This was another one that had sat on my to-watch list for absolutely ages but didn’t seem appealing enough for me to make time to watch. To be honest, it wasn’t all that great but isn’t bad either; for those of us who appreciate that sort of thing it has enough genuine drama to make it more than a film studies history lesson but it’s a bit dated and the sedate pace isn’t what viewers these days are accustomed to.
This is very much a product of its time: it features Tomoyo Harada, a screen idol of the early 80s who has since become a singer/songwriter with a pretty respectable back catalogue, albeit no longer as a household name. The director Nobuhiko Obayashi is another old industry regular that I’m not familiar with but he’s apparently notorious for his surreal style; any oddness present in this film isn’t excessive, but it’s interesting.
Satoshi Kon’s animated adaptation of Tsutsui’s novel Paprika shouldn’t need much of an introduction; at least I hope not since I can’t give an objective view on the film given the immense amount of respect I have for Kon as a director. I’m glad I found out about the English translation of the novel though, not least because Tsutsui is apparently one of Japan’s most well-known science fiction authors; he has a reputation for being notoriously outspoken and prolific, and even wrote the original Girl Who Leapt Through Time. I like him already.
Before launching into the post proper I must admit I found the film more enjoyable than the novel, even putting my love of Kon’s style into account. A story that melds dreams and reality works better for me on screen and I found Kon’s take on the plot (as condensed as it was) to be a bit more cohesive. It captured the spectacle of dreams more effectively, and the mystery of the antagonist(s) was held out longer. That said, Tsutsui’s version is still worth a read whether you’ve seen the film or not.