Perfect Blue (1997) Anime Movie Review
WARNING: Before even trying to watch this movie make sure that you can handle several scenes or topics like depression, murder, suicide, rape, obsession, etc. Otherwise, please skip this one because this is not for the faint-hearted.
From the director of Paprika (2006) and Tokyo Godfathers (2001) comes an absolute classic of deception and storytelling. Although the title looks like a typical anime movie, this is not for everyone. This anime movie is so disturbing that it might keep you thinking even after it ends.
We follow the story of Mima Kirigoe, a former member of the idol group "CHAM!." After deciding to leave the group to pursue an acting career, she seems to be having trouble landing prominent roles despite her reputation as a popular idol member. Due to her declining popularity, she lives in a small apartment and struggles with most of her day-to-day activities. She also gets troubled when she regrets her decision to leave the group. Her life gets twisted when a stalker and a fan during her former days get upset after she changes her clean-cut image. She discovers a not-so-popular forum website named Mima's room, wherein the stalker pretends to be like her and writes seemingly convincing diary entries about her personal life. She gains support from her colleague Rumi and tells her about the forum website, but she advises her to ignore it.
Things get more entangled when Mima lands a more significant role in a television detective drama series, Double Bind. Despite Rumi's warnings, she grabbed the part that involved a rape scene which could destroy her public image. Mima also struggles when she starts hallucinating and seeing her other self as a successful idol performer and declares that she is the real Mima. She begins to doubt herself and her state of mind as she starts having vague memories of murder, etc.
If you are familiar with or a fan of Cardcaptor Sakura, the voice actress of Mima, Junko Iwao, is the same as Tomoyo Daidoji. Surprisingly, she also voiced the mother of Killua Zoldyck, Kikyo, in the Hunter x Hunter anime. Both characters are pretty farfetched compared to Mima's personality.
The Hollywood movie Black Swan, which garnered Natalie Portman a Best Actress award in the Academy Awards, was inspired by this film.
I think Perfect Blue might be more accurate than fictional. The movie stamps itself with several psychologically disturbing scenes that keep you thinking even after it ends. It contains topics that may not be for the faint-hearted but are deliberately added to the storyline to add tension and suspense like a typical thriller. When you think about the story, the more you realize that it might be accurate in our day-to-day lives when we log in to our social media accounts. We might see someone pretend to be an actor or actress and tell everyone about her activities without the person's consent. It's pretty scary, to be honest. Maybe in the deep or dark web, it is happening already.
My favorite scene is definitely the film's last 10 to 15 minutes when Mima realizes who the real stalker is. The one who establishes her identity on a forum website to assume her identity. How a fan's obsession with her idol persona became a weapon for her to steal her image on and off the screen. Plus, the movie ends with an open-ended question, "So, who's the real Mima?." I assure you that the ending may bring out a few questions, but it is also satisfying as well.
I believe the movie is a masterpiece in terms of storytelling and payoff. It starts with a confusing character who struggles to fight her other idol identity, and at the end, it is not her who is confused but the audience. The pacing is incredible. The build-up and tension will pay off if you can get through those disturbing moments. It's like the film transferred its train of thought to the audience, and I loved it.
The animation and design present colors that are pretty kaleidoscopic. It is colorful yet presents sadness and confusion, which perfectly identifies the main character.
I don't know if you can fully grasp or understand the story in the first sitting, but it may need a few watches.
If you are looking for an anime movie with elements of Alfred Hitchcock's mystery that are relatable, you can try this one. Although this is not for everyone, especially if you can't handle several disturbing topics, I recommend this masterpiece.
A perfect 5 out of 5 stars.