Perfect Blue ★★★★

Cult Movie Challenge Week 3: Anime

Perfect Blue's protagonist Mima is torn between constructed images of herself, her past self, and her current self. As a pop idol, she lives inside an identity long-ago created. When she decides to become an actress, she has to forge a new persona that matches her new image. She's surrounded by men who she has to please, whether it's her fans or those who run the TV show she begins to work on. She gets a stalker, a fan of her from her time as a singer, and she begins to be haunted by an alternate version of herself, who exists like a ghost on the internet and in reflections - mirrors and glass doors.

It's not incidental if, at first, the way Mima sees her alter-ego is by looking at herself. Constantly changing means looking at one's self in the mirror and not recognising one's self; teenage girldom sometimes feels like a constant battle between our different selves, physical and emotion. This is easy to link with sexuality and gender, and here Mima is only object, never subject of desire. The rape scene is awful and oppressive and shocking and complex. Mima has agreed to it, though we find out that the only reason she did was that she didn't want to annoy those who "did so much for her". The brilliant editing style of Perfect Blue, which juxtaposes scenes so that you never really know what's really happening and what's part of the TV show complicates the issue of the rape scene - Mima's acting her struggle, but the trauma she feels is all too real. A similar thing happens when she does a photoshoot with a photographer known for his sexual photographs - she agrees to take part and plays along while it happens, but then the imagery of the shoot is mixed with the violence of Mima's dreams, conflating the dream world, the real world, and the world of Mima's feelings.

I really liked Perfect Blue, it's disturbing and oppressive and held me in a nervous state the whole time I was watching it. It's 4 stars for now, because I'm still thinking over that last act.

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