Paprika (2006 film)

Paprika (Japanese: パプリカ, Hepburn: Papurika) is a 2006 Japanese science-fiction psychological thriller anime film co-written and directed by Satoshi Kon, based on Yasutaka Tsutsui's 1993 novel of the same name, about a research psychologist who uses a device that permits therapists to help patients by entering their dreams. It is Kon's fourth and final feature film before his death in 2010. The film stars the voices of Megumi Hayashibara, Tōru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Tōru Furuya, Akio Ōtsuka, Kōichi Yamadera, and Hideyuki Tanaka.

Theatrical release poster
Directed bySatoshi Kon
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Seishi Minakami
  • Satoshi Kon
Based onPaprika
by Yasutaka Tsutsui
Music bySusumu Hirasawa
CinematographyMichiya Katou
Edited byTakeshi Seyama
Distributed bySony Pictures Entertainment Japan
Release date
  • September 2, 2006 (2006-09-02) (Venice)
  • November 25, 2006 (2006-11-25) (Japan)
Running time
90 minutes
Box office$8,944,915

Kon and Seishi Minakami wrote the script, and Japanese animation studio Madhouse animated and produced the film alongside Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, which distributed it in Japan. The score was composed by Susumu Hirasawa. The film received wide acclaim from critics. Sony Pictures distributed the film in the United States, where it received a limited release and became the seventh highest-grossing anime film ever in the United States at the time.


In the near future, a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called dream therapy has been invented. A device called the "DC Mini" allows the user to view people's dreams. The head of the team working on this treatment, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, begins using the machine illegally to help psychiatric patients outside of the research facility, using her alter-ego "Paprika", a sentient persona she assumes in the dream world.

Paprika counsels Detective Toshimi Konakawa, who is plagued by a recurring dream. Its incompleteness is a great source of anxiety for him. She gives Konakawa a card with the name of a website on it. As this type of counseling is not sanctioned, Chiba, her associates and Konakawa must be cautious that word does not leak out regarding the DC Mini and the existence of Paprika. Chiba's closest allies are Doctor Toratarō Shima, the chief of the department, and Doctor Kōsaku Tokita, an obese, genius man-child and inventor of the DC Mini.

Because they are unfinished prototypes, the DC Minis lack access restrictions, allowing anyone to enter another person's dreams, which poses grave consequences when they are stolen. Shima goes on a nonsensical tirade and jumps through a window, nearly killing himself. Upon examining Shima's dream, which is a parade of strange things, Tokita recognizes his assistant, Kei Himuro, which confirms their suspicion that the theft was an inside job.

After two other scientists fall victim to the DC Mini, the chairman of the company, Doctor Seijirō Inui, who was against the project to begin with, bans the use of the device. This fails to hinder the crazed parade, now in Himuro's dream, which claims Tokita. Paprika and Shima find that Himuro is only an empty shell. The real culprit is Inui, who believes that he must protect dreams from mankind's influence through dream therapy, with the help of Doctor Morio Osanai.

Paprika is captured by the pair after an exhausting chase. Osanai admits his love for Chiba and literally peels away Paprika's skin to reveal Chiba underneath. However, he is interrupted by the outraged Inui who demands that they finish off Chiba; as the two share Osanai's body, they battle for control. Konakawa enters the dream and flees with Chiba back into his own recurring dream. Osanai gives chase, which ends in Konakawa shooting Osanai to take control of the dream. The act kills Osanai's physical body in the real world with an actual bullet wound.

Dreams and reality begin to merge. The dream parade runs amok in the city, and reality starts to unravel. Shima is nearly killed by a giant Japanese doll, but is saved by Paprika, who has become physically separate from Chiba thanks to dreams and reality merging. Amidst the chaos, Tokita, in the form of a giant robot, eats Chiba and prepares to do the same to Paprika. A ghostly apparition of Chiba appears and reveals that she has been in love with Tokita and has been repressing these emotions. She comes to terms with her repressed desires, reconciling herself with the part of her that is Paprika. Inui returns in the form of a giant humanoid nightmare, reveals his twisted dreams of omnipotence, and threatens to darken the world with his delusions.

Paprika throws herself into Tokita's body. A baby emerges from the robotic shell and sucks in the wind, aging as she sucks up Inui. She becomes a fully-grown combination of Chiba and Paprika, consuming Inui's dream form and ending the nightmare he created before fading away.

In the final scene, Chiba sits at Tokita's bedside as he wakes up. Later, Konakawa visits the website from Paprika's card and receives a message from Paprika: "Atsuko will change her surname to Tokita...and I suggest watching the movie Dreaming Kids." Konakawa enters a movie theater and purchases a ticket for Dreaming Kids.


