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Literature: Paprika

Paprika is a book written by Yasutaka Tsutsui, its chapters serialized between 1991 and 1993. It was later adapted into a 2006 anime film by Satoshi Kon, director of Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress, and Paranoia Agent. This article mainly covers the latter.

Twenty Minutes into the Future, scientists have created a device called the "DC" that allows people to go into other people's dreams and record them. One of these people is the titular Paprika, a colorful and perky young dream therapist. She's the dream avatar of Chiba, one of the scientists involved in the creation of the DC. Things start to go wrong when prototypes of the DC-Mini, a portable version of the DC machine, go missing; the prototypes are missing a vital piece of programming which, basically, protects DC-Mini users' minds from being hacked.

Things get even more dangerous when it's discovered that the thieves are using the megalomaniac dream of an insane person as a Weapon of Mass Destruction. People who used the DC machines frequently in the past, such as Dr. Chiba, are at risk for being "infected" by the mad dream, and it's up to Chiba/Paprika, the DC's naive yet brilliant creator Tokita, and one stressed-out detective to save the day before reality gets invaded by the unstable Dream Land. The result is a beautiful, intelligent and often quite light-hearted film (though there are some heavy adult themes as well), with a very, very high Holy Shit Quotient.

This movie is, more or less, a voice actor reunion for Ghost in the Shell and/or Neon Genesis Evangelion, by the way. In particular, the title character is voiced by Megumi Hayashibara.

This film contains examples of:

