Writing about Paprika for New Years eve was originally my idea for last year. But due to circumstances a lot of other things, it never came to pass. Well ok, one of those reasons was because if I did, then I would have finished talking about Satoshi Kon things. Well…now I have Paranoia Agent on Blu-ray that I could have watched all year and I didn’t watch yet either. So yeah, fun times there. But it was time for some Paprika movie talk. A movie that is, from what I have seen and heard from other corners of the internet as no one’s favorite Satoshi Kon film. A tenant that I agree with. Not because it’s bad. It isn’t. Still, it feels like the most conventional Kon film despite the imagery and subject matter in it
There are some more things I want to discuss before climbing into Paprika too. I feel like Paprika is yet another example of how live action adaptations of anime do not usually work under conventional means. For instance, we all know that Inception played off so many elements of this movie, right? The very concept of dreams and dreams? Yet Inception never tried to do that and instead made it a lot more boring or Hollywood by turning it into a heist action movie. A thing that Paprika is clearly not about and it worked. Inception really did it. Trying to be its own thing (and Edge of Tomorrow for that matter) is why those films worked. Performing original ideas with inspirations works much better then trying to recreate something. Yeah, that’s all I want to mention here for no reason at all. Yeah…
With that mention, I’ve given away some of Paprika’s main idea. It’s about playing of dreams and separate identities of people. A concept of dreams of the duality of people in its cast and other characters through out it. For the most part. The DC Mini is a device produced by the obese Kosaku Tokita, one of the workers or brains behind it is. One of his teammates is Doctor Atsuko Chiba in the real world and the infamous Paprika in the world of dreams. Of course, there is the allied oldman Toratoro Shiba who watches over both of them. There is also the competitive doctor and the chairman of their company who are clearly up to something. Though, the story itself does start with the look at the dreams of the cop Toshimi Konakawa who is greeted by Paprika to escape his nightmares. A great story of so many things occurs from that meeting.
The story itself is rather a simple one which is why I don’t think it is as interesting as it could be. The DC minis get lost and considering that they are prototypes of all things, they don’t have a limiter on them to stop the infection and placement of one person’s dreams into other people. So obviously, the goal of the film is to stop that from happening even if it does happen for a while. The people who are beyond it couldn’t be obviously considering that one of them talks like a shonen hero and talks about justice all the time and nothing else and the other is just clearly who it is because who else would it be? There are no twists to this story, only trouble, solving, and resolution. That is the story is and it’s a vehicle for so many great pieces of psychedelic and excellent imagery with great direction from Satoshi Kon himself. Only he and few others could do the sorts of strange editing that he can do.
The main ideas behind what the story wanted to do and conclude are great though. Konakawa finally getting his hero moment in his own mind was pretty great even if it amounted to only his resolution. I also like how Chiba and Paprika finally agreed to become one person instead of the split personality of who Chiba was when finally deciding she loved Tokita. Tokita himself was also a man in touch with his childish wonder and his smart inventive side and it was finally a time for Chiba to realize that too. Otherwise, there was no changing of note besides the destruction left behind by the dreams that became reality. Maybe Kon felt like the story had to be more straight forward compared the very bending visual nature of the film this time but it felt like a cop out to me in some ways.
For the visual imagery in the film itself, it’s pretty clear that there were some short cuts and cg in place which lessened it a bit. Maybe it was too ambitious of a movie or an idea to actually do everything it wanted to do. The beginning scenes were fabulous as one dream slipped over to another to another and so on. Except, a lot of that imagery was repeated through out the movie in a way that made it look like well animated stock footage with slight changes. I also think that the parade itself was cool in concept and shear WTFery, but the more it grew and appeared on screen, the more it felt kind of tedious, I guess? It just didn’t feel as imaginative in the dream world as it could be to me and I once again think that has to do with how limited the production was. There might have been only so much time before all the ideas could be connected as well as they could.
So yeah, this is a good film. Not a solid film like how I would consider all of Satoshi Kon’s other films, but it is definitely worth a watch. Satoshi Kon’s visual editing that no one else has been able to do and Susumu Hirasawa’s music are more then enough reasons to really dig into this film for so many ways. It also played into a lot of concepts and ideas that Satoshi Kon was interested in with a good twist which is what I really enjoy about his films. I feel like he understands the human psyche more then a lot of other people who have created anime and that is why his films have been great and loved for so long. The ending to the Dreaming Kids film must have been an ad for his movie Dream Machine, but unfortunately that never came to be. RIP Satoshi Kon.