Turn off the Lights

Anime Monday: Paprika

Hello one and all! Welcome to the auspicious beginnings of what will hopefully be the most groundbreaking weekly column. From here on out, you can join me on Entertainment Fuse for Anime Monday's. We’ll be reviewing every Anime movie under the moon that strikes my fancy (Although suggestions are gladly welcome. That’s what the comments section is for ;]). If you’re thinking “I don’t watch anime,” or “this isn’t for me,” well never fear. We’re starting off with a selection of Anime’s greatest hits to ease us in. In this week’s installment, the centerpiece is Satoshi Kon’s Paprika.

This is the story of a Chiba Atsuko who uses a new dream-capturing device and her alter-ego as an alternative form of therapy. Her work as Paprika is not exactly condoned by the chairman of the company, in fact, he’s not even aware that it is her. The DC-Mini was created by Tokita, who is a genius but also childish and is glutinous to a fault.  Unfortunately, before Tokita can encode the DC-Mini with security features it is stolen. The Chairman is infuriated and pushes towards an immediate end to the research. Luckily, they manage to hold off such a devastating proposition in the hopes of locating the DC-Mini before any damage is done. This quickly leads to the discovery that the DC-Mini was stolen by Tokita’s assistant Himuro, who harbored deep-seeded jealousy and resentment towards his genius boss. This is about as clear as things get before the story starts to go wonderfully bonkers. Atsuko, as Paprika, had been treating Detective Konakawa for a recurring nightmare. Meanwhile, fellow scientists are falling prey to dream infiltration. Everyone is truly shaken when the dreams of Himuro start to infiltrate Konakawa’s dreams. The dream is a mad, parade of dolls and toys that stampede their way through the dreams of Himuro and Konakawa. It’s kind of cute at first, with dolls and frogs, confetti and cheerful music fill up the screen.

Once the parade becomes an all-consuming stampede that bleeds into reality, it begins to feel like deadly lava whose path you cannot escape. To unsuspecting and weak victims, this dream takes over their subconscious, inflicting real bodily harm upon themselves unwittingly and eventually losing their souls within the dreamworld. The situation escalates further when reality and dreams collide. Even Atsuko and Paprika seem a little out of their element. A few surprises and sacrifices keep the story on tract and from simply devolving into a great concept with no meaning. I’ve already given away a lot, but if you haven’t seen the film, I’ve left out enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s a great sci-fi thriller, and has visuals miles above some of the CGI crap that’s dispensed these days. This is a great example of animation at it’s best.


If I have any caveats with the film, its that leading lady, Atsuko/Paprika, is fetishized a bit too much for my taste. She’s a strong, capable, confident woman, and even then she at one point is given the typical D.I.D. (Damsel in Distress) treatment. She’s constantly the object of desire by multiple men in the film, and is given a very conventionally, patriarchal happy ending. However, she still kicks ass, and a female lead is always welcome. Likewise, Tokita, the overweight, genius inventor is also a bit problematic, if only because the movie is such a jerk to that guy. Yeah so what if he’s fat, boyish, likes to collect action figures, and is a nerd? The film does realize that any of those attributes can apply easily to its viewing demographic? As a 22-year old, childish nerd, who loves technology and is the proud owner of a sonic screwdriver (11s), I take slight offense to this portrayal. I understand that uber-smart tech geniuses make us feel inferior with their awesome coding skills and tech start-up millions, but let’s just give those stereotypes a rest.

Now that I’ve put away my soap-box, I’ll say unequivocally that Paprika is a wonderfully inventive film. The dreamworld is a mystifying and alluring concept that is often played with and the film delivers. You can chalk a lot of this up to the amazing visuals presented to us through a mixture of cell animation and computer animation. The ghoulish parade of toys is a visual and cacophonous splendour that perfectly depicts how even the most innocuous of dreams can quickly turn into nightmares.



Meet the Author

About / Bio
I'm a passionate cinephile who prefers the dark interiors of the movieplexes to the beautiful outdoors. You can find me with a grin and a bucket of popcorn at the movies or here in our Movies section!

Follow Us