Voice cast

  • Megumi Hayashibara as Doctor Atsuko Chiba (千葉 敦子博士, Chiba Atsuko-hakase), an attractive and modest psychiatrist and researcher at the Institute for Psychiatric Research. She uses the DC Mini to treat her clients inside their dreams under the guise of her alter ego Paprika (パプリカ, Papurika). Chiba is voiced by Cindy Robinson in the English dub.
  • Tōru Furuya as Doctor Kōsaku Tokita (時田 浩作博士, Tokita Kōsaku-hakase), an obese child-at-heart genius and the inventor of the DC Mini. He is Chiba's closest ally, although she often treats him coldly. Tokita often calls Chiba "Atsu-chan" as a symbol of affection. Tokita is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal in the English dub.
  • Tōru Emori as Doctor Seijirō Inui (乾 精次郎博士, Inui Seijirō-hakase), the wheelchair-bound chairman of the Institute for Psychiatric Research who calls himself the "protector of the dreamworld" but is in fact using the DC Mini for his own nefarious purposes, seemingly interested in using it to regain mobility as well as power. Inui is voiced by Michael Forest in the English dub.
  • Katsunosuke Hori as Doctor Toratarō Shima (島 寅太郎博士, Shima Toratarō-hakase), the cheerful and friendly chief of staff at the Institute for Psychiatric Research and an ally of Atsuko Chiba. Shima is voiced by David Lodge in the English dub.
  • Akio Ōtsuka as Detective Toshimi Konakawa (粉川 利美刑事, Konakawa Toshimi-keiji), a friend of Shima and a client of Paprika. He is haunted by a recurring dream that stems from an anxiety neurosis. He is infatuated with Paprika. Konakawa is voiced by Paul St. Peter in the English dub.
  • Hideyuki Tanaka as Guy
  • Kōichi Yamadera as Doctor Morio Osanai (小山内 守雄博士, Osanai Morio-hakase), a researcher and colleague of Atsuko Chiba who in reality is helping Inui in his evil plans. He is obsessively in love with Chiba. Osanai is voiced by Doug Erholtz in the English dub.
  • Satomi Kōrogi as a Japanese doll that reappears throughout the story.
  • Daisuke Sakaguchi as Kei Himuro, a friend of Tokita and a suspect in the theft of the DC Mini.
  • Mitsuo Iwata as Doctor Yasushi Tsumura.
  • Rikako Aikawa as Doctor Nobue Kakimoto, two scientists who fall victim to the DC Mini thief.
  • Yasutaka Tsutsui the author of the novel the film is based on as Kuga.
  • Satoshi Kon, the director, as Jinnai, two bartenders who befriend Konakawa.


The soundtrack was released on November 23, 2006 under the TESLAKITE label. It was composed by Susumu Hirasawa. A bonus movie was included with the CD.

The soundtrack is notable for being one of the first film scores to use Vocaloid (Lola as the "voicebank") for vocals.[1][2] It's also the last of Hirasawa's albums where an Amiga computer was used for composition. All MIDI was sequenced through an Amiga 4000 running the Bars n Pipes program.



Paprika premiered on September 2, 2006, at the 63rd Venice Film Festival.[3][4] It screened at the 44th New York Film Festival, playing on October 7, 2006. It competed at the 19th Tokyo International Film Festival October 21–29, 2006, as the opening screening for the 2006 TIFF Animation CG Festival.[5] It also competed in 27th Fantasporto from February 23 to March 3, 2007. Paprika was shown at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., as the closing film of the Anime Marathon at the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian, and at the 2007 Greater Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival on April 21, 2007, in Sarasota, Florida. Additionally, it was shown at the 39th International Film Festival in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 22, 2007, and was shown as the festival traveled around New Zealand.

Box office

In the United States, the film received a limited release in 2007, with Sony Pictures distributing the film. It grossed $8,882,267 in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing anime film in the United States since Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light (2004). Paprika also became the seventh highest-grossing anime film ever in the United States, as of 2010.[6] In other territories, the film grossed $62,648 in Singapore, Italy and South Korea as of 2007,[7] for a worldwide total of $8,944,915.


