It’s easy for us to differentiate between dreams and reality. You wake up from nightmares and you’re relieved because you know it was only just a dream.
But have you ever wondered what it would be like if these two entities blended together?
Now late director, Satoshi Kon, lets us explore that side of the unknown in Paprika ̶ a twisted, chaotic, yet mesmerizing anime that makes your brain feel like it’s doing gymnastics. This 90-minute film was released in 2006, under Madhouse and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Paprika is about two doctors, Tokita Kosaku (Toru Furuya) and Chiba Atsuko (Megumi Hayashibara), who, in hopes for a better method to treat patients of their psychological disorders, created a device called the “DC Mini.” When worn, this headset-like device allows them to view a patient’s dream on a computer screen, as if watching a video. It also lets the doctor enter the patient’s dream as well when they wear it.
However, the device was not yet finished when the prototype was stolen, meaning no restrictions have yet been programmed. Therefore, any person can delve into another person’s dream at any given time from any location. A device that allows access to the human psyche ̶ showcasing one’s whole complex mental process ̶ when falls into the wrong hands, what could possibly go wrong?
Yeah uh, just about everything.
Nightmares arise as people’s dreams are being intruded, causing them to harm themselves. The line drawn between reality and fantasy starts to diminish. Dream events and objects begin appearing in the real world; the fabric of reality crumples.
Tokita and Chiba, along with Konakawa Toshimi (Ootsuka Akio), Shima Torataro (Hori Katsunosuke), and Paprika (Hayashibara Megumi), join forces to search for the psychological terrorist in both the real world and dreamscape.
The movie title takes after the character Paprika. She’s someone who exists only in the dream state and obtains all the characteristics that Chiba represses ̶ essentially Chiba’s alter ego.
I’ve seen enough movies of various genres with a vast array of concepts to say what I’m about to say: Paprika is top 10 for me when it comes to plot. This idea of allowing one to enter dreams, and not only that but also this single dream merges with others’, to which somehow causes the barrier between reality and dream to deteriorate and essentially create this fabricated reality, where the hacker acquires complete control over all things ̶ is got damn genius (whoops sorry if that sentence got you winded a bit.) It allows your curiosity to enter and explore a capacity it’s never even thought of before.
Aside from the incredibly compelling plot, the one thing that amazed me the most was the execution of the movie. There is a repetitive scene of a parade and it just blows my damn mind how intricately every single object is drawn and colored. And especially when the characters move from the real world to the dream world ̶ the fluidity is kind of f*cking crazy. It’s unbelievable how seamlessly and beautifully everything blends.
I remember my first time watching Paprika, I was trying to wrap my brain around the plot while simultaneously appreciating every second of the visual ̶ it really took some effort, but it made me enjoy the movie even more. The execution provided such an orgasmic effect for my eyes.
As for the soundtrack, listen, guys…this is one of the most fitting soundtrack for a movie I’ve come across.
The sounds somehow align perfectly with the theme of the movie ̶ it’s a mixture of airy, dreamy, and erie melodies that only enhances one’s watching experience.
This is my favorite one.
Although this movie might leave you thinking, what the f*ck was that, I promise you it is so worth your time. The complexity of it, in both the plot and visual aspect, is what makes it so enticing. The transitions between reality and dream will surely keep you on your toes.
Also, if you’re thinking, I feel like I’ve seen this plot somewhere before, you probably did. Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, takes on fairly the same concept ̶ a dream machine that allows dream sharing. It has been said that Nolan was inspired by Paprika because of the similarities in concept and imagery by several sources, but I couldn’t find the exact quote or recording to solidify this claim. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case, as anime having some sort of influence on Western movies isn’t a new notion.
So if you’re ever in the mood for some visual riddles, Paprika is piece of work that you’d want to check out. And if you do, don’t forget to leave a comment on here or Twitter @GeekGalsCo to let me know which part you liked or confused you the most…or if you would like to thank me for recommending such a fantastic movie, that is fine as well.
Featured image credit: Madhouse and Sony Pictures Entertainment