Perfect Blue ★★★★★

Having never seen a single anime I genuinely enjoyed (outside of Studio Ghibli), I'd heard some positive things about Perfect Blue and its director, Satoshi Kon. Truly, I was not prepared for just how marvelous of a film this really is, and how impacting it would be on my interest in Japanese animation.

Mima is the lead singer of a Japanese pop group, reminiscent of the many girl-bands that had been internationally popular at the latter part of the 1990’s. To the dismay of her fans, she makes a decision to quit the group in order to pursue her dream of being an actress. Her career takes off, but a traumatic experience causes her to slowly lose grip on her sanity. From this point, throughout the rest of the film, the fine line between reality and fantasy are blurred beyond comprehension. This downward spiral is made all the more difficult by a mega-fan - and stalker - by the name of Me-Mania, who attempt to Mima’s frail condition for his own pleasures.

The amount of emotion and psychological depth presented through its animation is absolutely remarkable. A critic once remarked this as a hypothetical result of Walt Disney’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s collaborative talents; perhaps this description isn’t completely accurate, but the Hitchcockian feel of this work is definitely apparent. At a certain point, the film becomes total chaos; elaborated and convoluted in every way possible. Eventually, the viewers themselves are left perplexed over whether the events are actually part of the movie’s physical story, or simply projections of Mima’s insanity.

However, such incoherence in plot structure is never frustrating or boring. Satoshi Kon succeeds at creating an atmosphere that is both beautiful and enigmatic. Perfect Blue’s setting is in modern-day Japan, a common theme in his films to follow. With such dark city landscapes, embroidered with towering buildings and suspicious streetlights, and blanketed by a billowing darkness, Kon does wonderful things with its animation to convey a realistic depth of field. The visual detail in every aspect of this film, fantasy or reality, carries a dream-like aura, and many scene compositions are produced so brilliantly and really stick to memory.

The amount of influence that Darren Aronofsky retrieved from Perfect Blue is certainly obvious. He bought the rights to the film to reuse the famous bathtub scene in Requiem for a Dream, and the film’s plot is analogous to his Black Swan. And it’s no surprise, as a film like Perfect Blue really is that impacting. It has created me into an anime fan, something I would not have been able to say previous to my initial viewing. Any fan of psychological drama or nifty animation should not miss this film, as it truly is a gripping, one-of-a-kind experience to be had.

Lyzette liked this review