r#106 – paprika

What is up, internet people?! Now you may have to excuse my absence on last week as I didn’t post any anime review because things in real-life didn’t let me write any until the mid of it, which was then I use my time to write an incredible post that I have posted in its early Monday. In case you have missed it, then you really need to check it out and read about it; it was literally a few nights worth of my time writing it, and I’d be very happy if it turned out to be a good read for you.

But anyway, I don’t want you to be missed my review posts while today we have an interesting topic to be discussed; Paprika, which is a 2006 science-fiction anime movie based on a 1993 novel written by Tsutsui Yasutaka. The movie itself was directed by Kon Satoshi-sensei which has known for directing some mind-blowing movies exclusively under the studio of Madhouse.

If you’re familiar with his works, then you already know that he has an unmatched ability to play with our minds and you have got to admit that his hobby to bring his audience to dive under their conscious and encourage us to questions whether we’re living in a reality or some kind of fantasy … are something we never can get from any other anime director, or animator, or screenwriter, or manga artist other than Satoshi-sensei. And today, we’re going to be discussing an anime movie which often compared side by side with the famous Academy Awards winner western movie titled Inception; Paprika it is.


The story revolving around a world in the near future, when a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called PT aka. dream therapy has been invented through a device called the DC Mini that can allow the user who use it to be able to view and enter other people’s dream, which later the person who dives in will be known as the dream detective. But before the government can pass a bill authorizing the use of such advanced psychiatric technology, doctor Chiba Atsuko as a renowned scientist head of the team working on this treatment has already using the machine illegally to help psychiatric patients outside the research facility, using her alter-ego whose code-named PAPRIKA.

But then, her wrong decision has made one of the device prototypes stolen and sending the resarch facility into an uproar. Because in the wrong hands, the potential misuse of DC Mini could be devastating to the point where it will let you to completely annihilate someone’s personality through their dream while they are asleep. In an attempt to discover the culprit who is using the stolen device for criminal purposes, Paprika and the whole team enters the dream world and ready to sacrifice themselves as their own mind is at stake.


Over the course of his career, Satoshi-sensei clearly has earned himself a reputation in a number of circles. While he’s not really a famous and widely loved by the anime community outside of Japan unlike some other great anime Directors such as Makoto Shinkai and Hayao Miyazaki, but even if you don’t know his works, I believe that you have seen some of his direction of images, his pictures of ideas, and a clip of fantasy he has put into his works. Clearly, he has become a well-known creator even if his cinematic creation doesn’t appeal to the mainstream audience. Lay aside his manga and his other literary works, the movies which he has contributed are clearly geared to draw the attention of film enthusiasts who love foreign cinema —put it simply; it was the classic Japanese people who naturally appreciate any movie that is similar to foreign movies. So yes, it might blow people’s mind in Japan, but the word “visionary” won’t ever come up in the West people’s perception or even global in general.

But still, Satoshi-sensei is one of the greatest visionaries of the modern film; even for me, an individual who enjoy both Japanese and Disney animations, both Netflix series and live-action movies. Even years after his works been released and the echo has no longer be heard, his concept of direction was actually acknowledged as an influence on Darren Aronofsky’s famous movie Black Swan (2010 American psychological horror) and Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010 neo-noir science fiction heist), which are two great movies that have won the Academy Awards. Sadly, Satoshi-sensei died in the middle of his newest movie production titled the Dreaming Machine, which had to stop after his death on August’ 24, 2010.

But since I discovered his movies until this very day, I still couldn’t find any other movie production which has the same level of creativity as what Satoshi-sensei produced. Because in case you don’t know yet, besides all of his works are amazingly consistent, all of them are always revolving around two intersect things such as private and public, waking and dreaming, memories and reality … to even the more complex concept between a real human being and her own alter-ego. Until the current moment, I still can’t find a cinematic creation who can bring me into a character’s world without I even noticed, I still can’t find a level of creation which can make my point of view towards everything that happens in the story become subjective but at the same time, still make everything as interesting and understandable to the point where I cried like a baby or having the loudest laugh.

And this creative plan and writings also applied to our current subject review … Paprika. Though yes, the movie was mostly geared towards the Japanese people, it actually managed to break also on the outside fandom world and made some good noise throughout its art-house run in the US as well as the various presentations and openings at film festivals around the world. So even though the first movie’s Blu-ray release in Japan was something of a disappointment as it was made solely for the Japanese audience, but then being able to shift between nine languages and thirty subtitle tracks are something that is amazing to know by any film enthusiasts.


