Tag Archives: acting skills

Paprika: The Inception Anime

So based on my new obsession with anime, my mom picked this little anime film up for me from the library. I had not expectations and I was delightfully surprised. This anime film, which got positive reviews across the board in 2006, is an anime about dreams. In my opinion, anime is one of the few mediums that can accurately depict dreams. (Nice attempt Christopher Nolan, but this film came 4 years earlier than your Inception.) If I had seen this before I had seen Inception, I would’ve considered Inception a rip-off (sort of is). But it’s comparing apples to oranges. And that’s the way in which this anime stands out.

Paprika is a story that appears to take place in modern day. A Japanese technology company has created a piece of technology known as the DC Mini. These apparatus is used by psychologists to analyze the dreams of patients firsthand in order to diagnose and treat their patients. The one problem? The machine hasn’t been finished. And then it’s stolen. So the members of the company must go on what appears to be a wild goose chase in order to find who stole them before dreams become fused with reality.

That’s what makes this film unique. At any moment, the characters in the film could be dreaming, awake or asleep, and the

What's going on here? Probably why it's rated R...

mind-bending elements that present themselves in this film as the characters navigate the dreams is done beautifully. The film incorporates a love of parades, movies, and the thrill of flight all in one. Although I myself do not dream in terms of surreality, I could appreciate the elements of dreaming used that most people experience. The vivid colors and feeling of a warped reality and drawn beautifully and the movements of the characters are animated fluently and gracefully, something I’ve found that some anime have trouble with. (I guess it all depends on the budget and skill of the artists…)

Yuri Lowenthal. Fat, but good.

The voice actors are decent, most notably is Yuri Lowenthal. I didn’t pick up on his voice immediately, but he is one of those A-list voice actors that get a lot of work today. I think now would be a good time to explain voice acting in terms of skill. In the past (1970’s to 1990’s I believe) voice actors were picked more often for the sound of their voice rather than their acting skills. (It’s like choosing a sports announcer.) But in recent decades, voice actors are being chosen for their versatility and their acting skills. It’s this change that has given a lot of credit to an industry that is not seen as all that credible in America. In a more dramatic sense, in comparison to cartoon voice actors, these actors can perform dramatic as well as comedic and everything in between. And this gives us a better viewing experience because sound is half the battle in anime. Big league hitter companies in anime dubbing are ones like Funimation and Aniplex.

Paprika. Worth the jump.

Other than that, there is a certain cute element to Paprika. If you watch the ending romance you’ll understand. Characters are thrown into each other’s dreams and the underlying feelings that are discovered help bring a happy ending. I do enjoy those snapshot films where a problem arises and returned to normal through understanding and conflict resolution. A “slice of life” if you will. And that’s what Paprika is. A little slice of dreams. 8.1 out of 10.

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Neon Genesis Evangelion

I need to say this right now about the original Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is hard to watch. It’s harder to watch dubbed, at least, from my experience it is. I feel the director/writer Hideaki Anno said it best about the show. “It’s strange that ‘Evangelion’ has become such a hit – all the characters are so sick!” And to me, that’s not “sick” in a good way. These characters, to put it better, suck. The main characters of this anime somehow don’t develop as the show progresses. And their back stories and personalities are just as bad. I don’t mean to put down a classic anime, but this show had problems from its inception.

Okay, basic plot. Shinji Ikari, in the first episode, comes to Tokyo-3. He’s there because his father asked him

Shinji. Pouting and whining with no comfort from Rei.

to come. This sounds odd you say? Well it is. Shinji has not seen his father for years, basically they became estranged after his mother’s death. (And Shinji’s father was implicated… sort of… not really… I’m not sure…) His father, one of the creators of N.E.R.V., ┬áhas created these “machines” known as Evangelions. EVA’s for short. And these machine’s soul purpose are to destroy Angels. These Angels have been hitting the Earth for the past 15 years. Known as 2nd impact, this Angel that comes to Earth is defeated, but not before major devastation is wrought. And because of the 2nd impact, Earth has been changed and N.E.R.V. and a coalition of countries have been tasked with defending the Earth.

Evangelion. A cast to hate due to their "sick"ness.

And it doesn’t stop there. Just wait til the last 2 episodes. Either it will bore you or fascinate you. Either/or, it will confuse you. In typical mecha WTF fashion, this show will confuse you. And/or frustrate you with its characters. First of all, scum of the Earth #1 is Shinji’s father, Gendo Ikari. He neglects his son, and then doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Quite the father figure. There’s Asuka Langley Soryu, the most annoying German/Japanese girl on the planet. If she’s not berating Shinji with insults and back-handed comments, she’s most likely speaking terrible German (That voice actress has no idea what German is.) And she hates her life. Basically. So that’s another strike against her, among countless strikes. Rei Ayanami is another classically boring character that is hard to comprehend. Her monotone voice (it’s explained) mixed with emotionless conversation makes her scenes hard to watch. Misato Katsuragi is a whorish female major with nothing more to do than worry about others and become promiscuously unsavory. Quite the combo, including a ridiculously sloppy apartment.

And those are just to name a few. And, as I said, the one bane of this show is that none of these characters change throughout the entire anime. Not a one. They all remain in their own worlds of self pity and pettiness until the end. And if that’s what other people got from this show, I’m sure that is also portrayed across the board, subbed or dubbed. I watched the dubbed and pretty much regretted it. It being a 1995 anime, precursor to the golden age of voice actors going on now, these voice actors are hired more for their voices than their acting skills. I will give credit to 2 though. Kyle Sturdivant does a great Greg Ayres impression without even knowing it as Kaworu Nagisa (can’t explain, too far in). And Aaron Krohn does a great job as Ryoji Kagi, Misato’s love interest and all around stud. Everyone else was most likely just in it for the chance to “attempt” to voice act. I’m not quite sure.

The EVAs are cool, I just don't know what to say about the show...

Other than that, I would give the show in total a 5.2 out of 10. The concept, above all, is actually very interesting. I have a soft spot for mecha anime, and this is considered one of the best and most original. It is a classic. But I’m not sure it suits everyone’s taste. And that’s why they re-did the ending and added the movies for a different perspective on Neon Genesis Evangelion. The comments on symbolism and religion are quite prominent. But not until the end. The psychological/philosophical musings became redundant, as it seemed they were just lines to fill time more than actual reevaluations of the meaning of life. But I am interested to see the takes that were made after the original. So we’ll just have to wait a while and see what’s in store. And I’ll make sure to make a review to fill in all my “fans” with. But seriously, if you view my blog weekly/daily, why not subsribe? It’d let me know what people wanna see me review and what people’s interests are. Thanks for reading always, it’s a real treat inviting you to The Abyss.