Warning: this movie does have mild nudity and references to sexual desires, so if that is not your thing, this movie may not be for you.

Released in 2006, “Paprika” is a psychological sci-fi thriller written by Satoshi Kon and Seishi Minakami and directed by Satoshi Kon. It is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Yasutaka TsutsuiSony Pictures Animation Japan and Madhouse, a Japanese animation studio, produced the film together. The movie won several awards during its initial release and has become somewhat of a cult classic. “Paprika” is the fourth and last feature film Satoshi Kon worked on, as he died in 2010.

Paprika” focuses on the story of four characters: Chiba AtsukoPaprika (the titular character), Konakawa Toshimi, and Tokita Kosaku. The plot centers around a device called the “DC Mini”, which is used to scour someone’s dreams. Atsuko Chiba (voiced by Hayashibara Megumi) and Kosaku Tokita (voiced by Furuya Toru) have been working for years to develop the DC Mini in hopes that it could be used to help patients find the root of their psychological disorders and cure them. However, the DC Mini is quite powerful, and in the wrong hands it could become a huge threat to the rest of society as it can cause mental breakdowns and destroy someone’s mind. Which is exactly what happens. The device is stolen early on in the movie, and thus the adventure begins to find out who did it. With the help of Paprika (also voiced by Hayashibara Megumi), the main characters are able to investigate.

The storytelling style mixed with the animation gave the movie a bit of a chilling vibe. The animation, down to the characters’ small expressions, was fitting for their personalities. For a daring concept such as portraying someone’s dreams and mental breakdowns, the animation and art was, in my personal opinion, pretty astounding. All the characters have their own unique images and the animation is sleek, fluid, and overall pretty good for a movie made 13 years ago. The storytelling comes across as confusing and all over the place for no reason, but it all comes together by the end of the movie and begins to make sense. The sense of not knowing whether or not something is a dream during parts of the movie is almost haunting; you almost can’t tell in some scenes until something very weird happens or the scene cuts to real life. If you have ever seen Christopher Nolan’s “Inception“, they have a common theme of dream related technology. Several critics have even pointed out many key points that both movies share in the plot. However, as I’ve seen both, I think “Paprika“, with an animation style, is better equipped to tell its story than “Inception“’s live action take.

The ending was quite a happy one. I won’t go too much into spoilers, but it was almost like everyone went back to real life before the villains tried to ruin it, but with minor changes. After finishing the film, I have to say it is probably one of the weirdest I’ve seen in my life, second only to “Perfect Blue“. It’s weird and off the wall, but not quite at the level of the movie I’m referencing. “Paprika” isn’t the kind of movie that would leave you shaking in your boots by the conclusion, but it has just enough of a scare factor that even those who don’t enjoy the horror genre can most likely enjoy it with the lights off, late at night.

Story: 9.5/10
Characters: 8/10
Music: 8.5/10
Animation: 9/10