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PAPRIKA

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Paprika is a Japanese animated Sci-Fi film based the 1993 novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui. The film was directed by Satoshi Kon, who was famous for his work on many successful Japanese films.

The piece is said by Director Chris Nolan to be one of his main influences when creating the hugely successful psychological thriller Inception.



Doctor Tokita (voiced by Toru Furuya), a heavily obese genius has invented a device he calls the "DC Mini" which allows people to enter into someone's dream and explore their subconscious. Tokita's close friend, the Psychiatrist - Doctor Chiba (voiced by Megumi Hayashibara) has been using the device to help patients with their deep-seated emotional problems. Chiba is a determined character that often treats the friendly Tokita coldly - pon entering a patient's dream, however, she assumes the character of a woman named Paprika - a bright and energetic lady that is full of happiness.

Chiba has been using the device illegally to help Toshimi Konakawa (voiced by Akio Otsuka), a detective that is constantly plagued by a re-occurring dream full of disturbing images. The dream never finishes before he wakes up and he believes that there must be an important reason for it that lurks deep inside himself.

When the "DC Mini" is stolen, chaos ensues. Dreams begin to leak into reality and Tokita and Chiba are fearful of the power it can give an individual over others' vulnerable subconscious. The ground-breaking device that was originally created to help people has clearly fallen into the wrong hands and it is up to the team of psychiatrists, along with Chiba's alternate ego Paprika to save the day.

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GOOD POINTS

  • Film producers have to have a lot of guts in order to tackle a narrative like this one. The whole idea of merging dreams with reality is not exactly simple. However, this very fact is what makes the film so interesting and intriguing to watch. It is certainly not your average film narrative, which makes it very refreshing to see.
  • The array of colours used in the film make it a beautiful sight to behold. Dreams are a place with no restriction and the general artistic make-up of this film really helps viewers to get sucked into a dream-like world along with the characters.
  • The film presents a slightly typical opposition in the fact that there are clear heroes and villains, however, it works to create more complex characters even within that paradigm. You see that the heroine is suffering from many problems due to her line of work and that she is far from perfect. Viewers are also shown the notion of living with regrets from the past and how important it is that one forgives oneself for past discrepancies, which is a strangely heart-warming sub narrative.
  • I cannot stress enough how wonderful the accompanying soundtrack to this film is! The composer Susumu Hirasawa has really managed to grasp the idea of travelling through dreamworlds. Every single track is has it's own beautiful originality but the songs also all work together as a whole so well. All soundtracks are an integral part to the emotions communicated and enjoyment experienced through films, but I do feel that this particular soundtrack is doing more than half the work in this regard.
  • Without wanting to spoil anything for those that have not seen the film, I felt the ending was genuinely fitting and left me with a good-feeling. That's always nice!

BAD POINTS

  • The sheer complexity of the narrative often left me very confused. Viewers will have to have a lot of patience to be able to wait for explanations as many questions are continuously presented only to be answered much later. I think it is a film that deserve at least two watches by most people if it is to be understood fully.
  • When the aforementioned explanations do come along, they are not exactly handed to you on a plate. By which I mean that viewers are required to still think a lot for themselves in order to draw their own conclusions. It sort of becomes like piecing a puzzle together rather that the standard: "This happened because of this..." framework that many other films tend to follow.


OVERALL
This is a must-see film for any fan of Inception as you will clearly be able to see where it's roots lie. Leonardo DiCaprio's character is obviously a re-adaption of Doctor Chiba and certain sequences in both films, such as the dreams collapsing around the people as someone awakens, are so very similar and equally breath-taking.

I cited the over-complexity of the film as a bad point, but I am only saying this as someone who knows that many viewers will not enjoy a film that requires a lot of effort in dissection and analysis.
It is also a film that may not become clear after the first watch, so you may not end it with that satisfying feeling of full comprehension that you can get from other films.


The film was the very first to use Vocaloid in its soundtrack (specifically the Vocaloid'Lola'). I am not a fan of this sound usually, despite its huge popularity in Japan, but I really feel it was used so well here.
Perhaps Paprika is not your cup of tea, but I defy anyone to not fall in love with the film's soundtrack after watching!


In short, if you are a Sci-fi fan that enjoys a film that you can thoroughly get you're teeth into, or you have a very open-mind and will not get put off by feeling a little lost every now and again, then this film is the one for you!

It is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the mind.

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