Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue was based upon a novel by Yoshihazu Takeuchi and was distributed by Rex Entertainment.

Perfect Blue was based upon a novel by Yoshihazu Takeuchi and was distributed by Rex Entertainment.

After a week of personal stuff, Halloween Horror month moves forward with this years spooky anime review, Perfect Blue. 

Perfect Blue is an anime film directed by Satoshi Kon, produced by MadHouse and was based upon a novel of the same name written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

The film follows former pop idol turned actor Mima (Junko Iwo/Ruby Marlowe). As she transitions from singing to acting Mima is placed under more and more stress from her fans and her agents Rumi (Rica Matsumoto/Wendee Lee) and Tadakoro (Shinpachi Tsuji/Barry Stigler). It isn’t until she gets a role on a the drama Double Bind that the cracks start to show.

Mima as she performs with her group CHAM.

Mima as she performs with her group CHAM.

Soon her ability to judge between reality and fantasy is shaken as she hallucinate during her everyday life. These episodes only get worse as she’s pushed to change her image through filming a violent rape scene and nude photo shoot.

As the weeks go by some of the people who forced her into these acts end up dying in horrifying ways. With Mima loosing touch with reality we as the audience start to think she is the killer. But there could be more to the story than we first think.

While I’d admit that Perfect Blue isn’t what you think when you say horror anime it represents something a lot scarier than any monster, real people.

Right from the opening of the film we see the world that Mima is living in; she’s an attractive women whose singing in a girl pop group. While there fan base is small, these young girls have a mostly male fan base. All of these older men are watching her and commenting on her appearance and every move. Mima is a pop idol and is constantly in the public eye.

This feeling is even felt through the transitions of locations, as our establishing shot for Mima’s apartment is a stark flat shot centred at her apartment like someone’s watching her.

Mima's apartment, in the centre of the frame.

Mima’s apartment, in the centre of the frame.

From the beginning we get a feeling that Mima’s being watched at all times like she’s never alone. Making this feeling even worse is the fact that the film bounces from before and after with little cause confusing the audience making us question whats real or fake in the opening moments of the film. The film will shift from Mima pretending to dance and sing in public to her real performance some time before.

These transitions only pick up as Mima’s pushed farther. This adds to the sense of dread as we see Mima loose her grip. This feeling is due to the amazing direction of Satoshi Kon as he uses editing tricks to help the audience feel the confusing and disjointed memories of the our main character. Kon uses there and back again edits, match cuts and even fades to give the viewer a great deal of information that would be difficult to get across any other way.

One of the many fades. This one is from the perspective of a fan whose imagining Mima with her old band.

One of the many fades. This one is from the perspective of a fan whose imagining Mima with her old band.

Kon also shows us more of the darkness that comes with being famous, especially during the filming of Mima’s rape scene.

While first nervous about the scene, she acts like a pro once the camera’s role. We see her assume this role of the character almost like a chameleon only to letting the character go when the camera’s stop. The music of the scene add to the chaos of the horrifying scene, but once the camera ends, the actors and the film go silent. You feel the discomfort of the characters who wait for the camera to ready. More of  the horror comes from the starkness of the filming than the scene itself.

Even after the scene the only people really worried are Mima’s agents who feel that they forced her to do something awful. It isn’t until Mima gets home that the experience sets in. All of these scenes add to the horror of what we’re seeing. We’re upset because she’s taking it so well, and then it’s worsened once the armour cracks and she breaks down.

So much of this film is built upon the building of tension through editing that it’s difficult to properly explain. To be frank if this film was released today is might be the first anime film to win an academy award for editing, as the editing is almost as important to the film as the murder mystery.

Another thing that’s done so well in the film is the set-up of the killer. While this is a spoiler free post, the film transition to the killers identify is masterful twisted. Our ideas are quickly thrown out the window in exchange for a twist that actually makes sense once you stop to think about it.

Perfect Blue, might not come up with other horror anime, but in the end it should. The film puts you in an uneasy feel and takes great pleasure in screwing with the audience at any chance it gets. Satoshi Kon was one of the greatest anime creators of all time and Perfect Blue ends up showing off just how good he was. He’s sorely missed.

Perfect Blue was directed by Satoshi Kon, produced by MadHouse and was based upon a novel of the same name written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

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