Perfect Blue — Review

Don't let the smile fool you, she doesn't want to do it

If any­one were to name a sig­nif­i­cant lost for the ani­me indus­try, Satoshi Kon would be one of them. I still hold onto the idea that his Para­noia Agent remains one of the best ani­me that has aired on tele­vi­sion. He was just one of those direc­tors that con­stant­ly proved again and again that ani­me isn’t just for chil­dren through his own works that show­cased a blend of psy­chol­o­gy and soci­etal prob­lems — they should eas­i­ly be con­sid­ered some of the best Japan­ese films in gen­er­al, not just ani­mat­ed. Right up there with the likes of screen­play writer Chi­a­ki J. Kon­a­ka and direc­tor Hidea­ki Anno in terms of qual­i­ty work in anime.

To hon­or this man, let’s look into one of his first and best works — Per­fect Blue. A psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller flick that delves into sense of iden­ti­ty, los­ing your grip on real­i­ty, as well as the stress­ful and para­noia-fueled “dark side” of celebri­ty life.

Otaku, taken to a whole new level

Pop-idol star Mima Kiri­goe, of the idol group “CHAM1”, decides to throw away her image as a pop-idol in order to become a face in act­ing. This brings out an inter­est­ing­ly accu­rate inter­pre­ta­tion of the idol fan­dom in Japan — as expect­ed, her otaku fans are dis­grun­tled, but the real prob­lem arise with stalk­ers and online imper­son­ators. In Per­fect Blue, Mima’s stalk­er (who is intro­duced as “Me-Mania”) sends her threat­en­ing fax­es, a let­ter for her that con­tained a bomb, and appears to be run­ning a web­site which, under the guise of Mima’s own per­son­al blog, chron­i­cles every sin­gle intri­cate detail about her every­day activ­i­ties — to a very dis­turb­ing degree. And of course, mys­te­ri­ous mur­ders are hap­pen­ing to peo­ple who are close­ly con­nect­ed with Mim­i’s work.

Fans can get ugly...

Even though the inner work­ings seem to be laid out to the view­er at first glance, it’s soon made appar­ent that the plot isn’t some­thing that’s eas­i­ly fig­ured out. Once the stress of the job gets to Mima (sketchy scenes such as rape, nude mod­el­ling, etc.) and she begins to doubt her choice, the movie begins to fre­quent­ly skip between real­i­ty and delu­sion, to the point where the view­er doubts if any of this is hap­pen­ing in her head, if it’s real, or if she’s real­ly the one respon­si­ble for these mur­ders. Which, in my opin­ion, is a qual­i­ty of the film that makes it stand out and come across as some­what dis­turb­ing and freaky. It con­fus­es the view­er and many inter­pre­ta­tions can be made about the mean­ing behind cer­tain sequences — espe­cial­ly when the big unex­pect­ed rev­e­la­tion comes out.

It’s one of those films that requires mul­ti­ple view­ings in order to pick up on cer­tain things in the scenery and dia­logue that weren’t noticed dur­ing the first view­ing. I expect noth­ing less from the man behind the ani­me adap­ta­tion of Papri­ka, which was no doubt an ear­ly inspi­ra­tion for Christo­pher Nolan’s Incep­tion — this decade’s token “mind-fuck” movie.

The animation adds to the freakiness!

As for the ani­ma­tion and art, it’s what you would expect from MADHOUSE — end­less amounts of qual­i­ty and flu­id move­ments. And as a film direct­ed by Satoshi Kon, the char­ac­ter designs take on real­is­tic pro­por­tions (while still tak­ing on traits rec­og­niz­able as ani­me) that fit the film’s seri­ous tone. An impres­sive amount of work was done with cam­era angles and scenery just adds to the psy­chot­ic atmos­phere of the movie. Usu­al­ly in ani­me, the ani­ma­tion just com­ple­ments the  atmos­phere, so it’s a very nice treat when ani­ma­tors take the flex­i­bil­i­ty of the medi­um and use it to its full poten­tial by adding to the mood. It would be a god­send if the same qual­i­ty could be seen in more tele­vised anime!


2 thoughts on “Perfect Blue — Review

  1. Good review! The film is def­i­nite­ly a real eye open­er into an idol switch­ing careers in the enter­tain­ment indus­try and how some peo­ple can’t tell the dif­fer­ence between real­i­ty and fantasy. 

    Would you also mind read­ing my take on the film and com­ment­ing? There are some things I am con­fused about and need answers too!

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