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Solid, well-executed anime
Speechless20 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Perfect Blue is a very strange film. It's anime, but it's set in circa-1995 modern Tokyo, with a story in which everything could be explained in terms of natural phenomena and present-day technology. Furthermore, it's a psychological thriller, a genre which probably hasn't ever been done with animation before.

But even if Japan's animators dabbled in this genre more often, Perfect Blue would still be a bizarre film. It starts off as a fairly conventional thriller about a teen pop singer who may be the target of a stalker, but then the movie goes completely insane, assaulting the viewer with rapid changes of scene, perspective, and context until we simply don't know what to believe anymore. This is done so subtly and gradually that we become completely trapped in the movie's spell, and we end up just staring at the screen in horror, helpless to stop the nightmarish events from unfolding. Rarely has any movie so effectively conveyed the lunatic terror of a character who has lost touch with reality, and once the movie is over, all you can do is just sit there and try to figure everything out. Have fun with it. It's a good head scratch.

Unfortunately, the last minute or so of the movie is much too sappy and uplifting (especially the music on the end credits), cheapening the significance of everything that has gone before. But as a whole, Perfect Blue is an incredibly haunting thriller, a scathing look at the world of showbusiness, and a very worthwhile film.
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Intense thrill ride
InzyWimzy23 August 2002
OK, this is definitely one anime movie that really has this creepy feel that clings to you as you watch. The animation is really good as characters and movements appear so life-like, it seems like reality. There's definitely the theme of 'identity' and Mima's difficulty distinguishing reality from illusion. Her paranoia and fear tends to grab your attention and as she asks questions, you ask the same ones. I thought the film also played well with celebrity infatuation and the price of fame. It really had a lot going for it and the different camera angles give a very dreamy, mysterious atmosphere. One great shot is the zoom out from Mima's apartment. I could've sworn that was a real city.

"Who are you?" sums up this movie. What a film. By the way, CHAM's song is really catchy.
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Outstanding animated mindbender. Fans of Hitchcock, Argento and Lynch will be hooked.
Infofreak5 September 2002
'Perfect Blue' is the most interesting animated movie I've ever seen. Lovers of cinematic puzzlers from 'Vertigo' to 'Abre los ojos' or the movies of Dario Argento or David Lynch will probably enjoy this one more than your typical anime fan, who might find this too slow, and not flashy enough for their tastes. I don't think 'Perfect Blue' quite reaches the heights of the aforementioned, but it is still a fascinating, multi-layered thriller that improves with repeated viewings. As a look at the illusions of fame and the dark side of obsession I personally found it to be a much more satisfying movie than the more celebrated and flamboyant 'Mulholland Dr.' I strongly suggest that the original Japanese subtitled version is watched rather than the inferior English dubbed one for maximum effect. This is one movie experience that will stay with you for days. Highly recommended.
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A delusion within a nightmare...
Perfect Blue takes many levels of reality, fiction, dream, and delusion, and merges them into an occasionally baffling but overall thrilling and satisfying film.

Mima is a rising pop star, not yet in the big time, but certainly on the way. She and her management team decide that it is time for her to try something new, so she leaves her pop group to become an actress, and that is when the problems start.

Is there another Mima out there? She is ghost-like, still a pop star, denying this new acting career, ever-smiling... but if she is real, she may be a brutal killer. What of the stalker with the creepy face and violent temper? Is he the one running the website which describes Mima's daily routine in obsessively minute detail? If so, how does he know all these things?

Madness and nightmares blend with the scripts of the increasingly bizarre role Mima plays in her debut acting job. Days repeat, life imitates script, and script imitates life. Are the boundaries between reality and dreams breaking down? ...and who is killing those who Mima is closest to?

Perfect Blue will probably confuse you, and the ending will leave you thinking, but in these days of neat, clean-edged storytelling, a little confusion is good for the soul.

I highly recommend this to fans of thrillers and anime alike, plus it is a great introduction to the world of Japanese animation for those just getting their toes wet. There are no giant robots or sex-crazed demons here, just a tight, clever psychological thriller with one hell of an ending.