  • Amusement Park of Doom
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The DC machines.
  • Attempted Rape: Or actual rape, depending on your definition. In either interpretation, Chiba's body and mind both get violated.
  • Author Tract: Subtly. Watch carefully during the parade when it merges with reality. Businessmen laughing as they jump off buildings? People transforming into religious symbols? Men with mobile phones for heads taking pictures up the skirts of a group of girls with phones for heads? (That last one in particular, seeing as Kon had previously criticized pedophilia.)
  • Badass Mustache: Konakawa has a particularly magnificent one.
  • Bad Boss / Mean Boss: You'd think the Chairman for a company that creates Applied Phlebotinum would be a little more, you know, enthusiastic about technology.
    • It's implied later on that the sole reason he supported it was to be able to walk again by placing his consciousness into a younger host body, such as Osanai's.
  • Bald of Evil: The Chairman.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The main female lead has nipples but is drawn without genitalia or pubic hair.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted by Tokita. Possibly the nicest person in the movie, who is also very overweight.
    • Despite his morbid obesity, Tokita's appearance has baby-like innocence to it — he's no Gonk by any means.
    • Also subverted by Osanai
  • Big Eater: Dr. Tokita.
  • Big "Shut Up!": Osanai does four big shut ups to Paprika when the latter accuses him of being "the Chairman's pet dog" and of once being "Himuro's idol".
  • Body Horror: What Osanai does to Paprika.
  • Bond One-Liner: Konakawa after shooting Osanai in the English dub, which makes the parody of cliched movie endings even more hilariously biting. "Lights out," indeed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Himuro, only because we only see him after he's been consumed by the mad dream.
    • Heck, anyone who has been consumed by the dream for that matter.
  • Combat Tentacles: The bad guy has an affinity for trees and uses tentacular tree roots to attack Paprika more than once.
  • Creator Cameo: Satoshi Kon and Yasutaka Tsutsui, the movie director and author of the original Paprika novel, respectively, play the part of the bartenders in Paprika's bar. Even the other voice actors of the movie didn't know this until the premiere when they saw their names in the program.
  • Creepy Doll: If you thought large objects attacking buildings were not scary these days, you obviously haven't seen this film yet. That laughing...
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: A cartoon frog rolls down stairs, then begins drumming the second his feet hit the floor. It sounds funny, but in context, it's a G-rated terror.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Dr. Chiba, in spades.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Osanai. He's obsessed with Chiba and shares a bed with the Chairman; there's also an off-hand mention that he "sold his body" to Himuro in order to gain access to the DC Minis.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Possibly the Chairman, though his attachment to Osanai seems more a master/slave thing than a sexual or romantic relationship. Also possibly Himuro, who seems to have fetishized Osanai — we briefly see dirty magazines in his apartment with a younger Osanai on the cover, and his dreamscape features a towering statue of Osanai as a Greek god.
  • Deranged Animation: Particularly those scenes where everything... for lack of a better word, melts. Justified in that a lot of the movie takes place in dreams.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Himuro.
  • Double Agent: Osanai, who turns out to be the Chairman's lackey
  • Dream Tropes
  • Dysfunction Junction: Done very well. The characters may act like normal people, but if you think about it, they've all had problems, ranging from prior depression to split personalities to completely delusional.
  • Emotionless Girl: Chiba, at times.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Seijiro Inui, Chairman of the Institute of Psychiatric Research. He's not really called just "The Chairman".
  • Evil Cripple: The Chairman.
  • False Camera Effects: The movie could be done in live-action; Detective Konakawa explains camera angles to Paprika.
  • For Science!: Tokita's reason for creating a technology for sharing dreams essentially boils down to "Hey, wouldn't it be awesome?"
  • Foreshadowing: Loaded with it. Especially crucial in making the revelation of Chiba's love for Tokita not seem out of the blue. She never goes through the typical tropes that would indicate she liked him that are common in anime such as the Luminescent Blush or He Is Not My Boyfriend, but there are three crucial things that lead up to it like the fact that she seems a wee bit obsessed with him at times, and that her avatar looks like the way a child of her and Tokita would look and when she talks with Osanai outside of the office (telling him she suspects Himuro is not the culprit but the victim, and that someone else on the inside is involved). Also, see Chiba's reaction when Konakawa pays more attention to her than to Tokita when Tokita is talking enthusiastically about how he invented the DC Mini. Her harsh criticism of his childishness and comments about his weight and overeating are exaggerated exactly because she's in denial about being really attracted to him, but she isn't prepared to admit it to herself until the end of the movie when Paprika comments how Chiba is finally being true to herself by going after Tokita above all else.
  • First Guy Wins: Played with Konakawa is the first male that Paprika, Chiba's avatar, is seen interacting with, but it's Tokita who we first see her interact with as her real self. That's probably pretty meaningful.
  • Freud Was Right: Invoked. The sheer amount of imagery available to prove this in the movie would be enough to satisfy any Psychiatry fan.
  • Genius Ditz: Tokita
  • Gentle Giant: Tokita
  • Girly Run: She's even the page image!
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The Chairman walks?
  • A God Am I: The Chairman.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • "It's the greatest showtime!"
    • "Parade" has a good deal of English.
      Kore ga liberty
      Utopia no parody
  • Green Thumb: The Chairman.
  • Heroic Resolve: Chiba.
  • Humongous Mecha: Tokita's dream avatar is a giant toy robot.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Tokita and Dr. Chiba.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chiba, to a degree.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: A key part of the premise.
  • Kuudere: Chiba, again.
  • The Lab Rat(s): Unfortunately for them, they get dispatched early on.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Paprika, in a more literal sense than most.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Done exceptionally well in a later scene, serving as a sign that everything isn't over yet.
  • Meaningful Name: Paprika to Robo-Tokita, she's there to spice up your life!
  • Medium Awareness: Detective Konakawa is a film buff, and in his dreams he's aware of the 180-degree rule and panfocus.
  • Memetic Mutation: The parade dream is an in-universe example of a meme getting literally out of control.
  • Mind Rape: Paprika gets pinned to a table like a butterfly and then painfully has her skin removed, revealing a naked Dr. Chiba. Made creepier by Osanai's dialogue. *shudder*
