Satoshi Kon passed away in August, and since then I’ve been wanting a way to memorialize him. Putting a shrine with his personal photos in my room would be kind of creepy, and having a bunch of his DVDs doesn’t really do it. So I looked around to see if any of his characters got a figurine rendition. Turns out UART made a polyresin version of the eponymous protagonist of his 2006 film Paprika. Since I’m a huge fan of the movie, the decision to purchase was quick. It looks like the figure is quite rare now, with only a couple left on Amazon selling for around $150.
Paprika stands about 7.75 in tall, which to UART is apparently 1/6 scale. If that were the case, she’d be less than 4 ft tall in real life! Nice try UART, but you’re not fooling anyone. This is one of the worse examples of misrepresented scale by a figure manufacturer. A lot of collectors hate those kinds of shenanigans, and I’m becoming one of them. 1/8 scale is more reasonable, though that still puts her at the lower end of the 5 ft range. Well, Japanese girls are short I guess.
There are many things I love about this figure, not the least of which is the particular scene it was inspired by. Paprika stands on an elaborate base, which features various characters from the trippy parade scene of the movie. The off-kilter mishmash of visual elements and their distorted proportions perfectly convey the atmosphere of that scene. It’s cute, festive, but also somewhat unsettling. Paprika’s own proportions reflect this as well, and I’m glad. So many anime figures of women are sexualized, and it’s nice to see one that’s playful and dreamlike instead.
As you can see, the detailing on the base is magnificent. UART’s sculptors went all out on this one, making the base an integral part of the figure. If it was just Paprika by herself on a black disc, the figure would be boring as hell. The various figures on the base hint at the story as well, and I really liked the miniature versions of Tokita on there.
The paint job for the most part is good. The shading on the decorative pieces, Paprika’s clothing, and the chairman’s tree bark face are all fantastic. The flesh parts, though, could have used more definition. Paprika’s fingers all melt into one, and the faces on the mini Tokitas look pretty bad.
Aside from the paint issue, there isn’t much to complain about for the figure itself.
But then you get to the packaging, and there are a few annoyances. You may have noticed some white specks in the photos. Those aren’t dings in the paint job, they’re all styrofoam pieces. I tried to clean them off as well as I could before the shoot, but they are persistent and sometimes hard to notice unless you’re up really close. For this reason, I prefer the way mainstream manufacturers pack their figures in vacu-formed plastic.
Another problem is illustrated in the photo below. See that microwave? It’s supposed to be on top of the refridgerator, but broke off. There was also a tiny electrical cord on its back, which is now under the fridge. I don’t know if this was the result of bad packing or otherwise, but UART should have thought that part through a little better. The little “Paprika” card, I gather, is supposed to fit into Paprika’s hand (replacing the DC Mini) but the peg didn’t quite go in so I decided not to force it.
This figure sits at the front of my shelf, and I’m probably going to keep it there a good long while (and repair the broken parts). I love that it’s tasteful, not relying on sex appeal but rather using the strength of its imagery to grab your attention. I love the extravagant base and the fine detailing in the sculpt. Most of all I love that it so perfectly captures the essence of Paprika, using imagery that evokes the trippiness and dreaminess of the film almost instantly. It really is a fitting memorial for one of anime’s greatest directors.