Perfect Blue revolves around the main protagonist, Mima Kirigoe, a member of a pop idol group named “CHAM!”. After evaluating her situation, she decides to give up her idol status to pursue a career as an actress, what she believes to be the next step in making a name for herself in the industry. However, one of her most hardcore fans, Me-Mania, is less than happy about the path she has decided to take.
Now reborn as an actress, Mima accepts an interesting role, ignoring her manager, Rumi Hidaka's reservations about it. While on set, strange things begin to happen to people who are involved with the film. As time goes on, Mima begins to break down mentally, struggling to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Will Mima be able to escape the grip of her stalker and turn in a break out performance, or will she descend into madness?
Novel, Anime: Perfect Blue was originally a novel written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. When, I'm not really sure; there's not a lot of information about it.
The movie itself was done by Oniro, directed by Satoshi Kon, and was released in 1997.
Story: The story is centered around Mima Kirigoe, the lead member of a pop trio who's decided to go solo as an actress. Her small recurring role in a direct-to-video series ends up turning into a big break, but the part and a subsequent photo shoot involves... compromising situations, to say the least. On top of all this, she's got a stalker that knows every intimate detail about her life and is posting it on the Internet. And then the murders start, and her sanity starts fraying...
This film was Satoshi Kon's big break, and you know why when you watch it. The line between reality and fantasy blurs more and more as the film goes on, and you wonder if it's either all in her head, part of the direct-to-video series, or for real. And you will be scared. I was watching this in broad daylight in my dorm on move-in day for the returning students, and I was still scared out of my wits. And the plot twists. My god, the plot twists. In general, the plot is going to blow you out of the water.
As for faithfulness to the original, I've found tidbits that said that Kon didn't think that the original novel would make a good film, and so he asked permission from Takeuchi to change things. He got the permission, so long as the original story concepts were intact. For those who were looking for a faithful adaptation, there is a live-action film called Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete that was released in 2002 and directed by Toshiki Sato.
You can tell how old the film is, though, when the main character is trying to figure out how to use a computer/the Intarnet. xD
WARNING: There is rape, there is detailed nudity, there is very graphic violence, and lots and lots of blood. I'm not kidding when I say that you should only be watching this if you're over 17. Kiddies, and those who are squeamish, stay far away from this movie.
Art: This film was done back in '97, so yeah, the style's going to look a bit dated. But when you compare the animation with other shows that were airing about the same time (Pokemon, Sailor Moon StarS, to name a few), it doesn't seem to be quite as good as it possibly could be. The main reason for that was that during production, the Kobe earthquake hit the production studio (Madhouse), and the film's budget was reduced from one for a live-action movie to that of an OVA. Not the greatest art out there during the time, but given the situation that they had to work with, it's still pretty decent.
Music: The pop numbers that Mima's trio does (CHAM!) are pretty catchy. And the other music that's played only heightens the suspense. Pretty good, overall.
Seiyuu: As usual, no problems here. Mima's seiyuu is outstanding (she later went on to play Tomoyo in Cardcaptor Sakura, Ceres in Ceres: Celestial Legend, and Akane in My-HiME (Higurashi), My-Otome and My-Otome Zwei (Soir)).
Dub: N/A, didn't watch it.
Length: I honestly don't know what more they could've done with this film; the film wraps up at close to an hour and a half. (Actually, knowing Kon, maybe I don't want to know.) And it seems just right, because of the fast pace that it clips along at, while still managing to make sure that everything that the audience needs to understand is included.
Overall: An amazing, if not perfectly animated, psychological thriller that will have you wondering just what's real here and clinging to your nearest cuddly.
Strap in for a roller coaster ride through the human mind.
As always, my reviews are spoiler free.
You know you have done something right when someone can completely associate your name with a genre. For Satoshi Kon, that genre is Psychological Thriller (or mindf**k, if you prefer). All his works (perhaps with the exception of Tokyo Godfathers, which is still fantastic) explore this genre differently, some deeper than others, but from Paranoia Agent to Millennium Actress he clearly shows his abilities as a director. Of all his works, I think his first, Perfect Blue, is my favorite.
Story - 10/10
Our story begins with Kirigoe Mima, a member of a pop idol group, deciding to give up her singing career for a future as an actress. This decision leads to a string of events that will change her life forever, as well those around her. What begins with sinister phone calls and faxes becomes a paranoid fight for her life with a stalker; a stalker with a warped view of reality to say the least. Mima's career as an actor is not as glamorous as she expected either, leading to outrage among her fans and incredible stress for her manager and friend, Hidaka Rumi. As mysterious acts of violence are committed around her, Mima's view of reality begins to change.
The story explores a number of topics that few other works in the medium discuss, such as the loss of innocence and the perception of reality. It tackles these tough subjects without forcing them upon the viewer, as they are slowly immersed into the twisted world of Mima's life.
