Is Inception a rip-off of Paprika?
When I’m watching films that adapt the same story or concept as previous films, or are clearly influenced by other films, I don’t think of them in terms of which is a better product. That definitely becomes a factor later on, but I like to think of the works as independent of each other before I make the obvious comparison. Which is why I like both Christopher Nolan’s 2010 Inception and Satoshi Kon’s 2006 Paprika.
A common complaint about Inception is that it blatantly copies Paprika, and several sources claim that Nolan was inspired by Paprika, but after some searching I couldn’t find a direct quote from Nolan or any other direct evidence. Honestly though, it doesn’t matter, because the copying really only goes as far as parts of the premise and imagery. There are moments in Inception that are live-action versions of Paprika, but there are moments where Inception takes inspiration from Man With a Movie Camera, Twin Peaks, and Blood of a Poet as well. Cobbling together a new product from pieces of old ones is not ripping off per se, but it can be derivative. However, I don’t think that Inception is derivative.
What’s the same:
Both movies have a cast of characters using a dream machine that allows people to share dreams, and large portions of the movie take place inside dreams, but other than that, these plot points are different. They do share imagery, though. When Cobb explains to Ariadne how dreams and dream construction works, she touches a piece of it and it shatters like glass. In Paprika, the titular character learns that the plot is happening and notices the dream is falling apart, and she touches it and it shatters.