This is one of my favorite movies, regardless of the fact that it’s an anime. It also happened to be the movie to  introduce me to the genius of Satoshi Kon, but let’s take it from the start. For those who haven’t seen the movie, feel free to read as there aren’t any spoilers.

WHAT IS IT?

Perfect Blue is an anime movie released in 1998 and is widely considered as a landmark in terms of story-line and animation. Behind it all, is Satoshi Kon (1963-2010), a very famous and highly regarded Japanese anime director behind movies like Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Paranoia Agent (TV series), Roujin Z, Millennium Actress, Memories.  The film is loosely based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and has been occasionally referenced as Hitchcockian,  a great compliment indeed. Personally I did find the film to hold up to that compliment, but it’s just slightly affected by Hitchcock.

WHAT GENRE?

Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller, containing animated violence and several sexual themes. There are various scenes in the game that confused me, and some of them freaked me out. I can’t say I was particularly scared at any scene, but I was somewhat confused and encountered a feeling of solitude and alienation during the movie.

TRAILER

WHAT’S THE PLOT?

Perfect Blue revolves around a pop star (Mima Kirigoe) of a pop trio called CHAM (kind of always reminded me of WHAM for a reason, so feel free to make the same connection), that abandons the group to follow an acting career. However, early on the movie  it appears that Mima is being stalked by a hardcore fan of hers, this sole reveal at the start of the movie dazzled me. I was wondering what is more to show when I first saw the movie. Anyhow,  her agents are fighting over her choice to throw away her pop career and take small roles as an actress, one being sure she made a mistake to give up her pop career and one being sure she’s on the right path. Her fans also seem to be disappointed by such decision and she turns out to be a daily joke. Mima is driven by her will to become a great actor, performing as rape victims and posing nude for magazines. The more the movie progresses, the stalking increases and her acting career becomes more and more obscured. Death threats and a fake website (ME-MANIA) where someone pretends to be her, have a heavy impact on Mima, knowing someone is stalking her, wherever she is (emphasis must be given on WHEREVER, cause even the privacy of her own home doesn’t seem enough). She slowly but gradually gets more alienated and frightened to get out of the house. Her conscience even begins to torture her for her choice to become a pop-star. Her dream of fame as an actress becomes a real nightmare with no place to escape.

What I  absolutely love in the movie is that it takes a pretty normal scenario “Guy gets obsessed with Pop-Star, Pop-Star gets crazy” and lays it out in front of your eyes from the start, making you wonder if there’s anything else to be expected. However, the approach taken, really separates the movie from the Hollywood cliche. Satoshi Kon also blends the dream with reality in the most successful way I’ve ever seen in any movie, a technique he used a lot in several of his movies. At some point, I  found myself very confused about what has actually happened and what was actually just dreams.

WHAT ABOUT THE LOOKS?

The movie looks great, it is hand-drawn, initially at the first scenes, the movie didn’t look as great as it looks after the first minutes, perhaps its my idea, but I’ve noticed that. The animation is great and fluent, and despite I don’t recall any explosions or so, it reminds me a lot of AKIRA’s quality, which is of course a great compliment for any hand-drawn movie. Katsuhiro Otomo himself (yes, the man behind Akira)  is credited as “Special Supervisor” for Perfect Blue, so that says something on it’s own.

ANY TRIVIA?

The movie rights are owned by Darren Aronofsky, that bought them for 59.000$ in order to be able to include a scene for his movie Requiem for a Dream.

Below you can see the striking similarities and the scene in both films.

Similarities

WHAT ABOUT RECOMMENDATIONS?

Requiem for a Dream, Magnolia

LAST WORDS?

Perfect Blue offers a fresh and deep view/take at obsession, fear and alienation and how vulnerable we are. Definitely a film you shouldn’t miss out. You’ll enjoy it more if you’ve seen Bodyguard once. Yes, that cheesy movie (I didn’t say I like it :D) with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, for the sole reason that this is the other side of the coin.

Jim’s Score: 4+ of 5 starps

The ‘+’ is for the special blend of dream and reality.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0175880/