Are We Awake Or Is This Still The Dream?

Are We Awake Or Is This Still The Dream?

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
PAPRIKA (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Ent. 

Release date: January 7th 2008
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 90 minutes

Year of production: 2006
Country of origin: Japan

Director: Satoshi Kon

English voice cast: Cindy Robinson, Gabe Newell, Michael Forest, David Lodge, Paul St. Peter, Doug Erholtz

Christopher Nolan might be credited with bringing the idea of mind-bending dreamscapes to mainstream audiences, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by anything to do with the world we see when we close our eyes, whether it’s in our own dreams, literature, music, film or like this 2006 anime.

Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s 1993 novel of the same name, Paprika is set in the near future where therapists are able to enter patient’s dream using a machine called the DC-Mini.


The machine hasn’t yet been officially approved and Doctor Atsuko Chiba is using it illegally to help detective Toshimi Konakaw with a recurring dream he’s been having. Chiba enters his dreams in the form of her alter-ego “Paprika” and tries to guide him through to the end of the dream, but he keeps waking up and therefore the dream is always unfinished.

Unfortunately, all three prototypes of the DC-Mini are stolen and someone else begins using it to enter everyone’s dreams and turning their subconscious fears and repressed memories against them. The line between dreams and reality start to fade, opening up the way to some really impressive scenes involving corridors folding onto themselves, horizons that shatter like glass and a parade of colourful characters and inanimate objects coming to life.


  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • The Making of Paprika
  • A Conversation about the “Dream”
  • Storyboard Comparisons
  • Animatics

When the head of Chiba’s department leaps out of a high-rise window while in a dream state, she realises it’s up to her to put things right. Chiba once again assumes the form of Paprika, the dream detective, and together with her friend Dr. Kōsaku Tokita they go in search of the mysterious culprit.


As we head to the middle of the city as reality disintegrates, Tokita is transformed into a giant robot and there’s a huge Japanese doll destroying buildings, Paprika then goes for a literally breathtaking climax. There’s so much to see and hear in its 90 minutes that Paprika itself feels like a dream from which only fragments are remembered but you know you’ve been somewhere extraordinary.

While it’s not the first and certainly not the last film to deal with dreams as a shared experience, it’s definitely the most dazzling and beautiful one I’ve seen so far and it’s hardly surprising to see western filmmakers citing it as inspiration for their own stories.

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.