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Daniel Hall

Elizabeth Goins

Fine Arts:Visual Arts:Anime

October 05, 2010

Dreams, as defined by the English dictionary, are:

  1. a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
  2. An aspiration, goal, aim

In Satoshi Kon's Paprika dreams are a major theme and play a central role in the plot of the movie. However, the dreams in Paprika are a metaphor for the aspirations of the characters in the movie. Dreams have the power to sweep all who touch it is the implicit message of Paprika and is shown through the trials that the characters face.

Konokawa, one of the first characters we meet is a very good example of this principal. Konokawa is a man who used to dream of making movies. Movies in a sense, are the dreams of the director shared with the audience via the big screen. Therefore, Konokawa, in his aspiration of being a director, dreamed of making shared dreams. He shared this dream with his deceased friend, who ironically had caused Konokawa to give up on his dream. However, Konokawa grows up to become the very role he played in their shared film venture, a detective. When the case Konokawa is working on brings up old memories from his film making years, it comes to him in the form of a series of dreams themed around movies, ending with the climax of the very movie his Konokawa had set out to make.

Paprika helps Konokawa sort out his dreams by delving into them, often in the form of a fellow actor in the movie themed dreams. However, during the second dive into his dreams, Paprika also appears as an audience members. Those two roles are reflective of the roles people may play in another person's dreams. If someone is a fellow actor, then that person is sharing that dream, and makes efforts towards it's realization. If someone passively observes the dream, then they are like an audience member watching a movie. They watch the struggles of the actors, and may be moved by their actions, but do not affect the dream. In Paprika, when Paprika is a participant she holds quite a sway on the actions of Konokawa, as fellow actors. When she is a member of the audience she can't influence Konokawa's actions, however she is able to analyze them, and use them to determine who he is as a person.

Paprika as a film, takes this analogy of movies as dreams even further. During the climax of Konokawa's story arch, Konokawa pushes himself through the movie screen in order to save Chiba from Osanai. The movie screen had become the window to the shared dream that had been rampaging throughout the movie. In fact, the medium of film could be considered a window for observers to watch the director's dream through. However there is a much darker theme shown in this scene of heroics. Once Konokawa jumped through his window on the dream and became a participant, he could no longer go back. Konokawa is actually perused by two dreams in the movie, the rampaging dream and his own movie themed dreams. The memories of his dream and his deceased friend, as mentioned before, haunt him through out the movie and he is not able to shake it until Konokawa faces the dream down in the climax of his story.

This theme of no return when one participates in a dream is also explored in the main threat of the movie, and one of Satoshi Kon's more predominant motifs in Paprika, the rampaging shared dream(Gray, Jason...). Any who participate in the dream become swallowed into it, and are no longer able to escape it. Paprika tries to do this through out the movie, by literally leaving the dream. However the dream follows her where ever she goes, and ends up following her into Konokawa's dream. Like a spiders web the more Paprika tries to escape it the more tangled she becomes in it. There is a point in the movie where Paprika thinks she escaped the dream, only to find she was still in the dream and is captured by the chairman and Osanai. The larger the dream that takes hold of people, the more of it affects them. A small personal dream such as Konokawa's only affects him and he is able to come to terms with it without actually fulfilling it. A large dream like the rampaging shared dream swallows people, it consumes them and it takes an even stronger dream, such as the love between Chiba and Tokita to finally put it to rest.

The themes of the all consuming dream, dreams as movies and dreams are aspirations are also prevalent in Satoshi Kon's other works. In Perfect Blue, Rumi's dreams of Pop Idol stardom eventually cause her to lose her mind and go on a killing spree which is central to the movies plot. In Millennium Actress, Chiyoko's life, and the aspirations of finding her lost love, are shown through her career as a movie star. In Paranoia Agent, the nightmare that is little slugger consumes all who become touched by it, until their eventual encounter with him themselves.

“Dreams are sacred” is a line said by the chairman early in the movie. It's true, dreams are sacred, they are the most precious of aspirations for anyone. Dreams also hold untold power, they touch all who come in contact with them and can sweep a person away. Satoshi Kon's films show a great appreciation for this message, and they are often at the center of his plots. His characters also are always chasing after such aspirations, usually through acting or directing. Perhaps that is why it is very fitting for the film to close out on Konokawa witnessing the last dream of one of the most talented dream makers.


Works Cited

Gray, Jason. "Midnight Eye Interview: Satoshi Kon." _Midnight Eye - The Latest and Best in Japanese Cinema - Interviews, Features, Film Reviews, Book Reviews, Calendar of Events and DVD Releases, Links and More..._ 20 Nov. 2006. Web. 8 Nov. 2010. <>.

Kon, Satoshi, dir. "Paranoia Agent." Paranoia Agent. WOWOW, Animax. 2 Feb. 2004. Television.

Millennium Actress. Dir. Satoshi Kon. Prod. Taro Maki. By Satoshi Kon and Sadayuki Murai. Perf. Miyoko Shoji, Mami Koyama, Fumiko Orikasa, and Shozo Iizuka. The Lockworx Co., Ltd, 2001. DVD.

Paprika. Dir. Satoshi Kon. Prod. Masao Takiyama and Jungo Maruta. Screenplay by Seishi Minakami. By Yasutaka Tsutsui. Perf. Megumi Hayashibara and Akio Otsuka. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2006. DVD.

Perfect Blue. Dir. Satoshi Kon and Satoshi Kon. Prod. Hiroaki Inoue. Screenplay by Sadayuki Murai. Perf. Junko Iwao and Rica Matsumoto. Madhouse, 1998.

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