J-pop idol group CHAM! has spent the last two years entertaining its fans. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and CHAM! must see one of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group to pursue her acting career. While Mima's choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans will continue to support her.
However, Mima's life begins to change drastically after her departure from the group. Wanting to shed her pop-idol image, she takes on a role in a crime drama series, and her career as an actress gradually becomes more demanding and taxing for both Mima and her manager, Rumi Hidaka. To add to Mima's growing unease, an obsessed fan who is incapable of accepting that Mima has quit being an innocent idol, begins stalking her; a new anonymous website begins to impersonate her life with intricate detail; and CHAM! also appears to be doing better without her. One by one, each disturbing development drives Mima to become increasingly unhinged and unable to distinguish reality from fantasy.
The film won the Best Asian Film (tied with the 1994 film The Legend of Drunken Master) during the 1997 Fantasia Film Festival. In 1998 it won the Best Film - Animation Fantasia Section Award during the Fantasporto Festival. In 2000 it won the Best Animated Feature, B-Movie Award during the B-Movie Film Festival.
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.
Perfect Blue centers around a small pop star's transition into the film business. Her life is turned upside down by her new, less innocent work, a stalker, and several murders that occur around her. Much like Millennium Actress and Paprika, this is another Satoshi Kon film that blurs the lines between reality and delusion, only to a more suspenseful effect in Perfect Blue. Mima, the ex-pop star turned actress is filming a TV murder drama throughout most of the movie that eerily mirrors the murders that are occurring around her. It is often unclear if a scene is playing out on
the set or in the real world. Then there's the nagging question throughout of whether the entire scenario isn't a schizophrenic delusion of a psychotic killer.
The stalker and the murders are suspense staples, and unnerving enough in and of themselves. The religious obsession of stalkers is inherently freaky, as are psychotic and pathological murders. The layer that Kon's style adds is the anxiety the viewer feels each time Mima wakes up from a horrendous dream or in each filmed scene of the TV drama where the already unstable established reality becomes even more fragile when we question if perhaps the supposedly filmed rape scenes or murder scenes are the truth; if perhaps the seemingly sweet and innocent Mima doesn't hide a psychopath behind a web of delusions. The film doesn't try to establish a twisted empathy with the killer in question the way many suspense novels would. Most of the important characters are quite simply insane. The lack of awareness they have for their own pathology, along with the constant ambiguity in the borders between fantasy and reality is what builds and holds the suspense.
Satoshi Kon has always done beautiful running animation, but nowhere is it more appreciated than in Perfect Blue. The way the characters stumble a little every now and then, or run full sprint into a wall and push off to round a corner rather than just slowing down and making a turn, coupled with spectacular voice performances by the cast, most notably when they're screaming for help or begging for forgiveness, does wonders at conveying the sheer terror these characters are experiencing during the more violent scenes. From eye stabbing to rape, some of these scenes seem like they're too disgusting to watch, and there was always a part of me that wanted to turn away, but the fear bleeds through the screen in such a way that I found my eyes glued, and myself actually praying for the characters' safety. In this sense, even though Perfect Blue doesn't establish the easiest characters to empathize with, the shockingly realistic way they convey horror (relative to other Anime at the very least) awakens the primal concern we have for someone in distress.
The twist at the end is skin crawlingly creepy, and at a happy medium between predictable and out of the blue. It's hinted at a few times throughout the film, but with all the reality bending and psychotic delusions going on, it certainly isn't the only outcome I suspected. Too bad it so clearly distinguishes the previously hazy borders between what is real and what isn't. Such an ambiguous movie should retain a little bit of its ambiguity to the end, but instead the climax brings reality down fast and hard. Its clarity and convenience makes it slightly unsatisfying.
There's no arguing that the climax is spectacular. The whole movie makes beautiful use of tension without any gimmicky camera angles that zoom in on demented, boggling eyes or some other such junk that many psychothriller anime titles use to create unease when the scenario itself isn't enough to accomplish it. Perfect Blue is creepiness in its purest form.
Sooner or later it happens, even the most headstrong of anime girls break down and start crying! Their emotions are overwhelmed by fateful events which force them to shed a tear, or two. We won’t judge them, but we’ll certainly be there for them if they need a shoulder to cry on.