"Memories" is made up of three separate science-fiction stories. In the first, "Magnetic Rose," four space travelers are drawn into an abandoned spaceship that contains a world created by ... See full summary »
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Japanese animation has become a very popular style of animation in Western culture due to the wide range of genres it employs and its many different approaches to storytelling; two elements that immediately set it apart from the common Western style of cartoons that almost always are made for children only. Satoshi Kon's "Perfect Blue" quickly became a favorite among western fans of anime because it explored themes rarely seen in western animation; themes that had more in common with the horror genre such as obsessions, murders and suspense.
The story revolves around Mima (Junko Iwao), a young singer who is quickly becoming an idol as part of the musical trio "Cham". In order to make her career more marketable her managers make her leave the group and join the cast of a famous TV series. However, her new role is considerable different than the cute image she portrayed in "Cham", as it requires her to do nude scenes including a rape scene. At the same time she tries to adjust to her new job, someone begins to stalk her and to brutally kill those near her artistic career and Mima begins to wonder if she is really doing the right thing.
"Perfect Blue" is often labeled as a classic of Japanese animation because it presents a way different kind of story to those used to family-oriented animation. In is closer to an Italian Giallo than to a normal cartoon both in thematics and in style. The use of animation as a medium allows director Satoshi Kon to create stylish images of high surrealism as well as powerful images of violence. It is not something young children should watch.
Based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, the film offers an interesting and harsh criticism to the "idol culture" in Japan, and its exaggerated portrait of an obsessed fan is an extreme, yet hauntingly realist image of insane obsessions. The story has been labeled as "Hitchcocknian", but its lack of subtlety in terms of graphic violence and nudity, as well as its high level of surrealism puts it closer to the stylish Italian sub-genre of Giallo.
By keeping the story around Mima, Satoshi Kon creates haunting atmospheres of paranoia as Mima feels strange in her new career; while it sacrifices character development of the supporting characters, this approach increases the feeling of isolation and adaptation the story has, making a more effective horror/mystery piece. Like any Giallo, the haunting image of the mysterious stalker is always present, and in "Perfect Blue" the mystery and suspense are very well handled making the movie a great work of suspense.
The animation is very good, and not as flashy as casual anime fans would assume. The movie's mixture of realism and surrealism works very well with the style of drawing and the camera-work is brilliant. Still, while the plot at times gets a bit predictable to hardcore horror fans, it still holds up and keeps captivating from start to end. The original Japanese voice work is very good, so I would recommend watching it with subtitles instead of dubbed.
"Perfect Blue" seems flawless as motion pictures can go, and the odd choice of using animation as medium (it was originally meant to be a normal live action movie) makes it different than the rest. This is a blessing as neither anime fans nor horror fans have seen a quality animated horror movie like this before. 8/10
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