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|Index||158 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before "Mulholland Drive" and "Black Swan" there was Satoshi Kon's
"Perfect Blue", an anime thriller which ends with your jaw on the
ground. After you reassemble your face, you start mumbling to yourself:
"what the hell?", "holy crap", "this is messed up", "oh my god", "are
Satoshi Kon's films often have mind bending, ambitious narrative structures, but this trend started with "Perfect Blue", his first feature. An examination of identity, celebrity, sexism, alienation and exploitation under patriarchy, the film revolves around Mima, a pop-singer who leaves her pop band, CHAM, to begin a career as an actress. But as Mima is forced into racier material, the film's narrative begins to break down, points-of-view, dreams, nightmares and private delusions overlapping and co-mingling. Are we witnessing a nervous breakdown induced by a deeply disturbing culture, or perhaps something more?
In truth, the film's blending at least four points of view. You have Mima, a young woman who so craves fame and celebrity that she's willing to sell her body and submit to all manners of consented debasement. Then you have the fans, particularly one deranged fan, who sees Mima as his product, his fantasy object which he must both control and defend. This fan obsessively tracks the details of Mima's daily life and reacts violently when outside sources try to change her image. Then you have men, always leering with cameras, eyes or controlling via chequebooks and ink pens; the vast moral abyss of a phallocentric entertainment industry. Finally, you have women, in particular one woman, a chubby, motherly woman who seems like a caretaker but reveals herself to be a killer who pines for her lost youth and beauty; she pits herself against Mima in a fit of rage and jealousy. Significantly, Mima attempts to spare the life of this woman, a gesture which positions us to sympathise with the caretaker. She too is a victim, a pawn in a battle which pits sister against sister, the result of a culture which demands conformity, perfection, submission, bows to the tyranny of the image and is obsessed with a form of feminine perfection which, at its worst, leads to mental instability and collapse.
The rights to "Perfect Blue" were bought by Darren Aronofsky, who cribbed some of its shots, scenes, ideas and themes for 2010's "Black Swan" (he changes Mima's name to Nina, makes her a ballet dancer and even uses some of Mima's scenes in his earlier film, "Requiem For a Dream"). Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" is also very similar. Both Lynch and Satoshi posit women as victims of a male dominated culture, though, whilst Aronofsky's film casts women as its chief villains, and largely lets its victimisers (and us) off scott-free.
Like "Perfect Blue", these are all essentially films about a rape culture. In bygone days, women weren't deemed human beings. For the ruling class, the total ownership and possession of women was something to take pride in, young girls were frequently "gifted" and virgins offered as trophies to rulers (the sanctity around virginity continues today). The "conquest" of women used to be the norm, and rape was never treated as an exception or aberration. As capitalism firmly enforces the class divide and plays into the hands of the traditionally oppressive gender, such a rape culture continues to this day, though in new and much less obvious ways. And as men themselves are increasingly neutered, films like "Perfect Blue" and "Mulholland Drive" are starting to be made about male figures. Consider "Magic Mike", which focuses on the collapse of a male stripper.
Aesthetically, "Perfect Blue" is the darkest of Satoshi's features. His palette is all dark blues and inky blacks, his Japan one of tiny cubicles and deeply alienated urbanites, and most of his characters are vile and perverted. Doubles and doppelgangers also feature throughout. Characters named Rumi and Mima are paired, for example, both names meaning "beautiful" in Japanese. The film's stiffer and has a lower frame rate than modern anime, which will put some viewers off. It was nevertheless somewhat ahead of its time, and remains one of the better anime's of the mid 90s.
8/10 Worth two viewings.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First a manga comics illustrator, Satoshi Kon graduated to filmed anime
with "Perfect Blue" (1997) about a pop singer stalked by a fan.
'Perfect Blue' takes its cues from the 'Giallo' of Dario Argento,
whilst exploring 'otaku' (obsessive fan culture) and the condition of
Mima is a squeaky-clean, desexualised innocent, inhabiting a world that is ready to swallow her up. A singer in the marginally popular bubblegum pop teen trio 'CHAM!,' as the film opens Mima and her partners are performing a free concert in a Tokyo park. During the course of the set, Mima announces that she's leaving the group to pursue an acting career. Some fans are displeased with her sudden career change, particularly a stalker named Me Mania. Mima's life quickly begins to spiral when someone starts trying to drive her out of her mind; or is she just cracking up all on her own?
