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 film is an intelligent, chilling, psychological thriller and it succeeds in having a very mind-bending very mature premise that it has even inspired a live action version in Japan and has been quoted as very "Hitchcockian" in its execution.
Mima Kirigoe (voiced by Junko Iwao) is a J-pop idol who is looking forward for a bright future as an actress. She abandons her post as part of the pop group "Cham" for a role in a sexually charged detective-mystery series. Mima's life begins to fall apart, reality and hallucinations merge into a terrifying netherworld where innocence is lost and dreams become nightmares. Mima quickly descends into a state of paranoia as she discovers an internet site that describes the everyday details of her life. Helpless and afraid, Mima can only watch as her associates are threatened and killed by a mysterious killer.
"Perfect Blue's" premise is very complex, it is a powerful tale of regret, fan obsession and protection, denial and the destruction of innocence. The film also has a strong commentary on abusive filmmakers and the pressures of being an actress. But it doesn't end there, what really made this anime feature one of my favorites is that way the plot is structured. There are a lot of powerful clues as to the identity of the killer and you can see it in the film's halfway point. What makes it very different and unique is the fact that it manages to effectively misdirect and distract the viewer's possible conclusions, that may cause the viewer to doubt and make his head spin in different directions. The insanity that binds both actress and the pop idol is put into bear, the parallels to the tv series "Double Bind" and the blind commitment from one's crazed fans.
Mima is an ambitious young woman who believes that she owes the people responsible for her fame as a pop idol that she is willing to undertake any scene in her job as an actress. She suffers a breakdown in psyche when she had to shoot a very graphic rape scene on camera and poses nude in a magazine. All these contributes to her confusion as to who or what she is--actress or singer--or just plain old Mima? The animated sequences are quite impressive as her face is brought to life in animated sequence, her character carries a lot of emotions; yes, there is quite a number of animated full frontal female nudity in the scenes. Mima suffers some delusions that the last act does give it credibility. Yes, it does, but the audience also has to pay attention because the answer isn't as simple as presented visually.
The Mi-mania stalker or Uchida the fan (voiced by Masaaki Okura) is a demented individual who adores the J-pop character "Mimarin" who is Mima herself. He attempts to destroy anything that may discredit his loved Mimarin sees Mima the actress as an impostor. Rumi (Rica Matsumoto) is Mima's primary publicity agent who adores Mima and would stop at nothing to protect Mima Kirigoe--the actress, the pop idol, the friend. When I said would stop at nothing--I really meant NOTHING to protect Mima. I have to stop here otherwise I may spoil the film, I've already gone a little too far than I wanted to.
The screenplay by Sadayuki Murai is carefully executed. The film has that eerie feel and scenes are accentuated to feel quite ominous. The kill scenes are quite bloody, brutal, creepy and nicely shot. The animation by Madhouse Studios (Ninja Scroll) is fluid even though it was made from traditional cell animation. Close-ups are used to emulate its emotional content and I loved the way Mima's eyes were animated.
The questions you have to ask when you see "Perfect Blue" is "why"--and not "who". I can give you one last clue; The color blue is used to hide what you see on camera--it is used to project an illusion. Is it possible for illusions to come to life? How far can one go to protect another's sanity?
Hitchcock would be proud.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! [5 Stars]
The unrated director's cut is more violent and contains nudity, graphic extended scenes and adult language. Utilize the Japanese language track and read the English Subtitles, and try to avoid the English dubbed track when you see this film. This is not your kid's cartoon film.
What did you think of this review?