Paprika -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • MSRP: 38.96
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Paprika


By Bryce Coulter     January 29, 2008
Release Date: November 27, 2007

© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

What They Say
A group of brilliant scientists have developed a form of psychotherapy with the invention of a machine which enables a person to enter another's dreams. When the device is stolen by a “dream terrorist, it is up to Atsuko Chiba, a scientist under the code name PAPRIKA, to track down the apparatus and save the world from madness.

The Review!
Sweet dreams are made of these...

So many formats to choose from… This has to be one of the biggest multi-language releases that I have ever reviewed. One can definitely share this with people who are fluent in any of the prominently spoken foreign languages. For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in Japanese. We also sampled some of the English 5.1 soundtrack to get a glimpse of the dub cast. The Japanese 5.1 TrueHD sounded great coming through the standard TV speakers. Although, limited in its sound output, the TV speakers were able to provide a solid and rich sound. I’m sure that it will sound fantastic coming through a true HD audio system. The sound effects and musical score were fantastic. The English voice actors did a good job of portraying the Japanese cast. There were neither any drop outs nor any distortions. The audio for this release matches up excellently with the superb video quality in this Blu-ray release.

Originally in theaters during 2006, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and with a resolution of 1080p. The disc is encoded with the MPEG-2 codec on a dual layered disc. The colors look fantastic and are very vibrant. The animation is one of the best that I have viewed for Blu-ray. Animation sequences are fluid, free of break-up, has no visible blocking.

One annoying aspect about this release is that it is windowboxed, causing the image to not fully fill a HD TV screen. Essentially, Sony is compensating for overscan, which applies an extra image area around the four edges of a video image that is not normally seen by the viewer. This is something that is done for older non-HD TV sets. Newer HD TV’s do not need this and some actually have a setting that allows you to fill the screen, thus bypassing the overscanned video. Hopefully, someone at Sony will soon realize this at is a pain to have to reconfigure a HD TV to compensate for overscan, which is not used in HD TV’s.

Paprika comes in the standard Blu-ray case. The bizarre and busy cover art is incredibly difficult to look at. However, it fits the precedence for the film. The cover depicts -up of Paprika's face with her hair framing the image. Images of the various dream sequences from the move overlay the skin on her face. The hue and saturation of the images is lightened in order to not over shadow the outline of Parpika’s eyes and hair. The back cover contains several screen shots along with a brief summary of the numerous technical features and bonus features.

There are no film inserts included with this release, just a blue filtered image of Paprika on the left side with a Blu-ray advertisement logo saying “Experience More With Blu” on the right. This is disappointing in that the other Blu-ray release I have reviewed, Jin-Roh and Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, have come with a lot of extras. Sony should have put a bit more in this release.

The menu design for this release is fairly decent. The top level menu is contains some active movement, which features the often seen parade dream sequence from the movie. In addition, static images of Paprika in her different forms appear in the background. The music from the parade loops in the background and plays consistently when accessing each of the menu options. The navigation strip, along the bottom, provides quick access to each of the features. The menu options are easy to use and had quick response times. Overall, the disc menu is nicely put together and is one of the best Blu-ray menus for an anime release that I have reviewed.

The special features for this release are top-notch and very well done. This is the first release that I have seen that provides so many subtitles. The full length commentary by Satoshi Kon immerses the viewer into the creational aspects of the film and its production. It’s always interesting to get a glimpse of the director’s take on things, especially Kon.

Interestingly enough, “Tstutsui and Kon’s Paprika – A Making of Documentary” reveals many more details about the film and is a bit more lively in that involves the staff and the actual creation of the film. "A Conversation About the Dream" is a fascinating discussion with the voice actors, Kon, and the creator of the Paprika story, Yasutaka Tsutsui. It’s almost like watching a Japanese talk show. In fact, it’s down right entertaining. Kon is definitely a lot more lively and interesting as are the voice actors. The discussion of dreams is fun to watch. Of course, Tsutsui’s take on things is very interesting.

The "Art of Fantasy" segment provides glimpses in how into the backgrounds were created for the film. Here, more details about Paprika’s dream world are revealed as well as what went into making it feel and seem so life-like. The Dream CG World; A look at the cinematography and computer-generated world of Paprika with cinematographer Michiya Kato is a technical perspective on the CG that was involved and how it was used to make the dream world mesh with the hand-drawn art

The last three extras provide access to the parade, ruins, and the skin slitting scenes. These extras allow you to view a storyboard, look at the original drawings and the character paintings all together. Each is fairly short and is interesting to look at as each of the three segments animate simultaneously.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
Paprika somehow slipped by many anime fans last year. This may have been due to the fact that it was not heavily marketed, and it had a very dismal theatrical release. What a shame. If it had been given the same marketing treatment within the U.S. as it was internationally, I think many more people would have taken notice. This movie has received many accolades and is often compared in quality to Miyazaki's “Spirited Away”. Speaking of which, Paprika seems to blend the best artistic elements from Studio Ghibli along with a bit of sci-fi suspense often portrayed in “Ghost in the Shell.”

