Studio: Studio Madhouse
Written by: Face
Here in America, we have our fair share of manufactured pop idols that continuously sweep the charts with their lifeless music, and so does Japan. However, the idol obsession is much different in the Far East; the Japanese fascination with attractive, talented teenage girls striving to reach a higher level of repute amongst fans has even spread into many mainstream anime (Macross). Often times we are treated to a catchy pop tune during the ending credits, and occasionally an anime will revolve around a pop star; however, no anime has or ever will come near as close to how far Perfect Blue delves into the psyche of a pop star, and frankly, I don't think it's possible to go any farther.
As Mima and her pop group, Cham, reach what appears to be the pinnacle of their success, her talent agency decides that she should change her image from girlish pop star to provocative leading lady. Immediately, she is offered a small role in a psychological thriller movie. Her role may be small, but is also extremely demanding, and she is forced to choose between doing what is best for the movie or for her self-image. Meanwhile, there is an angry brewing amidst her fan base; they are very disappointed with her new career, and have lost faith in the once charismatic pop star. One extreme fan takes matters into their own hands, and creates a Mima fansite, called Mima's Room. Somehow the webmaster knows every intricate detail of her life; it appears that Mima has a rather disturbed stalker on her tail. As her career deteriorates, she begins to lose touch with reality, and enters a false reality where verisimilitude and truth can not be easily distinguished.
Perfect Blue is a thought-provoking psychological thriller from the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, in which abstract thought blends with perceptible outlooks in a way that the audience is in the same perplexing situation as Mima. Satoshi Kon creates Mima in a two dimensional form that ends up being the cause of her psychological distress. On one hand we have the cliche innocent pop idol that females can fantasize about in a not entirely benign way, but also she maintains, or tries to maintain, her newly adopted risque self. The psychological allegory plays out perfectly as Mima desperately tries to find her real self. The most powerful element of this movie ends up being Kon's cinematography. Whether Mima is acting in her movie role, or if she is sitting in her apartment, there is an undeniable visual unanimity between all forms of her multiple realities and unrealities. This is a deliberate effect which becomes more noticeable towards the end of the movie when Mima's emotional distress turns into full fledged hysteria.
Although the initial concept may not be an entirely new idea, the movie ends up becoming unique enough to not feel like a typical rehash. The intense graphic violence and sexual content is something that adds a particular extra push of interest (at least for me). However, the resolution turns out to be very disappointing and straight forward while the rest of the movie was complex and involving. It ruined the mood with its happy-go-lucky feel, and irked the effect of the impact.
I can not recommend this movie enough to people who like thrillers, or any kind of intense movies. There is also a live-action form of this movie if you're interested. In the end, Perfect Blue ends up being one hell of a mind trip that is as exciting as it is frightening.
* * * * (Very Good)
Posted: January 17, 2004