Paprika is an amazingly complex and interesting anime. It takes us to a different world and shows us basically incredible events from the perspective of Dr. Atsuko Chiba and Detective Toshimi Konakawa. Chiba leads a research team in developing a device for use in psychotherapy called the DC Mini. She begins using it to heal Konakawa, but someone steals the DC Mini and throws the world into chaos as dreams and reality begin to merge. Paprika is a representation of contemporary Japanese society as it deals with issues of becoming an increasingly technological society.
Paprika shows the risks and benefits of technology. The idea that technology can have both good and bad components is common to many other types of animation in science fiction, apocalypse, and mecha. J.P. Telotte describes the idea of celebrating technology while wary of its destructive and dehumanizing potential as “double vision” (Napier 86). Paprika shows various examples of how technology, exemplified by DC Mini, can be used to benefit humanity. Chiba uses the DC Mini medically to treat Konakawa’s recurring nightmares and eventually resolves his psychological conflict. The DC Mini is also an enabler. It opens up the world of dreams in such a way that people can learn to effectively solve their inner and psychological problems. Konakawa eventually solves his problem of dealing with his friend’s death by facing his problems in the dream world. Sheba uses her alter ego named Paprika in the dream world to help others through psychotherapy. The DC Mini is shown as a technology that could have great potential to help others.
Paprika also brings apocalyptic visions of Japan through its interactions with the DC Mini. The Chief steals the DC Mini in an attempt to merge everyone’s dreams which results in a blurring of the lines between reality and dreams. This shows the potential for technology to be used selfishly to fulfill one’s personal desires leading to chaos in the world. Furthermore, this can be interpreted as a criticism of technology’s ability to detach people from reality and rely on “comfort through escape” (Vigal). Figal applies this idea specifically to media as seen in Paranoia Agent, but a similar idea can be applied to the DC Mini concept in Paprika. In the dream world, even when people are dragged into the chaotic dream procession created by the chief, people appear to be in a crazy happy state.
Technology also has an ambiguous effect on identity. This is shown by Chiba’s personality contrasting with Paprika, her alternate form. Sheeba is shown to be a very serious and somewhat introverted woman who is committed to her work while Paprika is very outgoing and nonchalant. This may represent an identity struggle on an individual level for people living in a high-tech world. This displays both the positive and negative aspects of the technology. The DC Mini allows Chiba to explore and display different aspects of herself in different worlds (the real and the technological/dream world accessed through the DC Mini), but their two extremes are at odds with each other. This is evident in the actual arguments between the two characters. Therefore, while technology may provide a way for individuals to express different aspects of themselves that they may not be able to do otherwise, it may also present conflicts between different aspects of self that someone may not be able to come to terms with.
Paprika introduces the idea of ”double vision” to technology. The DC Mini can be used at once to heal and empower, but it can also be used to take over the world and destroy order. It can provide a way for individuals to express conflicting sides of themselves.
Vigal, Gerald. “Brutal Media and Fake Consumerism in the Paranoia Factor of the Satoshi Universe.” Macadamia, 2010: 139-155. web. DOI: 10.1353/mec.2010.0013.
Napier, Susan. Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.