As stated earlier, Paprika is an anime that was adapted from Yasutaka Tsutsui’s about a female research psychologist involved in a project to develop a device that will permit therapists to help patients by entering their dreams. The story is set in the near future. In this near future, new psychotherapy treatment called PT has been invented. A device called the "DC Mini" allows psychologists to observe and participate in their patient’s dreams while exploring their unconscious thoughts.

Doctor Atsuko Chiba, begins illegally using the machine with her patients, and disguises her identity by using an alter-ego, Paprika. A persona she assumes in the dream world. The viewer experiences this firsthand as the movie opens with Paprika counseling Detective Konakawa Toshimi. A recent crime scene has caused Detective Toshimi to become victimized by a recurring dream, the incompleteness of which is a great source of personal anxiety for him.

As fully functioning prototypes, the DC Minis can easily allow someone to enter another person's dreams. The potential for good and malicious intent are unchecked. This is evident as Doctor Toratarō Shima, goes on a nonsensical tirade that nearly results in him jumping out of a window.

Dr. Shima’s dream is examined and here is where the infamous parade scene from Paprika debuts. The parade feels like being in another part of the spirit world in “Spirited Away”. The parade sequence is a massive conglomerate of animals, inanimate objects, dolls, instrument-playing animals, and various cultural icons. A mystery ensues as the Dr. Shima and Dr. Chiba try to connect what has happened and how Dr. Shima was so easily manipulated.

Doctor Kōsaku Tokita, a rather large if not gigantic man and co-creator of the DC Mini recognizes his recognizes his assistant, Kei Himuro, which confirms their suspicion that the theft was an inside job. Two more scientists fall victim to the DC Minis. This forces the Chairman of the company, who was against the project, to ban the use of the devices.

Paprika and Dr. Shima take matters into their own hands by pursuing Himuro. They soon discover that Himuro is nothing but an empty shell that is being controlled by someone. Paprika soon learns that everything is being manipulated by the company chairman. The Chairman claims that he is the "protector of the dreamworld", guarding this last haven against the inhumane horrors of reality and technology. It is at this point where the movie begins to take on a “Ghost in a Shell” type theme. In retrospect, this part moves rather fast, leaving the viewer a bit confused about what is occurring. This is definitely a cerebral thinking point that the viewer will ponder long after the credits roll.

Paprika soon discovers that the Chairman is not just one person, but two. Doctor Morio Osanai, agreed to give the Chairman his body and become the Chairman's lackey as long as he got to have equal powers over his own dreams. With the bad guy or bad guys finally exposed, can Paprika save Tokita, Detective Toshimi, and herself?

Ending rather abruptly, Paprika leaves one wanting a little more about the formation of the company and what really drove the Chairman to pursue the relationship he made Doctor Morio Osanai. Bad guys need to have their motives and personas just as clearly developed as the good guys. To full appreciate Paprika, one may wish to give it an additional viewing just to catch what might have been missed in the latter half of the movie.

Paprika is an experience the anime viewer will not soon forget. The rich coloration, constant movement and playful choreography provide a vivid background to the artful plot and characterization. The story provides the viewer with more than just eye candy. The bold artistry occasionally contrasts against subtle interactions between characters. This blend, like the mixing of spices by a master chef, gives complete pleasure to the viewing palate. With the story providing a buffet of genres (suspense, action, humor and romance), there is something to please almost any taste. Highly recommended.

Japanese 5.1 TrueHD Language, English 5.1 TrueHD Language,Chinese (Cantonese) 5.1 Language,Chinese (Mandarin -Taiwan) 5.1 Language,French (Parisian) 5.1 Language,Portuguese (Brazil) 5.1 Language,Spanish (Latin Am) 5.1 Language,Thai 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Tsutsui and Kon's Paprika: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Paprika with novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui and director Satoshi Kon,A Conversation about The Dream: Director Satoshi Kon novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui and voice actors Megumi Hayashibara and Toru Furuya talk about production of Paprika
,The Art of Fantasy: A look at the art direction with Art Director Nobutaka Ike
,The Dream CG World; A look at the cinematography and computer-generated world of Paprika with cinematographer Michiya Kato

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.


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