Anime Review- Perfect Blue

Satoshi Kon’s 1997 masterpiece, Perfect Blue, is the story of a pop singer, named Mima, who decides to become an actress. Neither her manager nor her fans are satisfied with this decision. After some incidents of harassment and murders happening around her, Mima is overcome by paranoia and slowly descends into madness.

This film covers all of the bases—it is scary, creepy, and disturbing. It is important to distinguish between these three facets because many works of horror are not capable of achieving greatness in all three areas.

Perfect Blue is scary because while you are watching the film you will be on the edge of your seat, fearing the killer, wondering what is going to happen, and hoping that Mima survives. Creepiness has more to do with atmosphere. There are many scenes in Perfect Blue where nothing scary is happening, but the atmosphere is still unnerving. Perfect Blue is disturbing because it introduces concepts that are not just scary in the moment. It leaves you with a lasting feeling of unsettlement as you dwell upon the utter madness that you have witnessed.

It is hard to think of anything bad to say about Perfect Blue. There is only one aspect that may be a bit annoying. Perfect Blue is one of those movies that you will have to watch a couple times in order to fully understand. The more disorienting Mima’s illusion becomes, the harder the film is to follow. But the film is not impossible to follow. Especially in watching the film a third or fourth time, everything finally clicks.

Here is everything that makes this anime a masterpiece:

1)   Fantastic Voice Acting: Wendee Lee, best known for her work in Cowboy Bebop, Power Rangers, and Resident Evil: Damnation, takes a lead role in this anime as Mima’s manager. Steve Blum, also known for his work in Cowboy Bebop among many other animated series, does the voice acting for one of Mima’s main fans.

2)   Build Up: As with many Japanese works of horror, Perfect Blue starts off very innocently and slowly builds into a complete nightmare.

3)   Main Villain: The main villain—an obsessive fan—is believably and sufficiently creepy. Sometimes details of his face are left out. For instance, his eyes are not always completely drawn in.

4)   Parallel Universes: Part of the focus of the movie is a TV show, which is being filmed. This show, in which Mima plays a role, frequently parallels the universe in which Mima lives. For instance, at one point in the show, a character says the following to Mima’s character: “There’s no way illusions can come to reality.” Sometimes you cannot distinguish between these two parallel universes. At the beginning of a scene, you will not know whether or not you are watching something that is actually happening to Mima or a scene in which she is acting.

5)   Visual Metaphor: The most controversial scene of the film is a visual metaphor for what show business does to people.  This is a very well done metaphor and it is not over-the-top with its message.

6)   Justified Mental Breakdowns: Throughout the film, Mima continuously reaches new levels of madness. Each time her sanity breaks down, the reason is made very clear.

7)   Symbolic Murders: The way the victims are murdered is symbolic of the way the murderer feels about them.

8)   Re-watch Value: This film becomes clearer and clearer the more you watch it. This gives it phenomenal re-watch value.

This anime deserves a five out of five stars, though you may not agree until you watch it a couple more times.