Paprika

paprika

 

 

Every now and then an anime comes along that makes me sit up and think “This is it. This is why I love anime.”

Paprika is one of those anime. Directed by Satoshi Kon, who also worked on Tokyo Godfathers and the award-winning anime Millenium Actress, this story focuses on a team of scientists who created the device, the DC Mini, which allows a person to enter another’s dreams. This device was being used for psychiatric therapy, but when it is stolen the team fear the damage that could be done.
Leading the team to recover the device is Dr Atsuko Chiba, a cool and calm scientist who has to turn to her bouncy dream alter ego, Paprika, to save the day.

 

Paprika takes talking to yourself to a whole new level
Paprika takes talking to yourself to a whole new level

 

Paprika fully immerses herself in the dream world, navigating the landscape with a series of colourful personas such as fairy, gryphon, and mermaid. The two women work so differently it is at times hard to remember they are the same person, especially when they interact with each other and argue about how to proceed. While Paprika seems to be the heart to Chiba’s rational head, by the climax of the anime things have changed with a gentle emotional resolution that neatly balances out the ongoing craziness that has made up the majority of the film.

The sheer joy of Paprika is its vibrancy. With rich visuals and a lively soundtrack, through symbolism and sound this anime deftly portrays the nature of dreams and how they reflect our subconscious. It cleverly weaves in objects from the character’s lives which later emerge in the dream world, impressively blurring the lines between our perception of reality and dreams. Paprika presents us with the unbidden joy, the confusion and the dark terror that our minds produce when our thoughts are manifested.

Paprika would be ideal to show someone who is fairly new to anime, as its scope of story, visuals and musical background really encapsulates what anime at its very best is capable of. Be warned though – this is an anime that requires your full and complete attention, and even then you might need to watch it again to catch things you missed or to fully make sense of the unfolding events.

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The Time of Eve

In Rikuo’s world, robots are commonplace, and “houseroids” – androids who serve families at home, are also coming into everyday use. Houseroids are passive, obedient and generally thought to have no free will, so Rikuo is unnerved one day when looking at his houseroid Sammy’s logs to discover a strange, out of place sentence which reads “Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?”

When Rikuo decides to investigate he happens upon a café called just that. Time of Eve café has only one rule – do not discriminate between humans and robots. To reinforce this rule, every android, who normally has a holographic ring floating over their heads, can turn this ring off when they enter the café. Without prior knowledge of who is a robot, every robot in the café is indistinguishable from humans.

Is the difference between man and android less clear cut than we thought?
Is the difference between man and android less clear cut than we thought?

Rikuo and his friend Masaki are perturbed by this philosophy, especially when they discover that Sammy has been visiting the café. Every encounter that follows forces them to question everything they had previously thought – are they talking to a human, or a robot, and does the fact they can’t tell the difference suggest robots aren’t as emotionless and mechanical as they had previously thought?

With interesting interpretations of Asimov’s three laws of robotics, The Time of Eve initially looks like an anime focusing on the nature of the ghost in the machine, but it is Rikuo and Masaki’s own struggle with their relationship with robots and the inadequacies and conflicts it brings that really shapes this story.

At present I have only seen the six episode series of this but I understand there is also a movie which hopefully further develops characters and the mature storylines I have already seen. The Time of Eve handles the ethical and emotional elements of man and technology with grace and intelligence, for a thoughtful science fiction anime, give this one a go.