Critical reception

Paprika has received positive reviews from film critics. It holds an 84% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 7.27/10 and the consensus reading, "Following its own brand of logic, Paprika is an eye-opening mind trip that is difficult to follow but never fails to dazzle."[8] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score, rated the film 81 out of 100 based on 26 critic reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[9] Paprika won the Best Feature Length Theatrical Anime Award at the sixth-annual Tokyo Anime Awards during the 2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair.[10]

Andrez Bergen of Yomiuri Shimbun praised the Paprika as the "most mesmerizing animation long-player since Miyazaki's Spirited Away five years ago" (in 2001). He also praised the film's animation and backgrounds.[11] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave it a positive review, saying that the film is a "sophisticated work of the imagination" and "challenging and disturbing and uncanny in the ways it captures the nature of dreams". LaSalle later went on to say that the film is a "unique and superior achievement."[12] Rob Nelson of The Village Voice praised the film for its visuals. However, he complained about the plot, saying that Paprika is not "a movie that's meant to be understood so much as simply experienced - or maybe dreamed." Nelson later went on to say that Kon "maintains a charming faith in cinema's ability to seduce fearless new (theater) audiences, even one viewer at a time."[13] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said that the film has a "sense of unease about the rapidly changing relationship between our physical selves and our machines." Dargis praised Kon for his direction, saying that he "shows us the dark side of the imaginative world in Paprika that he himself has perceptively brightened."[14] Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies said that Paprika "proves once again that the great science fiction doesn't rely on giant robots and alien worlds".[15]

Conversely, Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel gave a negative review, saying "With a conventional invade-dreams/bend-reality plot, it's a bit of a bore. It's not as dreamlike and mesmerizing as Richard Linklater's rotoscope-animation Waking Life, less fanciful than the Oscar-winning anime Spirited Away."[16] Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle said the film "is as trippy as a Jefferson Airplane light show" and criticized the characters and the dialogue.[17]

The Lord of the Rings actor Elijah Wood praised Paprika in an interview, stating, "That movie blew my mind, too. That also pushed the envelope of what animation is, and it was kind of almost like a total mind-head trip, that film, from a visual stand point."[18] Time magazine included it in its top 25 animated films of all time,[19] while Time Out also included the film in its list of top 50 animated films of all time.[20] Rotten Tomatoes included it in its list of fifty best animated films of all time.[21] Newsweek Japan included Paprika in its list of the 100 best films of all time, while the American edition of Newsweek included it among its top twenty films of 2007.[22] Metacritic has listed the film among the top 25 highest-rated science fiction films of all time,[23] and the top 30 highest-rated animations of all time.[24]

Awards and nominations

Paprika received the following awards and nominations:[25]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2006 Montréal Festival of New Cinema Public's Choice Award Satoshi Kon Won
2006 63rd Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion (Best Film) Satoshi Kon Nominated
2007 Fantasporto Critics Choice Award (Prêmio da Crítica) Satoshi Kon Won
2007 Newport Beach Film Festival Feature Film Award for Best Animation Satoshi Kon Won
2007 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Animated Film Nominated


Live-action adaptation

A live-action adaptation of Paprika, to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen, was in development in 2010.[26] However, since the release of Inception, the Christopher Nolan film which came out that same year and had a similar premise,[27] there has not been any significant update to whether Petersen's adaptation will be produced.


Several critics and scholars have noted many striking similarities that later appeared in the 2010 Christopher Nolan film Inception, including plot similarities, similar scenes, and similar characters, arguing that Inception was influenced by Paprika.[28][29][30][31] Ciara Wardlow of Film School Rejects argues that Inception was influenced by Paprika based on similarities too numerous to be coincidence, from "the focus on dream sharing technology to Ariadne’s wardrobe to references to Greek mythology, physics-defying hallways, significant dream-elevators, and the choice of having a Japanese businessman (Saito) be the one to hire Cobb and the dream team, among other things".[29] Patrick Drazen said at least "one scene is a clean and undeniable link: in the climactic dream sequence, when Paprika is trying to escape the chairman and his helper, she defies gravity by running across the wall instead of the floor."[28] Julian Rizzo-Smith of IGN claims that "Nolan drew upon famous scenery of Paprika", noting striking similarities such as "the ever-stretching long hallway where Toshimi witnesses a murder, and the visual effect of the dream world shattering like glass."[30] Joshua Horner of WhatCulture claims that "Nolan was inspired by Paprika" and adds that there are strikingly similar scenes where Paprika and Ariadne both "enter an elevator with each floor representing another layer of the host's subconscious."[31]