Now let’s talk about the movie itself. How’s the story told?

Well, the main thing you’re going to notice is that most people will consider Paprika as a movie they are going to be hard to understand. For you, watching Paprika only once maybe would never be enough and for other people, Paprika is just not the kind of movie they wish to watch. Paprika is a weird story, everything is revolving around the dream world and reality to the point where everything that happens in the dream world can also happen in the real world. Unlike the writings in Inception where you pretty much can distinguish which one is real and which one is the dream world, Paprika will lead you to walk through a thin line which will blur you the fantasy and reality, or to be honest, also the exact story that is being told. That is why the story of Paprika is going to be hard to understand by most people.

There are many editings and screen planning that are ‘very’ Satoshi-sensei as we continue to investigate the grey world between the fantasy and reality that has been framed on his previous works such as Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress. But there is a difference though, Paprika —despite titled as the same name of a character in it— is actually not telling its story from the perspective of Paprika as a character, but instead the story been told throughout all the protagonist characters and all the support casts. And sadly, aside from the writing and its visual planning that is amazing by Satoshi-sensei, even the way of how unique is the story been told, there’s nothing else worth to mention considering the fact that the plot twist at the end is actually predictable. It’s weird and awesome, but quite predictable.

Though of course, probably it’s predictable, but not for everyone. Clearly if you are familiar with his work, you’re going to be disappointed at least a bit considering the movie is actually will lead you to the same psychological realm that you have visited when you watched Perfect Blue; nothing is different except the new characters and the new story, and this resulting the plot twist at the end which no longer surprises me. From the new audience standpoint though, if you haven’t seen any works of Satoshi-sensei, Paprika must be one of the hardest writing and screenplay you’ll have ever seen in a movie. But when you watch the full length of the movie commentary, not one with Satoshi-sensei but the ones with the music director and associate producer, you will understand what I was saying as they referred Paprika as something that is equal to child’s play for Satoshi-sensei —it’s less than special for him, as nothing is new.

But nevertheless, Paprika is not a bad movie. It is complicated and you may assume it as an unstructured storytelling, but it just made the movie worth a rewatch to find out what really is happening in the story, even maybe a twice or five times of rewatch. And for your information, Satoshi-sensei wrote the script together with Seishi Minakami, which has contributed also to the writing of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. So yeah, I thought you will be interested to watch Paprika if I mention this hidden trivia. 😂


Most people have seen this movie as an investigation revolving around the stolen DC Mini, and actually fewer people have seen the movie as a story centred toward a character introduced as Paprika. Well actually, when I watched it I was enjoyed the movie more from the viewpoint of Paprika as a character. When we first meet her, I’ve seen her as a spritely and enchanting young woman who’s like to help other people forgetting their past which oftentimes connected to a guilt they don’t want to remember anymore, or otherwise depends on what the client wants it.

The first scenes tell about her program with Konakawa Toshimi, a detective who haunted by recurring dreams about a murder he seems unable to stop. More than that, it seems that he can’t remember anything about the accident, don’t even the people who appear on his own dream; someone run on the corridor, someone killed which possibly himself is the killer, there’s a circus where he happens to be held behind bars, there’s a chasing scene, he’s even swinging in the forest holding a young woman like a Tarzan until the jungle holds him back and made them fall. Everything is vague, from the identity of the victim he shoots to the means of everything he has seen on his dream … but there is where Paprika came, which is to get into his head and give Konakawa some guidance that will help him to move on in the real world.

But then, we’ve introduced also with Chiba Atsuko, a deeply serious and even stuffy in dealing every situation she faces. Unlike what her personality describes her though, she’s actually the head of the DC Mini development team, and she’s also the first researcher who learns about the possibility of a terrorist group which interested in using the DC Mini for a terror purpose. Until someone stole three of the boxes contains the DC Mini, she starts to realize the hazard that could happen as the terrorist actually capable to brings people’s nightmare into the reality. Initially, she doesn’t really concerned about what they have to put in stake to expose the terrorist, but once several people around her do things that illogical to the point where they jump over the window nearly killing themselves, she immediately understands that their life is at stake.

From there, Chiba and her alter-ego —Paprika— will not only try to save Konakawa from his awful dream and guilt from the past, but also to escape the disaster of nightmares terrorising the real world.

Don’t worry if you’re concern about how huge the story revolving in this world is, despite the drama and mystery about the stolen dream machine only being played with a small team of casts, but both side of these stories actually are fairly straightforward and connected directly to one or two characters in each of it. Surprisingly, no matter how complicated the movie is, these small number of characters have managed to keep everything interesting and always suggests my mind to explore their surroundings even more.

visual and arts.

