Sometimes I absolutely adore anime. Great action from the far east that breaks boundaries one could only dream of. Or perhaps to tell an engaging story about a love lost long ago. Once in a while, I hate anime unfortunately. This usually occurs when they break no boundaries, tread over the same story or it plays out like hentai (tentacles in places where they don’t belong). So I receive Paprika to review. Hoping I would like it, I quickly stuffed it in my dvd player and found the following:
Paprika is the story of what would happen if somebody built a machine (called the “DC Mini” here, presumably the Mini DreamCatcher) that would allow psychotherapists to enter their patient’s dreams and help them understand their hidden meaning. The DC Mini was designed and built by Dr. Kosaku Tokita, an extremely large fellow who is basically a child at heart. The main therapist Dr. Atsuko Chiba uses the device to enter her patient’s dreams as “Paprika”. Paprika is a fun and whimsical being and in contrast to the doctor who is very serious and laid back. Her primary patient for the film is Detective Konakawa Toshimi. He is having a recurring dream where he is trying to find this killer on the case he is working on. However, he can never make that breakthrough as the killer keeps escaping thru the various scenes in his dream.
The method that Dr. Chiba is using on her patients is very revolutionary, therefore it is kept secret to the public (as her identity of Paprika). The problem is that one day, things start to go wrong. Fellow Doctor, Torataro Shima goes crazy and throws himself through a window of the building nearly killing himself. After studying his dream, the start finding clues involving a non-sensical parade that is the main focus. When other patients and doctors start falling victim to the strange parade sequence in their dreams and lapse into comas, Dr. Chiba knows something is up. It’s up to her and her dream knowledge to go undercover as Paprika and attempt to find the source of the wrong doing and return the world to normal.
Paprika is actually based on the book by Yasutaka Tsutsui. I have come to the conclusion after watching the film that both the writer and the director, Satoshi Kon are both on some serious acid. The movie boasts some impressive visuals which I will get to later, but it is completely out of its mind. I don’t mind creepy films, but there is creepy and then there is Paprika. I will never be able to look at a geisha doll the same way ever again nor a parade that has any sort of a circus theme. Not that I liked parades or circuses all that much anyway. But the movie drifts from scene to scene and the average viewer will have a hard time making sense of anything. The detective is an interesting character as is Dr. Chiba/Paprika but the rest of the characters are basically thrown around with little pretense or reasonability. The ending to the film is okay except to the fact there is almost no buildup to that particular conclusion.
As mentioned above, the visuals in this disc are nothing short of awesome. Sporting 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, the screen is filled with impressive color and there is some truly amazing work here. I have a hard time imaging that Blu-Ray could improve on the almost perfect video presented before us.
A variety of options are available for audio. 5.1 is provided for the native language of Japanese, but also for English and French. A 2.0 mix for Spanish is also provided. The sound is almost impressive as the picture boasting high quality and good use of the surrounds. The sound effects are fantastic and borderline reference quality. A truly good mix. Subtitles are provided for English, French and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Advert for Blu-Ray & Tekkon Kinreet
- Previews: Youth without Youth, Angel – A, Interview, Moliere, Tokyo Godfathers, Vitus, Resident Evil: Extinction
- Commentary: An indepth commentary with the makers of the film. Small note, this commentary is not ideal for those who close their eyes and listen to the commentary (unless you understand japanese). The commentary is subtitled as are all of the movie specific special features.
- Tsutsui and Kon’s Paprika 30:03: Talks about Tsutsui’s novel and how it became an animated movie. Indepth as are the rest of the movie specific extras.
- A Conversation about the “Dream” 29:02: Megumi Hayashibara and Toru Furuya (the voices of Paprika/Dr. Chiba and Dr. Tokita) join Tsutsui and Kon as they discuss everything from their favorite scene to their own dreams.
- The Dream CG World 15:08: Michiya Kato, the Cinematographer & CGI director talks about the movie. He explains that 1/3 of the movie is actually CGI which makes sense due to the depth of the impressive visuals throughout the film.
- The Art of Fantasy 12:06: Nobutaka Ike, Art Director takes us on an escape to explain the various art and drawing style of the film.
I’m sure there is some artsy anime snob who is right now screaming at me that I didn’t under the visual wonder that is Paprika. It’s a fantastic disc, amazing video and great audio highlight the package. The extras are plentiful and technically the disc is pretty close to tops in anybody’s book. That I can’t argue. However, the film itself (which is most important) is an acid trip that can only be explained by somebody whose smoked enough pot to rival Jimmy Hendrix. It is a surreal experience and there are more than enough glowing reviews out there to prove that point. So perhaps I’m wrong, but I feel the need to counterpoint this disc. Know that if you are buying it for a reference demo disc or groundbreaking animation, you couldn’t make a finer choice. But if you want a coherent story, you might want to look elsewhere.
- HomeTheaterForum.com – “Those new to anime should have few complaints with “Paprika,” being highly accessible in both story and art”
- DvdVerdict.com – “It’s a challenging and brilliant production, landing nimbly between grand entertainment and thought-producing science fiction”