Sunday, August 26, 2007

Paprika (Japan 2006)

Paprika, in it's simplest form, is a movie about dreams. In a deeper form, it's a movie that explores what dreams mean to us, what problems we work out, and of course what fantasies we live out in them. I don't think a single person could disagree with having a dream that felt too "real", or the inevitable "work" dream that happens to you mere hours before waking up to go to that very job you just dreamt about! Paprika is the dream persona of Chiba (Megumi Hayashibara), a scientist working on a device called a DC mini which allows people into the dream's of others helping them to rewrite their synapse curing them of mental illnesses or helping them work through their problems.

The film starts with Officer Kogawa (Akio Otsuka) conquering his fears in order to help Paprika. We learn that they're 3 missing DC mini devices and the number one suspect is Himuro (Daisuke Sakaguchi), an assistant at the lab, who pop's up in the chief advisor's dream that's implanted in his head in the middle of the day while he's awake. Therein lies the danger of this technology. Imagine dreaming while you're awake, and the danger that could take place. In one scene, Chiba goes to jump over a handrail and almost jumps to her death from off of a building because of the DC mini. Now Chiba/Paprika is on a mission to stop Himuro and get the missing devices back.

Looking past the fact that the overall look of Paprika is absolutely fantastic, their are other elements that make this film work on so many levels. The soundtrack, being one of those elements, is poppy and yet very dreamy itself. I found myself wanting to buy the soundtrack just to continue listening to the great music the film displayed. Also, the way they handled the dreams and the dreamscape were just unreal. The point of the film was to question whether or not we could truly tell if something was a dream or a part of reality. In fact, the characters ask that very question within the movie. If Paprika had been live-action, or even CG, it just wouldn't have worked. It needed to be animated the "old fashioned way", and frankly speaking, I got lost in the world they created and forgot I was even watching a cartoon. That's how cool and mature the theme was.

When I first saw the trailer for Paprika, it had a bunch of quotes spliced in-between scenes and one of those quotes said, "Evidence that Japanese animators are reaching for the moon, while most of their American counterparts remain stuck in the kiddie sandbox." - Manohla Dargis of the New York Times. Anyone who's watched American animation should be able to agree with this quote. Thankfully we have Japan to make animated movies that have heart and require you to pay attention to the movie, rather than shrugging off the moral lesson that some Disney CG movie tried to teach you. Although there's no need for it, I would be more than happy to see more adventures of Paprika. (KSG-301)

Buy Paprika on UMD, Blu-Ray, or DVD from YESASIA! *No English Subtitles

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