If you're going to convince people that anime isn't totally crazy, Paprika is not the film to choose.
If you're going to convince them that it's one of the lushest, most imaginative and progressive forms of visual entertainment there is, you've come to the right place.
I've owned Paprika for a few weeks now, thanks to a French import (a word of advice- it works OK on UK players and even the menus and subtitles are English). Suffice to say that I haven't been so impressed by a film's visuals since Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. I'll go straight into those, as they are the first thing you will notice. The amount of activity going on in some scenes is astounding, and the bright, happy colours in the disturbing dream world (more on that later) look fantastic on this DVD. The CG used has been integrated so well that you can hardly notice it- look at the corridor in the first scene. Overall it's an astonishing achievement, and fortunately every other aspect of the film is brilliant as well.
The story is just as engaging as the fabulous visuals. It focuses on Dr Atsuko Chiba, who uses an invention called the DC Mini to enter people's dreams. As the technology has not yet been legalised, she has to assume another identity in dreams- the titular Paprika, who, in contrast to the sharp, serious doctor, is a fun, friendly redheaded young woman.
The plot soon takes a sinister turn, as someone has been abusing the DC Mini's abilities to manipulate people's dreams and control them. Soon people are being held in their dreams indefinitely, although thanks to the DC Mini those in the "real" world can view the dream on monitors. The highlight of the dream sequences has to be the parade of household objects, which contains a stunning amount of detail, with literally thousands of objects parading around various locations. This is a recurring image, which seems to be the trademark of the unknown villain.
Of course, Paprika tries to investigate just what's going on, but soon events become very confusing, and the dream and real worlds slide together, so it becomes impossible to tell what is real.
Despite the events becoming very confusing, you are never frustrated with trying to follow the plot. It actually makes a lot of sense, and later events tie up loose ends from the start.
The music in this film is also some of the best in recent years, with the faintly disturbing march played by the objects in the parade being a highlight. The theme tune that plays in the opening credits (and bits of which are repeated later) is also fantastic. Unlike some films, the music always fits the action perfectly, and is an essential element in creating the mood of the film.
Another great aspect to this film is the character design. Part of the enjoyment comes from meeting all the various characters as you go along, but watch out for the two barmen, played (in the Japanese version) by director Satoshi Kon and original author Yasutaka Tsutsui!
There is very little, if anything, to fault with this film, as everything fits together perfectly, and is to such a high standard that nothing feels out of place. The extras on the French DVD are brilliant as well, with interviews and features on how the art and CG were made, but I gather that the UK DVD will not have all of these. If you can put up with not getting the English audio, and really want those extras, it might be worth your while getting an import, but either way, you're going to end up with one of the best films of recent years, and a thoroughly worthwhile purchase.