I was supposed to post this yesterday to keep up my promise to post regularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I have the flu, and a runny nose, and all sorts of yucky respiratory problems that I often get at this time of year so I didn’t feel like posting then.
Anyway, nobody cares about that stuff. As I mentioned in my review of the Paprika novel, I rewatched the 2006 movie by Satoshi Kon just to see if my perception of it (the movie) would’ve changed now that I’ve read the novel. Spoiler: it has.
I watched Paprika with my boyfriend and a couple of other friends on Memorial Day weekend of 2007. I remember the date exactly because that weekend was memorable for being especially shitty. My boyfriend was in graduate school in another state at the time, and was only in town for a few days. I thought he was going to be in New York the entire holiday weekend, but he informed me last minute that he had to fly off to an anime convention in Texas so that only left me feeling especially resentful and bitchy that I wasn’t going to spend as time with him as I had originally thought. I know most of you don’t care to read personal stuff about me on this blog, but I wanted to explain my emotional standpoint when I went in to watch Paprika.
I was already grumpy before entering the theater, and I was already fighting with the boyfriend and really ready to break it off with him. So then, when the movie started, I was just annoyed. I didn’t appreciate Paprika the character, and why she was doing all of these things. The animation was pretty and intricate, but I kept being thrown out of the story because of the meta-narrative. Is this the dream sequence again, or is this reality being invaded by the dream? I admittedly have never watched a Satoshi Kon movie previously, so while I was expecting a visual feast (as I saw from the trailers), I certainly wasn’t ready for this philosophical onslaught. Which would’ve been fine any other time, but not when I was feeling so emotionally bruised already.
Anyway, came out of the movie not liking it. I thought it’s another case of another Japanese director trying so hard and creating beautiful disturbing images merely for the aesthetic value of being able to do so.
Fast-forward to 2013. I’ve read the novel, hated that one too, but decided to give the movie another chance since it’s been six years since I’ve seen it. It’s amazing what a different (and calmer) frame of mind can do to one’s reception of art. This time around, Paprika makes much more sense. The repetition of the dream sequence scenes, which I originally thought was lazy animation, is actually relevant to the overall narrative. The movie diverges slightly from the book, but in a better way — the movie focuses less on corporate politics and the misanthropic treatment of women, but more on Paprika/Atsuko as a character with her own intrinsic motivation and agency. The movie highlights the dream world, with its own internal dream logic, and how even what we perceive as reality sometimes is much closer to surrealism than we’d like to admit. Rewatching Paprika (with a less bitter attitude and 10x less bitchiness) has made me admire Satoshi Kon’s ability to take a preexisting story, give it his own twist, and remake it into a treat for the eyes and the brain. This time around, I gave myself permission to not focus on the story — the plot of Paprika is tricky enough without having read the book — but to immerse myself on the imagery, in the setting, and to really let it wash over me like a real dream.
I generally dislike re-watching or re-reading things because I feel that there’s only so much time that I have in my life, and I can’t waste it going through the same material repeatedly. But rewatching Paprika, even if only to reinforce my dislike for the novel, also had me thinking if movies/series that I disliked years ago would appear different to me now since I have the distance of time and experience between me and the material? Of course, this statement doesn’t apply to series that are objectively bad, like Saint Beast, but maybe the Utena movie wouldn’t be as distasteful to my palate now? I was a fangirl baby when I watched the Utena series and movie, now that I’ve had a few hundred hours of anime watching between then and now, would I have a deeper, more nuanced appreciation of it?
What worries me about this premise is that what if rewatching something that I’ve professed to love will make me dislike it now that I am older, with different tastes? I know Fruits Basket (both anime and manga, alas) didn’t hold up to its hallowed place in my pantheon, so I’m kind of wary to try this with the other titles that I desperately hold so dear lest I end up not liking any anime anymore.
What’s been your experience with rewatching anime? Is a second viewing always an improvement?