“When you are watching the film, you sometimes feel like losing yourself in whichever world you are watching, real or virtual. But after going back and forth between the real and the virtual world you eventually find your own identity through your own powers. Nobody can help you do this. You are ultimately the only person who can truly find a place where you know you belong. That in essence is the whole concept. It is rather hard to explain.”–on Perfect Blue
DIRECTED BY: Satoshi Kon
CAST: Voices of Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Masaaki Ōkura; Ruby Marlowe (English dub), Wendee Lee (English dub), Bob Maex (English dub)
PLOT: Japanese pop idol Mima Kirigoe decides to retire from her group CHAM in to become an actress and change her image. She joins a soap opera where the storyline mysteriously reflects her own experiences, endures a stalker who posts intimate details from her life in a fake online diary, and finds several of her co-workers murdered. These events launch her into a psychotic identity crisis.
- A protégé of , Perfect Blue was the first full-length film Satoshi Kon directed after working as a writer and layout animator.
- Perfect Blue was based on the novel “Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis” by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. After a failed attempt at a live-action adaptation, Kon was approached to direct an animated version. The screenplay, however, didn’t interest Kon, who was eventually allowed to make any changes he wished as long as he kept three of the story’s elements: “idol”, “horror” and “stalker.” Kon said “the idea of a blurred border between the real world and imagination” was one of his contributions.
- Sadly, Kon died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at only 46 years old, with only four feature films to his name.
- One of Kon’s notable disciples, Black Swan (2010) a “rip-off” of Perfect Blue. Rumors suggest that Aronofsky bought the rights for a live-action remake of Blue; once the plans didn’t work out, he used them instead to emulate the film’s “bathtub sequence” in Requiem for a Dream. , wrote a eulogy for that was published in the retrospective “Satoshi Kon’s Animated Works.” Kon’s work has influenced Aronofsky, with the harshest calling
- Another of Kon’s western admirers, Time Out’s list of best animated films of all time and #25 on Total Film’s similar list. , placed Perfect Blue among his fifty favorite animated movies. Additionally, it was ranked #97 in
- Perfect Blue won the Best Asian Film award at the 1997 Fantasia Film Festival (tied with The Legend of Drunken Master) and the Best Animated Film at 1998’s Fantasporto festival.
- A live action version, Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete, which was more closer to the novel, was finally released in 2002. It was quickly forgotten.
- Rafael Moreira’s Staff Pick for the Certified Weird list.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Mima’s doppelganger jumping between lampposts provides the most striking of many memorable compositions.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Lamppost-leaping phantasm; ghost emailing stalker; middle-aged idol
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Though it takes its time, Perfect Blue is an effective psychodrama taking place in the mind of a despairing protagonist. By the time fiction, reality, fears and projections start to cross, and the psychosexual and horror elements enter the scene, you will know for sure that you’re watching an unconventional film, with an atmosphere likely to remind you of both a giallo and aian psychic labyrinth.
UK trailer for Perfect Blue
COMMENTS: For the first half of its (short) running time, Perfect Continue reading 298. PERFECT BLUE (1997)