Perfect Blue (1997) Review

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Perfect Blue

Time: 81 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains violence.
Voice Cast:
Junko Iwao as Mima Kirigoe
Rica Matsumoto as Rumi 
Shiho Niiyama as Rei
Masaaki Okura as Mamoru Uchida
Shinpachi Tsuji as Tadokoro
Emiko Furukawa as Yukiko
Director: Satoshi Kon

A pop singer gives up her career to become an actress, but she slowly goes insane when she starts being stalked by an obsessed fan and what seems to be a ghost of her past.

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I had heard about Perfect Blue for a while. I knew of it as an anime psychological horror, and I had also heard that Black Swan seemed to have taken a lot of influence from it. It ended up being one of the first animes I had saw, and it was pretty great. I went in with high expectations, but Perfect Blue managed to exceed them and then some. It’s a stunning film across the board, so incredibly well made.

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I won’t go into too much detail about the plot as its better to go into it blind. Perfect Blue is pretty short as a movie, at around an hour and 20 minutes long. There’s a lot going on in this story despite its simplistic plot and length, while not feeling rushed at all. It felt like 2 hours for all the tension it managed to build in such a quick time, and there is hardly any filler in the plot, always making the right twists and turns at the exact right time. Perfect Blue has a highly engaging and gripping story, and it’s difficult to guess where it will go next. It’s paced incredibly well, and there’s tension throughout, which only grows as the movie progresses. As time goes, on the story becomes more fascinating, and even scary at times. I have to say that this is probably one of the most terrifying and haunting films I’ve seen. There are disturbing scenes for sure, and some scenes are graphic and hard to watch. But it’s especially the psychological narrative and how it messes with the viewer’s perception that really got to me. It really is a multi-layered descent into madness, and the POV leaves the audience just as lost as the main character as she tries to get a grasp of reality. Delusions and reality become one and the same, and so many scenes felt like it’s they’re a dream with a dream. There are plenty of times where you aren’t certain that what you’re watching is actually reality or not. It completely messes with your mind and it’s not what you expect. With that, Perfect Blue no doubt probably benefits from further viewings when you actually know what’s happening, but the first viewing is one unforgettable experience. It’s not only just a movie aiming to mess with the audience and be disturbing however, it’s layered and complex and really packs a lot into it (again surprising considering the runtime). It’s an unsettling, horrific and thought provoking story about stardom and fame, and the prices that come with that. There’s plenty of social commentary on the media, celebrity obsession, and even the internet. Yes, it was made in the late 90s but much of it is still relevant to this day. It’s also a look at the sacrifice one has to make for a performance, which leads the protagonist into a psychological downward spiral.

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I really liked the direction from Satoshi Kon, his work here is fantastic. The animation is flawless and I can’t imagine this film working nearly as well as a live action movie, which really does speak to how well made it is. All the details within the drawings are as beautiful as ever. Usually, anime is used to exaggerate detail and actions, but the world of Perfect Blue is seemingly mundane and realistic, with some anime style aspects appearing in subtle ways. Additionally, it does such a flawless job at blurring the lines between delusion and reality without ever becoming incohesive or messy or breaking you out of your engagement.

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Perfect Blue is a really great, complex and disturbing psychological thriller, incredibly made on all fronts. I do want to revisit it sometime, because I think I can probably get more out of it from repeat viewings. Honestly even if you don’t think you like anime, I still highly recommend watching it as soon as you can, it really is an example of an anime that transcends its medium.

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