paprikaChristopher Nolan noted the anime film, Paprika, as a source of inspiration for his blockbuster hit, Inception. I’ve never been a huge fan of anime but thought I’d give it a view just the same. Glad about that.

I can see the similarity; both films use the premise of being able to access and control another’s dreams. That’s about where the similarity ends.  In Inception, there is a clear motive, however unethical, for dream manipulation — corporate advantage. In Paprika, the motive is more nefarious and destructive.  In Inception, there is a well-defined team of dream manipulators, complete with an architect and an elaborate system of levels and goals. In Paprika, the dream manipulators are shady, amorphous characters who seem to ad lib their destructive motives. In Inception, while the dream levels may have been an administrative nightmare to track, at least each level was clearly delineated. In Paprika, there is little delineation between dream and reality.

And really, this seems to be right where Paprika wants to take you – the space where dream and reality merge to become one. Anime as a media certainly makes that dream-reality separation much more difficult to detect but the creators extremely creative visuals morphing reality-based objects into something otherworldly makes it impossible.

While I liked Inception, I think I prefer Paprika for its philosophical leap into the chasm between dream and reality. Who’s to say which is better or more real when each is difficult to classify from a perspective without absolutes?


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