PAPRIKA is the latest anime from writer-director Satoshi Kon. Adapted from the futuristic sci-fi thriller about a laboratory that is developing an experimental treatment for psychiatric patients. The "DC MINI" allows a doctor to enter into the dreams of another person with the idea of better identifying the patient's problems.
The film opens with a set piece that jumps from a circus setting to an homage to Tarzan to a film noir to a corridor where a detective is investigating a murder. The patient is Detective Konakawa (Akio Ohtsuka) who is struggling with a particular difficult case. Assisting him in his dreams is the title character, a spunky, red-haired teenager who is the alter ego for the older, buttoned down doctor Atsuko Chiba (Megumi Hayashibara).
When she returns to the lab after her meeting with the policeman, Dr. Chiba learns that one of the prototypes of the device is missing. Soon, doctors and patients are saying and doing crazy things because they are being influenced by the "dream terrorist."
It is up to Dr. Chiba, the "DC MINI"'s creator, the oversized Tokita (Toru Furuya) and the elfin lab chief Torataro Shima (Katsunosuke Hori) to track down the culprits and save the day.
Kon utilizes the fluidity between the worlds to create a mesmerizing and magical dreamscape of images from a parade led by appliances to a stoic doll to a large-scale robot. Eventually there's a battle for the very existence of Tokyo that is breathtaking to see. (In some ways, this movie is a companion piece to Richard Linklater's lucid dreaming opus WAKING LIFE only even stranger.)
PAPRIKA adds quite a dash of spice to the anime genre and offers a fun ride. It may not be on par with Kon's masterful MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, but it definitely is worth checking out.