As one of the selling points of Paprika, Madhouse did an excellent job in animating everything and bringing all the characters to life, Paprika is a visually-dependent experience to a degree where most of the movies are not. There are a lot of architectures where we can only see it in a fantasy world, lots of toys, butterflies, and parade scenes been showed quite many times throughout the movie. I bet, you’d be amazed on how this one occurring dream parade can connecting more than one person’s delusion and even bring all of the nightmares into the reality; it was a fun ride for me.

From the visual standpoint, you’d be glad to know that all the colours pop out with a real vibrancy to it, even some of them are almost shocking at times. The animation also very fluid and well represented as it has no consequences in showing these weird and unnatural shapes and movements. Though according to my experience for being an otaku, it seems that Japanese entertainment never had the same level of care towards explaining things whatever it is, instead they prefer to just make everything more interesting and let the audience to take off with their own impression towards what happens on screen. Of course, that is not what always happens on animes, but here it does; it seems that you could enjoy the visual easier rather than trying to understand what happens to the characters or on the story.

From the soundtrack standpoint, everything has blended into the point where you can just never realize there’s any track playing in the background … whether it’s a good or bad thing, I leave the judgement to you as it’s very subjective. But for me personally, it turns out very good; one point that is very predominant is the way it shifts the atmosphere into one that is similar to sinister every time the scenes flip through the reality into a dream back to back —maybe the concept is similar to how Marvel applied the soundtrack to their superhero movies, which always support anything the story tires to tell but without putting it forward. For the opening and ending theme though, there are three powerful tracks —one on the opening and two on the ending— which has both buildings at the beginning and impacting the whole story at the end, it impressed me very much. For your information, the movie has won the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Music in 2007 … so yeah, I’m quite happy knowing that people have recognized how good the movie has done with its soundtrack.

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

People’s assessment towards Paprika can be very subjective depending on how familiar they are with the works of Satoshi-sensei. So if you have seen his works a little bit, or even experience all of his cinematic creation both on movies and TV series, you probably will be amazed by watching Paprika. But this comes together with one problem, which is the similarities between all of his works that will bring you less enjoyment of watching something new from him. To be honest, the only movies that contrast with any other of his works is Tokyo Godfathers, where you’d experience love and find the enjoyment by watching the characters smile with no reason but happiness —so no complicated things like on Paprika on there.

But once again, all of these similarities and differences doesn’t necessarily make Paprika as a bad movie. I believe that every movie enthusiast is still able to enjoy the show at some point, even if their interest is lacking after they realize it’s just a typical mystery story, or even if they don’t understand what really the story is. For me though, it’s a solid good considering that I understood enough to follow the story; the plot twist at the end might be predictable but still, they have done a good job in executing it; you may also say that Paprika is just a typical fantasy revolving around a future technology, but still, I believe it is one of the best typical fantasy stories. Go watch it … I don’t care who you are, but you should watch Paprika if you’re an anime addict or movies enthusiast. Go watch it! 🙂

additional pieces of information.

material resources: sonypictures.com/homevideo/paprika/index.htmlAllcinemaANNWiki (en)Wiki (zh)AnimeNfoAnison, and MAL

* this image is available to be downloaded!

Thank you for reading~

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© content written by nesha5971

49 responses to “r#106 – paprika

  1. Kon is one of my favorite directors. His work is not really for the casual fan with the exception of maybe Tokyo Godfathers. Paprika shook my soul the very first time I saw it. I still remember that feeling so many years later.

  2. Great review. Paprika is just one of the mindfuck anime which I’m also confused about what actually happened. Watching it repeatedly also requires several interpretations in order to understand it. Just like Perfect Blue, which is Satoshi Kon’s another masterpiece, Paprika is far from an anime because it is so different from various aspects. 🙂

    • dear lord, why was this comment been thrown to the spam folder? i don’t even know how long it had been there..,.. but thank you for commenting, i totally agree with you and i really appreciate your time writing your thoughts here! =)

  3. Pingback: The “Build a Harem” Tag | MoeGamer·

  4. This film definitely had me going “what the heck?”A few times but overall I quite enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone

    Great review as always c:

  5. New review, as I received the notification I was very happy to read your new article. Forgive English, I’m Italian and I had to use the translator. Wonderful as always.

