Well, to any of my fellow Canadians, i hope you enjoyed the long weekend. For those who don't know, this weekend was Victoria Day weekend, therefore i didn't have to work today. Thus, i've been drinking like no tomorrow since Friday night. As much fun as I had, it wasn't purdy (having puked twice). Heh, might go to the hospital tomorrow to check my liver X( :P. Thankfully, my lady friend took care of me, but she wasn't too impressed. Of course, i'll make it up to her...heehee.
Anyways, I just want to leave my impressions with a recent anime dvd-screener i watched last week. And that anime movie is of course, Paprika. Some may know that the movie is getting a Stateside premiere this weekend. So, you can say that this post is to hype it up. The following will contain SPOILERS, so if you don't want your experience totally ruined, don't read any further.
When Paprika was first announced, i was definitely hyped to see. Being a movie buff and anime geek, i couldn't wait to get my eyeballs on Satoshi Kon's latest. Satoshi Kon is my undoubtedly my fave anime director, simply cuz his works fuck w/ your mind. I love movies that fuck w/ my mind and makes you think. Charlie Kaufman movies is a good example. I can't wait for his directorial debut w/ Synecdoche!! So, like most of Kon's works, you know what you're gonna get.
Like his works before (save Tokyo Godfathers), Paprika's story always mixes reality w/ fantasy and making the characters within move back and forth between them. While Paprika isn't so much of a mindfuck as the great Perfect Blue (which i consider to be still his greatest work), it's still good shit.
As always, the production values are gorgeous, and mainstay Madhouse delivers in the animation department once again. While it's not the best 2D animated movie or tries to push the medium (it looks about on par w/ Tokyo Godfathers, a movie made 3 years prior to Paprika), it does the job. Though i did notice one or two recycled scenes...WTF.
The voice actors do a splendid job as they're mostly well known seiyuus. Though the performance was great, they were not much of a challenge or what you didn't expect from most of the actors. There will be 4 of main actors that I want to note.
First, Megumi Hayashibara does performs her role of Paprika and Atsuko Chiba w/ ease. It won't be anything special for fans of her, but her voice is always a delight to listen to IMO. Her Atsuko was meh, simply cuz the character itself is sorta boring. It is when she's playing as Paprika, that'll make you love Hayashibara all over again.
Akio Otsuka as always, is a good choice for burly manly roles. Doesn't do what he hasn't done perform but gives you the essence of Konakawa almost perfectly. He always reminds me of Satoshi Kon in real life due to their appearances :P.
It's been a while since i've seen an anime w/ Tohru Furuya and Paprika presents a nice, different role from what he usually plays. His character, Tokita is the cliched ugly-fat but nice guy. And his voice does make you want to root for him sometimes. Other than that, i'm still reminded of Amuro & Mamoru.
Last one is Kouichi Yamadera. Every role this guy delivers in spades. His role of Osanai is probably the best in the movie cuz it's so varied and all the expressions he had to make. His girly scream is fucking funny and awesome.
The music. AWESOME. Having listened to it constantly back in Nov/Dec. it's another great one from Hirasawa Susumu. Though, it does contain some of his usual style, you can't help but to be captivated by his music and especially his very recognizable voice. Though all his music and vocals sound similar to most of his works ('cept for Orgun, which was a bit too slow), Paprika's music and vocals sound most similar to Millenium Actress as it contains that fast paced, techno but slightly hauntish tune, if you get my drift. Either way, i luv it.
While the content of Paprika is good, it certaintly wasn't Kon's best effort at bringing Tsutsui Yasutaka's (Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo) story to life. First, I must say that once again, the opening credits is awesome and really hypes you up to see the movie as "Nigeru Mono" is played in the background. It is so cleverly presented that one who enjoys films and animation will appreciate it to a very high degree. Though Paprika brings the return of Kon's style of mixing reality and fantasy, it felt a little forced and incoherent at some points. The seesaw of reality and fantasy didn't flow as well as it did w/ Perfect Blue and especially Millenium Actress (which did a superb job as it was very heavy w/ that style). The ethics of invading one's dream or the justification of invading one's dream sounded a little dumb and confusing (The DC Mini device is fucked up). I felt it tried to be smart w/ it's reasoning when it didn't need to be. Rather than sounding smart, it came off kind of stupid. The best moments for me was the character development of Konakawa. His character is the most interesting as it brings a level of depth you'd see in most dramas. The others are a snore, and some would probably even hate Atsuko. The ending was good but not perfect. I loved the resolve of Konakawa and the final scene w/ him buying a movie ticket but the announcement of Atsuko changing her name to Tokita felt a little too forced to make it happy or Hollywood-ish. Though you know they end up together, their chemistry wasn't that great. While Atsuko realized her love for Tokita, he never really expressed it in the same manner. Even though it was indicated that he liked her, it was shown as if he liked her as a sister or respected her as colleague and friend. it was a simple fondness for her. Nothing truly deeper than that.
Of his 4 movies, this one is considered his weakest IMO. Some would probably say that Tokyo Godfathers was his weakest, well it was until Paprika. Though TG didn't offer his usual style of fuckness, it did offer good characters and a fun adventure. Perfect Blue and Sennen Joyu offered a kickass story, style and awesome characters and remains the pinnacle of his movie works. Paprika, however fails to fall short on all those accounts. Though Paprika is by no means bad, I just hope his 5th movie will be good enough to surpass one his previous works accoring to my rankings. As it currently stands on my record, PB = Best (1st movie), SJ/MA = 2nd (2nd movie), TG = 3rd place (3rd movie) and now Paprika. So, it's going downhill right now. Anyways, Is Paprika worth your money to see and buy? I'd say a hearty yes, if you're a Kon fan or not, you'll simply enjoy this movie despite his meh plot and weirdness. You'll also love the music. The DVD (SE)/BD comes out this week in JPN. It's been rumoured that the French DVD (which comes out June 20) contains Eng. subtitles. However, it's not fully confirmed, so don't go making preorders yet. The French also get a Super-Box edition that contains a box (not as good looking as the JPN one), 760 page booklet and all the same goodies as the Japanese Special Edition. The French SE costs 49,99 euro. So if it is indeed confirmed that the french dvds contain english subs, then you're better off getting that to save some cash. The French BR also comes out on 20th of June. As for NA, it's fall time for us and who knows if we'll get the same treatment. We probably will after being treated w/ a Steamboy Gift set and a much later FFVII Advent Children LE Collector's Set.
The obligatory Kon fanservice for most of his works:
why is there fanservice? just pervy nature of JPN i guess :P. Here's some more fanservicey pics but this time all links are NOT SAFE FOR WORK: 1, 2 and a 3.
Enjoy Paprika ;).