There are references to Tarzan, From Russia with Love, Godzilla, Vertigo, and Spirited Away among many others. Even the musical score is a surprise – it's electronic of course, but without the usual coffee-house angst. The quality of the animation is excellent and the detective, Konakawa, has a plain-looking mug that expresses surprisingly subtle emotions without resorting to the squishy-squashy exaggerations that are typical of Disney.

The Tokyo-trashing climax culminates in a mysterious confrontation between masculine and feminine dualities. There are other confrontations too; between maturity and immaturity, aspiration and disappointment, heart and intellect, and a fascinating argument between Dr. Chiba and Paprika about which of them is in charge. At no time in this movie is the distinction between reality and dreams ever clear, and when it was all over I left the theater confused but grinning from ear to ear.
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Uplifting, visually achieved movie
MrVibrating11 September 2007
Having myself entertained myself with lucid dreaming for about a year(not so much these days though), and being fond of well-made anime movies, I instantly knew I needed to watch Paprika. I had to wait quite a while after hearing about the movie before I could see it; by chance a film festival aired it in the city I live in.

My expectations were ridiculously high and I expected nothing less than a fully blown mind; maybe even a new understanding of the universe, and why not all-power fullness while we're at it. After seeing the movie, I felt slightly disappointed but I realize that it's purely based on my much too high expectations.

Most of all, the movie is uplifting, optimistic in tone and a great reminder of all that's great about lucid dreaming. I found myself seeing things I knew were typical for the subject, even things I had experienced myself. If you have ever had a good lucid dream, you will get so much more out of this movie. If you're a LD novice, this movie can be a good starting step to get the motivation to start out adventuring in your sleep.

This obviously made me appreciate the movie more, but even if we remove that layer, Paprika is a very good movie. It is technically stunning, with very few of the normal anime time saving tricks. For it's subject it is very light, and the psycho-babble is kept to a bare minimum for the audience who know nothing about the subject.

The storyline moves fast, often leaving to you to figure out what just happened, but never straying so far as to make you lose track. It's a good mix of conventional and "thinking man's movie".

The soundtrack is good but we don't get to hear enough of it. The English dubbing was surprisingly good, with the detective Konogawa(or Kogawa? Might be some translation mishap here) and the geeky but good-hearted boy genius who's name escapes me.

In conclusion, be sure to check this movie out if you want a good anime feature, or if you're interested in LDing in general. Remember, it never hurts to try something new.
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A masterpiece
anon_customer2 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Paprika is a smart, beautiful and very powerful movie that should be required viewing for those with an interest in the effects of technology on culture. This movie is extremely well crafted such that many metaphors and interpretations are possible, it can act as a mirror both to your past, current society and future issues. Those that thought it was just a visual feast probably aren't familiar with the serious themes it discussed.

Surprisingly, none of the other reviews have mentioned my interpretation of the main metaphor (although Cannes2000 biblical interpretation is very interesting). Paprika investigates what happens when technology becomes sufficiently advanced that humans turn into gods. In our dreams, at least those that are lucid, we already have that capability, so choosing a technology that allows the sharing of dreams which leads to the dreamworld and reality mixing is a smart choice. It could be any technology though that leads to what people like Vernor Vinge and David Brin call The Singularity.

Each character represents the conflicting and cooperating aspects of society that lead to the development of the Singularity. For example, the film suggests that even the old-guard, extremely wealthy and powerful who seek to control technological development for the good of all really just want to control the technology for themselves.

The movie also includes many small delights there to break your assumptions and smash your expectations. For example, take the scene where the older scientist begins jabbering madly: at first, for western audiences, you think that the subtitles are just badly translated, then you begin to question whether this film is going to make any sense or just be one of *those* animes, etc. The entire time the professor is speaking like someone who is convinced they have the truth even though what they are saying is complete nonsense. His intonation and actions are perfect and convincing and he finishes with a Nazi salute.
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His Own Mirror
tedg24 June 2007
What happens when you see a wonderful film, a truly wonderful one, and you are disappointed because the very last one you saw was from the same filmmaker and was very much better? I should have watched some trash first.

