perfect blue | satoshi kon | sadayuki murai | junko iwao | rica matsumoto | shinpachi tsuji | giallo | anime | animation | mystery | thriller | japan | masaaki okura | yosuke akimoto | yoku shioya | hideyuki hori | emi shinohara | masashi ebara | kiyoyuki yanada
Film: Perfect Blue (Pâfekuto burû)
Director: Satoshi Kon
Writer: Sadayuki Murai
Starring: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto and Shinpachi Tsuji
This was a film that I heard about from some horror movie podcasts I listen to. One of the hosts really championed this film and he talked so passionately about it, that I decided to check it out. The synopsis is a retired pop singer turned actress’ sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.
We kick this off a performance of a pop group in Japan, CHAM. We learn that one of 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 another show start to cause a ruckus. 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, in part of this from her manager Rumi (Rica Matsumoto). Her super fan is also very upset and is stalking her.
Her agent gets her a bigger part, but it involves her being raped on camera. Mima agrees to this, but we see after the filming, it really bothered her. She starts to descend 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 is attacked with.
It is when those around her that have wronged her or made her do things that she really didn’t 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? She delves deeper into the persona on the site of her and she is doesn’t know if she is real or just an imposter herself.
Now I’m going to keep this short, because to be honest, this film is pretty trippy and hard to keep straight and I also think it is something that should be seen as well. I found this story though to be great. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, as I haven’t seen any horror anime from my recollection. I have to say though; this interpretation of the Italian giallo was very well done. It really poses who is the killer, Mima or the super fan stalking her, but it goes beyond that. The descending into madness is really enhanced by it being done in animation. That was something that really blew me away.
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 wanted to kind of find a purpose. This led me to some anxiety and depression and it really is writing these reviews that gave me a hobby that I’m pretty proud of. Now amplify that by 100x. Mima is a pop idol. Her group is super popular and she decides to become an actress. In doing so loses her identity. When she sees someone posing as her online, she doesn’t know what’s real or what isn’t. This goes to kind of like in American Psycho where we really don’t know each other or even ourselves. Even worse is for celebrities, because we give an idea of what we think they are and that is what we get in Perfect Blue.
Something I kind of alluded to would be the editing of the film, which is absolutely amazing. The duality of the story of the movie that Mima is in to what is happening in her life is great. She doesn’t know if she is the killer, she doesn’t know who is she and even what is real. We hear the director calling take 2 and she is back in her room for a second time. It is disorienting, but just really adds to the film. 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 of the film that I thought was prefect as well.
Acting is something that is really hard to judge for an anime. I did think that all of the voices were perfect for the characters. I really have to commend Iwao as a majority of it is her. The rest of though definitely did a solid job for sure in bringing the characters to life.
What I really need to talk about 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 really take off the limitations to what you can show and do. This is like watching a legit film. There is nudity and some of the death scenes are pretty violent. I was actually impressed with that.
I have to give a lot of credit to the soundtrack as well. There were a few moments where the music got really 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.
Now with that said, I was really blown away by how good this was. It really has such a complex story that is hard to talk about, but it really unfolds itself and gives us a very good ending. The deeper meanings I got out of it of finding oneself and how celebrities aren’t necessarily what we think. The duality of what is happening compared to the film that is being made is great as well. I thought the animation was really good and how much like a regular film is outstanding. The score really adds on an extra layer to it. Now will warn you, this anime is from Japan, so I watched it with subtitles on. If that is an issue, I’d avoid this. If not, I really thought this was a solid horror film with deep, dark story.
My Rating: 9 out of 10