Perfect Blue

04/18/2019 07:25

Film: Perfect Blue (Pâfekuto burû)

Year: 1997

Director: Satoshi Kon

Writer: Sadayuki Murai

Starring: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto and Shinpachi Tsuji



This was a film that I heard about from horror movie podcasts I listen to. Jerry Herring from Kill the Cast championed this film and he talked so passionately about it, that I decided to check it out. I’m now rewatching it as a potential pick for the Summer Challenge Series on the Podcast Under the Stairs.

Synopsis: a retired pop singer turned actor’ sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.

We kick this off with a performance of a pop group in Japan, CHAM. We learn that one of the members, Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao), is leaving the group to pursue a career in acting. Things are thrown off a group of hoodlums who showed up to another show cause a ruckus here. They get into it with a super fan of the Mima’s as well.

Mima has a tough go at first with the change of career. She isn’t given a big part and she is hearing a lot about how she should probably have stuck with singing. Part of this from her manager Rumi (Rica Matsumoto). Her super fan is also upset and is stalking her. She is put into a position with a television show that she is doing that push her boundaries.

Her agent gets her a bigger part, but it involves being raped on camera. Mima agrees to this, but we see after the filming, it messes with her. She descends into madness though when Rumi shows her a website about someone posing as her. She gets a threatening fax calling her a traitor and a letter bomb that her agent opens for her. He survives, but it cut him up.

It is when those around her that have wronged her or made her do things that she didn’t necessarily want to do start to die. Mima doesn’t know what is real and what is in the show. Is she killing these people or is it this odd-looking guy following her? Could it be someone else? She delves deeper into the persona on the site of her and loses touch with reality. She spirals into a nightmare of murder and terror.

Now I’m going to keep this short, because to be honest, this film is trippy. It can also be hard to keep straight since it goes into what feels like a nightmare. Mima goes through the same things multiple times which can be disorienting. I also think it is something that should be seen as well.

I found this story though to be great. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, as I haven’t seen any horror anime from my recollection. This would be my first. I have to say that this interpretation of an Italian giallo was well done. Mima might be our killer or this super fan stalking her, but it goes beyond that. The descending into madness is enhanced by being one done with animation. That was something that blew me away. This movie is also stunning as I picked up the Blu-Ray since I’m a fan.

Something I really wanted to delve into a bit more though is the idea of celebrity and who we are. Clearly, I’m a no one who has a small internet following. Even someone like me had an identity crisis after college and trying to find purpose. This led me to anxiety and depression. It was writing reviews like this that gave me a hobby that I’m proud of. Now amplify that by 100x. Mima is a pop idol. Her group is popular and she decides to become an actor. In doing so loses her identity. It doesn’t help that when she lives, the group gets to a higher level of success. It makes her question that decision. Then when she sees someone posing as her online, she doesn’t know what’s real or what isn’t. This goes to into American Psycho territory where we don’t know each other or even ourselves. Even worse is for celebrities because we give an idea of what we think they are. In the case of this person imitating them, they are projecting what they think. It causes a meltdown with Mima.

Something I alluded to would be the editing, which is amazing. The duality of the story that Mima is playing in the show to what is happening in her life is great. She doesn’t know if she is the killer. She seems to have these blackouts. Not knowing who she truly is and even what is real causes her to spiral. We hear the director calling take 2 and she is back in her room for a second time. It is disorienting, but just adds to the overall product. I was hooked and never lost interest trying to figure out what is going on here. There was also a solid reveal at the end that I thought was perfect as well.

Acting is something that can be difficult to judge for an anime. I did think that all the voices were perfect for the characters. I must commend Iwao as she carries this. The rest of though definitely did a solid job for sure in bringing the characters to life. This will move me to the next point as well.

Which would be the effects, or in this case the animation. I spoke with my dad in the past about how horror would be interesting in this form as you can remove the limitations to what you can show and do. This is like watching a legit film. There is nudity and the death scenes are violent at times. I was impressed with that. There is a fair amount of blood as well. I’m also a fan of how this was drawn. It isn’t necessarily my sweet spot for cartoons, but it is close.

I must give credit to the soundtrack as well. There were moments where the music got intense and I could feel my anxiety going up. It really fit the scene to help to build the tension that they needed for it. I thought the J-Pop style music that was used at times when CHAM was being shown fit and the rest of the score did for what they needed overall.

In conclusion, I was blown away by how good this was. It has such a complex story that is hard to talk about, but it unfolds in a way that gives us a good ending. The deeper meanings I got out of it of finding oneself and how celebrities aren’t necessarily what we think is relevant. The duality of what is happening in the show Mima is making compared to what we are seeing is great. The animation was good and how much this feels like a regular film is outstanding. The score adds on an extra layer to it as we descend into madness with our lead. Now I will warn you, this is an anime is from Japan, so I watched it with subtitles on. If that is an issue, there is a dubbed version on my Blu-Ray so it can be watched that way. If not, I really thought this was a solid horror film with deep, dark story.


My Rating: 9 out of 10