25 Days of Anime - #3: Paprika

An adventure into the realm of dreams and an exploration of the ways in which humans choose to respond to their dreams, Paprika is a wildly original and wonderfully creative film. The plot follows Dr. Chiba Atsuko and her fellow scientists who have developed a device known as the DC Mini, which is meant to aid dream therapy. The intent is that final production models of this device will have security features that would prevent them from being misused - that way, no one could tamper with patients' minds. However, one such device goes missing before it is fully equipped with these security features, and certain individuals begin to act strangely, putting themselves in danger.

While Dr. Chiba Atsuko does her best to uncover leads to who might have stolen the DC Mini and what they intend to do with it in the real world, her alter ego Paprika covers the front of the dream world. Paprika is not required to play by any rules, though both she and Atsuko recognize the importance of handling their presence in other's dreams with the utmost care. Though Paprika can dig for clues by breaking through folds in the dreamscape and can outrun danger by changing her physical form, the individuals whole stole the DC Mini are also tapped into the dream world and are equally capable of adapting on the fly.

What makes the delivery of Paprika's story so entertaining is also what makes it so intense and cleverly scripted. While Paprika and Dr. Atsuko are technically the same person, they could not be more different. Dr. Atsuko is the methodical and professional side, putting her work first and chiding her colleague/eventual love interest Kosuka Tokita for his sometimes childish behavior. Meanwhile, Paprika dares to be bold in her exploration of the many planes of the dreamscape. The two disagree at how to tackle the series of events, and present a highly amusing back-and-forth decision-making process of one inner psyche. The film simultaneously incorporates something not often presented in similarly-themed works - having elements of the dream world bleed over into reality, and forcing both characters and viewers to question where they are at key points in the story.

Paprika is a spectacle to behold, and is a standout anime film. Satoshi Kon's creativity is overflowing through one of the most colorful worlds ever envisioned in animated entertainment. Paprika is a film that perfectly balances a modern day detective case and one awesome-scaled adventure, elements that parallel Dr. Atsuko and Paprika respectively.

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