Perfect Blue, a 1997 exploitation film about a sweet concoction of reality and reverie, still piques the interest of the anime audience, but certain scenes remain deeply uncomfortable and unsettling.
This pulp thriller film is the perfect blend of good and evil, private and public, crime and cyberspace, all wrapped up in blatant soft core nudity, explicit assault, and violence.
Although Satoshi Kon’s masterpiece, this film will send your mind into a slow spin with its pop culture and psychological themes. Find out more in our Perfect Blue anime review.
Mima Kirigoe (Junko), an insipid ex-member of a Japanese girl-pop group, decides to abandon her successful musical career to pursue acting as her new career path after being encouraged by her agent. She lands a small role in one of the TV shows after ditching her tutus.
Her freedom is cut short when her ex-band scores a smash hit in Japan’s music industry without her, while she continues to struggle with a minor role in the psycho series. Mima’s life takes an unexpected turn when she discovers a detailed diary on the internet that informs about her in an extremely creepy manner. Her days become even more terrifying when she discovers a maniacal stalker.
Another issue that appears in Mima’s life not long after is a version of her former pop idol self who wants to persecute her because she would rather not be shelved. Mima begins to see visions of her alter ego, who is hell-bent on wreaking havoc on the’real’ her.
To make matters worse, Mima further tarnishes her previous innocent idol image by participating in a photoshoot that requires her to strip and participate in a gruesome rape scene for her series. As a result, Mima’s life disintegrates into a disorienting mix of her personal events and the plot of the series. Mima begins to question the intimidating ghost from her past after witnessing a couple of murders.
Is Mima hallucinating, fantasising, dreaming, being stalked by a deranged man, or worse, a menacing killer with an undiagnosed personality disorder?
Viewer’s First Impression
Perfect Blue is a classic woman-in-danger thriller that follows the life of a sensational media queen in Japan’s entertainment industry. It also addresses paedophilia in Japanese pop culture, in which a childlike girl is normalised as the next fantasy object for sexual indulgence.
This is a poignant, scary, gripping, and thoughtful psychological thriller that established Satoshi Kon as a director to rival Argento or De Palma.
Production, Crew, and Background
Perfect Blue is a Palm Pictures presentation of a Manga Entertainment production by Rex Entertainment Co. Satoshi Kon makes his directorial debut with this film, which is produced by Hiroaki Inoue and Masao Maruyama.
Sadyuki Murai’s screenplay is based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s 1991 novel Perfect Blue: Kanzen Hentai (released in English by Seven Seas Entertainment as Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis).
In 1997, the film premiered at the Fant-Asia Film Awards in Montreal, where it won Best Asian Film and Best American Film. Before it was released in Japanese theatres in 1998, this film was recognised and critically acclaimed at numerous film festivals around the world.
Characters, Arcs, and Development
Mima Kirigo: Mima is an intricately designed character, as well as the film’s protagonist, who left her girl-pop band Cham to pursue a career as an actor.
Mamoru Uchida: Also known as Me-Mania, Uchida is a Mima fanatic.
Rei is a member of Mima’s ex-girl pop band Cham. Following Mima’s departure, Rei and the remaining Cham band members released a song that reached the top of the music charts. She appears to care about the protagonist despite changing her career path.
Rumi Hidaka, Mima’s manager and a former Japanese pop idol, is opposed to Mima’s career change to acting.
Tejjma: Tejjma is a well-known figure in the Japanese entertainment industry. The fact that his word has an impact on the stardom of various debut actors is clearly emphasised in the film.
Murano: The infamous photographer who enjoys stripping women in an exhibitionist manner dies shortly after photographing a naked Mima.
Perfect Blue has an astonishingly routine anime and a cult pungency with the noirish night cityscapes. Although the movie failed to deliver with underdeveloped scenarios and bare minimum tension that didn’t quite satisfy the viewer or answer any of the questions that followed the Possession by Illusion, it does project a profoundly unsettling image of stardom. Kon has meticulously articulated the perilous link between many idols’ public and private lives. Mima’s self-sabotage behaviour reflects her authentic experiences, but with indifference and uncertainty, almost as if she had learned nothing from them. Without a doubt, this film is an emotional rollercoaster, enthralling, powerful, and thought-provoking. It keeps the audience’s attention by going out of its way to add unique details to the genre. It investigates the Japanese entertainment industry, pop culture, the obsessive and intrusive nature of celebrity fandoms, and the toxic use of cyberspace that continues to pervade people’s daily lives.
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