As much as I would love to continue to praising the story, I cannot bring myself to do it. It is something that must be experienced and not spoiled. And that ending... Wow.
Animation - 8/10
Released in 1997, this movie will of course look dated when compared to the work of today. When it is compared to other works of the time, however, it stands out with great fluidity. Some of the artistic choices are a bit strange, especially the character designs, but there is nothing that will detract from the experience, especially if one manages to acquire a Blu-ray release.
One outstanding factor is the cinematography. The angle of scenes being changed gives a certain amount of depth of vision most other series cannot come close to matching, even today.
I will be giving animation an 8/10, keeping in mind that it should be compared with other anime produced in the 90s.
Sound - 7/10
The soundtrack is haunting and disorienting. Much like that of well made horror movies, a feeling of suspense can be gradually built and released, or suddenly come to a climax. However, there is nothing worthy in and of itself, and the songs CHAM!, Mima's idol group, sings are grating on the ears at best.
Character - 10/10
Mima is developed very extensively throughout the movie, as she is the sole protagonist. Personally, I developed a great attachment to her throughout the movie, sharing her fear, depression, and confusion. She makes a fantastic protagonist, and as I mentioned above, wonderfully illustrates the theme of loss of innocence.
The supporting cast does well, with Rumi and her stalker being the main side characters. Rumi is developed very well herself, especially in the later half of the series as the story is tied together. The stalker, while far less explored, still has his motivations clearly explained and the viewer gets a fantastic look into a deranged mind.
Overall, it has one of the best protagonists I have ever seen, and a strong supporting cast.
Enjoyment - 10/10
If you are a fan of suspense, mystery, drama, thrillers... you will love this. Perfect Blue appeals to so many psychological elements and has such an intricate setup that it can be watched again and again, noticing new things each time. The second watch can be even better with than the first; once you know the end, you can trace the story backwards to the origin.
I would not recommend this to fans of mindless action, comedy, or SOL. It is not by any means a "light watch." But if you are willing to sit back and let it totally absorb you, I can't possibly think of a better way to spend your time.
This movie contains fully uncensored nudity and graphic sexual scenes. There is a significant amount of violence as well, but it is not too gory. I would still strongly advise against younger viewers watching this.
If you enjoyed this movie, you should immediately acquire and watch everything that Satoshi Kon ever directed. I don't think you will be disappointed.
I give this movie a 9/10, with the only improvements I could wish for would be a slightly better soundtrack and a fresh coat of animation (give it to ufotable, they would be perfect).
Sitting alone in the dark watching someone tell the day you had forgotten. You just might lose your mind.
Thinking about who you are and why you are this person may often cause your thoughts to clash amongst one another. This is strongly shown in the main character Mima Kirigoe. The story is truly some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. Its a mix of linear progression and short time jumps. This enhances the disarray shown in Mima. All of the scenes show believable emotion on what a character might do faced with the situation. The story is very unique in the way it ties together what is a dream and what is reality. Mima aspiring to be an actor allows this story to use clever writing to really add mystery and delusion while maintaing truth. The pacing is flawless. When it begins to steamroll watching for the first time you will be asking what the hell is going on a lot. It can be a very exciting show with thought provoking themes. It is accompanied by some less then easy to watch moments. They add to the emotional strain on Mima pulling her mind apart but may not be watchable by everyone. This is a masterpiece of complex emotional thoughts and detailed writing, used in the telling of the story which ties together everything in the end.
The art shows beautiful symbolism. Tones are darkened slightly to add an extra layer of mystery an unease. It has a realistic world and character design to it. Each character’s look matches their personality extremely well. The eyes on the creeper characters give a twisted feeling to them. Mima switches from upbeat and happy to paranoid or depressed effortlessly. Its never out of place for the scene in the story. Watching the Art techniques used to portray confusion in Mima’s mind, believing a glass door isn’t there, or the splash a puddle makes (or doesn’t) is the necessary details that make this movie wonderful. The heavy blurs mixing dream and reality the quick transitions tying plot together with story progression while maintaing illusion is executed flawlessly in Perfect Blue.
The soundtrack fits the story at every scene. Its eerie and frighting when it needs to be an able to switch immediately to a lighter mood with the Pop songs without totally losing the emotion from before. The sound overall from camera flashes to violent climaxes along with all of the voice acting (Viewed Subbed Version) is amazing. I personally enjoyed the distorting of one of the "CHAM!" songs to accompany a scene that otherwise would feel out of place. This allowed for the story to mix emotions that wouldn’t be seen together otherwise. It was a nice trick further showing the brilliant writing shown throughout both the Art and Sound.
