Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the Anime production of “Paprika” to video retailers and rental outlets Tuesday, Nov. 27. I liked it. A lot. It looks great, the music is great, it’s utterly bizarre.

But I’m sort of wierd.

This release doesn’t appear to have a logical storyline until after you have watched the entire film and then go back and think about it.

As the director Satoshi Kon noted in the special DVD features, this film is not like the book. But in his opinion, that’s OK. Good books are always better than films anyway.

Despite that comment, he created a great film — normally I don’t care for the wild

The film is filled with surreal imagery, good animation and an intriguing plot that keeps you guessing throughout.

“Paprika” blurs the boundaries of reality and illusion to the point where neither the characters nor the viewers can tell what’s really happening or where the film will go.

Really, the viewer needs to watch this release at least twice. Once to get a feeling for the imagery and then to cope with the graphics and follow the plot line.

This film is sort of like an “R” rated Disney on D-lysergic acid diethylamide — LSD.

Animation too often throws people off. How bad can it really be? Well, “Paprika” really isn’t terrible. There’s no blood, no gore, but there are plenty of suggestive visuals. If a child were to watch this film, they probably wouldn’t get half of what the visuals are supposed to suggest, but still they should probably not see it. The storyline is too confusing for a child or even a teenager, so the R rating is justified, especially coupled with the visuals.

“Paprika” is an adult oriented social commentary about the subjective nature of reality. That is, two individuals can look at an object or person and while they see the exact same object, they perceive an objected colored by their experience.

The animation and convoluted story makes this feature a bit difficult to follow at times but worth seeing.

One critic known for his anime penchant said, “”Paprika” is a mind-blowing, pulse pounding extravaganza of wildly imaginative dream-state imagery that deserves every accolade heaped upon it.”

I agree.

Voice Cast: Megumi Hayashibara, Toru Emori, Katsunosuke Hori, Toru Furuya, Akio Ohtsuka, Kouichi Yamadera, Hideyuki Tanaka, Satomi Kohrogi, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Mitsuo Iwata, Rikako Aikawa, , Shinichiro Ohta, Shinya Fukumatsu, Akiko Kawase, Kumiko Izumi, Anri Katsu, Eiji Miyashita, Kouzo Mito, Yasutaka Tsutsui,Satoshi Kon


Rating (**** out of *****)

Synopsis: (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) The original story, “Paprika”, was written by the great master of Japanese literature Yasutaka Tsutsui.

Tsutsui’s futuristic novels are considered to be masterpieces of the Science Fiction genre by his fans. “Paprika” was first serialized in the Japanese woman’s magazine Marie Claire in 1991. Although it did not win an award, “Paprika” earned more popular votes than Tsutsui’s “Morning Gaspare,” which ultimately won the Japanese Science Fiction Award in 1993. As a result, “Paprika” became known as “the phantom winner of the Science Fiction Award.”

It was thought that Tsutsui’s imaginative creation would be impossible to translate into visual images because of the whimsical nature of the dream sequences. Tsutsui himself, however, decided that Satoshi Kon, already renowned for his uniquely original animation, was the one director who could do justice to his creation.

Kon not only directed “Paprika” but he also adapted it for the screen from the original story. He took out many of the conceptual elements and the technical terms of psychoanalysis and created his own visual interpretation of that world. As a result, “Paprika” is a new form of animation for Kon, quite different from his trademark of creating detailed realism in his animation. His aim with this film was to create a world that would surprise the audience. Kon describes himself as a mad creator whose eccentric style creates a unique and surreal dreamlike world for the amazing adventures of “Paprika”.

In the film, 29 year old Dr. Atsuko Chiba is an attractive but modest Japanese research psychotherapist whose work is on the cutting edge of her field. Her alter-ego is a stunning and fearless 18 year old “dream detective,” code named “Paprika”, who can enter into people’s dreams and synchronize with their unconscious to help uncover the source of their anxiety or neurosis.

At Atsuko’s lab, a powerful new psychotherapy devise known as the “DC-MINI” has been invented by her brilliant colleague, Dr. Tokita, a nerdy overweight genius. Although this state-of-art device could revolutionize the world of psychotherapy, in the wrong hands the potential misuse of the devise could be devastating, allowing the user to completely annihilate the dreamer’s personality while they are asleep.

When one of the only four existing DC-MINI prototypes is stolen in the final stages of research around the same time that Dr. Tokita’s research assistant Himuro goes missing, Atsuko suspects it’s not a coincidence. If the DC MINI isn’t found, this could lead to the government’s refusal to sanction the use of the machine for psychotherapy treatment.

When several of the remaining researchers at the lab start to go mad, dreaming while in their waking states, haunted by a Japanese doll which featured heavily in the dreams of one of Himuro’s schizophrenic patients, Atsuko knows for sure that whoever is manipulating the machines has a more evil purpose. The DC MINI is being used to destroy people’s minds.

Special features include:

• “Tsutsui and Kon’s “Paprika””: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Paprika” with novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui and director Satoshi Kon

• “A Conversation about ‘The Dream’”: Director Satoshi Kon, novelist Yasutaka Tsutsui, and voice actors Megumi Hayashibara and Toru Furuya talk about production of “Paprika”

• “The Art of Fantasy”: A look at the art direction with Art Director Nobutaka Ike

• “The Dream CG World”; A look at the cinematography and computer- generated world of “Paprika” with cinematographer Michiya Kato