Mima Kirigoe is a heavily idolized singer from the in-demand J-Pop group, "CHAM!". At the pop idol's final live show, she announces to the fans that she is leaving the group to pursue a career in acting. At this same show, something else is introduced; a subversive and malevolent presence in the guise of a creepily enigmatic man who we come to learn is obsessed with Mima. His twisted desire sets the tone for what is to come, but is he the worst of her problems? As you begin watching Perfect Blue, you will find there's much, much more behind this twisted story of celebrity mania and psychologically altered perceptions than meets the eye.
As Mima struggles to become a respected actress, she finds her career undermined by a series of incidents. The stalker, under the unusual alias of "Me-Mania" seems to be orchestrating a series of disturbances occurring around the set of Mima's show during the filming. Me-Mania isn't the only threat to the singer-turned-actress, however. It seems that, from the start of her new career, the young celeb has been experiencing a grim strain within her own grasp on reality. As Mima continues through with shooting her scenes, her condition seems to exacerbate; the effects becoming increasingly more bizarre and unsettling.
Throughout these supposed hallucinations, Mima witnesses what she believes to be a doppelganger of herself, dressed up as if still a member of CHAM!. Cheerfully, this menacing double continually taunts Mima for leaving her former image; accusing her constantly of wanting to escape the pop star's true identity. She also keeps experiencing what are either vivid dreams or hallucinations involving Me-Mania's sinister presence. There are even times when watching the film where one is essentially unable to tell whether or not the events taking place are really happening to Mima or its all just part of the show she's filming.
Perfect Blue is based on the novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi and adapted for the screen by Satoshi Kon. Kon is probably best known in the anime world for his films Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika, as well as the critically acclaimed series Paranoia Agent. Perfect Blue was the director's first feature length film, and it definitely does deserve a spot on the pantheon of Greatest Film Debuts. I honestly could not believe this was Kon's first film. He must have had some serious experience in anime before working on Perfect Blue, because it doesn't seem like an amateur effort in the slightest.
The film is outstanding in its ability to integrate surrealism with various genre styles including: psychological horror, mystery and suspense. Kon has created a unique breath of fresh air out of what could have easily been a simple, cliché story involving a celebrity dealing with an obsessed fan, but in this case, that's more pretext than plot. The film increasingly becomes surreal as the story proceeds, as well as Mima's decreasing hold on reality. The viewer will ultimately have a fun time trying to figure out whether or not Mima is suffering from unbalanced psychological delusions or stuck within some sort of an incredibly vivid, dreamlike state. Maybe it's something else entirely different. To be honest, I have no idea.
I enjoyed the character of Mima. Her complex pursuit to break free of the world of celebrity stardom only to fall into another as a means of escape can be seen as influence from the real world effects of celebrity addiction and paparazzi. To the naked eye, Mima is no less different than past pop stars like Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, etc.; all of these women face hundreds of thousands of people obsessing over their public image. Perfect Blue depicts the concept of the public image against the real person and their desire, to detach themselves as far away from that image as possible. This can be said about all of those in real life, as much so for Mima. This is most noticeable in her more provocative scenes.
My favorite character, in particular was Me-Mania. Kon managed to create a memorable antagonist who manages to stick out enough for his image to be burnt into your mind, even after the end credits. Me-Mania is an enigma that barely even seems to exist amidst the people around him throughout the film. He's like a ghost. I love how he remains silent through almost the entire film, yet every action he unleashes is so vocal that there doesn't need to be a voice to go with it. Like Mima, Me-Mania carries many of the stereotypes of what his character is, yet is able to create something disturbingly unique by his mere presence; especially in how he perceives Mima as a Goddess. This perception, however, leads Me-Mania into further madness once the star he worships becomes tainted in his eyes.
Overall, I fell in love with this film and found it to be a beyond worthy debut from a promising director in the world of adult anime. My only problem was the lack of closure regarding some scenes near the conclusion, but I honestly believe everyone's opinions will differ in trying to understand it all. If you're interested in seeing quality anime aimed at mature audiences, or are looking for a film similar in tone and style to such directors as David Lynch, Roman Polanski and Brian De Palma’s earlier work, then look no further than Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue.
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