Saturday, June 30, 2007

You must wake up--Paprika

This one's for Matt, maybe B if she ever swings by and maybe Musing.

OMG! Paprika

Just saw it this afternoon--really glad we went to a theater. I've only ever seen Satoshi Kon's other works on the small screen.

For anyone else who cares, SK is another anime director (besides Hayao Miyazaki). I stumbled onto him quite by accident because his TV show Paranoia Agent was playing late at night. I would catch a few episodes and then miss some but I was very impressed. Then L'Arc (it all comes back to L'Arc, just deal with it) has a song called Perfect Blue and SK made a film called Perfect Blue that came out around the same time. I still think that Tetsu based his lyrics on the film, but I've found nothing to support that. Anyway, we requested Perfect Blue from Netflix, and we've been hooked. We quickly got Millennium Actress and then caught by chance, Tokyo Godfathers on TV.

With the exception of Tokyo Godfathers all of his films break the notion of reality. In Millennium Actress for instance we will think that we are watching a piece of the actress's life only to pull back and realize that it's a film set, or is it. In some ways Paprika is the most mind-bending, but in some ways I found it more straightforward than Perfect Blue or Millennium Actress. The subject this time is literally dreams. Scientists have developed a machine to record dreams. Not only that, but another user can actually enter the dreams of the subject and help them resolve issues. It is meant to be a tool for therapy, but three of the devices have been stolen. We wonder in and out of dreams accompanied by the sprite, Paprika, alter ego of Dr. Chiba, the therapist on the project.

Visually, well, what can I say. The animation is exquisite. Matt once mentioned that his characters look the most like real Japanese people and with a few exceptions I would say that's true. Where does the mad scientist in Japan come from? It's a trope of anime. A quirky cross between Elmer Fudd and Albert Einstein, always with glasses--sometimes no eyes, just glasses. Aside from that the people are, well, people. This is not always so in anime.
Beyond that I can't even say. Visually there were a lot of elements of Akira, but also of all the big anime, Evangelion, Princess Mononoke but again, I've never seen anything like the major dream elements--the parade of objects, Japanese, European. The detail. I will also say that he repeatedly touches on themes that, from my limited understanding are taboo in Japan. Homosexuality for instance, obesity, madness itself. In other films (less in this one) the homeless, the disenfranchised. Paranoia Agent was not shown on prime-time TV in Japan because of it's subject matter. This from a country where business men read Hentai (pornographic comics) on the train on their way to work.
What comes through loud and clear in all of his work is a dislike of repression--a need to face one's demons no matter what they are. As in Paranoia Agent repression has caused the subconscious to become manifest in the real world. And finally when all of the obvious suspects have been revealed it is our heroine herself who must face her own desires. Surprisingly the past often forgives us as well.
I'm babbling a bit. It's a movie I need to see again, and soon. Trust me I've said that of only a few films in my life.
I am crazy about the soundtrack by Susumu Hirasawa, same as Paranoia Agent

1 comment:

Dancing Man said...

I know you posted this a while ago, but just wanted to say, after finding it by accident (I've been looking for a translation of the lyrics of "Parade"), how much I agree with you! Glad you liked the film so much, and man, I just listen to the soundtrack over and over (not normal for me!) I think Kon's an absolute genius and a real standout in the anime field. Can't believe this film was shut out of even the nominees for best animated film of the academy awards!