Magical Mondays: A Journey Inside the Mind with Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers

Have you ever wondered exactly what’s going on inside your friends’ heads? Of course you have. Have you ever wanted to take a surreal and frightening journey inside the physical manifestation of your friends’ thoughts, feelings, and worries? Maybe? No? Well, in these two series, you can!

Fiction provides us with a unique opportunity to see into the minds of others, in that we get to live out other people’s stories and lives and see the world through their point of view for a time. Fantasy and sci-fi elements that allow us to literally see into and interact with the minds of characters, such as the dream-diving in Paprika and Inception, take this a step further. Through literally venturing into a physical manifestation of another character’s mind, you can learn a lot about them that they may not show you on the surface, such as hidden insecurities and secret memories. And sure, as a writer you could get the same information across in a dream sequence that lets the audience see inside that character’s mind for a scene, but the act of physically entering someone else’s mental landscape is what I want to talk about today. It lets the other characters, rather than solely the audience, learn what’s going on in the subject character’s head, and does so in a way that also moves the plot forward and provides a physical adventure at the same time.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers are two series that, via magic, give their characters the opportunity to explore their co-cast members’ inner worlds, sending them all down a proverbial rabbit hole into surreal, symbolism-heavy, and often frightening landscapes that teach them (and the audience) something about their peers that they couldn’t have known before. The two series use a lot of the same tools, artistically speaking, but the consequences and emotional outcome of their heroes’ journeys into each other’s mindscapes is very different in each case. Heavy spoilers for both shows beyond the jump!

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Reality into Dreams, then Back Again: Paprika and Male Entitlement

Paprika and ChibaPaprika is one of my favorite films of all time. The 2006 Satoshi Kon film is well known for its stunning visuals, trippy story, and amazing music. Honestly, just trying to wrap your head around the idea of dreams within dreams (insert Inception sound bite here) and dreams invading reality is enough to keep your mind occupied. However, as with all films, especially Satoshi Kon films, there are a plethora of other themes floating around to play around with. The protagonist, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, is an especially interesting character, but one of the most interesting things about the movie is how she is viewed by the men around her. As she and Paprika maneuver through their respective worlds, they become the lens through which the audience experiences the extent of how male entitlement has flourished, even in this one small research facility.

Warning for mentions/images of assault below the cut, and spoilers for those who haven’t seen the film yet. (Although I highly recommend watching it!)

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