Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue 20th Anniversary
Editor: Perfect Blue, the striking and provocative anime, cult classic, debut of Satoshi Kon is back in theatres in the U.K. this Halloween, starting with special preview screenings tonight.
You can pre-book tickets for Oct 31st onwards here: http://perfectbluemovie.co.uk/
Lindsey Thomas reviews the film below:
It’s interesting to look at a movie like the late Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue 20 years after it was released. In many ways, it feels like not a lot has changed. Its themes still feel very relevant today. And considering how ubiquitous computer animation is now, it feels refreshing to see a complex, trippy story like this drawn so gorgeously in traditional animation.
Perfect Blue is the story of a young woman named Mima. At the beginning of the movie, we see she has left her successful pop group in order to pursue acting. But things don’t go so well on that front. She gets cast in a very small part in a lurid crime drama called Double Bind. Many around her question her decision to leave her old band, especially when they get their first real big hit shortly after her departure. Mima ends up agreeing to do a rape scene in order to gain a bigger role on her show and to be taken seriously as an actor. After this, Mima starts to fray mentally and it becomes harder to discern what is real and what is not. She hallucinates a perfect version of herself, the so-called “Real Mima”, who dresses as her pop star. Oh, and she also has a stalker who runs a fan site that details her every movement. And also dead bodies start piling up. And as reality starts to get all twisty and bendy, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell if Mima is responsible or if these are things happening in her head.
This was a first watch for me, as well as a first watch of any Satoshi Kon film for me. And I have to say, this film is really stunning. Perfect Blue is such an interesting mix of genres. It’s part murder mystery, part thriller, part psychological trip-fest. And there’s a heck of a lot to unpack here. I think I’ll be unpacking this film for a while. This film takes place in the early days of the internet and there are some interesting things going on about the ‘net and cyber-stalking. Mima, much like my family did in the late 90s, gets her first home computer and almost immediately uses it to basically google herself. She finds a site, “Mima’s Room” which is a creepy diary, written as if by her, with her daily movements and her innermost thoughts. The theme of surveillance also crops up as Mima is followed by a group of paparazzi with a running commentary on her life.
Notions of identity and public perception also figure prominently. Early on, Mima rehearses her only line for her TV show over and over again – “Who are you?” and it becomes clear from the get-go that Mima doesn’t know who she really is. We don’t really get to see what really made her quit her band. She claims to want to get into acting but it’s hard to tell if it’s really her orchestrating things or if she’s being persuaded by others. She feels increasing pressure to be the perfect “real” Mima. Even when she agrees to do a horrific rape scene for her TV show, it feels less like a decision she’s making and more something she’s doing just to appease her team of agents and managers. It’s after doing this scene that she really begins to lose herself in earnest. Her role in the show increases, as do the number of murders around her. The amazing way the film is cut and edited perfectly capture Mima’s mental state and the increasing sense of unreality. It becomes harder to distinguish as the movie goes along which reality we’re in. For instance, there’s a scene in which Mima appears to be having a conversation with one of her co-stars, who tells her “We all create illusions within ourselves” only for us to quickly realize she’s filming a scene for her TV show. Sometimes it’s unclear whether the man who’s stalking her is actually a dangerous creep or just another character on her show. This level of detail in the editing of a scene is impressive enough in a live action movie, but I’ve never seen something quite like this in an animated film before.
Perfect Blue is a stunning piece of animation that still feels vibrant and alive. If you haven’t seen it before and even if you’re somewhat anime-averse like I am, I highly encourage you to seek it out. If you’re already seen it and are a seasoned Satoshi Kon fan, it’s well-worth a revisit now, on as large a screen as you can find.