'Perfect Blue' is the best movie I have seen in a LONG time!


Perfect Blue (1997) - IMDbStory

Perfect Blue follows Mima Kirigoe a singer from the pop group CHAM! who decided to leave her pop-idol days behind and pursue a career in acting and slowly begins to lose a hold on reality when she discovers that she has a stalker. All the while, numerous people surrounding her are ending up dead.

The story instantly pulled in. Based on the premise given I already knew that the movie would be intense. Without the sinister element, it's already a compelling story as Mima is struggling to shed her image and be taken more seriously as an actress, but then when you add in the fact that there is stalking and murder involved? It takes the story in a whole new direction.

Voice Acting 

Junko Iwao did a fantastic job as the main character Mima. She goes through a lot in this movie and Junko's voice carries a lot of weight and had a lot of nuance. From soft-spoken to distressed to happy. Everything you need to know about Mima comes from her performance.

Two other performances that I want to highlight are Rica Matsumoto who plays Rumi and Masaaki Ōkura who plays Mamoru Uchida. I know their names don't mean much to you but they are two characters who ultimately shape the film and without the performances by their respective voice actors I don't think those characters would have come across as impactful as they did.

Writing/Direction

Earlier I said I knew this would be an intense movie but I really didn't know what I was going to watch. Perfect Blue is so much more than I thought and I can out of it loving it more than I thought I would. It's the perfect psychological thriller in that you the viewer is just as destabilised at the characters. There is so much tension surrounding all of Mima's actions and you really have no idea what is going to happen next. At one point I didn't know what was real because the movie shows you something and then takes lengths to show you that it isn't real but then goes in the other direction which makes you question what you's watching throughout the last third of the movie. By the time it ended, I just sat quietly because I wasn't sure of what was real. That in turn

There is a lot of commentary in this film, from the way we consume media and the role the entertainment industry prides itself on perception and visuals in relation to women. Throughout the movie, people talk about Mima like she isn't human and it made me think about the way we talk about celebrities and how we consume pop culture.

Something that would usually be a flaw is the fact that I never felt any attachment towards any of the other charters but based on the structure of the movie, you're not really supposed to. This is Mima's story and because of the route the story takes, any attachment you have for the characters quickly disappears.

Animation 

Before I watched this movie I didn't really understand what people meant by the term vintage anime but I get it now. Everything looks old, the lines are less sharp and the colours are more muted almost as if there is a haze over the film. When you compare it with anime that is released today, you can see how the style has evolved. It's a very district look, that is not only visually appealing but lends itself perfectly to the story and the unstable nature of the characters. Here is a still from the movie to illustrate my point.

Perfect Blue - 20th Anniversary - New Trailer and Poster • Blazing ...

The way the film is edited adds to the tension. You have scenes that don't reveal what is going on till the scene has ended which leaves you at the edge of your seat because you're not sure what is going on. The editing also brings forth a lot of symbolism. The way colours blend into each other and shift from location to location really helps push the story forward.

I also have to mention the cinematography. It's not something I do often with animated films but Hisao Shirai the cinematographer and Satoshi Kon created a film with depth. I can use so many examples but I'm going to use the still from above. In that picture, there are so many details from the way light is reflected off Mima to her reflection in the glass, to the buildings outside the window. It really is a stunning film.

This may be an animated movie but it doesn't shy away from violence or uncomfortable scenes. A lot of people have this notion that animation is for kids and I like that anime as a genre contradicts said notion. Perfect Blue may be a beautifully animated movie with gorgeous cinematography and distinct and visually striking characters but it IS NOT a movie aimed at kids.

Score/Soundtrack 

Before I go on to talk about the score and how unsettling it is, I have to say that CHAM's songs are adorable and infections. I may not fully understand what the characters are saying (subtitles help) but the songs made me smile at the beginning, not so much towards the end as they started making me feel a little uncomfortable.

That discomfort comes from the score, there's one particular reoccurring tune that plays throughout the film and the only way to describe it is creepy. For the most part, the movie is devoid of sound and mostly relies on background noise, like a tv or the sound of trains to fill the void which also adds tot he tension as there are no musical cues to allude to what may for may not happen.

Overall Thoughts

I'm very grateful to YouTube for this recommendation and let me explain why. I sporadically listen to slowed down versions of my favourite songs (I highly recommend doing this) and earlier this week I  was listening to something (I can't remember what) and I saw this image,
Perfect Blue: Deleted Scenes – All the Anime

and I was instantly intrigued. And thanks to a lovely person in the comment section, I found out the name of the movie and here we are.

Perfect Blue is a fantastic movie filled with a compelling story, terrific voice acting and stunning animation. It's actually eerily similar to Balck Swan, both movies show a protagonist who is trying to shift from the image they have been confined to and how that change affects them psychologically. (You can read my review for Black Swan here if you want to.) Fun fact Darren Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream has a shot that recreates one in this film.



This movie leaves an impact. I had shivers when I finished it and I'm still in a weird headspace while I write this review. Even though it was released in 1997, it still has relevance today especially when you look at the internet and stan culture.

All in all, Perfect Blue is a brilliant film that will definitely leave an impact and subvert your expectations. I can't say enough good things about it and I can't wait to watch the rest of Satoshi Kon's filmography particularly Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Paprika, as well as more vintage anime. (who knows there may be more reviews to come)

Comments