PERFECT BLUE (1997) – The Dungeon Review!
Jason over at Genkina Hito’s J-Film Review gave me a list of titles to check out in my continuing quest to watch more Japanese animation. I have barely scratched the surface of what is available! There is an unbelievably vast selection of genres covered in this medium. I have so much more to discover but I have managed to scratch at least a few of the horror titles from my list. One of my favourites thus far has been Perfect Blue. Perfect Blue is a suspense thriller with horror elements that is as solid as the best of its ilk in the non-animated world.
Mima is a member of an all-girl pop trio called Cham. Cham have a legion of dedicated fans despite the group’s limited success. Pressured by her agency, Mima decides to leave Cham to pursue an acting career. Mima receives a fan letter that motivates her to check out a website created in her honor called Mima’s Room. Initially she is intrigued and flattered that a fan should know her so well. However, the intimate knowledge of this superfan begins to disturb her. The new Mima takes on mature acting roles and agrees to do a nude photo shoot. Mixed reactions from her fans, friends and the media has Mima questioning her choices which provokes the young celebrity to manifest her pop star alter-ego who chastises and taunts her. Mima’s real life begins to parallel her current acting project and the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred.
Films that blur the lines between fantasy and reality are pretty standard fare in my rotation. Films with this modus operandi can be a convoluted mess or a stroke of brilliance. In the case of Perfect Blue it is the latter. Considering this is a film that balances between reality and fantasy you can of course expect a certain amount of mind fucking, but that is all part of the fun. Perfect Blue is a fascinating puzzle that explores a variety of themes; loss of innocence, adulthood, sexuality and the seediness of show business among them. The exploration of fame is seen from both the celebrity perspective and the publics and it is rarely pretty. Keeping in mind my limited exposure to Anime I can only judge the animation on what I have seen which I thought was pretty damn good. The animation however rather became a blur once I was lost in Perfect Blue’s excellent story. Perfect Blue would be a Giallo if it had been made in Italy in the 70s or 80s. It has all the elements of a great Giallo, the stalker, red herrings, multiple twists, elaborate and bloody deaths, nudity and sexuality. It is truly a delicious treat! I really loved the idea of Mima’s manifested pop idol self as opposed to the rape scene/posing nude self as her dark side. Pop music is evil.
The pop music in the film got on my final nerve which I fully expected. J-Pop is no fecking better than the nonsense bubblegum pop shit that comes from North America. Fortunately the pop songs are limited. As much as I disliked the pop music it was obviously an important subtext to the action. The balance of the films music is a dark moody score that suited it perfectly. Perfect Blue was made when computers were still a brand-spanking new concept in most homes. Mima literally has to go out and buy a computer and learn how to use it before she can check out the Mima’s Room website. This gave me a chuckle! I was so ill prepared when I bought my first computer it was quite laughable. Of course the first few years I had dial up too which was plagued with its own problems not to mention horribly inefficient.
Perfect Blue is almost a perfect film with the exception of its final moments. Although the ending is not unsatisfying it did leave me wishing for something a little edgier. Perfect Blue is an excellent thriller-horror full of twists, turns and surprises complimented by an array of beautiful and violent images. Highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4.5/5
Directed By: Satoshi Kon
Starring: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto, Yoku Shioya, Hideyuki Hori, Emi Shinohara, Masashi Ebara, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Tôru Furusawa, Shiho Niiyama, Emiko Furukawa