At any moment throughout the day, do you ever think about what distinguishes fantasy from reality? What you perceive with your eyes, hear with your ears, touch with your fingertips, the smell of the fragrance of your surroundings, are those real? You can experience all these sensations in a reverie or a vision. So, what sets them apart from one another? If the dream world suddenly begins to feel like more than just a simple caricature of your inner thoughts and feelings, how would you discern the difference of what’s real and what’s not? For today’s Inkling Movie Review, I will be focusing on Perfect Blue.
Perfect Blue is the directorial debut of Satoshi Kon, who sadly passed away in 2010. It’s a nerve-racking psychological thriller that showcases a more foreboding and nightmarish view on Japan’s pop idol music industry, which is often romanticized in anime and seen as cute, fun, and innocent to the rabid fans that enjoy it passionately (The iDOLM@STER, Love Live! School Idol Project). In a lot of ways, it reminded me of how Hollywood goes to extreme lengths to make their stars come off as god-like and morally infallible individuals to the public sphere. But it’s easy to think about how a lot of these people within this particular line of work are going through some kind anguish, anxiety, troubled relationships, and just a circumambient feeling of constant terror since this profession can be incredibly vexing on both a mental and physical level when you dig deeper beyond what businessmen might want you to believe. These musicians are constantly traveling away from their homes, and I’m assuming that quite a bit of dedication is involved just to maintain a sense of inner peace and serenity.
The narrative of Perfect Blue primarily focuses on Mima Kirigoe, a vocalist and performer for a widely popular and acclaimed pop idol group. Despite the immense popularity and loyal fans that she has accumulated over the years in the pop idol business, she decides to leave the group to explore possible career opportunities within the movie industry as an actress. As you could imagine, her fanbase does not treat her decision in a cordial and open-minded manner and leave her vitriolic messages that would probably make any recipient feel utterly depressed and emotionally hurt. The story then takes a completely dark turn When her new management staff and associates are mysteriously murdered one by one, and her first major movie role involves acting in a graphic rape scene. Not only that, some creepy stalker starts to update Mima’s online blog without her consent and starts posting fraudulent information about her that never even happened. At the same time, Mima begins to have a nervous breakdown and have mental delusions about her “other” persona, which is still a pop idol singer.
The entire second half of this film is not only beguiling for the main character, it’s also quite an enigmatic experience for the viewer as well. There are definitely moments throughout Perfect Blue where you’ll begin to question what’s real and what’s not. The story diverges (and moves back and forth) into three separate narrative arcs. One is set in reality, one is a disturbing Lynchian nightmare, and one is a movie in which Mima is currently acting in. This is a film that will make you constantly ponder and guess in order to grasp a deeper meaning or a sense of understanding of what’s happening, which might turn off some viewers who would rather go into a movie with the goal of being entertained, and with their thinking caps off.
All in all, Perfect Blue is a very unique and enthralling experience whether or not you are a regular anime watcher. Although since this entire feature runs on the feeling of mystery, I feel like it may not have the same impact or cerebral effect on viewers on repeated viewings, but that’s just my opinion. With that being said, this is still an excellent film that I’d highly recommend because there aren’t that many movies (especially in anime) that are able to perfectly encapsulate a surreal cinematic experience that’s both emotionally-investing and thematically jarring. It also explores a darker side to the music industry that we might overlook or disregard entirely out of ignorance due to a lack of knowledge or information.
Thanks for stopping by! If you’ve seen Perfect Blue or any other Satoshi Kon movies, I’d love to hear your thoughts below. Stay fresh!