Paprika – Yasutaka Tsutsui

I was almost tempted to sneak through and not write a review for this.  I’ve been trying to remember if I’ve ever stopped reading a book half way though.  I’m an easy going reader, happy enough if either the plot or the prose can keep me going, but neither could keep me going to the end, indeed, I think I only got as far as I did because this was given to me by a friend and I felt by not finishing I had let them down. Even my guilt wasn’t enough to save Paprika.

The seemingly perfect Atsuko Chiba is a brilliant psychotherapist who uses a device that can allow her to enter patients dreams to help treat them.  New prototypes of these devices go missing and are then used to destroy and modify the personalities of those close to Chiba and as she realises what is going on, formulates a plan to stop this happening.  At least I guess she does, at this point I stopped reading.  The devices are explained through so much jargon, I couldn’t tell if the words or theory was real, or based on anything at all, and I didn’t care.  The culprits, revealed fairly early on, probably because you have already worked it out, are actually diabolical, and insane.  The book seems to veer towards the erotic at times, which jarred slightly with the techno-babble and psychoanalysis, and I’m not sure if this gets more intense the further you go on.

According to the back page blurb, this is widely acknowledged as Tsutsui’s masterpiece, and while I have no doubt that he has a deep and fruitful imagination, I’m not so sure he should write about it.  That said, reading over reviews there are a lot of comments on the translation, and I have to admit, the prose is plain and wooden, and perhaps much has been lost from the original which would be a shame for Tsutsui.

While searching for an image of the cover, it looks like there is an anime of the book, and that seems the perfect medium for this, so maybe I will get to finish Paprika at some point.


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