The director of Millennium Actress and the animation house behind Tokyo Grandfathers offer savory Japanese anime.


on May 25, 2007 by John P. McCarthy
Paprika is a slick, accessible and thoroughly entertaining piece of Japanese anime. The director of Millennium Actress and the animation house behind Tokyo Godfathers rework a science-fiction novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui. With this solid pedigree, the movie handles themes concerning cyber technology, dreaming and filmmaking (its theory, practice and tropes) with mischievous aplomb.

The title figure is the alter ego of a psychotherapist who works at an institute from which prototypes for a dream-recording machine are stolen. She must solve the mystery of who pilfered them. The why is obvious: The devices allow for one person's dream to be implanted in another's mind or for a person to actively enter someone else's dream. They also hold the potential for merging all dreams into a collective whole.

It's fun to watch characters flip out as they're possessed in this manner and to view the dreams themselves. The transitions are impeccable and the character-types colorful—among them, an obese programmer who invented the machines, the Luddite chairman of the institute who's wary of technology run amok, and a square-jawed police detective who, while helping save the day, discovers he loves going to the movies.
Distributor: Sony Classics
Voices: Megumi Hayashibara, Toru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Toru Furuya, Akio Ohtsuka and Koichi Yamadera
Director: Satoshi Kon
Screenwriters: Seishi Minakami and Satoshi Kon
Producers: Nuria Botelle and Jori Ballo
Genre: Animated sci-fi thriller; Japanese-language, subtitled
Rating: R for violent and sexual images
Running time: 90 min.
Release date: May 25, 2007 NY, June 1 LA
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