Me-Mania, who has a mask like face reminiscent of Reggie Nalder from Argento's 'Bird With The Crystal Plumage,' is revealed to have been impersonating her on a web site / blog he created, called 'Mima's Room.' When Mima's friend and manager hooks her up to the Internet, she discovers the fanatical 'Mima's Room' site, and learns that someone knows her every waking move, leaving her paranoid and unsure of how to proceed. Things go from bad to worse when Mima's associates start dying in brutal ways.
The plot of 'Double Blind' (the TV soap she gets a small role in), begins to parallel Mima's troubles and her tenuous grip on reality, as the soap has her playing a girl who believes she is a pop idol. 'Perfect Blue' like 'Double Blind' has a narrative that cuts between reality and nightmares, as Mima becomes haunted by a figmentary alter-ego who starts to elbow into her identity. The delusional states of fan and idol are shown to be complementary as well as interdependent. A notorious acted out rape scene for the TV show 'Double Bind,' results in the narrative becoming particularly fragmented just like Mima. She is disorientated and on the edge of madness.
As an aside, Darren Aronofsky purchased the American rights to 'Perfect Blue' for $59,000, so he could film the brief "bath scene" with Jennifer Connelly in his own film 'Requiem for a Dream' (2000). The staged rape scene in 'Perfect Blue' also inspired a scene toward the end of Aronofsky's film in which a group of men circle around and cheer on two women using a double ended dildo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sooooooo many films have been ripping this movie off all this time and I didn't even know about it. Wow. Just wow. You need to go into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it. I was just told to check this out because I love trippy types of films that f with your headspace. It is about a pop singer who is transitioning into becoming an actress and crazy sh#t begins to happen. At first I felt like a pervert watching this because you're basically watching a girl run around in a short skirt for two hours but after the crazy stuff starts kicking in and you're required to start figuring stuff out, you'll see there is a method to ever inch of this movie. If anyone can message me and tell me if that is the real her at the end, I would much appreciate it. I swear that isn't her but I just don't know. I'll have to watch it again. They need to make a live action version of this before anymore films rip it off (Black Swan, I'm looking at you)
"Perfect Blue" is a very, very dark anime...so don't let your kids
watch it thinking it's like "Pokemon" or "Inuyasha"! It's also a
confusing mind-bending sort of film...one that certainly is unique.
When the anime begins, Mima is in an up and coming pre-packaged Japanese girl bands. However, her agent convinces her to leave this life and pursue a career in films. But this way to success is very dark and soul-crushing and soon they have her in a film featuring a rape, lots of violence and nudity. All the while, Mima struggles with herself. She hates what she's doing but in the world of female pop stars and starlets, she feels a sense of obligation and won't publicly question the folks looking after her career. Now at this point, the film gets weird...really, really weird. Mima seems to be losing her mind and some murders occur...and soon the viewer is confused and they might be seeing the world through the eyes of a lunatic...or a killer! What's it all mean? See the film and TRY to unravel it all...but don't be surprised if you still are questioning what it all means.
This is a very clever film and its plot is deep and very strange...and I liked that. But be forewarned...the film shows some very sexually explicit and violent scenes...even by Japanese standards (the film features pubic hair...something very taboo in Japanese culture). Well done and worth seeing...but just don't let the kids see it or anyone who have been sexually abused as a few of the scenes just might be too intense.
Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller about a singer in a pop trio, Mima, who turns to acting because of the lack of successes that she feels she is achieving in music. Ironically, after she leaves her former singing partners become far more successful as a duo than they have ever been working with her. As Mima turns towards acting, she discovers that a stalker has been making posts about her on his fan-page detailing Mima's day-to day experience as she transitions to acting. These things began to manifest themselves in Mima's mind and embody a separate personality that haunts her throughout this film. I am not usually drawn to anime but this film really poked at my curiosity. Mostly because of the stories I have heard about the esteemed director, Darren Aronofsky, buying the rights to this film for $60k in order to, not only replicate a seen from this film in his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, Requiem for a Dream, but also to allegedly replicate aspects of Perfect Blue in his Oscar-winning movie, Black Swan. At first, I was kind of confused about why he did this. But after watching Perfect Blue, I can kind of see why. This film is one of the most intense and disorienting films that I have seen in a while. So it's understandable that a director trying to achieve the same unique effect would try to mimic this movie. We see Mima's alternative personality, 'pop-star Mima', eat this woman inside-out. Mima moves toward more smutty and gritty content in her new acting career. She is playing a girl that gets raped in the new television series she has been cast in, she is letting a photographer take nude photos of her, and she is slowly retreating into more and more into her own mind while doing so. All while her former co-stars are gaining success without her. This causes this her stalker and her alternative personality that is manifesting her consciousness to become more invasive and violent. This film, at times, allows us to feel the same sort of disorientation and confusion that Mima is feeling, especially with the twist ending that leaves you thinking about this film long after it is finished. There is a portion of the movie where Mima keeps waking up from a sleep after each scene, as to suggest that everything that happened before was just a dream. This sequence left me so confused and the pacing made me so dizzy that I thought I was going to fall out of my seat. There are a lot of scenes in this film where you start to question what is real and what isn't. Perfect Blue is stylistically unsettling and memorizing, but still beautifully animated and edited. The film's score is unnerving. The English-dubbed vocal-performances don't sound out-of-place or corny like they do in most anime. I like how mature this film is. It intensifies until the very end without trying to break the tension with any humor or explain things to the audience. It is a dark look into the psychological darkness of being a pawn in the world of pop- culture. I hope to find some more anime like this in the future. I think that this film is a good stepping stone for anyone who is trying to get into anime. If you are trying to watch something that may keep you up at night, if you are trying to watch something that is thought provoking, if you like films with a complex plot and storyline watch this film. You won't regret it.
This is the second film I watch from Satoshi Kon and I can safely say it's another unique experience, being just as inventive as Paprika, but not really as memorable for me. I don't usually have issues with the animation itself, but I thought it was a little odd at times. There were moments where people's faces were just blurred with no traits and no reason for this. Also, I thought the character Me-Mania looked too caricatural sometimes. Aside from that, the animation was very well done. As for the story, it was interesting to see the protagonist suffering many hallucinations and having constant identity crisis. I thought it got a bit repetitive and tiresome on certain occasions, but the film also had great suspenseful scenes. The big reveal at the end was very surprising and the main character even seems to break the fourth wall for a glimpse, communicating with the viewer. Overall, Perfect Blue is a really original film, being a solid effort from Satoshi Kon.
A pop star tries to make the transition to acting, but all these pesky murders keep getting in the way. It's basically anime giallo as Satoshi Kon channels Argento and Bava in this psychological thriller. It gets a bit repetitive at points, but it provides a few surprises and is sufficiently entertaining. The short running time is a big asset, any more of this and it would probably wear out its welcome. I did think most of the animation was rather mechanical and unappealing, though. Also, despite the quasi-feminist viewpoint, there's an awful lot of rape. However, I enjoyed it more than the other two Kon films I've seen.
In its combination of fractured female psyches, trauma, and perverse show business glamour (in this case pop singing and Japanese TV) reminiscent of David Lynch, although predating Mulholland Dr. by a few years, Perfect Blue is another take in the always compelling 'woman losing her grip on reality' niche. You've seen before in films like The Stunt Man the meta-narrative tricks of using scenes and lines from a movie inside the movie (in this case a Japanese soap crime thriller) as a tool in showing the protagonist's reality being undermined, but they work marvellously here. There's point where I couldn't tell exactly WHO the protagonist was (pop singer turned soap actress, strip dancer living a wish fulfillment fantasy to cope with post traumatic stress disorder caused by rape) any more than she did. A bit haphazard opening and awful closing line but Japanese animeister Satoshi Kon throws a nice Argento homage in the finale complete with blood gushing from glass shard wounds. I have anime associated with nauseating teenyboppery in my mind but this is superb adult stuff, mindbending with a surreal edge and a directorial eye for detail and style. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a major influence for 00's Lynch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A lot of users and critics have said that Perfect Blue is like an Alfred
Hitchcock film, but it seems to me that it's more like a Brian De Palma
remake of Hitchcock's Frenzy (the only Hitchcock film that I'm aware of that
has a graphic rape scene). That's not to say that it's not a good movie,
it's just that Hitchcock films had more subtlety, and you often had to
imagine the more graphic elements yourself (just look at the Psycho shower
scene or the amputation in Lifeboat).
