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Inception by Paprika July 31, 2010

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Film.
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Inception-Paprika posters
I read this in an ANN news story about Leonardo DiCaprio and Inception this week:

[Director Christopher] Nolan has reportedly cited Satoshi Kon’s anime film [Paprika] as an inspiration for the character of a female dream architect, played by actress Ellen Page.

This doesn’t surprise me, and probably doesn’t surprise any other anime fan who’s seen Inception. One of the first things that struck me as I watched the film was how much of its concept crossed paths with Satoshi Kon’s film. This is obvious to some extent — both films (and the original Paprika novel) are about entering peoples dreams and discovering their innermost secrets through that dream state, and how thin the line between dream and reality is.

But Inception is rather darker and more complicated than Paprika, without the latter’s sense of romance. The anime also plays more with the idea of separate personalities in dreams and reality. And in a weird way Paprika is slightly more believable, at least in terms of the technology (perhaps because that aspect is explained a little more than in Inception).

I’ll gladly watch either film over and over, but Paprika’s is a slightly more charming tale, with a smaller cast and much more emphasis on the heroine. Inception perhaps suffers from a need to go all Goldeneye in its final action scenes and from its rather large cast of support characters that demand almost as much attention as the lead.

What I love about both is how they are able to successfully blend fantasy and reality into one. When I first saw Paprika, I marvelled at how perfect the medium and story were for each other — anime is made for expressing stories about dreams. I didn’t think anything would ever top anime’s ability to visualise the fantastical and confuse ‘dream’ and ‘real’ elements so for the viewer. But Inception’s come mightily close — and in live-action.

These would be ideal companions in a double bill, exploring different aspects of how ‘dream technology’ could be used and what dreams really tell us about the human psyche and how we perceive reality. I was enthralled by Inception, which was both exciting and imaginative. But it also made me yearn to experience the colour of Paprika once again.

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Comments»

1. Manga Therapy - August 2, 2010

It’s interesting to see so many fans get caught up in this whole “Hollywood vs. Anime” debate.

I do agree that anime does certain things better, like portray dreams. Inception does come close.

I actually posted my thoughts about the Inception vs. Paprika debate. You can read them at:

http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/875442822/inception-paprika-pt1
http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/893440300/inception-paprika-pt2

2. ayasawada - August 2, 2010

Interesting couple of posts. Thanks for sharing. I agree some anime fans are too quick to claim ‘rip off’ on a lot of US/Western things.

For the record, this wasn’t what I was saying. Although Paprika influenced some aspects, as Nolan acknowledges, I realise the two are entirely different movies.

But as you say, it is interesting how anime seems to be better for expressing certain stories, like dreams. And as I say, I was stunned how close Inception came to achieving that.

3. Manga Therapy - August 2, 2010

I think the problem is that some anime fans didn’t even bother to see Inception and crying ripoff just from reading a general synopsis. If you’re going to talk the talk, be sure to back it up with good measure.

4. Read Manga Online - August 7, 2010

I do agree that anime does certain things better, like portray dreams. Inception does come close.

5. kazukideng - August 14, 2010

agreed, i still love paprika better though i’ve seen inception.
The broad concept does with dreams, but they are still different.
I’m not surprised that inception could blend reality and dream so well together though, because i know what technology can do nowaydays.
They’re both enjoyable, but i think what irks me most is that hollywood movies get so much attention and earn so much more than movies and concepts from japan that may be much much better.
I do my best to support good japanese animes and mangas, but i still feel sad so few will know paprika and so many will know inception.

Thaynah - December 27, 2010

“They’re both enjoyable, but i think what irks me most is that hollywood movies get so much attention and earn so much more than movies and concepts from japan that may be much much better.
I do my best to support good japanese animes and mangas, but i still feel sad so few will know paprika and so many will know inception.”

The anime fans feel the same and, that’s WHY they say what they say about ‘rip off’.

6. fanbased345 - January 6, 2011

I liked Inception better tbh. Paprika was pretty good but it was more of an art form into the imaginations of dreams. Inception was more of just a heist film within dreams. Which is what I liked about it. It was more real but not too real. Also the way inception was done just seemed alot more epic.

7. Be Random, Be Clear - March 29, 2011

[…] fiction-action-thriller-mystery!) was supposedly made for around $3 million.  And Paprika was part of the inspiration behind […]

8. Karl Miller - August 16, 2013

Re-watching Paprika recently, i was struck by the recurring slow-motion fall scene in the hotel hallway … and was reminded of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s lame task in Inception (floating down a hotel hallway). Nolan was borrowing more than the titular pixie here …

Anime fans who feel Inception ripped them off can be consoled with the fact that Inception is a tedious mess, all motif and mood with no soul. The action was so un-thrilling it was narcoleptic. My date and I fell asleep in the big shoot-out finale. A couple nice GIFs does not an “epic” make. There are no layers to Inception, only an accumulation of distractions.

Paprika actually has character, craft and vision. Its fantastical parade also manages to be more *chilling* than Inception’s numbing, thumping portent. Interesting discussion here about anime v. Hollywood and their respective strengths. But if it’s an either-or choice, I think the earlier Japanese romp wins on all counts …

ayasawada - August 25, 2013

I hear you. Although, I still really enjoyed Inception.

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