Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー)

directed by Satoshi Kon (今 敏)

Review by Susan Meehan

Perfect Blue” is a tension-packed thriller which had me on the edge of my seat, surprising perhaps as it is an exponent of anime. Not a fan of thrillers and having simply tripped over the DVD in a secondhand book and film shop, even I could tell that Perfect Blue is cleverly made, with a psychological and compelling storyline crossing into the grisly towards its denouement. The anime avatars are believable, well-rounded characters, not too dissimilar from their real-life cousins.

Made in the early 1990s, Perfect Blue was an enormous breakthrough. Though it has dated somewhat, most notably in that its young heroine doesn’t know how to use the internet and needs her agent’s help – this would be unthinkable today – it still has a modern and slick feel to it.

The heroine, pop idol Mima Kirigoe (霧越未麻), is a member of the girl band Cham. Giving up her singing career in favour of acting, much to the grief of some of her music fans, her foray into TV begins with a small role in the drama “Double Bind.” Her career move is somewhat blighted when she receives a fax at home accusing her of being a traitor to her fans and a letter sent to her at the TV studio set explodes, injuring the unsuspecting producer who’d opened it.

Paranoia further ensues when, learning how to navigate the internet, Mima encounters a “pop idol” blog called “Mima’s Room.” Whoever is writing it, and it’s not Mima, accounts for Mima’s every move and reveals Mima’s innermost thoughts.

The film plot becomes increasingly complicated and lost me several times as Mima’s own life and that of her character’s in “Double Bind” become increasingly intertwined, making it hard for viewers to differentiate between them. Events spiral out of control – murders are being committed in the drama and also outside as some of Mima’s colleagues working on the TV set are gruesomely killed. Mima seems implicated in some of the murders or is she hallucinating or did I misunderstand?

We progressively enter Hitchcockian territory as the concept of “doubles” is introduced bringing to mind Hitchcock’s words, “If you meet your double, you should kill him or he will kill you.”  Applied to Perfect Blue, these words turn out to be prophetic.

As the film nears its end we are confirmed in our belief that the villainous and fanatical       Mr Me-Mania is stalking Mima and penning “Mima’s Room.”  In a scary encounter he tells her that the real Mina emails him every day and tells him to get rid of the impostor. He tries to stab her; she hits him with a hammer. Is this a dream? Is she losing a grip on reality? Are there two Mimas?

All is revealed as the film wraps up, having successfully toyed with the viewer’s mind.

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