Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paprika Review (English)

And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way... Let’s move on.

Paprika is a 90 minute movie from Satoshi Kon and Studio Madhouse (Guy loves his Madhouse lol.... Ok, I’ll go die in a corner). The Screenplay by Kon and Seishi Minakami is based on the novel of the same name by Yasutaka Tsutsui. It premired at the Venice International Film Festival in September 2006, and the went to New York Film Festival and the Tokyo International Film Festival in the coming months. It was released in the states by Sony Pictures.

This is the last time I do ACID before bed...
In the near future, a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called PT has been invented. Through a device called the "DC Mini" it is able to act as a "dream detective" to enter into people's dreams and explore their unconscious thoughts. Before the government can pass a bill authorizing the use of such advanced psychiatric technology, one of the prototypes is stolen, sending the research facility into an uproar. In the wrong hands, the potential misuse of the device could be devastating, allowing the user to completely annihilate a dreamer's personality while they are asleep. Renowned scientist, Dr. Atsuko Chiba, enters the dream world under her exotic alter-ego, code name "PAPRIKA," in an attempt to discover who is behind the plot to undermine the new invention.

This film has the smoothest animation that I’ve seen as of late, along with bright colors and amazing music. You can really tell that this movie is more of the digital art work rather then the hand drawn work from earlier on. I know Tokyo Godfathers is a digital work too, but with Paprika you can just flat out tell. With high quality art style in a film about dreams, you know you’re in for some flat out crazy stuff. That was probably the main goal, visual wise, for the film. Bottom line. It looks awesome! Madhouse always is awesome.

The story is a bit off. It’s, mostly, because some of the reasonings for things are just way to simple or convoluted to keep up with. Kind of like a throw away line. And then there are small things that aren’t quite explained. Like how did Chiba create Paprika? How did Tokita’s assistant REALLY get caught up in all this? Things like that. But I can let them slide because of the entertainment value of the film and story. I also liked the side story with the Detective, but would have loved for it end on a better note then the ghost of his old friend explaining things to him in under a minute. This isn’t quite Kon’s fault here. Like I mentioned above, Paprika is based on a novel. And, when making a novel into a movie, things get cut. You know, as you do. But the majority of the story certainly seems intact.

You look tasty...
You, honestly, don’t get much development from most of the characters. Only two get major development throughout the movie, Chiba and the Detective. With Chiba, she doesn’t get much of anything, really. The biggest thing I remember her getting is that she had a little crush on Tokita, and not much else. As for the Detective, we get to follow his struggles with his anxiety and his past. Which makes for a very relatable character. He’s, probably, the most interesting person in the entire film. Though Paprika’s personality is a lot of fun to watch on screen. And the interaction between characters is great to watch too.

The dub was a fun one, I’m not gonna lie, but it has a few problems. Specifically Paprika herself. I get that Sony wanted to make Paprika and Chiba the same voice actor, but Paprika seems kind of off to me. Cindy Robinson’s (Moribito) portrayal of Chiba is fun, but I can’t quite place what makes me feel so off about Paprika. Maybe it’s cause they voice was too different from Chiba’s that it was hard to attach to. If it was just a slight variation of Chiba’s then it would be fine, but it sounds completely different. Most likely case is they wanted to make Paprika a completely different person. If you wanna go down that route, get another voice actress for the role. They did it with the French Dub. Anywho, the rest of the cast was interesting to listen to. George C. Cole (Last Exile), Brain Beacock (Digimon Tamers), David Lodge (Bleach), Doug Erholtz (Rave Master), and Yuri Lowenthal (Durarara!!) make an interesting mix of male voices for the film. Especially Lownthal as Tokita. Who knew a guy, who voices Sasuke, would be amazing as a larger man? Oh! A fun fact for you all! Did you know that in the Japanese dub of Paprika, Satoshi Kon and author Yasutaka Tsutsui played roles in the film? Remember those bartenders of Radio Lounge? You’re welcome.

Oh hi Tokyo Godfathers!
At the end of the dream, Paprika is a visual wonder that will leave the audience with their minds, almost, blown. The story leaves you with a couple questions, at most, while the characters are just full of variety, personality wise that you can’t help but relate to one of them. As the final work of Satoshi Kon, it’s not the strongest of his works, but it’s certainly one of the most fun ones. I only hope that, once it’s finished, The Dreaming Machine will truly out shine all his works and showcase Kon as a wonderful director and a wonderful person.

Well, folks, that’s it for Kon Movie month. Thanks for joining in each week for some awesome movies. Next time, we're going for a ride. Until then, otaku on my friends!

So, to everyone who stuck with me through this long document, thank you. 
With my heart full of gratitude for everything good in the world, I'll put down my pen.

Now excuse me, I have to go.
Satoshi Kon


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