×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Paprika

Japanime sci-fi pic "Paprika" has a better chance than most Nipponese toons of breaking out of the specialty ghetto by appealing to femme auds as well as the genre's core constituency of fanboys. Hot B.O. is expected from Japan, with, at the very least, warm ancillary sales offshore.

With:
Voices: Megumi Hayashibara, Toru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Toru Furuya, Akio Ohtsuka, Kouichi Yamadera, Hideyuki Tanaka, Satomi Kohrogi. Japanese dialogue.

With its brainy scientist heroine, and surreal, super-kitsch imagery, above-average Japanese anime sci-fi pic “Paprika” has a better chance than most Nipponese toons of breaking out of the specialty ghetto by appealing to femme auds as well as the genre’s core constituency of fanboys. Helmer Satoshi Kon (“Tokyo Godfathers,” “Perfect Blue”) adds humorous spice to the pic’s somewhat ready-made plot about a gizmo that can record dreams falling into the wrong hands. Hot B.O. is expected from Japan, with, at the very least, warm ancillary sales offshore.

In a spooky, antic sequence, police detective Konakawa (voiced by Akio Ohtsuka) escapes a scary circus and various cinematic chase scenarios (referencing “Tarzan” movies, film noir, and so on) glimpsed through an elevator door. He is accompanied by a gamine, red-headed girl named Paprika (Megumi Hayashibara).

Turns out it was all a dream he had that was recorded by the DC-Mini, a new gadget still in development. Paprika is actually an avatar of psychiatrist Dr. Atsuko Chiba (also Hayashibara), who uses the DC-Mini to enter patients’ dreams and treat their anxieties.

But Atsuko’s lab is thrown into uproar when one of the four prototype DC-Minis goes missing and someone starts using it to invade Atsuko’s colleagues’ minds, planting a dream so powerful the victim falls into a permanent hypnogogic state in which he or she is still capable of walking around zombie-like and spouting nonsense.

Using the remaining DC-Minis, Atsuko can see that the invading dream. Assisted by the DC-Mini’s inventor, the sumo-sized genius Tokita (Toru Furuya), Konakawa and Paprika (who in the dream world develops a mind of her own separate from her creator), Atsuko investigates a range of suspects.

As in other sci-fi pics featuring technology that can record thoughts, such as Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” or David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ,” the borders between reality and imagination keep getting blurred, creating a narrative Chinese box of dreams within dreams. Playful use is made of movie allusions and general cinematic imagery, building up to a reasonably nightmarish climax where, natch, Tokyo is nearly destroyed.

Like so many sci-fi anime pics, “Paprika” warns against the dangers of tampering with the natural order of things. However, with plucky Paprika herself and serious-minded Atsuko in the lead roles, there’s a refreshing lack of sexist or misogynistic imagery except for one disturbing sequence near the end that may earn pic an “R”-level rating in some territories.

Seemingly well-budgeted pic looks pretty much par for the Japanese animation course, with simply drawn but expressive moving figures mixed with CGI-enhanced camera moves and richly rendered backgrounds, especially for the sequences featuring the eerie, confetti-strewn toy parade of invading dreams. Rest of the tech package is pro.

Paprika

Japan

Production: A Madhouse, Sony Pictures Entertainment (Japan) production. (International sales: Sony Pictures Releasing Intl., Culver City.) Produced by Maruta Jungo, Takiyama Masao. Executive producers, Jungo Maruta, Masao Takiyama. Directed by Satoshi Kon. Screenplay, Seishi Minakimi, Kon, based on a novel by Yasutaga Tsutsui.

Crew: Camera (color), Michiya Kato; editor, Seyama Takeshi; music, Susumu Hirasawa; art director, Nobutaka Ike; character designer, animation director, Masashi Ando; sound designer (Dolby Digital, DTS), Masafumi Mima. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 1, 2006. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: Voices: Megumi Hayashibara, Toru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Toru Furuya, Akio Ohtsuka, Kouichi Yamadera, Hideyuki Tanaka, Satomi Kohrogi. Japanese dialogue.

More Film

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival 2019 Award Winners

    Berlin Film Festival 2019: Nadav Lapid's 'Synonyms' Wins Golden Bear

    Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms,” about a young Israeli man in Paris who has turned his back on his native country, won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale on Saturday. The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to François Ozon’s French drama “By the Grace of God,” a fact-based account of the Catholic Church [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content