Paprika is about a group of scientists who develop a way to enter and record people’s dreams using a new piece of technology called the DC Mini. This breakthrough brings about a new type of therapy where doctors can fully explore the inner workings of their patients. When a terrorist starts taking over people’s minds, the scientists and the mysterious Paprika race against the clock to recover the device.
This is a film you’ll want to watch twice in order to fully understand everything. With so much going on, plenty of details can be lost the first time around, particularly if you have no real notion of what Paprika is about. But this isn’t a bad thing. You’ll find yourself wanting to revisit the strange world that director Satoshi Kon has created. It’s fun, creepy and will certainly inspire budding animators, musicians and writers alike.
Highlights: The incredible amount of creativity put into the dream world, which features a pink elephant pushing a white crocodile around in a wheelchair.
Produced by the studio Bones, Sword of the Stranger isn’t the most well known feature to come out of Japan. Despite being released in 2007 to sporadic screenings, it still managed to pick up multiple awards around the world. In Ireland it was only screened a few times, most notably as part of the Irish Film Institute’s Anime Weekend back in 2009. Apart from this, the film came and went relatively unnoticed. Regardless of the few screenings it garnered outside of Japan, Sword of the Stranger is a powerful film worthy of your attention.
From the beginning, director Masahiro Ando propels the viewer into feudal Japan: a world filled with beautiful imagery, fearful monks and duelling samurai. The story centers on a nameless samurai hired to protect a boy named Kotaro from a band of warriors. Don’t let the fact that its an anime fool you, this isn’t one for kids. Characters you naturally come to care for hang in the balance amidst the impressively animated (and bloody) fight sequences.
Although it’s been released on DVD and Blu-ray, Sword of the Stranger isn’t an easy film to find. The only way you might find it in Ireland is by trawling through countless specialist shops. The easiest place to find it is online. For the average price (make sure you shop around!) of seventeen euros, it’s well worth the investment.