Satoshi Kon

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

, /10

Manga artist Satoshi Kon (Japan, 1963) debuted as an anime filmmaker with the psychological thriller Pafekuto Buru/ Perfect Blue (1997), adapted from Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel, Sennen Joyu/ Millennium Actress (2001), scripted by Sadayuki Murai. and Tokyo Goddofazazu/ Tokyo Godfathers (2003).

Papurika/ Paprika (2006), adapted from Yasutaka Tsutsui's sci-fi novel, is a colossal chaotic postmodernist thriller with philosophical overtones. It blurs the border between dream and reality not only by mixing it in the plot but also by scorning it through deliberate quantum jumps from one world to the other and sometimes within one degree of imagination to another one, with characters who enter and leave films, television broadcasts and even posters. The putable protagonist would be the detective who has to solve the case, but he is only interested in psychoanalyzing himself and will succeed at that. The real protagonists are two heroines who are the same woman, and who save the world from the chaos of an alternative irrational world of dreams. They save reality from collapsing into the unreal. The weakest part is the ending, worthy of the most moronic Hollywood romances and melodramas.

An ordinary man is dragged into a circus and tricked into a cage by a friend. A mob chases him, all of them looking like him, The nightmare ends with a murder that the man witnesses powerless to prevent. This is a dream, dreamed by a detective, who is lying on a bed. He wakes up and finds the girl who was with him in the circus. She is a psychotherapist who is using an experimental device, DC-mini, to capture people's dreams and store them on a computer memory. They analyze the dream on the computer. He has been obsessed with finding the murderer. Before leaving his apartment, she hands him a business card with the name of a website. Her name is Paprika.
An older woman, dressed professionally, finds a fat man blocking the elevator that she has to take to reach her office. The fat man tells her frantically that the DC-mini has been stolen. It turns out he is the (unlikely) inventor of the device and they both work in for distinguished psychiatric institution. The woman, Atsuko Chiba, immediately calls her boss, an older scientist, Shima, and informs him that the thief can now steal dreams from their patients. Chiba, the fat boy, named Tokita, and their old chief Shima report the fact to the chairman of the company, who deeply regrets the invention. He has his own informer and has learned that the thief is a girl named Paprika ho uses the still experimental device to perform unathorized therapy. Suddenly the old scientist gives a delirious speech and jumps from the window, almost killing himself: dreams of his patients have been injected into his mind and are causing him to go berserk. Meanwhile, a parade of kitchen appliances, stuffed animals and geisha dolls, all of them turned into jovial cartoons, is advancing through a forest towards the city. China and Tokita find find his patients' dreams on Shima's computer. They recognize someone from the office into the scientist's dream: their colleague Himuro. Himuro becomes a prime suspect in the case. Tokia, Chiba and a young colleague break into Himuro's place and find hundreds of geisha dolls and a door that opens into a deserted amusement park. She walks outside and... she almost jumps from a balcony. It was a nightmare, implanted into her subconscious by the same evil mond. Meanwhile, the chief Shima has joined the parade of objects marching through the forest. He sits on top of a big carnival-like truck, surrounded by all sorts of surreal figures. Paprika enters his dream as a little girl and manages to (literally) explode it.
The detective calls the old chief Shima to thank him for having let Chiba use the device on him: Chiba and Paprika are the same person, although they look and behave very different. Chiba is cold, brainy, and professional; Paprika is lively, casual, and carefree. Meanwhile, Chiba is walking home and she sees her avatar Paprika reflected in a glass wall and talks to her, confessing that she (Chiba) hasn't had a dream of her own in a while.
The detective enters the website recommended by Paprika: he finds himself in a bar, attended by two bartenders. Paprika explains that this is her meeting place, where she counsels her customers. The detective explains that he and Shima have been friends since college.
Two more doctors of the institution go crazy. The chairman bans any use of the device. Tokita takes Chiba to a theme park that he showed to Himuro: the one that she experienced in her nightmare. Paprika warns her just in time to save her life: Himuro falls from the sky. He tried to commit suicide. Shima invites the detective to help them investigate the case. The detective meets Chiba and seems immediately fascinated by her frigid attitude. Instead she is hostile to him. On the way home, the detective's mind is hijacked. Chiba decides to disobey the chairman and use the DC-mini to enter Himuro's dream. Chiba loses her patience with Tokita, who doesn't seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation and the fact that there must be someone behind Himuro's actions. The detective's dream plunges again into the circus dream: he is back in the cage, surrounded by zombie like creatures. He sinks into an elevator where a girl takes him to Tarzan's floor, to film noir's floor, and eventually back to the scene of the murder that has been haunting him for years. Paprika is watching this as a movie in a theater and she is clapping amused. The detective finds himself with a smoking gun in his hand, and the person on the floor is himself: he has just killed himself. Paprika is even more amused, eating popcorn in the movie theater, the only person in the audience. Feeling bad after the altercation with Chiba, Tokita uses the forbidden device to enter Himuro's dreams and is catapulted into the mad parade as a robot. The detective surfaces in the movie theater with Paprika, watching the movie of his own dream. The mad parade invades the theater: all dreams are merging. Paprika recognizes Tokita, now a toy in the parade euphorically following the crowd of objects, and she tries in vain to stop him. Paprika from the dream calls Shima and tells him that all dreams are merging. In the laboratory (real life) Shima and Achiba have found Tokita and Himuro, who are in a suspended state similar to coma. To save Tokita, Chiba dives as Paprika into Tokita's dream and keeps communicating with Shima.
