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Perfect Blue

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

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Pure Brilliance... If Hitchcock Made a Cartoon, This Would be THAT FILM!

  • Jan 6, 2009

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

      Perfect Blue

"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.

       Perfect Blue

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.

          Perfect Blue


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.


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.

cover scene CHAM scene scene scene

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October 11, 2012
You know really well that I love Perfect Blue. I gotta watch this one again. Damn you college for eating up so much of my free time and cognitive energy!!
June 19, 2013
hahah. I need to take time to really finish my unwatched pile
December 06, 2010
Oh yeah, my girl owns this one and she was actually the first person who showed me this. Still don't know how I missed it before that.
December 06, 2010
this is one of my favorite animated features--whether from the U.S. or anywhere else. It is pure head-spinning brilliance!
January 07, 2009
Chris, that is two recommendations now for this film!
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 . December 06, 2009
Hello, who are you?
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 …
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 …
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About this movie


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