Paprika

5 Mar

If you’ve taken the time to look through the list at all, you probably noticed that I’ve thrown several anime titles into it. I’d be reluctant to admit that I’m a “fan” of anime. Not because it would make me a nerd (I am a nerd), but because that would suggest that I am into it in the biggest way. That I collect manga and DVDs, that I watch more than 3 television series religiously, that I play with wooden swords and dress up in costumes. Ok, so I basically just said “because it would make me a nerd.” I guess that’s because anime is so commonly associated with nerds. But it isn’t just for them. You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy such beautiful, breathtaking animation, or the multi-faceted storylines, or the wide cast of complex characters. Wow, that was so nerdy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I kinda like anime. I like it enough to watch it regularly with friends. I like it enough combine it with my passion for movies and get into the feature films. I like it enough to watch a trailer for such a feature film and then get all geeky and Netflix it immediately without really knowing a thing about it.

Such is the case with Paprika. All I knew about it was that it looked really, really pretty (like most anime) and that it had something to do with dreams or something. Really, though, that was all I needed to know. The plot doesn’t go much deeper than that. In the film, the DC Mini, a technological device that is used to record dreams, is stolen from its psychiatric facility. As if that isn’t bad enough, all of the scientists who have worked with the machine are mentally linked to it, and the thief uses it to drive them to insanity. Which is very amusing.

Very, very amusing.

So, of course, the scientists (as well as a police officer), led by Dr. Chiba and her super-heroic dream persona Paprika, set off on a desperate chase to find the device. The plot may be simple, but don’t let it fool you: this movie is far from simple. As well as being the visual wonder it is praised to be, Paprika plays hardball with your mind. The DC Mini is used as a portal between reality and the realm of dreams. That means that a scene will start out in the real, logical world, and then, often without warning, it plunges into dream world, where the ground drifts away into a blank abyss (or worse), a refrigerator and mailbox lead a parade through the dream of a mental patient, and quotes like that one up there actually start making relative sense. Things only get creepier and more surreal, and the lines drawn between reality and dreams get blurrier and blurrier as the film moves on. It aims to confuse, and it succeeds.

In all of this hoopla lies the most prominent flaw of this movie. In all of the loopy imagery and mind-bending scenery, there doesn’t seem to be much room left to actually tell the story. All of the sub-plots, the themes, the romantic interests, and even the big reveal seem to be tacked on as an afterthought to the scenery-jumping and the super-creepy china doll. Apparently, they didn’t leave enough room for character development either, as what were left with in the movie are two-dimensional heroes and villains with their sidekicks. Now, I’m all for constantly flamboyant imagery and trippy mind games, but those only go so far. This film only goes so much farther.

But I can’t say that it’s not entertaining. Like I just said, I’m all for flamboyance and trippiness, and this film is loaded with it. And, yes, like much anime, it’s very pretty. Also, I just can’t get enough of this.

The 24-bit eggplant will be analysed.

P.S.: I know it's so nerdy to complain about punctuation, but did the translators' exclaimation point button break at some point or something? What gives?

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Next, I listen to and write a review of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart in record time.

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