An Underrated Anime Movie Beat Christopher Nolan’s $839 Million Box Office Hit To Its Premise 4 Years Earlier


  • Inception and Paprika explore similar premises of accessing other people’s dreams but differ in their approach and themes.
  • Paprika emphasizes the fantastical aspects of its storytelling through dream sequences, while Inception focuses on the science of dream invasions and the protagonist’s obsessions.
  • Paprika tackles the line between reality and fiction, and the power of the subconscious, while Inception delves into guilt, regret, and the potential consequences of erasing past mistakes.

Christopher Nolan’s Inception was a game-changing film both for filmmakers and Hollywood, and while it did a lot of new things compared to the average action or heist movie, it also shared a few similarities with an underrated anime movie from the mid-200s. Having started his career in 1998 with the black-and-white neo-noir independent crime thriller, Following, Nolan has solidified himself as one of the industry’s most unique and creative voices for over two decades. With films like Memento, The Prestige, and Tenet, Nolan’s filmography has featured some of the most puzzling and complex stories ever put to screen.

In addition to the asynchronous storytelling, Christopher Nolan’s movies are known for how they mess with time to tell their stories. Moreover, Nolan has also been praised for how well he handles complex themes, such as guilt and regret. Despite the similarities between Nolan’s Inception and the anime movie classic in question, both are highly influential in their respective fields and have motivated discussions about their shared themes and premises. Even with similar premises, both films approach their themes in different ways.

Paprika Explored Dream Invasions Before Inception

The 2006 film was directed by Satoshi Kon

Doctor Atsuko Chiba voiced by Megumi Hayashibara looks up directly into the camera in a scene from Paprika

The late Satoshi Kon’s 2006 psychological thriller Paprika follows an adventurous therapist named Atsuko Chiba, who races against the clock to prevent the exploitation of a machine that allows individuals to invade other people’s dreams. Complete with stellar voice acting and lush animation, Paprika tackles themes regarding the ethics of advanced scientific technology, the thin line between reality and fiction, and the abstract nature of dreams. While the film itself leaves plenty of room for viewers to draw their conclusions, Paprika received near-universal praise for opening the door for greater discussions of dreams and the power of the subconscious.

Even though Paprika and Inception share a similar premise of their respective protagonists gaining access to other people’s dreams through a piece of tech, the similarities end there. While Paprika contains many elements rife in a science fiction project, such as advanced technology, a futuristic aesthetic, and robots, it distinguishes itself from other projects more ostensibly classified as sci-fi by emphasizing the fantastical aspects of its storytelling through its dream sequences. As such, Atsuko is seen flying, morphing into other people and things, and even traveling through different periods. A Paprika TV adaptation has been in the works for a while, which shows how much impact it still has.

Inception Focused More On The Scientific Side Of Dream Exploration

Inception is “heist meets sci-fi”

Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb looking at something off-screen in Inception's ending

Inception centers around a group of thieves who are allowed to have their criminal pasts erased from history if they can successfully infiltrate a rival CEO’s dreams. One of Christopher Nolan’s most confusing movies, Inception grounds itself by placing a greater emphasis on the science associated with dream invasions. As such, audiences learn the nuances of how the different levels of one’s dreams and even limbo can affect the human brain. While Inception boasts some stunning visuals and effects, Christopher Nolan’s ability to convincingly make the events in Inception palatable is what truly makes the film engaging and unique from Paprika.


Inception Ending Explained – Is Cobb Still Dreaming?

Still confused about Inception’s ending? Here’s an explanation of what really happened in the film and what Nolan’s sci-fi really means.

Furthermore, Inception focuses more on guilt and regret, and their unique relation to time. Whereas Paprika offers viewers a thought-provoking adventure about freedom of thought and expression, Inception shows the effects strong negative emotions can have on an individual’s psyche. Additionally, Inception challenges viewers to consider how far they would go if there were a piece of technology that, in effect, could help them erase their past mistakes. Because of their vastly different thematic statements, Paprika and Inception‘s similarities are at a surface level. Nevertheless, Paprika should be mandatory viewing for viewers fond of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, as they’re both thought-provoking spectacles.


Release Date
July 16, 2010


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