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Movie Review: Perfect Blue (1997)
Based on the novel of the same name, Perfect Blue is a Japanese psychological animated thriller directed by Satoshi Kon and written by Sadayuki Murai. Former Pop Idol Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao; Ruby Marlowe), leaves her widely popular and successful pop group "CHAM!" to pursue her career as an actress. But, she soon realizes the career of an actress is nothing like what she imagined. In order to make it big, she must partake in risky and low-brow scenes which traumatize her to the point where she is unable to distinguish fiction from reality.
Mima Kirigoe leaves her J-pop idol group "CHAM" in order to spread her roots and take on something new. However, she soon receives threatening messages from a dangerous stalker known as "Me-Mania." Her manager Rumi Hidaka (Rica Matsumoto; Wendee Lee) advises her to ignore it and she does; but her stalker refuses to give up. Together with Mima's new role in the movie Double Bind, the erotic scenes she partake in heats up and causes her life to spiral out of control.
You know, part of my love for this movie stems from its narrative involving the film industry. For the keen eye, there's even a film reference to a popular American cult favorite! What the movie does so well is showing the consequences of the choices made by an actor. To make it in the industry, there are roles that are sometimes troubling that the person would rather not take but must do so in order to further their career. Unfortunately, for Mima her decisions backfire worse than what she could have expected and we get to see the toll it takes on her life and the people around her.
While watching here will be times when Mima (and the viewer) will be unable to tell the difference between reality and illusions. Mima's decisions not only haunt her but end up warping her reality. Sometime she sees herself as an aspiring actress and at other times, she sees herself as a promiscuous woman who enjoys the erotic nature of her work. Worth nothing is the Mima's VA and her performance during the scenes where her character is acting. They are simply outstanding.
Furthermore, scenes are left up to the viewer's judgement as to whether they are real or not. There a number of sequences where she partakes in conversations with herself. These scenes show the broken-down mind state of her character. As a matter of fact, several characters in the film exhibit behavior which clearly show their mental illness. In the end, everyone is haunted by their own demons.
If I were to use one word to describe Perfect Blue, it would be dark. It's a movie that deals with dark subjects and more importantly isn't afraid to tackle them. The scenes of murder and rape are challenging. However, the mask of animation make them a little easier to watch, if there even is such a thing. By its second half, the film becomes extremely intriguing and terrifying. Nevertheless, the performances from the film's many voice actors are spectacular with of course its animation following suit.
Perfect Blue is available on Blu-Ray and DVD.