CJP - wrote on 10/10/08
Action: 3/3 + Comedy: 1/2 + Good vs Evil: 1/1 + Love/Sex: 1/1 + Special Effects: 1/1 + Plot: 1/1 + Music: 1/1 = 9/10 or 90%.
Paprika is Satoshi Kon's most polished work to date, though Perfect Blue will undoubtedly remain his most curious and disturbing analogy of blended realities. The animation stands at the forefront here with dreams able to manifest in the real world (thanks to superior technology falling into the wrong hands). Thus, the viewer gets a parade of wind-up robots, frog princes, rockets, Godzilla sized mothers, and a bevy of things that should not be, which put any hallucination dreamed up by Disney to shame. This is the surface of the film that many will write off as pure kinetic stream of thought.
Digging deeper we find Kon developing an enduring and genuine relationship between lovers though. Paprika is the super-agent of the dream world who flys and glides and takes down the baddies as any superheroine would (imagine Wonder Woman with a Green Lantern ring and a handgun). More fixed in reality are the scientists, the disillusioned detectives, and the overweight computer genuises- all of whom broadcast their fantasies for the world to see. All of these focus on Paprika as their savior, in many cases she is the only feminine presence they have, but she is not "real". When the real woman portraying her emerges she is not the fantasy they thought they could have. Her love that she ultimately longs to marry swings all the fantasies of the dream world on their head. We discover within Paprika that the greatest longings and desires in life are the desires that are sentient and that can be held. Here they are unique and special to each individual as their dreams are special to the individual fears and longings of each.
Not only is Paprika a competent love story and eye-feast, but it is pure escapism at it's highest level. It will be terribly under appreciated due to Kon's insistance to compare realities, but since when do realities require limitation or non-repetition? Perfect Blue presented the contrast of life vs pop-culture, Millenium Actress presented life vs cinema, and Paprika is the culmination of these and more. It takes on the entire plain of human existance. Most importantly, it is a testament to the importance of finding what makes one happy. Whether it is a dream or a real life thing both are tantamount to the love involved.