Spoilers: Oddly enough, the first murder is treated like a Hitchcock murder (the attack isn't even shown), whereas the second (and actually imagined) murder is just downright gruesome in its unflinching depiction. The rape scene, on the otherhand, is probably the most effective I've ever seen, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it is a: animated, b: a movie, and c: a staged rape for a television show within the movie. In fact, Mima reacts to the faux-rape as if it were a real rape, phasing out of her self ("dissociation," in psychological terms).
Unfortunately, the ending of the movie is more De Palma, and it almost made me wish that the imagined sequence (when the Double Bind actors said that Mima created a new life as an actress for herself after being raped in a strip club) was the real story. It would have been more interesting, realistic, and fitting for the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
( spoilers lie within. )
I've been hoping for an anime like this to reach these shores for ages.
Despite the sci-fi fantasy and giant robots the genre is famous for, it's
perfectly capable of making any sort of film. Take Wings of Honneamise for
example; basically a sweet drama about the first space program of a
(spectacularly designed) fictional world. It was around ten years ago that
story appeared in the West, now Perfect Blue ably picks up the mantle. And
it's probably the best psychological thriller I've seen for a long time,
filmed or drawn.
Much has been said about it along the lines of "Hitchcock goes to Japan" and it's not far wrong. Most of what people call thrillers these days are actually over cooked detective stories. However helpless or innocent the protagonists, they usually operate with the resources and/or sanction and authority of some official body, be it the cops or the FBI or someone else. These stories can be great, but there's something more thrilling about fairly ordinary folks with no such know-how dropped into horrible situations. It's hard tale to spin and none did better or more often than Hitchcock. Now we have an anime proving it can cut it in this tough sub genre.
The story, as if you didn't read the front page, goes like this: Mima is a sheltered girl, living in a protective publicity bubble as a member of the squeaky clean J-pop trio called Cham. They've had some modest success and have a good following, but haven't really got off the ground in a major way. At a small comic fair appearance she announces her retirement from the group to pursue acting. When she gets home she starts getting strange phone calls and faxes. She also fumbles her way onto the internet after being rattled by an obtuse, but innocent, fan letter. There she discovers a web site put up by someone speaking as her, detailing everything about her life right down to her thoughts and regrets about her new job, her superstitious habits and her every purchase. As things go along it seems without the group she really is a nobody. The acting isn't an instant success. Her standards begin to slip in grabs for acceptance and publicity. And under the weight of the job, fear, regret and loneliness she gradually cracks up. Then people around her start dying.
This film is brilliantly put together. In the slow and deliberate early stages we watch her uneventful life for a while, pushing for more air time in a drama series and a few mildly unsettling moments (letter bomb aside), nothing much happening really. Then we're slammed in the face. The script even foreshadows it beautifully; "Mima, your character undergoes a psychological transformation after a brutal gang rape in a nightclub". Then we watch them film it; take after take, camera set up after set up, long lurid close ups for what seems like forever. The crew and production staff seem slightly ashamed, to say nothing of her managers. People in the audience are turning away. I'm one of them, but I have to grin about how damn brilliant this is. It's just an unevenly dubbed cartoon isn't it? Well this is just the start of the rollercoaster ride. The effectiveness of this also speaks volumes about the character development, notable in Mima herself and her managers. Handling this sheltered and delicate personality whilst trying to do their job and get her work and publicity in an unforgiving business (to say nothing of the fact that the rest of Cham are still with the agency and are starting to become quite a breakthrough success). It's all very well done. Another example; when her vague and hallucinatory behaviour seems to be getting too intense and prolonged (despite the rape scene and other things) the explanation is handed to us, perfectly timed. She's been reading the stalker web site religiously as a sort of emotional crutch. While the site itself has slowly changed tone to one of describing (as her) the kind of life she should have had. And she starts to agree, or maybe she is updating it.
As others have noted, this film seems to echo a couple of reality bending films, beating them to the punch in some cases. Requiem for a Dream, Memento and even Fight Club spring to mind. The former involving dreams, ideals and regrets sitting alongside a slide into usettling seediness (and stealing a great moment shot for shot from Perfect Blue, as others also note), the latter two having scenes that are confusingly without proper context or meaning until a bit later in the film and generally being about losing your self and forgetting what you have or have not done.
Although I found the ending a little awkward (they usually are in this kind of film) I didn't see it coming and it does sit well with everything else. The light epilogue being another somewhat Hitchcockian touch. Don't let all my comparisons distract though. It's a damn fine film in its own right. I imagine it's even better with the original dialogue. See it on the big screen if you can.
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