I want to be very careful on how I explain the characters as their development is truly at the core of the story. All the supporting characters fit their role in the story exceptionally well. The choices and decision made are believable. They have realistic ideas and goals shown in the story that define the decisions they make. The characters have common afflictions which relates them to one another in multiple ways. The devoplment of Mima is shockingly beautiful to say the least. I felt I could understand some of the feelings she had in choosing to become a different person and the difficulty in leaving part of your life behind. All of the characters feel real even just the filling ones talking about the gossip revolving around Mima’s life.
This is a truly unique story with a beautifully integrate plot, a perfectly toned art style, exceptionally well scored soundtrack, and believable an interesting characters. The story is gritty and bold as well as exciting and impassioned. If you are looking for a show that will get your mind thinking and are able to handle a few disheartening scenes. You will lose your thoughts within the chaos of perfection that is Perfect Blue.
“Like I Care! I Am Who I Am!!.” Mima Kirigoe.read more
While a psychological thriller dealing with the surreal isn't an uncommon premise, it is a difficult one to tackle. It's easy to hold back and come off as half baked, but it's also easy to do too much and delve into the territory of the pretentious and the convoluted. Perfect Blue, the late Satoshi Kon's directorial debut, is, perhaps oddly, my favourite of the director's works; this is a movie which is able to deliver its messages in an astoundingly vivid manner. Wrapped with an appropriately chaotic presentation, this movie achieves an almost unmatched level of thematic resonance.
Perfect Blue, based off of Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel of the same name, is told through the eyes of Mima - a pop-idol whose transition from singer to actress led her towards fame galvanizing, but image tainting, tasks. The filming of a rape scene for a certain TV show became the trigger of an escalating identity crisis, and alongside being stalked by an obsessive fan, her grasp on her life, and her psychological condition in particular, gradually diminishes. Whereas the summary sounds like an interesting, albeit not entirely unique, setup for a psychological thriller, the real substance lies within the nearly ineffable experience as a whole.
Critics have said that Perfect Blue would've done far better as a live action movie, as it was originally meant to be; I disagree, as an animated work has the luxury of more seamless transitions and easier manipulation of effects and atmosphere - advantages which Satoshi Kon was evidently aware of, as the final product would testify to. Surreal and ominous, Perfect Blue's atmosphere projects a rarely matched sense of trepidation, as there's a consistent, palpable feeling of danger within the chaos. Due in no small part to the effective use of an unreliable narrator, the essence of the enjoyment to be had is derived from dissecting the on screen details in order to differentiate between reality and hallucination, and to illuminate the overarching mystery. Transitions between scenes are smooth; Satoshi Kon's blurred the lines of the real and unreal into a homogenized mixture of grey. Going back, and applying any newly found discoveries and knowledge to every scene made for a fresh and rewarding experience.
Mima's character depth and development is handled far better than many others merely attempt, which is commendable, especially considering Perfect Blue's relatively short length, capping in at about an hour and twenty one minutes. On top of which, general character behaviour and reactions, as well as numerous backstage processes, felt authentic. Satoshi Kon has also made great use of the premise to integrate, and accentuate, several reality grounded themes, such as identity crisis, defamation, or the inner workings of the media. As a result, this movie was disturbing not only due to the viewer bearing witness to Mima's terrifying experiences, but also due to the level of verisimilitude and resonance.
Perfect Blue's animation has great fluidity, and the detail in the characters' movements, from chase scenes to subtle gestures, grant a strong sense of realism. The art style, like Kon's other works, opts for a much more realistic look, which, in this case, appropriately amplifies the efficacy of the film's disturbing nature; violence, rape, and full on nudity are all prominent, and not at all watered down. The soundtrack contains some rather catchy J-Pop songs, with the ending theme, "Season", being a personal favourite (albeit slightly out of place), and the ambient music, despite being what is probably the polar opposite of what you'd want to fall asleep to, is very fitting, and plays an immense role in emanating the haunting, apprehensive vibe present in many scenes.
Any gripes I have about Perfect Blue are minor at best. I felt that its conclusion, namely, the last few minutes, felt relatively abrupt; this was especially apparent in contrast with the movie's otherwise excellent pacing. Also, despite being a comprehensive experience the first time around, the knowledge obtained in the climax could be seen as more of a tool, in order to return and shed light on the darkness surrounding the previous scenes. With that said, this movie still concluded with my immense satisfaction every time, which was amplified when all the pieces coalesced and clicked into place. Satoshi Kon's done more than flash his precocious ability; calling this an impressive directorial debut is an understatement, as my mere words are likely undercutting such an extraordinary, coherent, and often terrifying, experience.
Before he was one of the greatest anime directors of all time, Satoshi Kon was a manga artist. From early success in college to ambitious collaborations with the likes of Katsuhiro Otomo and Mamoru Oshii, his manga work is highly recommended to better understand his genius.
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