Posted by psgels on 26 April 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

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Satoshi Kon comes with another movie, called Paprika. This is the same person who directed Paranoia Agent, so I undoubtedly looked forward to it a lot. So, after having seen it, how did it turn out? Well, disappointing. It’s not bad or anything, but I expected something more.

Paprika comes with another psychological theme: dreams. About 50% in this movie happens in dreams, and they show what happens when humans start messing with them. Overall, it was quite interesting, but I’m surprised to say that the pacing was rather slow, compared to Paranoia Agent, which continuously kept the flow of events high. Paprika definitely is different, as it seems to more focus on its characters than paranoia itself. When you look at it this way, it turned out pretty good, with interesting choreography at times, and all accompanied by very unusual characters that you probably won’t see in any other anime.

Still, there are two rather bad points about this movie. It’s repetitive, and it doesn’t use its amazing soundtrack enough. Seriously, if you loved Paranoia Agent’s soundtrack, you’ll love the theme song. It’s a great song, but the rest of the anime is filled with rather mediocre background sounds or just plain silence. I kept longing to hear the opening track again, which unfortunately only happened when the ending credits rolled. Regarding the first point, it’s quite a few times that we see scenes that we’ve already seen before. I guess these scenes were meant to illustrate the changes in the anime, but when a strange parade passes the screen for the fifth time, its novelty has worn out.

Overall, if you’ve got some time to burn, you can check this out, as it’s quite a good watch, but there definitely are better movies out there.

4 Responses

  1. Martin says:

    I really enjoyed Paprika but I don’t think it’s his best effort to date. Visually it’s spectacular and you’re right about the music – I’d recommend it on these two criteria alone. Compared with his other stuff it’s not quite so outstanding but it IS a Satoshi Kon movie, and they’re always worth watching! I’ve yet to see a film or series he’s directed that wasn’t original and enjoyable.

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    I think part of why Paprika didn’t live up to his other movies (and don’t forget about Millennium Actress here, which has the best Hirasawa Susumu soundtrack to date!) is because Satoshi Kon didn’t actually WRITE it. Not the original story, anyway. He wrote Paranoia Agent and Tokyo Godfathers, and he co-wrote Millennium Actress, but both Paprika and Perfect Blue are movies based on pre-existing novels. If Kon himself had written Paprika, I think it would’ve been MUCH more interesting!

    That having been said, though, I got to see the movie WITH SATOSHI KON HIMSELF INTRODUCING IT AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS AFTERWARD, so I can’t complain. (:

    -Tom

  3. kaei says:

    Kinda late to the party – just saw the movie. Gave up on the plot half way through and just decided to enjoy the eye candy, but somehow the ending was surprisingly poignant for me, and I can’t figure out why. Atsuko is definitely one of the awesomest female anime characters in recent anime history.

  4. TheouAegis says:

    I always show up when the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

    The soundtrack is not one of Susumu Hirasawa’s best, but it does have more variety than his other albums. The track “Lounge” and “Welcome ot the Circus” are beyond Hirasawa’s realm of standard faire (he hates jazz, making “Lounge” that much more remarkable). Without argument, “Parade”, “Girl from Byakkoya” and “Meditational Field” are his most prominent and memorable works in Paprika. You cannot hear “Parade” without picturing the pandemonium parade in your mind or hear “Meditational Field” without picturing Paprika darting in and out of billboards and computer monitors. Hirasawa gained many new fans with the release of Paranoia Agent and understandably more with the release of Paprika.

    While Paprika will most likely be admired for its animation (some scenes took three months to complete!) and remarkable soundtrack, most people will continue to be turned off by the incomprehensible storyline and lackluster characters. It is true that there are no memorable characters except perhaps Paprika herself, but to say there is no character development is wrong. Nonetheless, it is by fault of having so many characters critical to the plot that the development seems to suffer.

    However, the fault lies with the viewer who puts too much emphasis on secondary characters. The main characters are, as Satoshi Kon points out in a commentary, those who are bathed in light instead of covered in shadow. People assume Atsuko Chiba is the main character and should have more development, but in actuality there are three main characters — Drs. Chiba and Tokita, as well as the detective Konakawa. Since Dr. Chiba is actually two characters — herself and her alter ego Paprika — there’s even less time to spend developing the characters. People tend to praise Perfect Blue because so much time was spent developing the main character that they could accept the lack of development of all the other characters in the movie. This time around Satoshi Kon spends more time defining and developing multiple characters using subtle references.

    If you feel a character in Paprika does not have adequate development, you probably aren’t paying enough attention to the dialogues and background scenes. The same is true of the plot. Satoshi Kon deviated from his norm when drawing up the storyboard. Each scene is connected by a shared background feature. He tells us to keep an eye out for this transitional effect in the opening credits when Paprika darts in and out of billboards across the city.

    The most glaring and perhaps hardest to follow transition is when Dr. Shima starts ranting in disjunctive thought then runs down a hallway, crashing through a window wihle laughing madly. That’s when reality and the dream world first mesh in Paprika. The effect on the brain at that point is jarring. People these days expect a narrative, but Kon denies us that privelege and instead uses dialogue to hint at the story. In the beginning of the film, Paprika explains the first half of REM sleep is like an artsy film, while it’s not until the later half that things become coherent. When the real world and dream world merge, the world enters conciously into the early stage of REM sleep, thus rendering reality into an artsy film. In this way, the plot remains coherent and developed, much unlike my review.

    Overall, Paprika is an intriguing spin off of a famous Japanese story with an exceptional soundtrack as one expects of Susumu Hirasawa, but with a predictability that Satoshi Kon fans would notice. Such predictability is not a bad thing, but rather makes the film that much more enjoyable to fans of his earlier works.

    Story: 4/5
    Soundtrack: 4/5
    Characters: 4/5
    Visuals: 5/5
    Overall: 4.5/5

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:20 PM)
    Decided to marathon Giant Robo, I think this was mentioned by someone on here before. I guess it was fairly entertaining, great action direction, looked good for its time, you don’t notice the hour long episodes go by, adequate characters, nice retro artstyle also, not sure if I got excited over this as big O and Mazinger however but still fun enough nonetheless.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:50 AM)
    Oh yeah Hoffman was a massive talent and a beloved actor, so I don’t take it lightly when I call Synecdoche his greatest role ever. Given his death and knowing the circumstances of his life at the time imbues this performance with a chilling sincerity that just breaks your heart and leaves you in awe.

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