The better film I'm alluding to is "Millennium Actress," a wonderful slippery glide through a shifting of life, movies and personal memory. Several things made that great: the drawings were in some places marvelous; the reason for the slips was never explained; and the "wrapping" story was incredibly thin, just barely enough. It was clearly a movie about movies and how life and film make each other.

This one conflates life, dreams and movies in much the same way, and goes further by merging individual lives and dreams. But it is burdened by two things. The first is that the wrapping story is large, heavy. The second is that we have a tedious explanation about why the slips occur: some invented device. And it adopts the Godzilla/Transformers model where two giants fight, towering over the city. Jees.

Two things are superior, however. One is that the dreamworlds give the artist freedom to depart from the constraints of the real. It isn't surreal: that's a very specific thing. But you do have dancing refrigerators leading a parade to hell. You may not appreciate the visuals here, in fact I suspect most won't think them special. But I did.

But the main thing is the title character, a lovely redheaded virtual soul who lives in the dreamworld. She's the pinnacle of girl fantasy: capable, not real, fairy-like but strong, desirable but forceful, following the rules of the world sometimes and writing the rules at other. She's woven from something deep in the psyche, our usually unfound soulmate who writes our dreams that spill into our lives.

But her appearance and character isn't what amazes here. Its how many different ways the filmmaker has her interact with the dream world. I stopped noting them because they were so varied and clever. She flies of course, she morphs. She shares a body in the real world of a woman scientist. (There's a truly remarkable dream scene when a vagina is "unzipped" to the forehead to reveal the true woman within.) She merges with shadows, reflections, light and shadow. She appears from dolls and billboards, clouds. From cracks and folds. Its as if there was a list of all possibilities that is being exhausted.

I will suggest that you see this before "Millennium Actress." Then both will blow you away.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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christo69 December 2007
My brother was shopping around for my birthday, when he happened upon the film Paprika in the store. Caught by the gorgeous artwork and the synopsis on the back, he was convinced I'd enjoy the movie. I, on the other hand, was skeptical. Oh, I enjoy anime, but I'm very picky about what I watch.

I'm glad I didn't hesitate to open the film up and pop it in my DVD player. First of all, my DVD player is old and cranky and it randomly decides what it will and won't play. But it played Paprika beautifully. And speaking of beautiful, this film is one beautiful spark of imagery after another. A visually stunning piece, at least on par with a true classic and a favorite of mine since early childhood, The Wizard of Oz. As I already mentioned, the box art was gorgeous.

Paprika doesn't disappoint visually, in the least. As an artist, I found myself admiring technique and the seamless flow between dreams and reality. The use of color is exquisite, subtle and masterful. Even the English voice actors were wonderful, and for once, a dub of English used almost word for word the translations, replacing only the occasional word, and even then, only rarely. Words were changed, but perhaps only one line's actual context was changed in the entire film.

There are several subtitle options, which I find useful for watching films with friends who don't natively speak English. If I just turn the subtitles on, my friends can follow along more easily. And the nerd in me wanted to see HOW drastically the translation was changed. As stated before, much of the time, it's word for word! If you watch much in the way of anime, you KNOW how rare that is, in a dub, let alone the voice acting, which was always believable.

And let's not forget the music. A good film score will blend so seamlessly with the scene that you notice it rarely. Such is the case with Paprika. That's not to say that the music wasn't worth attention, because it was beautiful from start to finish. From the opening credits to the end credits, the music embodies the story, embracing the art fully, but it's crafted to avoid drawing attention to itself, making it all the more wonderful, listening to it on its own.

All in all, this film is worth the buy, and I anticipate watching it many times, especially if I'm feeling down or uninspired. Who can feel uninspired with a perky gal like Paprika getting into adventure? Though I didn't get to watch it ON my birthday, it made my birthday celebration complete!
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Spicy but lacks nourishment
mathewjones11 July 2007
"Paprika" attempts to lure you into the world of dreams with its vivid imagery and trippy sequences. While it certainly is a bit of eye-candy to behold, the reach of this film far exceeds its grasp.

