Wesley R. Ball’s review published on Letterboxd:
In my ongoing stint of rediscovering anime for myself, I happened upon Papurika when foraging through the foreign section on my Netflix queue. I vaguely recalled hearing something about it, and after a brief search, found that people had pointed out that it bore many similarities to Inception, which I love. So, naturally, I felt the instant need to dive right into this, and the final push to watch this came right after I watched Ghost in the Shell in the theater. So here I am. Still trying to process the 90 minute mindfuck that I have just received.
Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful acid trip, much more visually and artistically stunning than Nolan's rather darker and drearier (by comparison) film. But when watching this I couldn't help but constantly scrutinize the similarities and differences between these two films, and while I still hold Inception in high regard, I came close to adoring Papurika just as much. The story can be slightly convoluted and difficult to follow if you aren't paying the absolute utmost attention, but the color and visual marvels present in the film serve as wonderful distractions from the complex storyline. I loved the concept of meshing dreams and reality, as this was delved into much more than the more reality-grounded Inception. If a sci-fi film is going to have dreaming as its main subject, it may as well go all out, right?
Papurika most definitely goes "all out" on the nonsensical side of dreaming, and when this is mixed with a flair that only the Japanese can bring, we get a truly unique fantastical experience. Paprika herself is a wonderfully enigmatic character, as she serves as the bridge for the dreamers between their fantasies and reality. The ending got a little off-course and the resolution felt a little rushed or shaky to me, but perhaps on a rewatch I will catch things I didn't notice before (that happens a lot with me). Regardless, Papurika is one of my newfound favorite anime films, and I'm having a difficult time choosing between it and Inception. The latter is undoubtedly amazing, but the more I think about it, the more things I find that I dislike or holes in the plot. I love how this anime film isn't afraid to reach beyond the limitations of true science and delve into the endless realm of dreams and imagination. It makes for a truly unique experience that I will want to revisit again and again.