First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

Synopsis:

hen prototype models for a dream-invading device go missing at the Institute for Psychiatric Research, employees soon learn that someone is using these new machines to drive them all insane. Brilliant psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba – whose alter ego is a dream detective named Paprika – realizes she is in danger She must venture into the dream world in order to fight her mysterious opponents. Soon nightmares begin to leak into daily life and the borderline between dream and reality grows unclear. The future of the waking world is at stake.

Yasutaka Tsutsui’s celebrated 1993 novel – the inspiration for the widely acclaimed anime film of the same name (“A gorgeous riot of future-shock ideas and brightly animated imagery… A mind-twisting, eye-tickling wonder,” The New York Times) – is a rollicking, wildly entertaining journey into the world of imagination.


Happy Friday everyone! Well, at least, I hope that today will be a happy one. After all, it’s the weekend! It’s time to ditch those work clothes and don comfortable clothes. I used to spend weekends exploring the outdoors. I usually go trekking, especially when I was whipping myself back into shape about five years ago. Perhaps because of the pandemic, I haven’t gone trekking even though I kept telling myself I would go back to trekking once things return to normal. Speaking of the pandemic, cases are once again surging here in the Philippines. As economic and social activities are slowly turning back to normal, many have let their guards down I guess. Anyway, I do hope that you are doing fine and that you are healthy, in mind, body, and spirit. Do rest well during the weekend.

Before I can dive into the weekends, let me close this week with a fresh First Impression Friday update. I can’t believe that we are nearly done with July! Hopefully, you were all able to achieve everything you wanted to achieve this month. Reading-wise, I have dedicated my birth month to exclusively reading works of Japanese literature. A familiar territory, it has become some sort of my comfort zone. It is an entire ecosystem where different genres and subgenres thrive. It never runs out of interesting reads which cater to every palate. Earlier today, I finished Kangaroo Notebook, my second novel by Kōbō Abe. It was an eccentric work that made me feel uncomfortable at times. More of my thoughts later when I complete my review of the book. This evening, I started reading Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Paprika.

When I came across the book earlier this year (or maybe even earlier), I was reminded of the anime movie of the same title. While I love anime, I haven’t watched it yet because I get the impression that it is science fiction-ish. I am not much into science fiction when I was younger; well even now actually but it doesn’t preclude me from occasionally dipping my fingers into works of this genre. However, I also didn’t realize that it was based on a novel. Even though I am still a little apprehensive about the genre, I obtained a copy of the book. If Kangaroo Notebook and The Woman in the Dunes (they are, technically not works of science fiction but they are close enough) are any indicators, the combination of science fiction and Japanese literature would certainly provide a unique reading journey.

Originally published in Japanese in 1993 as パプリカ Papurika), the story was set in the future. At least that is what I am getting from the first few chapters I have completed so far. The most prevalent subjects I have encountered so far are dream monitoring and psychotherapy. In this futuristic version of Japan, dream monitoring and intervention have become powerful tools for treating mental disorders. Leading this discovery are 29-year-old Dr. Atsuko Chiba and her colleague, Dr. Kosaku Tokita. Both are geniuses in the field of psychiatry and were on the cusp of being awarded a Nobel Prize. Dr. Tokita has invented the DC Mini, a small patch that, when attached to the head, allows a person to enter another person’s dreams.

This then invites the question: who is the titular Paprika? During a press conference, a news reporter raised the same question. Rumors have been rife about her existence in the laboratory/Institute where the two doctors worked and yet very few people have met her. Is she a figment of one’s imagination? It is not far-fetched but from the way Dr. Chiba reacted during the press conference, there is more to her than meets the eye. Actually, Paprika already made her presence be felt in chapter 4. She met up with Tatsuo Noda, a prominent car company executive who was suffering from severe anxiety. With the help of a PT device and Paprika, he was hoping that he be cured of his anxieties. Paprika has quite a reputation for being a top-notch psychiatrist. However, she was shrouded in a veil of mystery.

Apart from unraveling who Paprika is and her role in the treatment of patients with mental illnesses, I want to understand more about dream treatment. Dream therapy is currently being utilized as a form of treatment. It usually involves the analysis of different symbolisms in dreams to understand stressors. Tsutsui’s form of dream therapy, however, is more complicated. Moreover, a question by a reporter during the DC Mini press conference piqued my interest. While the device seems to be beneficial, there are inherent concerns about its usage. For one, the device can be exploited in order to condition the minds of workers or anyone else. Is this a foreshadowing of what is bound to happen in the story? It makes me curious.

It does seem like a straightforward story with accessible storytelling. But hey, this is Japanese literature we are talking about. Nothing is as simple as they seem. There are still a lot of questions going through my mind and I am hoping that they will be promptly resolved by the story. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!