Premise: Film Screening | Paprika [2]

Film Review [2] | 'Paprika' 

Fig. 1
A vivid blast of hallucinatory and "psychedelic eye candy" (Naylor, 2008), with "fiercely intellectual, provocative" discussions to match.... Paprika (2006) is Satoshi Kon's interpretation of Yasutaka Tsutsui's predessing novel (1993) of the same name, extending on from his existing TV Series 'Môsô Dairinin', translated: 'Paranoia Agent' (2004).
The film is described as "an anime dream noir" (Uhlich, 2006), that - much like many of Kon's work- explores perception, surrealism and dreamscapes through the Japanese societal mindset, and the common similarities of "human nature overall" (Uhlich, 2006).
Kon is often compared to 'David Lynch, in their similar creative obsession to the dreaming mind, and their experimental film-making. And while film has previously explored 'reality-bending trickery' in cinema (with Georges Melies and 'The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari), 'Paprika' does so in a more vividly flexible/vaster way with 2D animation, that underpin greater theories/philosophies around the human phenomenon of dream. Film is shown as similar to 'dreams'; the parade is "reminiscent of the 'hundred yokai parade' scene often depicted in Japanese art, based on Japanese folklore" (Lefler, 2016), and the creepy doll echoes the tendency for haunted objects to be tied to the past in Japanese horror films etc. Both make the choice of medium all the more appropriate.

Fig. 2
Viewers follow the story of psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba (a leading figure in the 'Institute for Psychiatric Research'), as she uses the DC Mini (an experimental therapeutic device),  to access her patients dreams and help them to uncover their subtler and more subconscious thoughts.
However, after several go missing, Dr. Chiba and Konakawa must retrieve these devices for fear of them falling into the hands of 'sleep terrorists'. The dangers soon develop beyond issues of privacy, to an inability to distinguish  dreams from 'waking reality'.
As the real merges with the fake reality, the visuals become all the more strange, and abode more to the 'rules' of dreaming. This concept is exploited fully by Kon, as recognisable elements of dreaming (the subconscious as visually tangible, taking 'truths' at face value, being physically slowed down, and physically impossible feats remain unquestioned etc.) are relied upon, and relying upon anime audiences (who accept Japanese animation as "crazy, psychedelic meaningless fun" 1) to allow "a remarkable freedom to experiment with the form" (1 Naylor, 2008).

Despite it's actual depth and intellect being accidentally overlook this way... and the expectation that animation is purely for the young, limiting the content- (Fig. 3 we see Miyazaki steer animation away from the western dominance of Disney but indirectly enforce this preconception)- it also allows 'Paprika' to mirror the ridiculousness of dreams visually in Japanese society, that arguably hasn't been accepted so casually in western culture since the 1960's (i.e. Yellow Submarine).
Arguably at this time as well, films like Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, helped drive animation "hard into more overtly adult realms" (Dargis, 2007), prior to 'Paprika's' release; and thus this change would have been noticeable and present, meaning it was just starting to be less viewed as 'children's' entertainment' (more violence as evident in Fig. 4), and rather suitable for anyone.
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Additionally, his hyper-realistic style of drawing arguably "lends itself well to the film's edgeless wonderland, especially in a  bravura pre-credits sequence where Paprika, the peppy dream-detective alter ego of the cold as ice Dr. Atsuko Chiba, guides the tortured Detective Toshimi Konakawa through a series of recurring nightmares" 2... the mental states of each character are reflected in their visual depictions; "Kon illustrated Ikari's fantasies as a primary color-hued locale of cardboard cutouts; he makes Konakawa's nightmares more three-dimensionally vivid and predicated, ultimately on an adolescent fear of movies" (2 Uhlich, 2006).

 Upon it's release, 'Paprika' (2006) was commended for it's animation style, and distinctiveness from existing Hollywood film. Kon's ability to shift between the surreal and the mundane is seen as "perhaps Kon's greatest strength as a film-maker" 3, with anime a medium that allows "a seamless blend of the real and unreal" (3Jackson, 2008). The realistic detail helps enforce the realism of the mundane moments, and makes the sudden descents into 'dream' all the more terrifying; particularly when characters snap back into reality finding out they're leaning over a high balcony.
It also gave some diversity away from Studio Ghibli who dominated Japanese animation at the time.
Fig. 5
Nowadays the film is used in the argument of originality between itself and Hollywood's 'Inception' (2010), with its unusual choice of subject matter, and a go to for film-makers who enjoy it's unique visual style, and themes that are still relevant today as they were then.
Fig. 6
With references to Japanese culture (I.e. the DC Mini as seen above being based of a Japanese plant known there as 'the sleeping plant', and the parade as similar to the 'Hundred Yokai Parade', and composing of "very old characters like objects that are discarded by people today or religious symbols that people have forgotten"- Kon 2006 etc.), there is the possibility of a loss of content when translated across to the western audiences.

Interestingly enough, its reprint as an English translation by Andrew Driver after the films original release, (2013),  7 years later, the feedback of the original text by western audiences was overwhelming negative.
The translation from Japanese to English proved destructive to the original text- Martin Petto (2009) argues that "leaving aside the alarming punctuation, the translation is also oddly quaint" , with  some tonal dissonance throughout.
There are also some dated ideas around mental illness, wherein the stigma existing then in Japan as "esoteric, frightening and potentially career-ending" 4, and gender equality, with Chiba being a mere, over-sexualised object, wherein her capabilities as a therapist are undermined and overshadowed by her beauty. There's also a scene wherein Osanai attempts to rape her, and her "concern at the lack of professionalism in this sexual assault gives way to resignation that this is a chore that needs to get over and done with" 4, and that "since she is being violated against her wishes she might as well enjoy it". The man is then judged for his inability to rape her as Chiba says "you could at least have prepared yourself... Your useless as a therapist and now as a man" (Petto, 2009). These misogynistic ideas sit at an uncomfortable and repulsive end to modern day attitudes around gender equality- making the film the more preferable alternative. 

Fig. 1 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]
Fig. 2 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]
Fig. 3 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]
Fig. 4 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]
Fig. 5 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]
Fig. 6 'Paprika' (2006), [Film Still]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 27/01/2018]

Dargis, Manohla (2007), 'In a Crowded Anime Dreamscape, a Mysterious Pixie', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Jackson, Paul (2006), 'Paprika', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Kao, Anthony (2015), 'Review: Paprika (Japan, 2006)', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Lefler, Rachael (2016), 'Film Review: Paprika', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Mackie, Rob (2007), 'Paprika', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Naylor, Alex (2008), 'Paprika: the stuff of dreams for filmgoers', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Pais, Jon (2006), 'Paprika: Interview with Satoshi Kon', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Petto, Martin (2009), 'Two Tastes of Paprika: Yasutaka Tstsui's Novel (Trans. Andrew Driver), and Satoshi Kon's Anime', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Smith, Lauren (2013), 'Review of Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]
Uhlich, Keith (2006), 'Paprika', [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 26/01/2018]


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