Perfect Blue

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Perfect Blue anime DVD cover

DirectorSatoshi Kon
StudioMadhouse
GenreSuspense, psychological thriller, horror
Release year1998
Purchase DVDClick here to purchase from Amazon.

Today, we are going to look at the first feature film of animator Satoshi Kon, Perfect Blue. Satoshi Kon was best known for his surreal works that blur the line between reality and dreams, having directed four successful movies and one successful anime series Paranoia Agent. He was pretty much the David Lynch of the anime world, birthing some terrifying creations that makes us question how deeply we can sink into dark places. If anything, Perfect Blue is the perfect place to start if you’re browsing Kon’s works. It establishes the general tone of his movies, a disorienting and unsettling trip into the human psyche.

 

From Pop Idol to Actress

Perfect Blue anime movie CHAM! Mima Kirigoe, Rei and Yukiko

Mima Kirigoe was the lead singer of the J-pop group known as CHAM!, a career that she was originally passionate about. Feeling restricted by her current lifestyle, she left the group to pursue a new career as an actress, something that she was serious about and hoped to make it big at.

Perfect Blue anime movie

But ever since her decision, something mysterious begins to transpire. She received threatening messages and silent phone calls. There”s a website about her called Mima’s Room, which makes her private thoughts available to the public. Furthermore, she has a stalker.

Guiding Mima through her new acting career is Rumi Hidaka, a former pop idol who was concerned with Mima’s choices. Mima’s first role would be in a small crime drama series called Double Bind. With the production staff realizing Mima’s strong potential in acting, they decided to make more use of her.

Perfect Blue anime movie Mima Kirigoe

And things get more progressively disturbing. The production staff wanted to cast Mima as a rape victim at a strip club, who would eventually turn into a murderer. While this controversial role does frighten Mima a bit, she went along with it in hopes that it would grow her career.

Perfect Blue anime movie Mima Kirigoe rape scene

And we get to one of the most disturbing parts of Perfect Blue. While it was clearly established that this scene was still just an act, this rape scene was still realistic in its execution and very hard to watch. From her perspective, Mima was surrounded by horny and aggressive men while one of them had his way with her. While still part of just show business and she wasn’t actually getting raped, this realistic portrayal still traumatized her (and by extension, her manager Rumi).

 

The Persona and the Shadow

Perfect Blue anime movie Mima Kirigoe

But this has yet to be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. The rape scene made Mima very insecure about herself and question her choices, blurring her perception between reality and make-believe. Her pop idol persona seemed to have taken a life of her own, mocking the actress Mima for being “filthy” and “tarnished.” This pattern continued throughout Perfect Blue, forcing Mima to hallucinate and see bizarre things.

This is where the movie touches upon the philosophies of Carl Jung, particularly the concepts of the persona and the shadow. The actress Mima views her pop idol career with discontent, believing it restricts her from achieving greater things. As you can see her from her current living conditions, she lives alone in an apartment room with a small tank of fish. This implies that her former career doesn’t make that much money to begin with, which is what inspired her to make a career change. However, she does feel guilty about the decision.

She disappointed her fans, her family and even herself. It’s not that she hates being a pop idol, but she desires to be something more. So once her pop idol persona surfaced, this persona began laying a guilt trip in an attempt to make the actress Mima abandon her new career. The pop idol Mima wanted to remain the way she is and wanted nothing to do with acting. She wants to seen as a beautiful siren whose fans would do anything for her.

The actress Mima wanted to bury her pop idol identity for good and move on. Alas, this couldn’t happen. The pop idol identity wanted to become the persona, even though it’s now the shadow.

Perfect Blue anime movie Mima Kirigoe and Eri Ochiai

The two Mimas led us to believe that she may be suffering from dissociative identity disorder, a condition where someone can develop independent personalities that contain different behaviors and even memories. This was further evidenced when various production staff members of Double Bind were later found dead throughout the movie, with Mima having no recollection of certain events. And Mima found some evidence of the deceased in her own apartment.

Furthermore, Mima saw diary entries posted on the Mima’s Room website, some of which she doesn’t recognize at all. She wondered if she really wrote those or someone was impersonating her. This buildup of paranoia causes Mima to lose sense of time (and her consciousness at random points), trapping her in a never-ending nightmare of déjà vu. She doesn’t know what’s reality or dream anymore.

Perfect Blue anime movie Mima Kirigoe

The fact that Mima’s first acting role was in a psychological murder mystery doesn’t help matters. She begins to view her acting career as the real thing, as established by the rape scene. Is she a pop idol, an actress, a model or someone entirely different? These questions continued to present themselves, seemingly without end. It’s hard to tell, when Mima loses consciousness and seems to travel between various points in time with no rhyme or reason.

These events culminate into a twist ending, à la Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. At this point, I’ll say that the twist ending is well foreshadowed and brings an even deeper issue into surface.

In conclusion, Perfect Blue is an eerie film with a trippy pacing reminiscent of David Lynch films. It’s not for the faint of heart, containing some intense scenes and horrific imagery. It’s a movie that touches upon the consequences of public image, celebrity status and the status of the Japanese film industry at the time. A great choice for horror buffs

Perfect Blue

Price Varies
Perfect Blue
8.8

STORY

9/10

CHARACTERS

9/10

ART & ANIMATION

9/10

SOUNDTRACK

9/10

Pros

  • A dark, grim tale of a celebrity trying to advance her career—and the potential consequences it came with.
  • A classic Carl Jung theme.
  • Some well-placed inconsistent pacing (especially towards the end), in order to disorient the audience and keep them in suspense.
  • A creepy musical score reminiscent of Silent Hill.

Cons

  • Some scenes can be hard to watch due to their intensity and controversial subject.
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