Anime Film Review: Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue is the first anime film directed by Satoshi Kon, and it was released to Japanese theaters on February 28, 1998. The film is loosely based on a novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. Manga Entertainment holds the distribution rights to Perfect Blue in the United States.

Perfect Blue
Directed by: Satoshi Kon
Written by: Sadayuki Murai
Starring: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, and Masaaki Ōkura
Run Time: 81 minutes
Rated: R

Mima Kirigoe is the main character of Perfect Blue; at the beginning of the film, she is a pop-idol from a J-pop group called CHAM! She announces that she is leaving the group to pursue an acting career. Mima’s first acting project is Double Bind, which is a direct-to-video drama series.

Some of Mima’s fans become disappointed by her change of career and persona, with one of the most upset people being a stalker calling himself “Me-Mania.” Mima soon discovers a website called Mima’s Room, which has public diary entries which appear to be written by her and discuss her life in great detail. Mima brings the site to the attention of her manager, Rumi Hidaka, who tells her to just ignore it.

Meanwhile, Mima is given a larger role in Double Bind, which includes a rape scene. While Mima agrees to do it, it’s obvious afterwards that the scene has traumatized her to the point where she is having trouble discerning between reality and fantasy. The viewer is taken on a ride for the rest of the film, and is left guessing as to what the truth really is until the very end.

After I finished watching the film, I realized that Satoshi Kon had done a great job dropping quite a few subtle clues throughout the film before the truth is revealed at the end. Kon would go on to explore the theme of fantasy versus reality in his film, Paprika. Perfect Blue showed that Kon was capable of directing this kind of film, but I believe that he was able to perfect this concept by the time he directed Paprika.

In some respects, the animation can be a little on the rough side. However, considering what the concept of the film is, this rougher style actually works.

While Perfect Blue is a decent film, I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it whole-heartedly. The film has some violent and bloody sections to it, and there’s also nudity and the rape scene that Mima films for the series. Even though there is no actual rating on the DVD release of Perfect Blue, I would only recommend it to anime viewers who are 18 years of age and older.

On the DVD release, you can see the film in English, in Japanese, or in Japanese with English subtitles. On the main menu, the special features section is labeled as “Mima’s Room.” When you click on the link, it takes you to a menu that is supposed to look like a computer screen showing the Mima’s Room website.

The first link in the Mima’s Room menu is labeled as “Cham.” In this link, you can see the Japanese singers for the Cham characters recording a song in the studio; however, the footage for this section was obviously recorded with a camcorder. Also in this menu is the same song in English, which is played over a still image of Mima.

The next link is “Some photos I took.” In this section, there are stills from the show done as a slideshow with audio accompanying it. Each picture is also accompanied by a subtitle that explains what’s being seen on the screen. However, the viewer has no control over when the pictures change.

Next is a link labeled as “My favorite videos.” This link takes you to a slideshow of still images that promote the various releases and merchandise Manga Entertainment was selling at the time this DVD was released. The slideshow runs for four minutes, and the viewer has no control over when the images in the slideshow change.

The next link is labeled as “My favorite DVDs.” This is a menu where you can choose what Manga Entertainment advertisement you want to see. Each advertisement is a slide with a page per title. There are nine selections in all, but not all of them are anime.

The next link is “Meet some of my friends.” This is a menu that contains interviews with the English voice actors for Mima, Rumi, and Mr. Me-Mania, the Japanese voice actor for Mima, and Satoshi Kon. The two Japanese interviews have Japanese audio with English subtitles.

The next link is “My favorite links,” which includes links for Manga Entertainment’s website, a website for Perfect Blue, and a website for Sputnik 7. The final link in the bonus features is labeled as “Thanks”; this is a link to the DVD credits.

This DVD also includes a DVD-ROM portion. In this section there are wallpapers, QuickTime video clips from the movie and bonus materials, as well as a multimedia application that requires an old version of QuickTime in order to run. However, if you do manage to get the application to run, half of the text is in Japanese. Also, the video clips included in the DVD-ROM section have Japanese audio, but no subtitles.

If you’re a fan of Perfect Blue or of Satoshi Kon, it would be worth it to track down a copy of this DVD and add it to your anime home video collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Perfect Blue that my husband and I purchased.

Additional reviews of Satoshi Kon films:

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