I love Satoshi Kon’s work, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, Tokyo Godfathers are all amazing, and yet I never watched Perfect blue. A shame since it became my favorite work of his and in fact, one of my favorite animated movies ever.
Mima Kirigoe is a member of the pop idol group CHAM! who “decides” to retire from her singing career in order to branch out and try out acting and mainly save her career even though it seems to upset a lot of her fans. She first announces this during one of their concerts where we meet a creepy man who seems to be obsessed with her. After that, she receives anonymous fax which calls her a traitor.
Encouraged by her managers, she takes on a minor role in a popular TV show but as her acting career continues, she begins to lose grasp of reality, her roles becoming darker and darker as she finds herself doing things she never thought she would see herself doing. On top of that, she begins to see another version of her which did not give up singing and is pretty much the better version of herself claiming to be the “Real” Mima.
While all of this is happening, her colleagues and associates start getting killed and she finds an odd blog which pretends to be her, knowing a lot more than it should. This only fuels her paranoia more and she dives deeper and deeper into insanity, blurring away reality and dreams.
This movie managed to terrify me like few others have before. That’s because it tackles issues which are real thus making them more relatable than anything supernatural. I couldn’t help but think of today’s pop stars and the infamy behind how they are being raised and pretty much programmed to be nothing short but an icon, slowly losing their humanity. The companies want only the image of them to be known and any shred of humanity gone. And not only the companies, hell, but I would also argue that the fans have an equal hand in it. Today’s cancel culture and “stan” trends which we can see mainly on twitter are horrible.
We see the same thing here. Our stalker is not just obsessed with Mima, he is obsessed with the image that was projected of her. To him, the other Mima is not really Mima but an imposter and he is ready to do anything in order to protect the image of the “real” Mima. This can be perfectly seen in this scene:
A scene which also features what I’d argue to be one of the saddest scenes of the film. It might be trivial, but the scene where she effortlessly dodges the can which was thrown at her speaks volumes. It shows how used they are to this and how it’s become something normal, a part of the job.
We can see here how he pretty much holds her up on a pedestal, he thinks of her as something more than a regular human, something to look up to, so much so that he becomes obsessed.
This, in my eyes, puts a strain on “idols”, it puts pressure as the expectations for her fans become huge, something that she can not fulfill. This leads to her slow psychological breakdown where the movie becomes reality, days disappear from her memory and much more.
This can also be seen in multiple areas. Recently, the Instagram vs reality trend gained quite some traction when popular YouTuber h3h3 spoke about it. More and more “influencers” are altering their photos in order to appear perfect while pretending to care for “being real” and young impressionable audiences eat it up. They appear to be perfect and people start idolizing them for nothing more than their looks. Makes you wonder, just how much brushing up is done where we are not aware of it just so people become something unnatural in order to appeal to the masses and how that brushing up affects the person. But I’ve stayed away from the movie.
On top of all that, perhaps the best part of the movie was the visuals themselves and the masterful editing and use of colors. This is where animated movies shine. They manage to capture the essence that live action movies can not. It reminds me of something I read once in a forum – “People think of anime as a genre and not what it actually is, a technique” and I find myself completely agreeing with it. Anime is a completely different medium and even though it is mainly associated with shonen and child entertainment, the works of Kon and many other people show us why that is wrong. It is no wonder that Kon’s work managed to inspire so many movies like Inception and Black Swan, and yet no one gives them the proper credit. Perhaps they think to themselves that they are not “real” directors or movies so it helps. Nevertheless, movies like these are worth more than most of what we see in the mainstream. Yes you could argue that it is not copying just similar ideas but there are blatantly stolen scenes:
It seems like Black Swan was also heavily influenced by Perfect blue as well so I’ll really need to check it out to see to what extent.
All in all, it’s a masterpiece that any cinema fan should watch. 10/10