Film Review | Paprika


Paprika (2006), directed by Satoshi Kon, is a Japanese science-fiction anime film revolving around the titular character Paprika, also known as Dr. Atsuko Chiba. Chiba, along with her scientist colleagues, are working on a medical device called the DC Mini - the device is created to help those with psychiatric issues by entering their dreams in an attempt to heal them from within, but in doing so also has the power to damage the mind. So, when one is stolen, Chiba and her team set out to find it before damage is done.

Generally, the film is quite hard to follow with its bizarre twists and turns and exaggerated characters, but this confusion in many ways adds to the experience that the film produces, causing the feeling that the viewers own confusion and bewilderment of the world is in some ways reminiscent of those with psychological problems - the people the scientists in Paprika were supposed to be helping.

The film is based on Yasutaka Tsutsui's novel of the same name, animated by the Japanese studio Madhouse and was directed by the late Satoshi Kon. Kon is very well-known in Japan for his otherworldly projects, taking a special interest in the human mind. Japanese animation is generally known around the world for being very experimental and strange, but even so Kon is "renowned for being particularly weird and experimental" (Naylor, 2008).

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Paprika is "fluidly rendered in both hand-drawn and 3-D animation" (Dargis, 2007), following the usual conventions of Japanese animation. This art style lends itself very well to the exaggerated themes of the film as the characters and scenarios would be hard to replicate in other mediums such as full 3D animation or claymation, especially the countless transitions. The film is filled with strange characters and goings-on that would have been very expensive and time-consuming to create in anything other than 2D - the parade being a perfect example of this. On top of this, Paprika can sometimes put cell-shaded characters next to well-rendered objects and backgrounds which adds to the uneasiness of the film, creating a confusing yet enthralling viewing experience. It was most likely because of this that the film was a huge success, both in and outside of Japan, raking in approximately $944,915 and receiving raving reviews from both the mainstream media and casual viewers alike.

Bibliography -

Dargis, M. (2007) 'In a Crowded Anime Dreamscape, a Mysterious Pixie', New York Times:

Naylor, A. (2008) 'Paprika: The Stuff of Dreams for Filmgoers', The Guardian:

Illustration List -

[1] OndaCinema (n.d.) 'Paprika - Sognando un sogno', Onda Cinema:

[2] JustWatch (n.d.) 'Paprika', Just Watch:

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