  6. I don’t think I know of any other anime that managed to make dream world look so real. Despite of how insane everything looks, it has consistency, some internal logic. I think that in that respect Paprika well recreates that specific feeling in dreams when something surreal is happening that normally wouldn’t make any sense, but in a dream you have no problem with that.
    Agree that Paprika isn’t the best of Kon’s films, but it leaves a long-lasting impression. And one and only Susumu Hirasawa created a terrific soundtrack.
    These days when people try questioning who’s going to be next Miyazaki (“Is it Shinkai?” ,”Is it Hosoda?”) I wonder how far Kon could’ve gone if already he had pushed the medium very far to being able to rival the very best live-action films in every aspect.

    • consistency is one of the strong points of works by Satoshi-sensei, and maybe the fact that we have paid more energy in trying to understand it has left us to remember everything more easily.
      the soundtrack was not the best of Susumu Hirasawa, but it does have more variety than his other albums —the track “Lounge” and “Welcome to the Circus” are beyond of his realm of standard fare, but considering that he hates Jazz just made Longue that much more remarkable. without argument though, the opening theme “Mediational Field” and two different tracks of “Byakkoya” as the ending theme are his most prominent and memorable tracks in Paprika. in case you starved for more of his tracks backing up the weird images and stories, you might happy to watch Paranoia Agent someday~

      • Yeah, the soundtrack is almost unusually strongly (for Hirasawa) connected with the story it accompanies, and that calls for lots of versatility.
        I didn’t know that Hirasawa hated jazz. Well, it’s probably no wonder since pretty much all of his music seems very firmly structured without much room for any possible improvisation.
        Byakkoya and Mediational field are definitely highlights. I also love A Drop Filled With Memories.
        Paranoia Agent is among gold nuggets I save for some special occasion, but I listened to its OP multiple times. Great stuff.

  7. Kinda late to the party I just saw the movie… Give up on understanding the plot halfway through and just decided to enjoy the eye-candy, but somehow the ending was surprisingly sorrowful for me, and I can’t figure it 9ut why… 😥

    • it is weird and as I mention this a few times in the review, the movie is not for everyone’s taste. if you’re not really into this kind of taste, I suggest you do not look for any other work of Satoshi-sensei except the Tokyo Godfathers which I assume no one would resist smiling by watching it.

  8. one of my favourite movies! the visuals are still stunning even more than 10 years later. ooh, now I want to rewatch it!

  9. Man… Paprika was awesome! I remember watching this in a low key run down theater back in high school. Lol Your post hit hard home! ^^ It’s my second top fav in Satoshi Kon’s movies. First would be Perfect Blue ofc. ^-^

    Even today I still get creeped out by that doll parade scene (when the lil doll started shakin’) 😅

    • glad u like and enjoyed reading it … never thought my review would bring u back memories. i hope those creepy doll memories wouldn’t disturbing your day though x’D or whatever, enjoy that nostalgic flashback while you can~ pfft.

  10. I watched Paprika way too young lol. But he paralleled a lot of what used in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence he re-used in Paprika. The parade scenes, use of dolls, the playbacks of scenes… but I still enjoyed it. I should really get around to re-watching since it’s too good not too.

      • I was maybe 12? 13? when I watched both so probably a little too early. I was always one of those people reading/watching stuff intended for older audiences though lmao

        Can’t wait to read it!!

  11. Very nice! Paprika is such a great movie. I don’t think it’s Satoshi Kon’s best work, but him not trying is still better than a lot of other anime films. I remember watching this movie when it came out on DVD in America and then watching Inception in theaters years later and being furious because of the obvious things Nolan stole from this movie. Shame that he never gave credit to Kon and that Kon died the year Inception came out. Anyways, I’m glad there are anibloggers who have appreciation for Satoshi Kon’s works. He deserved WAY better.

    • glad someone really understands what i was trying to point out, and i agree 100% with u; he deserved way better, it’s so sad that his name doesn’t even appear on both Inception and Black Swan’s Wikipedia page..,..

      • No problem, Nesha. I wished he would still be alive since I know he would’ve had a lot more good movies in him. It is so true about Kon’s name not being in Inception’s credits. Darren Aronovsky is someone I give a slight pass only because he bought the rights to Perfect Blue to recreate the “girl screaming in a bathtub” scene for Requiem for a Dream, but he still should’ve acknowledged Kon more often when Black Swan came out. The Paprika situation didn’t anger me as much like when I researched Kimba the White Lion/Jungle Emperor Leo, but this was still a slap in the face to Kon.

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