Film >> Satoshi Kon’s Paprika [Original Novel by Yatsutaka Tsutsui]

“He was invaded by a collective dream.”

–Dr. Atsuko Chiba

You should own this film as soon as possible.

After seeing it in theaters, I forgot how incredible this film is. Granted, I’m a sucker for surrealist humor, so my review will be biased… and biased heavily in its favor.

First off… look at this:

If this poster frightens you, perhaps you should look elsewhere for entertainment this evening (and no, not that kind of entertainment). The gist of the story is this: a group of psychotherapists-errant (my own neologism for… uh, therapists that go a-dreamtrotting through other people’s minds) have invented an ominous device with a rather unintimidating name–the DC Mini. One of the scientists, a Ms. Ats… Atsuko… Atsuko Chiba or Chiba Atsuko, whichever way the aficionados prefer.

In any case, the DC Mini has been purloined by a nefarious fiend that the majority of the cast is content to call a “dream terrorist.” Once a hardened policeman is drawn into this web of doppelgängers and deceit, you know it’s only a matter of time until all hell breaks loose and the worlds of the real and surreal collide (i.e., a parade of anthropomorphized flotsam and jetsam marching in time through what appears to be the Gobi Desert). Violent and sexual imagery crop up in this epic of the unconscious, but with nary a whiff of pandering fanservice to be found… Also, watch out for Himuro–he’ll getcha!

My one major quibble with this film was the denoument, at which point much of the action onscreen goes from being subversively brilliant to downright incomprehensible. Trust me on this one–I have quite a tolerance for the incomprehensible. For those of you who saw the preview, this is where the exploding heads filled with butterflies, short-circuiting robots and gigantic little girls over a partially demolished Tokyo comes in. Also, an unexpected romance blossoms for an effect which to me came off as almost absurdly forced…

The director and author of the original novel both have cameos as two placid bartenders… Susumu Hirasawa, the film’s insanely gifted composer, is no where to be seen–only heard. [The theme’s available here!]


Apparently the final line of the infamous “parade theme” of cast-off garbage translates to this:

The parade of lunacy is coming, and it is in your name!

Final Grade: A.