Paprika is my second attempt at reviewing anime. My first attempt, Tekkonkinkreet, left me scratching my head for weeks afterwards. I had the pleasure of comparing the Region B to the Region A disc that I had originally reviewed and it just left me more confused. So, would I finally be able to get my head around what appears to be a very exclusive niche? Or would I be asking myself what it was all about again as the credits rolled..?
Whereas Tekkonkinkreet is based on Manga, Paprika is actually based on a novel. Written by Yasutaka Tsutsui and published in 1993, Paprika is set in the very near future where scientists have developed a technique called PT. Using a device called a DC Mini, it enables therapists to enter patients' dreams to help cure their problems. A member of the team, Dr. Atsuko Chiba is using the device illegally outside of the PT facility. She is attempting to help Detective Konakawa Toshimi who keeps having recurring dreams where he is the leading man in movies. However, before the government sanction the legality of the treatment, three of the DC Minis are stolen. Their inventor, the obese but brilliant Doctor Kōsaku Tokita left a security device off of the stolen units. This enables anyone to enter anyone else's dreams...this leads to the head of the experiment, Doctor Toratarō Shima, for reasons unbeknown to me, to throw himself out of a window and gravely injure himself.
Whilst Shima is unconscious, the team fit him with a DC Mini and examine his dreams. His main dream seems to take the form of a big, colourful parade. In amongst the characters in the parade, they recognise Tokitas' assistant, Kei Himuro. This leads the team into thinking that it's an inside job...from here on in, things get a little confusing. Two scientists that work at the facility try out the DC Mini and it sends them mad. Shima continues to have the dream about the parade, which manages to completely claim Tokita and starts to leak into other people's dreams. Before long, the dream actually becomes reality and everybody is living their lives in the dream. The culprit appears to be the chairman of the company that owns the facility. He tries to ban the use of the DC Mini but fails. He appears in the dream as a monster and captures Paprika. Detective Toshiimi bursts from his cinema dream into this one, destroys the monster and rescues Paprika. At the same time, he realises why he is having his recurring dream about films - which takes him back to his time before he joined the police force...all appears to be well.
However, on returning to research facility, they find that the line between dream and reality has become entwined and there is now no difference. The Detective seems to have solved his problem - but now there is a far greater one to overcome. They need to bring the line back between dreams and reality...
WOW! You can tell this film is from the land that seems to come out with something new every week! The author must have some imagination to have thought this up.
As it happens, the film is apparently nothing like the book - only the idea is the same. I found it hard going. I did, however manage to fathom out what was going on in this one and understand the story fully. The attention to detail in the artwork, as usual in the anime world, is astounding. It's big, loud and bold - but it's not very clever in my opinion.
Now I do know that anime is an acquired taste - like Manga. My son is a massive fan of the latter and spends hours daily reading the books - backwards. To prove it, my colleague Cas Harlow reviewed the Region B version of the Blu-ray disc here and his interpration of the film was completely different to mine. This does go to prove two things though:
1. If all we all reviewed our favourite genres, there would be no such thing as a bad film.
2. I can only recommend this film to lovers of the anime genre.