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Perfect Blue

Anime & Manga and Art House & International movie directed by Satoshi Kon

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Hello, who are you?

  • Dec 6, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
When I lived in Toronto, a friend and I would always go to this one comic book store for anime.  This place had a great anime section and the guys who ran the store would shut off whatever was playing and play new stuff just for us.  Through them we discovered gems like Cowboy Bebop and Utena, and it was on the strength of their recommendation that we watched Perfect Blue.

I've seen this movie a number of times and I think, on this last viewing, I might finally have it figured out.

Mima is a pop star with the trio Cham but she wants to get into acting and is being pressured by her agent to drop singing all together.  When Mima gets a part on a TV crime drama, she leaves singing behind, much to her manager, Rumi's, chagrin.  Slowly, Mima sheds her innocent pop star persona, and though she tries to convince herself it's necessary in order to become a real actor, in her heart she hates what she's doing.  Mima's delicate psychology is further stressed when she learns about a blog called Mima's Room that details her thoughts and feelings.  Soon Mima begins to confuse realities as she becomes secretly obsessed with the blog, using it to fill in the gaps in her own crumbling memories.  And then the bodies start piling up and all the victims were involved with Mima's loss of innocence.

As Mima becomes evermore unhinged and unsure about the nature of reality, the film itself becomes more and more disjointed.  Mimicking Mima's deteriorating sanity, the movie switches seamlessly between events in the real world, scenes from Double Bind, and Mima's imagination.  And when Mima finally comes face-to-face with the truth, when she at last understands what's been happening around her, the film stubbornly clings to its fantasy--Mima is facing down a very real and deadly opponent, but everyone is still trapped halfway between reality and make-believe.

Made in 1998, the film seems a bit dated today, mostly because the Internet is still kind of new for the characters.  But the movie still holds up because, I believe, a good story never goes out of style.  Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller in a very literal sense.  It's brutal, it's bloody, it addresses personality and psychology on a number of levels, and blurs the line between what is real and what is not.

After we watched this movie for the first time, my friend and I turned to each other, mouths agape.  "Jesus," I said.  "Yeah," came the reply.  We were a bit confused by what we'd just seen, but also deeply unsettled because the film is, at times, hard to watch.  Because it's anime, we were already one step removed from the film, and the film-within-a-film narrative further alienates the audience from some of action, but Perfect Blue features one very long rape scene and a second attempted rape, and these two moments break down any and all barriers that might separate the audience from what's happening on screen.

It's taken me multiple viewings to fully understand and appreciate everything that's going on in the film, but I don't think the movie's complexity works against it.  Perfect Blue asks a lot of its audience and in return delivers a multi-layered thriller about obsession and identity.
Hello, who are you? Hello, who are you?

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December 06, 2009
This is one of my favorite anime films of all time. It was just so brilliant in the way it used mind-bending qualitites to keep the audience on their feet. Nice work.
 
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More Perfect Blue reviews
review by . September 28, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
Perfect Blue is the first anime film directed by Satoshi Kon, and it's loosely based on a novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. After I finished watching the film, I realized that Satoshi Kon had done a great job dropping quite a few subtle clues throughout the film before the truth is revealed at the end. While Perfect Blue is a decent film, I'm not entirely sure I can recommend it whole-heartedly. The film has some violent and bloody sections to it, and there's also nudity and the rape …
review by . January 06, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
cover
During a time when Japanese Anime had the reputation of characters with "over-expressive eyes", some with very complex stories while most of them are "kid-friendly"--the vast majority of anime releases were made up of mechas, cyberpunk, supernatural and mythology. Director Satoshi Kon (Memories) decides to come up with a different approach by adapting the novel by Yoshihazu Takeuchi. "PERFECT BLUE" (1998) is a film very different from the anime films of its time. The …
review by . August 31, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
While I wouldn't go as far as some, who have compared this to some of the greatest anime (and some of the greatest films of any genre -- this is not Hitchcock by any stretch), I found it to be a strong and well-told thriller. Be warned that the animation is not up to contemporary anime standards (in that sense this film has not aged as well as, say, Miyazaki's early work or even of films like Akira or Ghost in the Shell) -- and that the initial impression of a "teeny bopper" type film is misleading …
About the reviewer

Ranked #246
I love horror movies. I love to talk about them, read about them, and even watch them from time to time. I write a blog and host a weekly podacast with Count Vardulon in which we argue about, laugh over, … more
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About this movie

Wiki

One of the most ambitious animated films to come out of Japan (or anywhere, for that matter),Perfect Blueis an adult psycho-thriller that uses the freedom of the animated image to create the subjective reality of a young actress haunted by the ghost of her past identity. Mima is a singer who leaves her teeny-bop trio to become an actress in a violent television series, a career move that angers her fans, who prefer to see her as the pert, squeaky-clean pop idol. Plagued by self-doubt and tormented by humiliating compromises, she begins to be stalked, in her waking and sleeping moments, by an accusing alter ego who claims to be "the real Mima," until she collapses into madness as her coworkers are brutally slain around her. Director Satoshi Kon, adapting the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, shows us the world from her schizophrenic perspective: days blur, dreams cross over into the waking world, the TV show blends into her real life, until her life merges with her part and she can't separate the ghosts from the real-life stalkers. Though the pat ending sweeps the psychosis and anxiety away with nary an emotional scar, it remains a smart, stylish thriller and one of the most intelligent and compelling uses of animation in recent years. Though tame by the extreme standards of "adult anime," there is nudity and a few sexually provocative scenes, and the animation is detailed and stylized (if somewhat stiff and jerky by Disney standards).--Sean Axmaker
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Details

Director: Satoshi Kon
Genre: Animation
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: May 2, 2000
Runtime: 81 minutes
Studio: Manga Video
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