Before we begin, I haven't seen Inception, but I have seen Dreamscape. Which, if you want to see Paprika in live action, is probably the best choice. Note: the reviewer holds no responsibility for feelings of a bad-acid trip while watching Dreamscape or Paprika.
Story: This movie came highly recommended, and was on several "required watching" lists for variuos conventions. As much as I love a good, quirky, psychological plot...The story is a bit convoluted, and diploys a tactic of multiple layers to keep suspence potent. To start out, the team of scientists are attempting to perform dream-therapy on various individuals by sharing their dreams. Then, some sort of dream-terrorist starts trapping people in parades of ridiculous things. At this point, it becomes a closed-door mystery because only the scientists and their funders know about the dream-sharing-device. Then, instead of honoring closed-door-mystery style of finger-pointing and the killing off of unimportant side-characters, the plot side-steps to give those side-characters some backstory. Because, why not?
Animation: I once read a book where someone had to show a great-spectical of magic. Instead of producing some giant magical thing, they animate a bunch of small objects in an intricate dance around their head. The animation style of Paprika is like that. It's beautiful, and definitely a great feat of animation, but it's not the bells and whistles you'd expect from something that involves dreams.
Sound: This is probably suitable for a dreamland-esque adventure. There is one sequence of Paprika running around the city that is very lyrical, and I enjoyed that. I had the english-dubbed version, but for once I wasn't completely annoyed by the choice of voice actors.
Characters: The characters were... cliche, I guess. I didn't really connect with any of them, to be honest. The main character is the stereotypical, uptight, repressed businesswoman with an alter-ego I've seen a bazillion times in various genres. The cop with a heart-of-gold, and the childish-genius are two other examples of how little thought was put into their character designs.
Overall: It was entertaining, but not something I'd tell you to go find right-this-instance and watch.
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