Paprika (Director: Satoshi Kon, Japan, 2006): I’m not really a genuine otaku nor do I aspire to be, but I do have a little bit of experience with Japanese anime, including the films of Hiyao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro) and the excellent sci-fi series Ergo Proxy. So I don’t claim to know or understand all of the conventions of Japanese animation. With that disclaimer out of the way, I can honestly say that Paprika (or “Papurika” which is the Japanese title) is quite a trip. Like many anime, the plot is tricky, but the visuals are absolutely eye-popping. The fact that the film is based on a well-known and popular novel by Japanese sci-fi master Yasutaka Tsutsui led to high expectations among Japanese audiences, who have received the film enthusiastically.


The press kit synopsis: “Dr. Atsuko Chiba is a genius scientist by day, and a kick-ass dream warrior named PAPRIKA by night. In this psychedelic sci-fi adventure, it will take the skills of both women to save the world. 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.”

Paprika is like Dr. Chiba’s subconscious self, or her id, flirty and pixieish, but she is able to do things the uptight Dr. Chiba can’t do. It’s funny that later in the film, Paprika refers to herself as “the missing spice.” With the help of police detective Konakawa and the device’s inventor, the food-loving Dr. Tokita, this Spice Girl will make the world safe again.

Though the plot is almost ridiculously complex, it’s a very fun ride, just to see what the animators can come up with next. Some of the film’s most memorable images wouldn’t be out of place in the off-kilter world of videogame Katamari Damacy. Along with the visuals, the jaunty electronic score adds to the cool factor, making Paprika a sort of Spirited Away for grownups.

The film opens in limited release in Toronto on June 15th.

Official site for the film


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5 Responses to Paprika

  1. Shoeless Wayne Santos says:

    Any idea on what times and venues this will be showing in Toronto? Unfortunately the internet seems pretty sparse on hard details like that at the moment…

  2. James McNally says:

    I recommend in general, although it’s still showing “Summer 2007” for Paprika. The publicity agent for the film assures me it’s opening June 15 in Toronto and Vancouver, though I don’t know what cinemas it will be shown at.

  3. Shoeless Wayne Santos says:

    Thanks for the link, James. I only just moved back to Canada from a 10 year visit in Singapore a few months ago, so I’m still “getting my legs” as it were on the pop culture scene here again.

  4. James McNally says:

    Just confirmed that Paprika will be opening this Friday at the Scotiabank Theatre (formerly the Paramount) at Richmond and John. The distributor is Mongrel Media who are giving away tickets and other prizes on their site.

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