What measures are you willing to take to reach success? One must do whatever it takes to reach their dreams, right? Even if that means suppressing your feelings and neglecting your morals?
Well, you can only do so much of it until your own pent-up guilt manifests and haunts you, literally.
This time, I’m bringing to you another one of Satoshi Kon’s works, Perfect Blue ̶ the now late director’s first directorial debut ̶ is dubbed the perfect psychological thriller by many anime enthusiasts. The film’s idea came from a novel called Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis, but the chain of events were tweaked a bit.
This radical cinema was released in 1997, under Rex Entertainment and Madhouse ̶ in association with Kotobuki Seihan Printing, Fangs Co., and Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Warning: this film is not a light watch, it contains graphic content (rape), nudity and some gruesome scenes. So if you decide to watch it, prepare to get uncomfortable.
This anime presents the story of Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao), an idol member of a musical group called CHAM, who decides to diverge onto a different career path as a mean to stay afloat in the industry. Being an idol means not only being a pretty face, but also upholding a cute, squeaky clean, and genuine image ̶ that’s all Mima knew.
However, upon this career change, she encounters new situations that challenge her in many ways. One of them being the ability to make decisions that align with her morals. Now, Mima is forced to grow out of, or rather tarnish, her previously established image in the minds of her fans.
Mima begins taking on risqué roles and accepting “smutty” opportunities, as these are the means she views as stepping stones to success. All the while, the pressure of conforming to others’ expectations of her builds.
Mima starts seeing an apparition of her former idol self as a result from her suppressed demons. Initially she would see it in mirrors, reflections in public spaces, and soon enough, this 2D nightmare turns 3D. And from this point on, the demarcation between reality and illusion begin to merge.
Perfect Blue is a wild-ass journey from beginning to the literal last second. There were moments when I thought I had a grasp on things, but then was proved to be wrong ̶ so wrong, but that only made the watching experience more exciting. The writing is brilliant in how every detail, no matter how minute, interconnects so intricately. Everything is essential.
Let’s talk about the ending…I don’t know what I expected, but this ending was not at all within, or anywhere even remotely near my thought process ̶ and after everything and every emotion this movie has put me through, it’s just the icing on the cake.
The anime was made in 1997, and when compared to other anime produced from that time (Pokemon, Sailor Moon Stars, just to state a few), Perfect Blue animation doesn’t seem to be in the best quality ̶ and that’s because Madhouse Studio was struck by the Kobe earthquake during production, putting a huge dent on their budget. However, I still think the animation is pretty damn good, given the situation ̶ the noisiness at some parts and the overall art provide an aesthetic feel. And since we’re on the topic of visuals, did you know Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream, bought rights for Perfect Blue to recreate the shower scene?
One thing to keep in mind when watching this movie: there’s so much more that goes on in Perfect Blue beyond what is shown. This anime takes the dark side of the pop star life and sprinkles a little (subjectively speaking) murder, a lot, and I mean a fuck ton of creepiness, a bit of mental instability, along with several other elements to create this intense masterpiece.
This film has been compared to Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, in the similarities that both the protagonists are put under pressure in their performative careers and begin to lose the ability to detect what’s real and what isn’t; weaving the fabrics of their realities and illusions.
Chances are you won’t comprehend everything after the first watch and that’s okay—it’s intended. Satoshi Kon doesn’t make predictable, transparent movies. According to him:
Movies that you can watch once and understand entirely — that is the type of movie that I don’t really like. However, if you are able to understand 70 to 80 percent of what’s being relayed, and there’s still some percentage left that would allow for your own interpretation . . . that’s the type of movie that I do like. There might be a certain part that you don’t quite understand, but there is a portion that rests in your heart.
And truer words could not be told. Where’s the fun if you’re able to figure out everything the first time like all the other movies? Amirite ladies?
If you’re looking for some cheap (if you bootleg it) thrills and to be dragged through a forest of emotions: this is the movie for you. Aforementioned warning, this does contain mature content that may make you feel uncomfortable but honestly…doesn’t reality makes all of us uncomfortable? But we manage to soldier through it anyway.
So if and whenever you decide to soldier through this organized disoriented madness, leave a comment below or on Twitter @GeekGalsCo and let us know how you liked it!
Featured image credit: Rex Entertainment, Madhouse