Anime Quick Information
|Average Rating: 8.55|
Martin scored this with 9/10. Disagree?
In the near-future it has become possible to observe and record the workings of the unconscious mind through a new cutting-edge technology. A scientific research team has discovered a way to literally enter other people's dreams, which promises a revolution in psychological medical treaments; unfortunately a vital piece of equipment is stolen from the laboratory so a desparate search begins to track down the culprit - a search aided by the semi-mythical 'dream detective', Paprika.
One of the greatest strengths of the animated medium is to realise visual scenes that are too difficult to effectively bring to the screen in any other way; budgetry concerns aside, the only limiting factor in a film such as this is the imagination of its creative team. Satoshi Kon and long-term collaborators Studio Madhouse have built up an enviable reputation over the last decade or so for doing just that: while many titles claim to have 'dreamlike' qualities Paprika has achieved the closest I've yet seen to capturing the weird and wonderful visions of the sleeping mind. The use of CG (a rare event in Kon's movies to date, it has to be said) is used to great effect in order to literally bend and twist the view of the world as the stuff of dreams (and nightmares!) is unleashed. This is brought to life with a glowing and vibrant colour palette that glows and shimmers with both gritty realism and Dali-esque surrealism - it's hard to discern where reality ends and the madness begins! Susumu Hirasawa's soundtrack compliments all this perfectly: it leaps effortlessly between off-kilter tension-building harmonies and energetic, pulsating electronica that drives the proceedings forward at breakneck speed.
Dreams are complex mixtures of real and fantastical feelings and experiences with their own fractured narratives, imagery and logic; the themes and ideas of this story portray what could happen if reality and dreams (literally) merge and collide. This is far-removed from the tense psychological slasher and social commentary themes that are found in the likes of Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent, although it does offer the blurring of reality of the former and the all-out head trip weirdness of the latter. In Paprika, Kon's dry wit and audacious desire to experiment come across as more playful and humourous with fewer heavy messages to convey but this takes away a little of the depth; the ethics of new scientific advances and the need for responsibility in their use are not lost on this movie but the the eye-watering visuals are the main event here.
It is not to say that Paprika does not pay attention to the characters though: the troubled detective Konakawa, the chronically-overweight technical genius Professor Tokita and the straight-laiced Doctor Chiba, whose flirtatious and vivacious dreamland alter-ego of the film's title is in such contrast to her detached and responsible 'real life' persona, are engaging and memorable. What is also in contrast with his previous efforts is that Kon has somewhat downplayed the twisting mystery-thriller storylines he is so famous for in favour of his other forte: the ability to dazzle the viewer with startling and endlessly inventive visual spectacle.
Despite being familiar with his entire directorial back catalogue Paprika still amazed and occasionally had me scratching my head, even after a repeat viewing or two. I can't help but think he and his colleagues were having an immense amount of fun coming up with the off-the-wall details too: there are knowing nods and fleeting references to his previous films and familiar scenes from other well-known classics of cinema and TV - there's even a tribute to the cult martial arts series Monkey at one point. All this ensures that, even though this film isn't as profound as his earlier ones were, there's never a dull moment.
The latest feature-length effort from Satoshi Kon is a worthy contender for one of the most brave and innovative releases of the year. It may lack the depth and complexity of some of his previous pieces but Paprika is still a bold, bright and unpredictable journey through the wonders of the sleeping mind. It's a frightening, funny, exhilerating and artistically outstanding flight through an imagination that is firing on all cylinders - you'd be mad to miss it.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||9 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Sat, 29 Sep 2007|
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