Make sure you see it with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles. That done, turn off the lights and prepare to be entertained.
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Succeeds all the way at being horribly scary, in a very good way.
vkn2 November 2001
Perfect Blue is a storming success in every department. As a movie in itself, it's a brilliant piece of work, packed with style and -very- powerful scares. We follow teen pop idol Mima, who tries to make the switch from singing to TV acting. Everything seems normal enough at first, with just the somewhat funky directing hinting at things to come. But it wouldn't be a thriller if good ol' normality didn't come crashing to pieces to make way for some terrifying madness and violence. Things start to go pear-shaped when the studio staff working around Mima are threatened, and later horribly killed, apparently by an obsessed Mima-fan who doesn't like the new direction her career is taking. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Mima herself is starting to go bonkers with all the pressure. She begins to have visions of a disturbing alter ego, more or less her "old self" from her singing days. And this "other" Mima doesn't want to play second fiddle to the new acting image Mima has taken on; she claims to be the real one, with the flesh-and-blood Mima being the fake. Mima's delirium grows gradually more entangled, until she sinks into a mental state where it's impossible for her, and for the audience to tell what is, and what is not really happening. And there are still those murders going on...

Granted, the "movie within a movie" gimmick has been done before so often that it doesn't even strike me anymore as original. Reality-twisting is also something I've seen before. All the same, Perfect Blue managed to impress me enormously, and scare my socks off like no other film. There's something about not knowing for sure (as a viewer) what is and isn't for real that always keeps one intrigued. Particularly during the more violent moments (and the film does get seriously nasty), one is constantly praying that it's -not- for real. "Go on, snap out of it, Mima. This is too scary to be real, you're just having another vision...right? Right?" The leitmotiv of a second self also intrigues me, and I found it delightful trying to pick out which Mima was really the "real" one. Just how strong is "false" Mima's presence in reality? Is she a complete phantom of the imagination, or does she have a litteral, physical presence of some kind? And most of all; out of these two versions of herself, which one does Mima really want to be? If you can't tell for sure what does and doesn't really happen, you also might not take everything the characters declare for granted. The ending does provide a somewhat logical explanation that ties up all of the insanity again, but that doesn't mean the fun of figuring this out for yourself is completely spoiled; you can very well not take the ending entirely for granted either (while it makes sense, there are some bits about the explanation it provides that don't completely gel with me). Lots of re-watchings and picking apart of hints is in store for me there. Love it when that happens ^^.

A few tiny niggles; the animation quality in the first half of the film is not quite breathtaking, and seemed decidedly below-par for movie quality animation. Luckily, it picks up later on, becoming pleasingly smooth. And by the time you reach the terror of the later part of the film, you're already too frightened to really be picky about animation quality. Some of the violent and/or explicit scenes are very nasty indeed (ewww, straight people, sick man), but they serve the purpose of enhancing the fright factor very well, rather than just being needless grotesqueries to please the gore-junkies in the style of that hideous Akira. The film is a complete success as a frightening, surreal and involving thriller (though I do still like Jinn-Roh much better).

But another reason to rejoice is that Perfect Blue is a step in the right direction for the general public's image of what anime really is. Sure, the enlightened few among us for whom Evangelion is standard fare, and who can give detailed insights into the latest CLAMP titles already know that anime is not "a genre". It's a medium in itself, and the Japanese animation market can, and does treat every imaginable genre and subject, often with skill that leaves feeble Hollywoodian efforts miles behind itself (in the case of Perfect Blue, it speaks volumes that a celluloid character such as Mima manages to become more lifelike and sympathetic than any sillicone tarts Hollywood chucks around the screen). It's hardly uncommon to see a genre such as a psychological stalker-thriller treated in animation to the Japanese. Heck, they've done every other imaginable thing under the sun in animation, and a damn good job they do at it as well. It's just a shame that hardly any of the really good stuff ever makes it over to the West, thus creating a distorted image for casual western viewers. We do seem to have made some progress from the Akira Aftertaste years, where anime was generally put on the same line as sex and violence and very little else (side-step; how come nobody ever raises a finger when live Yank actors engage in orgies of the most brutal porn and bloodshed in just about every Hollywood flick ever made, but the whole world screams bloody murder when an anime character so much as takes his socks off? Live Yanks can get away with everything?). Now it's "anime is just pink-haired fairies in giant explosive turbo robots". They're getting just a tiny bit warmer, but maybe Perfect Blue will get the message across to a few others that anime embraces a diversity that ranges from Sailor Moon to Wings of Honneamise (and I'm just globally sketching here), with a reasonably large number of people getting to actually see this. A quite decent English dub that doesn't hamper the film too much is also a plus, though a dub will of course never equal the original. It might help to keep the above paragraph in mind for a Perfect Blue viewer not initiated to the big picture of anime. In any case, it's an impressive movie for anyone, worth seeing for being so unique, gripping and masterfully scary. I'll think twice before I look into a mirror for a long time to come after this...

A final note about the notorious comment that this could be a Disney-Hitchcock hybrid. Hitch perhaps, but comparing this kind of quality to Disney's paper-flat commercial slop is simply an insult to Perfect Blue.
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Very good anime noir
FilmOtaku7 April 2005
Based on Yoshikazu Tekeuchi's novel of the same name, "Perfect Blue" is a Japanese anime film that tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a pop idol who decides to leave her musical group while it is still at the top of the charts and concentrate on acting. Unfortunately, this transition does not sit well with one of her fans because an obsessive person who seems to be pervasive in her life soon stalks her. Even when she comes across the fan's website, she finds that the blog entries are not only written to make it seem like they are her thoughts, but they actually ARE her inner-most thoughts. What starts out as a moderately scary obsession quickly becomes a terrifying struggle to both deal with her inner demons and eventually, save her own life.

I once heard "Perfect Blue" described as "Hitchcock does anime", which is a dead-on descriptor for this film. The character designs were slick, the music was good (mostly techno) but the story is fantastic. I honestly was still trying to guess who the stalker was until the end of the film, and the reveal does not disappoint. There are some graphic moments (one is a rape scene on the set of the film she is making) so it does not fall into the stereotypical "it's a cartoon so it must be okay for kids" label that the non-anime viewing public seems assume.

I highly recommend this film, particularly to people who are not very well versed in anime – it would be a really good way to get your feet wet in the genre. There were many times during the film where I actually forgot I was watching animation, the action and story are so all consuming. Perfect Blue gets a strong 7/10 from me.

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Dreaming of real fame comes at a cost.
mylimbo13 September 2006
Mima Kirigoes is part of a young idol group Cham, but she decides to move on and kick-start a career as an actress with some help by her pressuring agent. To change her image, she accepts some confronting roles, which eventuates into her downward spiral between realities and virtual. She discovers an Internet site that knows her every move and those responsible for growing success in the acting industry end up brutally killed.

Well, what can I say? Simply, I forgot that I originally saw this wonderfully, stunning anime picture before. I don't know how it left my mind, because it's very chilling and effective across the board. Based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel, "Perfect Blue" is an intoxicatedly, shocking psychological thriller that does resemble some works of Lynch, Polanski, De Palma and rightly so, Hitchcock. Even a giallo imprint shines heavily within the mixture.

The mature plot boldly plays it cards at a mild pace and eventually forms a structure like a rubrics cube. I wouldn't go out of my way to call it complicated, but there's stylish imagination and cerebral details that gladly doesn't fall into a convoluted mess. The characters' persona's are well defined and emotionally attachable. It can turn into an uncomfortable ride, where dazzling images of fact and fiction skews into one. You can't help but get those disorientating spells that the distraught Mima succumbs to on her journey to find her feet as an mature entertainer. Where her dreams become her anxiety, as she's too sensitive to how she's being perceived then being her true self. Her clean-cut image becomes tainted and a growing obsession towards her takes its tole on her fractured and vulnerable mind.

Paranoia, delusions and a dreamlike air are cooked up with an array of tension and creepy visuals. The animation isn't a visual goldmine, but its showered with powerfully focused and flashed up images that manage to keep the viewer at bay. The pressure building dialogues are quite biting, and the revealing twist catches you off guard because of the superb use of artificial dreams with its fast editing and exhilaratingly moody soundtrack.

You don't have to be a fan of animation to enjoy this piece. So, if you come across it, give it a chance.
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A new take to old school horror movies...
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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Third greatest anime of all time!
dogg0111 June 2001
On the cover of this film, Roger Corman is quoted as saying "If Alfred Hitchcock partnered with Walt Disney they'd make a picture like this." He couldn't be more right.

The story is about a pop idol Mima, who is sheding her squeaky-clean image for that of an actress. Along the way, she is raped onscreen for a sleazy television show, and does a nude shoot for a men's magazine. This makes her dirty, as her old self tells her. She finds a web site detailing every intimate little detail in her life, and believes that she is being stalked by a strange man. Her personality splits in two, into herself and her old, clean, self which tries to murder her. While she is battling her old self, all of those who contributed to her downfall are being grusomely murdered.

This movie has been critisized by others on this very site, saying that the film was boring in the first 40 minutes. How wrong they are. In Hitchcock's films, (take Psycho for example) he builds up character for the first half-hour until the slashing. This does the same, because if we were not built up to believe that Mima's character is not real-i.e 3-dimensional, then we would feel no sense of loss and disorientation when all hell breaks loose in Mima's life (and the editing room).

A first class film with twists all the way. Should be seen by any movie fan with a mature mind. Even though it will probably collect dust in the anime section of the video store.


Only beaten in the anime stakes by Ghost in the Shell (2nd) and Akira (1st). Pure genius.
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Creepy precursor to Mulholland Drive
tieman6425 February 2013
Warning: 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 you serious?"

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.
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Not quite Perfect, but still a great movie
Spinal-Column30 January 2003
The first time I watched PERFECT BLUE I was underwhelmed. I disliked what I perceived to be the 'supernatural' element of the movie. I watched it again several months later, intending to get rid of my DVD, and realised that I had missed the whole point of the film!

PERFECT BLUE is actually a very good, intelligent movie. Director, Satoshi Kon, was employed to make an exploitation flick using the original PERFECT BLUE novel as his source material. Kon disliked the script the studio provided and, when he asked how rigidly he had to stick to the plot, was told that he had to keep three elements of the story: a singing idol, a stalker and horror. Using these elements he and writer Sadayuki Murai created what is effectively a coming-of-age story about a young woman leaving one stage of her life and entering another.

The plot can seem contrived and the ending is a little silly (though it is quite meaningful when looking at the film as a story about growing up). Also the animation is not too great -this was only a straight to video feature, after all. However, if you can get past these problems, this is a very enjoyable movie.

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Great Double Reality Until the End
tedg23 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I get nearly all my movie recommendations from IMDb readers of my comments. I'm a student of "folding," which often exhibits as a mix of reality, a movie within the movie, or an imagined reality.

Here we have all three in a very clever and engaging mix that could only have been pulled off in the anime format. I actually invested a lot in watching this because once someone goes to the trouble of weaving so many realities, it is common to maintain ambiguities about which is the "true" reality.

In this case, it could be the reality of the teevee show, or of the website, or of the "gaslight" imagined world. Let me advise you not to take this as seriously as I did, because it has a huge copout at the end.

That ending is a scooby-doo explanation where all worlds but the "real" one are taken away. A crazy person in a costume is the villain. I suppose it could be recommended as training in moviewatching sophistication for kids.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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... first comes walking, then comes stalking…
grahamcarter-110 June 2017
Warning: 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 celebrity itself.

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.
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Sooooooo many films have been ripping this movie off all this time and I didn't even know.
OneEightNine Media7 September 2016
Warning: 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)
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To say this is a very dark anime is quite an understatement!
MartinHafer12 June 2016
"Perfect Blue" is a very, very dark don't let your kids watch it thinking it's like "Pokemon" or "Inuyasha"! It's also a confusing mind-bending sort of 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.
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Thoughtfull psychological thriller that leaves you disoriented and maybe even disturbed
ryan-bfd7 March 2016
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.
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Perfect Blue (1997)
Martin Teller6 January 2012
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.
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Marvellous anime entry in the 'woman losing her grip on reality' horror niche
chaos-rampant3 October 2009
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.
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More like a Brian De Palma film
Jeremy Bristol24 February 2002
Warning: 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.
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High quality
Muzman18 December 2001
Warning: 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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Simply okay.
Robert Morgan10 December 1999
I've been wanting to see Perfect Blue since I saw magazine ads for the theatrical release; it never made it to an Indianapolis theatre, however, and I made do with the recent VHS release.

The box promises a psychological thriller on a par with Hitchcock's work- as much as I love anime, I honestly can't give PB such high marks. It's a bit better than a Verhoeven potboiler, but nowhere near the level of a Hitchcock. The main plot points (and the suspense) are very cliched and overused- if it weren't for the psychological angle, the entire story would be a waste of time.

The sub-plots were interesting, but as many others have pointed out, it's best to be aware of or accepting of some very Japanese pop-culture standards, such as the pop-idol phenomena, the sex video industry, etc. The differences between Japanese and American cultures are very pronounced sometimes, and the fact that the storyline revolves around Japanese pop-culture may make the movie off-putting for casual fans.

The animation wasn't as spectacular as I was expecting- this is my own fault, rather than the movie's. I've come to expect a certain level of animation prowess in theatrical releases, and this felt more like an OVA. The animation is quite serviceable, though.

Character designs are a bit bland. The deformed appearance of the boy (Me-Mania) makes it obvious early on who the culprit is going to be. Character voices (English translation) are okay- I've heard worse. The song translation is well done, but I'm not a big fan of j-pop...

In the end- I don't mean to sound too down on Perfect Blue. I don't feel it's an appropriate movie for non-anime fans, but if you do like anime, it's a decent purchase.
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Best animated thriller I've seen
Aeris4ever31 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone who can get past the fact that "Perfect Blue" is animated should see it. Well, anyone who is over 17, I should say. Don't let the anime look fool you, this is a great psychological thriller meant for adults. It's intelligent, confusing, thought-provoking, violent and mesmerizing. The animation is good and gets better as the movie progresses. The English dub is actually very good, especially the woman who voiced Mima Kirigoe, the main character; that had to be a tough job.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: The movie begins with a series of flashbacks that show Mima's departure from Cham, a moderately successful pop trio. She has decided to pursue an acting career instead. Soon after getting her first acting gig by participating in dirty and disturbing scenes in a drama series, Mima discovers a website which is run by someone claiming to be her, in an effort to keep her pristine pop idol image alive for her fans. Cham is becoming more successful as a duo and Mima is visited by an illusion of her old self who ridicules her choice of becoming a slutty actress. As the drama series goes on, it begins to parallel Mima's real-life delusions. People close to her are being murdered and her grasp on reality begins to slip. Unable to distinguish between reality and make-believe, Mima slowly deteriorates until she comes face to face with the one who wants to do her in.

There are two English versions of this movie: an edited rated-R version and an unedited director's cut which is not rated. If it were, it would be very close to being NC-17. I found both versions floating around in the same library system, so if you plan to see the movie, make you know what you're getting. I'd recommend the director's cut, only because you'll miss some important imagery and emotion in the edited version. There's a lengthy rape scene, albeit staged, that is disturbing after awhile, but it's not as gratuitous as it seems; it does serve a purpose in showing Mima's grasp on reality beginning to fade. I could do without the rape scene, but another important montage was cut from the edited version, due to nudity. Either version is great for adults over 17. I can't imagine anyone younger seeing the director's cut, it's pretty nasty and not something a kid can appreciate for it's symbolism. I would also recommend this movie to any of the pop divas that grace our T.V.'s and clog the airwaves everyday, especially the ones who want to act-we know who they are. It might freak them out senseless!
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Good but not great Anime
Maciste_Brother15 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I like some of the animation in PERFECT BLUE. Some scenes were very stiff but other scenes were beautifully rendered without being too flashy. The problem with PB is the story. It has too many implausible details like the killer being able to look like Mima, the popstar. I mean, come on! They might get away with it because it's animation but it would be impossible to recreate this in a believable fashion in a live action movie. It feels like a cheat. The only way this implausible detail could have been possible is that the killer has some sort of psychic link with Mima. Otherwise, I just can't see it as being remotely plausible.

But even the idea of the killer having a psychic link with Mima can't explain the scenes were we see the killer without Mima being around, like the "pizza boy" scene. The fact that the killer looked like the "pizza boy" during that scene really doesn't make any sense at all. Also, the fact that a popstar quits her group because she thinks the image of a pop idol is suffocating her is a tad ludicrous in this case because CHAM are almost unknown and have never had a top 100 hit when Mima was part of it! Now how suffocating can that be? The story would have made more sense if CHAM had been popular.

PB is filled with violence and nudity and a simulated rape scene, which makes this a DEFINITE R-rated anime, even though everything else looks like something straight out of SAILOR MOON. What's also interesting is how they completely leave out the idea that Mima can have a boyfriend or even friends. Leaving the pop band doesn't mean Mima can't be friends with the other members of CHAM.

Anyway, the film is entertaining and it does have some spooky qualities that make it really interesting. But it's a tad overrated. I give it 6 out of 10.

A couple of points:

Am I the only who thinks that the ugly creep was made to look like Michael Jackson?

The first song CHAM play at the beginning sounds a lot like that song from the French band, 2be3.
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