Anime on Blu-ray is fresh enough for me to extol its virtues without feeling like a relic from the past that’s just discovered Pop Rocks. Perhaps growing too comfortable with DVDs, the industry now finds itself facing high definition formats that defy lazy transfers, and beg for the kind of care that really makes the colors pop, because blemishes will stick out like a cosplayer at a country club.
Sony’s release of Paprika on Blu-ray is quick to throw the gauntlet down in front of everyone else. With a movie so visually unique-exploding with the kind of palette essential for painting its dreamscape-anything less just wouldn’t cut it. Paprika looks incredible, though, showing off Madhouse’s stunning animation to the best of your HD set’s ability.
If you haven’t already read Julie Davis’s feature story on the film (excerpted here), then that’s the best place to go for a great overview of the movie’s world and the twisted dream story woven therein. The setup, which involves a device known as the DC Mini that has the power to record and play back patients’ dreams, is one that begs to be toyed with endlessly-a narrative tilt-o-whirl that could spin perpetually with far out ideas that need little grounding in our perceived reality. In other words, Paprika is 100% ideal for the medium of animation.
That’s interesting considering the fact that some of Satoshi Kon’s other work, such as Perfect Blue, has been cited as something that could be pulled off in live action, especially with the way it leans toward realism even when met with surreal circumstances. Paprika takes the denizens of its world, however, and dives into their minds with reckless abandon. Watching the film is like cracking their skulls, egg-like in their fragility, and filtering their thoughts and feelings through a kaleidoscope of wild, oscillating imagery that challenges half-baked psychoanalysis.
The events of Paprika, which tend to volley back and forth from dream to reality so often that they both become one, culminate in a final scene that’s probably one of my favorite since the last reel of Akira. A marriage of vision and execution takes place during these climactic minutes that’s rare in any industry, and especially fleeting in the current-day world of animation. Needless to say, I won’t be forgetting it any time soon, and if anything, I’ll be revisiting it sooner than I normally would.
All in all, this is a movie that, while mind-bending at times, rewards you for letting it take over your field of vision for 90 minutes, and does so ten times over when viewed on an HD format. If you’re already a fan of the film, then there’s no better treat than owning it on Blu-ray, and if this will be your first time experiencing it in any format, then you have my envy.