The parade has entered the metropolis. Paprika breaks through a glass wall in a deserted street and finds a dilapidated warehouse and enters a mysterious world as a flying Peter Pan. She finds a giant corpse of Himuro and realizes that Himuro is is just a victim, not the perpetrator: the real culprit is a collective dream, but whose delusion is it? She is about to get captured by a monster with many octopus-like tentacles that is finally revealed to be none other than the chairman himself: he is protecting the sanctity of dreaming from the dreadful device that his scientists have invented. Chiba/Paprika realizes that she is still inside a dream and Shima tries to wake her up while the chairman is having fun chasing her from dream to dream in increasingly wild scenarios, basically showing her the power of dreams and why they should not be desecrated. The yound scientist, Osanai, captures her: it turns out that he has been working for the chairman's obscure conspiracy all along. At the same time Osanai admits his love for Chiba, The detective is getting drunk at the bar of Paprika's website. When midnight strikes, he realizes that the new day is number 17 and is shaken by panic. He confesses to the bartenders that he made a film when he was a teenager in which he was chasing another guy. He was jealous of the other guy, a guy more popular than him. Then the guy died and the film was left unfinished. The detective walks out of the bar and finds big posters pasted on the walls of the street advertising a movie titled "Paprika". He walks inside a movie theater and sees Paprika being harassed by Osanai on screen. Osanai is pushing his hand inside her vagina and up her body until he splits her face and inside Paprika he finds the frigid body of Chiba. The chairman rises from Osanai's neck to demand that the girl be killed, but Osanai cannot obey because he is in love. The two man fight each other. The detective breaks through the screen of the movie theater and enters the room where this fight is taking place. He rescues the naked Chiba while the two-headed monster (part Osanai and part chairman) struggles within itself. At last, Osanai runs away, the detective chases him into a corridor, and that is the scene of the murder. The detective shoots Osanai in the corridor. Now we see that this was being projected on the screen of the movie theater because the words "The End" appear over the characters and the audience starts clapping. In the laboratory Chiba wakes up panting and slaps Shima. A wounded O walks in, and collapses to the floor... in the chairman's room... and sinks into his floor... we are back in a dream... but Osanai has been killed for real... by a bullet shot by the detective inside his dream, which had become everybody's dream.
Tokia and Himuro are still asleep in a coma. Shima tries to call the detective but a giant doll attacks the building, cracking the glasses with her scream. The mad parade is snaking its way through the streets of the city, infecting all the passers-by. The detective is watching incredulous. The two bartenders are behind him and they invite him to follow them in order to clean up the mess. The parade is also invading the laboratory and Chiba too realizes that dream and reality are merging.
Shima and Chiba are chased by the giant doll and Shima is almost killed, saved at the last second by... Chiba and Paprika together. Paprika leaves them with an enigmatic "explanation" for being present at the same time as Chiba and jumps into a television set to become part of the live reportage. Still chased by the giant doll, Chiba and Shima have no choice but to perform the same feat: jump into the tv set. They all find themselves in the middle of the parade. The giant doll follows them there and is about to finish Chiba when it gets destroyed by rockets fired by the Tokita robot. Chiba wants to save Tokita, whereas Paprika wants to stop the chairman. The two argue viciously, with Paprika accusing Chiba of being arrogant and delusional. Paprika enters a poster and rides away on the horse painted on it. Chiba tries in vain to restore the Tokita robot to himself. In a King Kong-style scene the giant robot grabs Chiba and swallows her. But that causes the robot to dream, and it dreams the initial scene when Chiba found Tokita stuck in the elevator. The giant robot collapses. The scene now is apocalyptic: destruction everywhere. Seconds later a new threat appears: the chairman has mutated into a giant demon, taller than the skyscrapers. He gives a delirious speech in which he announces a new era for the universe, enacted and ruled by him. Paprika jumps into the lifeless robot and reemerges as a naked child. The child swallows the demon and becomes a beautiful young woman.
The nightmare of nightmares is over. Tokita wakes up, and loving Chiba is next to him. Shima asks the detective about his neurosis. The detective has found out that he became a detective to turn his teenage film into reality, and his dead friend is not angry anymore that the film was never finished. The detective reenters Paprika's website one more time. Paprika has left a message for him: she congratulates him for catching the perpetrator, she predicts that Chiba will marry Tokita, and she recommends a movie. The detective walks to the movie theater where the movie is being shown.
He died in 2010 before completing Yume Miru.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )