In order to work as a "dream detective," which is considered illegal, Atsuko has created an alter ego called Paprika, to more easily invade, and in many cases, inspire dreams. Unfortunately for Paprika her secret identity is no longer very secret, and someone has stolen the DC minis and has started using them to drive everyone at the Institute insane. The differences between the world of dreams and the real world is becoming more and more difficult to determine, and with increasingly deadly results.
Although it has an initially interesting concept, Paprika is a very slow read, with at times some very plodding prose. The inter-office politics at the Institute, and the absurd notion of the main characters developing such an unstable device as a way of vying for a Nobel Prize, bogs down the initially clever sci-fi premise. The dreamscapes that Paprika and her friends explore include some interesting imagery, but readers will be far more rewarded by Satoshi Kon's wonderful 2006 anime adaptation of the novel.
|Satoshi Kon's Paprika was chock-full of amazing images|
Most of the characters, except for one of Paprika's patients and champions, Deputy Chief Commissioner of Police Konakawa, are downright unpleasant. Innocent people are mauled and destroyed left and right when the dream world starts to take over the real world, but with no real world consequences. Paprika and her friends don't seem to have any regrets about the public impact of their deadly invention. The ever-growing love-addled male Paprika-posse just keeps taking her out to eat after each escalating disaster, to public places where her enemies can easily get to her.
The late Satoshi Kon created a brilliant anime film based on Paprika in 2007. Many of the characters were condensed, and most of the boring office-related dialogue was excised. This book can best be viewed as an interesting inspiration for a superior work of art.
Originally published on Blogcritics: Book Review: ‘Paprika’ by Yasutaka Tsutsui