Paprika (DVD)

March 11, 2010

I had previously watched Satoshi Kon’s Paprika twice in subtitles, but I ran into a copy of the DVD, so I decided to watch the dub, and the extras. In short this is a great movie, the dub was enjoyable, and the extras are a nice addition, especially if you enjoy seeing how anime gets made.

Dr. Atsuko Chiba from Paprika

Dr. Atsuko Chiba from Paprika

If you have seen some of director Satoshi Kon’s earlier work (such as the highly recommended Millennium Actress), you are familiar with his exhilarating style of film making. Kon deftly blends fiction and reality, frequently giving the viewer a feeling as if the film were a speeding car that had just topped a hill and is now dropping away beneath them, while their body’s momentum is simultaneously pulling them skyward.

Unlike Millennium Actress, which sought ambiguity between realty, film, and memory, Paprika explores the border between our waking world and the subconscious territory that we explore when we dream. As such Paprika cedes some of the high ground of Art House film. Whereas Millennium Actress easily fits in the tradition of Frederico Fellini’s Roma, and 8 1/2, Paprika can more easily be pegged as a work of Science Fiction. For some this might make Paprika a more approachable work.

The DVD included several extras. Although I am frequently disappointed by DVD extras, I found some of these enjoyable. In particular three making-of type shorts were included that examined aspects of the creative process that resulted in Paprika. Of these I was most impressed by the behind the scenes look at Kon’s process. The other extras included, such as an interview with Kon, novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui, and two of the voice actors was less interesting to me, but I rarely enjoy such features.

As mentioned by Tsutsui in the extras, the music is very good, and adds quite a bit of impact to several scenes. As with all of Kon’s work, Paprika is visually stunning. The characters are interesting in that they are presented both as generic character types, and as believable, human, and therefore surprising characters.

In summation, this was a great film, and I can easily recommend it, especially to people who enjoy Science Fiction. The movie stood up to a third viewing with no problems, and the dub was solid, which is important for some people, especially those outside of the core anime-viewing community. There was some mature content. In particular there is one very disturbing rape scene, but it was far from gratuitous, and was not played for titillation.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Paprika is worth your time and money. If you saw Paprika in the theater, or fan subbed, the DVD is worth the expense, as the movie stands up to repeat viewing, and the DVD is packaged with some interesting extras.

8 Responses to “Paprika (DVD)”

  1. Shinmaru Says:

    I have been thinking about rewatching this recently. When I first saw it, I wasn’t terribly into the story, but I did love the visual style. It has been a few years since I watched it, however, so maybe I would have a different reaction to the story today.

  2. joojoobees Says:

    Yes, although I am an SF fan, I wasn’t as impressed with Paprika, as I was with Millennium Actress. I think the SF context takes some of the focus away from the human elements of the story. On the other hand, it was an enjoyable ride. I think Paprika is kind of a ‘Summer block-buster’ movie. A lot of emphasis is placed upon a rich visual experience.

    The story is essentially the attempts to stop a terrorist plot, or more broadly, malicious use of technology. In re-watching the film, however, I realized that there were some interesting ways that the film subverts the expectations one inherits from the block-buster.

    If you do get around to re-watching it, I would be happy to hear about your reaction!

  3. Taka Says:

    I have yet to see Millenium Actress but I’ve seen Perfect Blue and Paprika. I originally downloaded Paprika and was just gonna watch the first few minutes of it to get a taste…so much for that idea. I ended up staying up to 5am watching the thing woooops. I’m not sure I liked Paprika more than Perfect Blue. The music was amazing like you said. In that respect it is head and shoulders above Perfect Blue. Truly one of Hirasawa Susumu’s best bits of work.

    I do think it fell apart a little toward the end. Giant Paprika vs Giant Bad Dude. And the giving birth thing. Maybe it was because it was 5am but I didn’t follow that well at all. I should probably rewatch it but i have so much on my plate already…

  4. joojoobees Says:

    Hey, Taka. I still haven’t seen Perfect Blue. If it is as good as Paprika I’ll have to give it a shot. The only reason I have hesitated so far is that the crime-drama genre doesn’t appeal to me.

    I know what you mean about just getting sucked into Paprika. It is so visually engaging, that it is easy to go along for the ride. With respect to the ending, that was kind of what I was getting at with the SF genre. The plot’s resolution depends on eliminating a technological threat that doesn’t exist in the real world. At least they didn’t ‘revert the power flow’, or something.

  5. Taka Says:

    Perfect Blue is less of a aa crime/drama as it is a psychological thriller. Somewhat akin to Psycho or some of Hitchcock’s other features. Just like Paprika Satoshi Kon likes to play with your sense of what’s real. On the whole it’s a lot more consistent at fooling you into thinking the scene that is happening on the screen is real. The whole story is told from the perspective of this up and coming Idol. There’s really hardly any crime/drama type stuff. When I was first introduced to it people told me it was a Horror movie. Not quite but it is certainly a mindfuck.


    you should watch it 😀

  6. Shinmaru Says:

    I second the recommendation of Perfect Blue — that’s my second favorite Kon movie behind Millennium Actress. It’s as intense as any live-action thriller.

  7. joojoobees Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation guys. I think I have seen that Netflix has Perfect Blue available via streaming, so I should go ahead and watch it. I took a movie out of the public library the other day that I want to watch first: Ugetsu (1953), by Kenzi Mizoguchi. It’s not anime, but it is about 16th century Japan. I’ve heard good things about it, but have never seen it myself.

  8. I enjoyed Perfect Blue and love Millenium Actress to bits. Dr. Chiba is mai waifu etc etc

    I’m so into Paprika that I did these two posts of sheer nuttiness:

    That said, I think Perfect Blue is more interesting, if narrower.

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