  • Mind Screw: For both the people in the movie and the audience.
    • Specifically when Paprika finds out that the Chairman is the real culprit behind everything going on. She yells to be woken up and returns to reality as Chiba. Chiba then goes to confront the Chairman. But during the conversation, she realizes that she is still in the dream and has fallen right into the Chairman's trap.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Dr. Torataro Shima is noticeably shorter than most of the other characters.
  • My Card: Used to start the opening credits; ends up being a plot point later on.
    • At one point, Paprika is in trouble, and sees herself from five minutes earlier in the dream and yells to her own past self to run away. It's not time travel, just dream logic. Time is not linear in dreams!
  • Naughty by Night: Straight-laced Chiba becomes a lot more flirty and extroverted when she turns into Paprika.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Averted. After the dream ends, there's still a smoldering crater in the middle of Tokyo.
  • Obake: The mad dream parade is a reference to the Japanese "Demon Parade".
  • Panty Shot: The sequence with Paprika as a pixie has plenty of these, and the ending dream sequence has a number of people with mobile phones for heads taking pictures up the skirts of a group of girls with phones for heads. Yeah...
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: The last battle.
  • Plucky Girl: Paprika.
  • Posthumous Character: Himuro, sort of. He remains alive in a vegetative state, but even before the movie begins he'd already become an "empty shell" used by the Chairman as a puppet. Everything we know about who he was is revealed through Tokita and Chiba's dialog.
  • Psycho Supporter: Not only two of Dr. Chiba's colleagues, but the Chairman of the company she works for as well.
  • Pretty Butterflies: A constant element of the parade. They're really a manifestation of Osanai within the dream.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Paprika and Dr. Chiba respectively.
  • The Renfield: Osanai, who goes so far as to share a bed with and pimp himself out for the Chairman.
  • Rocket Ride: The Opening Credits
  • Room Full of Crazy: When investigating the apartment of Himuro, the suspected dream terrorist, they find it completely stuffed with robotic dolls. Tokita's photograph has the face cut out and pasted on a toy robot holding up a sign saying "Help Me!" Osanai passes by a shelf of magazines full of erotic male imagery that happen to resemble him.
  • Ruleof Cool: The title sequence.
  • Save Both Worlds: Real Life and Dream Land.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly
  • Science Is Bad: The Chairman keeps saying this again and again. It's far from the message of the film, though; without science, we wouldn't be able to appreciate all the awesome and strange things in the universe, would we?
  • Superpowered Alter Ego: Paprika to Dr. Chiba.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Posters for Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers are visible at a movie theater.
    • Paprika skipping around during the opening is uncomfortably reminiscent of Perfect Blue.
    • The Bartenders' banner that is used to ensnare Tokita is also not unlike the banner in Tokyo Godfathers.
    • When Konakawa explains filmmaking techniques to Paprika, he's wearing Akira Kurosawa's trademark cap and sunglasses.
    • The robots of the theme park sign bear a great resemblance to the robots in Satoshi Kon's film The Dream Machine.
    • There are a number of movie references in Konakawa's dream. The circus is a reference to The Greatest Show On Earth (probably; there's also a movie poster of the film visible in another sequence), while the scenes through which he runs afterward resemble Tarzan, From Russia with Love, and Roman Holiday.
    • Paprika was dressed at one point as the Monkey King is often depicted, complete with Flying On A Cloud.
    • A creepy doll from Monster appears as part of the parade and talks a bit to Paprika; the same studio had done the manga's anime adaptation.
    • Three Sentai figures can been seen in Himuro's apartment for a split second.
    • Paprika is swallowed by an evil whale, and pops out of its blowhole dressed as Pinocchio.
    • Paprika is flying on a cloud with a staff in her hand, just like Son Goku in Dragon Ball.
    • The backround music where Konakawa is running from Osanai is a remixed version of Paranoia Agent's opening theme.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Dr. Osanai towards Chiba.
  • Stealth Pun: The CHAIR-man. Also, Paprika calling Osanai the Chairman's "Legman"
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Osanai and Paprika again. Also, the businessmen when the dream world and the real world merge.
  • Stock Footage: Some sequences of the parade. It would be a surprise if it wasn't extremely expensive to animate.
  • Talkative Loon: Those infected by the parade dream start babbling incoherently. Of course, then you see it, and those ramblings are more-or-less accurate...
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Overlapping with What the Hell, Hero? and Poor Communication Kills. Chiba gives one to Tokita calling him out on his immaturity and only doing what he wants instead of what needs to be done. This unfortunately leads Tokita to go into Himuro's dream to figure his motive for stealing the DC Mini. It doesn't go well.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: Actually Tokyo dream infestation and giant naked people.
  • Transformation Sequence: A somewhat subtle one. As Chiba sets out to deal with the dream incursion into the real world, she's seen through a series of windows. For the first few, she's seen running normally with her arms pumping, the next few show her running like Paprika does with her arms moving differently, and then you see Paprika running by.
  • Tulpa: Paprika
  • Twitchy Eye: Konakawa
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Tokita and Chiba.
  • Vocaloid: English Vocaloid Lola was used by Susumu Hirasawa to create a lot of the soundtrack, most noticeably in "Medtiational Field."
  • Voice of the Legion: If you're thinking, "Why has 'so many people saying the same thing at once' never sounded so scary before?", that's because in Paprika, they use the same pitch changes and speak at EXACTLY the same time, creating an effect that's pretty unnerving.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Osanai does this to Paprika.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Chairman.
  • World Gone Mad: After a while, Tokyo more or less becomes a warped dream reality, thankfully Paprika stops the whole disaster before it goes any further.
  • The World Tree: Used as a dream metaphor for the wheelchair-bound Chairman.
  • Yandere: Osanai
  • Youthful Freckles: Paprika has some across her cheeks.

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai!Creator/AniplexPersona 4: The Animation
OneoutsCreator/MadhouseParadise Kiss
Ousama GameJapanese LiteratureThe Pillow Book
The PactLiterature of the 1990sParable of the Sower
Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!SeinenParanoia Agent
Pan's LabyrinthFilms of 2005 - 2009 Pathogen
PapermanAnimated FilmsPeanuts
Ouran High School Host ClubAnime of the 2000sProject Blue Earth SOS
Papillon RoseAnimeParadise Kiss
The Palm Wine DrinkardFantasy LiteratureThe Parasol Protectorate

alternative title(s): Paprika; Paprika
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