Guest Author - Lesley Aeschliman
Paprika is a film based on the Japanese novel written by Yasutaka Tsutsui. The film was directed by Satoshi Kon, and was released to Japanese theaters on November 25, 2006. Sony Pictures Classics holds the U.S. distribution rights, and released Paprika on DVD on May 25, 2007.
The film is set in the "near future," and the film's plot revolves around a psychotherapy treatment called dream therapy. Dream therapy uses a device called a "DC Mini," which allows the user to view other people's dreams. Dr. Atsuko Chiba, the head of the team working on the project, has been using the machine illegally to help patients outside the research facility. When she does this, she goes by the alter ego "Paprika." Dr. Chiba and her associates must make sure word does not leak out to the media about the DC Mini or Paprika. Dr. Chiba's closest ally is Dr. Kosaku Tokita, the inventor of the DC Mini.
The film opens with Paprika counseling Konakawa Toshimi, a detective who is plagued by a recurring dream that is incomplete. When Dr. Chiba returns to the laboratory, she learns that three DC Mini prototypes have been stolen. Unfortunately, since the DC Mini isn't finished yet, the devices can allow anyone to enter another person's dreams and get away with all kinds of misdeeds. Suddenly, Dr. Torataro Shima, the chief of the department, goes on a nonsensical tirade; it ends with him jumping out of a window.
Dr. Shima is still alive, and the team works at examining his dream. As they do, they discover Dr. Tokita's assistant, Kei Himuro, is in the dream. This leads the group to suspect that Himuro had something to do with the theft of the DC Mini prototypes. From here, the film follows the search for Himuro, as well as a quest for clues to figure out what exactly is going on.
As the film progresses, the narrative becomes more and more muddled between dreams and reality, to the point where the viewer is questioning whether what they are seeing on the screen is actually happening in the story, or is just someone's dream. However, this blurring of the lines really helps to tell the story that Satoshi Kon is wanting to convey in the film.
The DVD release of Paprika contains six special features. The first is the filmmakers' commentary. Next is a 30 minute documentary titled, "Tsutsui and Kon's Paprika." This documentary includes interviews with both Yasutaka Tsutsui and Satoshi Kon, and tells how the film was adapted from the novel.
Next is a documentary titled, "A Conversation About the 'Dream'." It runs for 30 minutes, and it features two of the voice actors, Yasutaka Tsutsui, and Satoshi Kon. They talk about the dream world in the film.
Next is a 15 minute documentary titled, "The Dream CG World"; this talks about the technological aspects of producing the film. The final documentary is titled, "The Art of Fantasy," and it runs for about 12 minutes. The final extra is previews for other titles released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Paprika is a very well-made film. Not only does it have a compelling story to tell, but the story is illustrated with some wonderful animation. However, since Paprika is an R-rated film, I can only recommend it to anime viewers who are 17 years of age and older.
In order to write this review, I checked out a copy of the DVD through the King County Library System.