Alistair Swale, while uncertain whether Nolan "appropriated elements of Paprika directly," notes striking similarities between them, such as both exploring similar themes of "computer technology enabling people to enter the realm of the subconscious and experience time on multiple levels", and notes their similarities are comparable to that which exists between Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix.[32] Steven Boone of Politico said he suspects Paprika "was on Nolan's list of homages" and compares it favourably with Inception, arguing that "Kon confronts his tormented society with visual poetry, not just a remix of tropes and set pieces" and that Paprika "goes deep, where Inception just talks of depth and darkness but, as a screen experience, sticks with glib pyrotechnics".[33][34] French film site Excessif claimed in 2010 that Nolan cited Paprika as an influence on Ellen Page's character Ariadne in the film,[35][36] a claim repeated by Phil de Semlyen of Empire,[37] but Film School Rejects and Anime News Network note that no direct quote from Nolan was given to support this claim.[29][36]

See also


  1. "お姉さんを磨け" [Refining the Young Lady]. NO ROOM. HIRASAWA三行log [Hirasawa Three-Line log] (in Japanese). Chaos Union. 23 August 2008. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2010.
  2. Tomita, Akihiro (12 December 2008). バーチャルな「女性」への欲望とは何か [What is the Desire for a Virtual "Woman"]. Eureka Comprehensive Special Issue ♪ Hatsune Miku an Angel That Landed on the Net (in Japanese). Vol. 40 no. 15. Seidosha. p. 60. ISBN 978-4-7917-0187-2.
  3. "Venezia 63 - In Competition..." ...Biennale Cinema... 63rd Venice Film Festival... la Biennale di Venezia. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  4. Eric J. Lyman (2006-07-28). "Five U.S. films in Venice fest competition". The Hollywood Reporter. VNU eMedia, Inc. Archived from the original on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  5. "amimecs TIFF 2006 TIFF Animation CG Festival (provisional title)". 19th Tokyo International Film Festival Press Conference. Tokyo International Film Festival. 2006-07-31. Retrieved 2006-08-17.
  6. "文化庁「文化発信戦略に関する調査研究事業」" (PDF). Agency for Cultural Affairs. 28 February 2010. pp. 16–18. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  7. "Paprika (2007) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
  8. "Paprika - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  9. "Paprika (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  10. "Results of 6th Annual Tokyo Anime Awards Out". Anime News Network. 2007-03-19. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  11. Paprika review, Andrez Bergen. Yomiuri Shimbun, November 25, 2006.
  12. LaSalle, Mick (June 8, 2007). "Wildest dreams come true, and they can be scary". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  13. Nelson, Rob (May 15, 2007). "Kon's Cure for Cinema". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  14. Dargis, Manohla (May 25, 2007). "In a Crowded Anime Dreamscape, a Mysterious Pixie". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  15. McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 26. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507
  16. Moore, Roger (August 10, 2007). "'Paprika' doesn't deliver on the dream". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  17. Westbrook, Bruce (June 21, 2007). "Paprika". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  18. "Elijah Wood Q+A". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved September 11, 2009.
  19. "The 25 All-Time Best Animated Films". Time. June 23, 2011.
  20. "Time Out's 50 greatest animated films". Time Out. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  21. "Best Animated Films | Paprika (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  22. "Newsweek Japan Lists Kon's Paprika Among 100 Best Films". Anime News Network. 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  23. "Top Sci-Fi Movies". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  24. "Top Animation Movies". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  25. "Awards for Paprika (2006)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  26. "Wolfgang Peterson Talks About His Live-Action Adaptation of Paprika". /Film.
  27. Andrew Osmond (2010-08-26). "Satoshi Kon obituary". The Guardian.
  28. Drazen, Patrick (2014). Anime Explosion!: The What? Why? and Wow! of Japanese Animation, Revised and Updated Edition. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 9781611725506.
  29. Wardlow, Ciara (March 2, 2017). "The Synergy of 'Inception' and 'Paprika'". Film School Rejects.
  30. Rizzo-Smith, Julian (24 August 2018). "An Ode to Anime Auteur Satoshi Kon". IGN.
  31. Horner, Joshua (January 26, 2014). "20 Suspiciously Similar Movie Scenes You Never Noticed". WhatCulture. p. 4.
  32. Swale, Alistair D. (2015). Anime Aesthetics: Japanese Animation and the 'Post-Cinematic' Imagination. Springer. p. 58. ISBN 9781137463357.
  33. Boone, Steven (16 July 2010). "'Inception': As eye-catching, and as profound, as an Usher concert". Politico. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  34. Emerson, Jim (17 July 2010). "Inception: Has Christopher Nolan forgotten how to dream?". Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  35. "Inception par Christopher Nolan : Interview, références, indices..." Excessif. TF1 News. July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on September 24, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  36. "Bloody Monday Manga Creators Draw Inception Film Poster". Anime News Network. 2010-07-21.
  37. Semlyen, Phil de (August 27, 2010). "Satoshi Kon Dies At 46". Empire.
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