I desperately wanted to like this film. I thought it was going to blow my mind when I started watching it. The art combined with the subject matter should have by all means resulted in something amazing, yet it falls flat on its face. The film could have truly been visionary had it narrowed its focus, but the themes and attempts at philosophy they try to present are scattered at best.

A little cohesion could have gone a long way. I'm aware it's a movie about dreams, but that does not mean the writers can throw things together randomly and expect it to work. Stories are meant to be followed by an audience, and thus still have limits, regardless of how absurd the topic is. Even getting rid of a plot entirely would have been an improvement, but the fact that it tries to tell a story while only being half-aware of its audience left me with a feeling of utter disappointment.

The film is on the whole pretentious and superficial. On the surface it pretends to be rich and meaningful but it is ultimately shallow and of no consequence. I'm sure it will appeal to the anime subculture which absolutely eats up anything Japanese. The style and incoherence of this film will give them the added bonus of feeling like they "got" something deep, when in reality the movie is devoid of substance.

"Paprika" might be worth seeing for the visuals alone if you haven't seen anything similar before, but only because it comes in at a short 90 minutes. However, if you're a newcomer to anime, please ignore this film. Anime is so blindly eaten up by fans that putting more than a little effort into the story is almost a waste of time. Tripe like this masquerades as being some of the best the genre has to offer, causing many to ignore some truly great films.

It's unfortunate such a talented animation studio (Madhouse Studios) is wasting their time on material like this. They're a Japanese studio but paired with a writer on the level of Charlie Kaufman or someone of similar creativity and story-telling skill, they could accomplish something truly revolutionary.

A note to the aforementioned anime fans: Do your genre a favor and stop drooling over movies like this so blindly. You can at least pretend to give a damn about substance and watch half-decent films, like "Grave of the Fireflies" or even "Spirited Away". This genre will forever remain on the fringes until newcomers can reliably separate the great from the simply pretentious. For the genre's sake and that of your own critical development: Be a little more picky with your films! And the best part is, you get to keep the same smug sense of self-satisfaction. It's win-win.
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It's a mind f**k (sorry for the expression)
kosmasp10 October 2007
But then again, this isn't meant to be for children! Again Japan shows us, that animated movies, doesn't mean "child(ish) movies". Quite the contrary. With it's very complex story, this one will even leave some adults scratching their head after they see it. That's because there are many interpretations for this movie. Which make it a somewhat difficult experience.

Still a good one, but difficult to wrap your mind around it ... The story mind you, never get's out of hand or get's out of hand (in the sense, that it does make ... sense, in the end). If you're ready for a mind trip, this sure will be a great one to take/experience!
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Technocolor Phycho-Analysis
loganx-21 March 2008
Visually dazzlying at times, and a bit repetitive at others. The story is structurally sound, a bit awash in its own psychological symbols, but in a playful and sinister J-pop way the film as a whole, still manages still hold itself together. It's not Howl's Moving Castle and it's not Ghost In The Shell, and it seems like it was shooting in between, with playful excess and somber seriousness, though largely off course. The animation however was beautiful, and the film excelled during those madcap Technicolor dream sequences, but suffers as it tries to create tension and a sense of mystery. The characters fall somewhat flat, especially our heroine Paprika, however this was a much more interesting anime than most, with a story which will interest those looking for great Japanese animation that does not derive from the Manga tradition(this film was based on a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui), and which does deliver in cinematic beauty and whimsy, this is for you. Enjoy the pretty colors.
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Science has developed technology to enter dreams.
Jmrz8227 May 2007
I just got done with seeing this movie at the SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) and have to say that this film is absolutely gorgeous. The film itself is a roller-coaster ride of pure entertainment.The storyline, music, and the animation does not let the viewer get off until the credits start rolling. Paprika was originally conceived by author Yasutaka Tsutsui who is renowned for his futuristic tales, but it took his friend Satoshi Kon director of such films as Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers to bring bring his dream to life. Paprika is the film to watch in theatres right now. see the film with your friends because everyone is going to want to be entertained for once and this film does the job. I don't care if you are not a fan of Japanese animation you have to see this film and then wait for the DVD so you can watch it again or go back for another showing. Don't forget to check out the soundtrack composed solely by Susuma Hirasawa.
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