Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Brilliant psychologist Atsuko Chiba (voice of Megumi Hayashibara) uses newly advanced technology to burrow into the dreams of her patients. She also uses her access to the high tech equipment, called the DC Mini, as a dream detective.  Her company fell victim to a thief who steals three of the Minis and she must recover the gear to stop an unexpected wave of psychological terror in “Paprika.”

All I can say about “Paprika” (with a few chosen words to follow) is: Whoa! And, I mean that in a good way, a very good way.

Japanese animator Satoshi Kon, who brought us the beautiful “Millennium Actress” and the warm and touching “Tokyo Godfathers,” has made a quantum leap in surrealistic animation. Adapting, with Seishi Minakami, the 2006 novel, Papurika, by Yasutaka Tsutsui, Kon enters a world where modern tech has cracked the barrier that allows a psychiatrist to enter a patient’s dreams, instead of just hearing about them from a shrink’s couch. The possibilities for the DC Mini, in capable hands, are boundless. There is a storm brewing on this sunny high tech horizon, however, when the three Minis go missing.

Helmer Kon wastes no time putting us into this brave and dangerous new technological world as psychiatrist Atsuko Chiba (voice of Megumi Hayashibara), as her dream warrior self, Paprika, enters into the disturbing dream belonging to police captain Toshimi Konakawa (voice of Akio Ohtsuka). She is trying to help him solve a murder by entering his sleep world and analyzing the dream. The astounding Mini, invented by Chiba’s obese, child-hearted genius friend, Tokita (voice of Toru Furuya), can change the world of psychotherapy. In the wrong hands, though, it can be a device for control and domination of the mind.

This nifty sci-fi thriller is far too complex to go much deeper than the above description. When two people’s dreams cross paths it means more dreams. More dreams and the line between awake and asleep begin to dissolve. The result, per “Paprika,” is a world on the brink of disaster. Kon and his brilliant animation team take the dream action to levels that are densely packed and multilayered as a person’s sleep time visions meld with others’ dreams.

The production techs are brilliantly handled with vibrant colors and imaginative depiction of dreams and their bizarre inconsistencies – think about when you had a really bad nightmare that feels so real but nonsensical at the same time. “Paprika” achieves this with surreal dash – think about watching a Disney animation on acid.

I do not think that “Paprika” will rise above art house fare and the niche Japanese animation fans. This is a shame as this is a movie I could not take my eyes off, even to go to the bathroom. If you know me, this is high praise. I give it an A.

Laura did not see this film.
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