Paprika (2006) review
Well, I am back to review the next film from Satoshi Kon’s filmography as I promised I would till the end of this week, also I would like to remind you that I am reviewing these films in the order of which I have seen them, so even though this was Satoshi Kon’s last film, it was the second film of his that I had seen. So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the review.
Paprika is an animated film released in the year 2006 directed and co-written by Satoshi Kon, it was animated by Studio Madhouse and co-written by Seishi Minakami, and was based on the 1993 novel of the same name that was written by Yasutaka Tsutsui. The story of Paprika is set in a world where dream sharing is a form of psychotherapy, as in people share dreams with the help of a newly designed machine called the DC Mini and send in psychotherapists to help such people, due to it being a new development, only one person is allowed to do such things, Paprika, from there on the so much happens, there is industrial espionage, dreams turning into reality, I wouldn’t dare to spoil it.
After viewing the film there was only one word to describe it, inventive. While the idea of dreams and dream sharing isn’t original to say the least (The Matrix and Twilight Zone to give a few examples), the fact of the matter is that it uses these ideas of imagination that one should when you are in a dream, teleporting through T.V’s, flying on clouds, being a fairy, riding on horses by jumping into a poster, stopping everything just by clicking your fingers. Satoshi Kon never holds back when it comes to the world he creates in the dream sequences, it’s so inventive, I am jealous of how well executed it was. The fact that he was still able to make a coherent story out of this is still beyond me.
This movie unleashes the talent Satoshi Kon has to offer in terms of cinematography. I loved it, the camera movements are perfect and the editing that goes along with it is just superb. There is a scene where two doctors are discussing while driving in the rain, the idea of two dream worlds merging together, and the camera pans to the windshield of the car during the conversation that shows two water droplets merging together to form a single drop flowing down, now that’s the genius of Satoshi Kon right there, where he makes the entire conversation meaningful by showing something so simple and easy to comprehend. The animation like I mentioned in my previous review was excellent for this film, and is easily the best film by Satoshi Kon in terms of animation without a doubt, there are so many dream sequences that involve long lasting parades, flying clouds, fairies, so it is obvious that good animation needs to come with it and Studio Madhouse was up for the challenge.
The music and the original score by Susumu Hiraswa is quite frankly the best thing about this movie. The use of such variety in a film like this is just perfect, as is with the opening of this film. The greatness lies within the whole idea of dream-like music and the music has this way of drawing you in and making it feel like a dream just feels right in tone with what the film offers.
The characters are something that I do not wish to talk about in complete detail, but for the sake of the review I have to talk about two characters in particular who were also my favorite in the entire movie, that being the title character Paprika and Detective Konakawa, the dynamic between them is solid and their conversations are fun to watch. As such, the characters are very interesting and watching the interactions between them are brilliant, however due to so much going on in the film, they aren’t explored as well as they could have been, but what we got was fine enough. Another weak point for the film is the main antagonist, the dude’s just evil and that’s all there is to it, but because the villain hardly has a role up until the end, it didn’t really bother me that much as he doesn’t factor into the large majority of the story. Which brings me to sub vs. dub, while most of Satoshi Kon's work is better subbed (and I love good dubs!), this film and his T.V series (Paranoia Agent) are much better suited dubbed as the voice actors are just amazing and are to the point, as the films have a more westernized feel to it, even though the film is set in Japan.
So, to sum things up, Paprika is a visually inventive film that never holds back in terms of how imaginative it can be, it is flawed in that it has a weak villain and unexplored characters, while the plot is interesting, it can be a little hard to follow, but not to a point where it becomes a mind fuck, it has an idea of the story it wants to tell and by the end, you will be able to understand it, in fact I would say that if you understood Inception, there is no doubt that you can definitely understand this film. While many have compared it to Inception, Nolan has never come out and said that Paprika inspired him, but after watching this film, it’s hard for someone like me to think that, due to the striking similarities, at least I will bet that Nolan saw this movie before he went on to work on Inception. With that stuff out of the way, the fact that this was Kon’s last film only tells me that there was so much more he had to offer as a filmmaker, with this being his most ambitious film he had ever done, at least in my opinion, makes me feel as though had he been around, he surely would have reached a whole new level.
While Paprika may not be Kon’s best film, it definitely is a visual masterpiece that showcases his talent for cinematography and his out of the box ideas, and Studio Madhouse, for their animation, and to this date it remains his most imaginary and ambitious film, and for that reason alone I recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of great works.
I am going to Paprika and ‘A-‘
Final Rating: 'A-'