Perfect Blue

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For the animated television series, see Perfect Blue (TV series).
Perfect Blue
Pblue.jpg
Directed by Satoshi Kon
Produced by Hiroaki Inoue
Screenplay by Sadayuki Murai
Based on Perfect Blue 
by Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Starring Junko Iwao
Rica Matsumoto
Shinpachi Tsuji
Masaaki Ōkura
Music by Masahiro Ikumi
Cinematography Hisao Shirai
Edited by Harutoshi Ogata
Production
  company
Madhouse
Distributed by Rex Entertainment
Release date(s)
  • July 1997 (1997-07) (Fantasia Festival)
  • February 28, 1998 (1998-02-28) (Japan)
Running time 81 minutes (R rated VHS)
85 minutes (Unrated VHS and DVD)
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget $3.5 million

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー Pāfekuto Burū?) is a 1997 Japanese animated psychological thriller film directed by Satoshi Kon and written by Sadayuki Murai based on the novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. Mima Kirigoe (voiced by Junko Iwao), a member of a Japanese pop-idol group called "CHAM!", who decides to pursue her career as an actress. Some of her fans are displeased with her sudden career change, particularly a stalker named Me-Mania, voiced by Masaaki Ōkura. As her new career proceeds, Mima's world becomes increasingly reminiscent of the works of Alfred Hitchcock: reality and fantasy spiral out of control, and Mima discovers that Me-Mania is the least of her troubles.

Plot[edit]

Mima Kirigoe, the lead singer of the J-pop group "CHAM!", decides to leave the band to become an actress. Her first project is a direct-to-video crime drama series called Double Bind. Some of her fans are upset by her change in career and persona, including a stalker known as "Me-Mania." Shortly after leaving CHAM!, Mima receives an anonymous fax calling her a traitor. She also finds a website called "Mima's Room", which features public diary entries that seem to be written by her that discuss her life in great detail. She brings the site to the attention of her manager, ex-pop star Rumi Hidaka, but is advised to ignore it.

Meanwhile, on the set of Double Bind, Mima succeeds in getting a larger part. However, the producers decide to cast her as a rape victim in a strip club. Rumi warns Mima that it will ruin her reputation, but Mima accepts the part voluntarily. Though it is apparent that Mima is indecisive, the atmosphere of the scene traumatizes her to the point that she increasingly becomes unable to separate reality from fantasy. She can no longer distinguish real life from her work in show business.

Several people who had been involved in creating the scene are murdered. She finds evidence that makes her appear to be the prime suspect, and her increasing mental instability makes her doubt her own innocence. It turns out that the diarist of "Mima's Room" is delusional and very manipulative, and that an intense folie à deux has been in play. The faux diarist and serial killer, who believes herself to be a Mima who is forever young and graceful, has made a scapegoat of stalker Me-Mania.

Mima knocks Me-Mania unconscious with a hammer in self-defense when he attempts to rape her, and she then runs to her only support she has left alive, her manager Rumi. Later on, back in "Mima's room", Mima tries to call Mr. Tadakoro but he has also been murdered, along with Mr. Me-Mania. When Mima encounters Rumi, however, her manager is wearing a replica of Mima's CHAM! costume and crazily singing Mima's pop songs. Rumi is in fact the false diarist, who believes she is the "real Mima". Rumi is angry that Mima has been ruining the "real Mima's" reputation, and decides to save "Mima's" pristine pop idol image through the same means she has been using all along: murder. Mima manages to incapacitate Rumi in self-defense after a chase through the city despite being wounded herself. Rumi remains permanently delusional and institutionalized. Mima has grown from her experiences and has moved on with her life with newfound independence and confidence.

Cast[edit]

  • Junko Iwao (Ruby Marlowe in the English dub[1]) as Mima Kirigoe, the protagonist of the film who leaves her pop idol career in order to pursue acting. However, when she is terrorized by a dissatisfied stalker, she becomes increasingly unsound mentally and emotionally
  • Rica Matsumoto (Wendee Lee in the English dub[2]) as Rumi, Mima's manager. A former idol singer, she is opposed to Mima's transition into shady acting roles. It is eventually revealed that she is behind the Mima's Room website and has a split personality where she impersonates Mimarin, the idol version of Mima.
  • Shinpachi Tsuji as Tadokoro, Mima's office manager. Unlike Rumi, Tadokoro views Mima's crossover into acting in a positive manner, though he can often be overbearing and pushy.
  • Masaaki Ōkura (Bob Marx in the English adaptation[3]) as Me-Mania, a stalker who is obsessed with Mima. Introduced a security guard at Mima's final concert with CHAM, he frequents Mima's acting gigs and events, and the Mima's Room website. He is later convinced by the idol Mima image to kill the "fake" Mima. According to the bonus footage interviews, his real name is Uchida.[3]
  • Yōsuke Akimoto as Tejima
  • Yoku Shioya as Takao Shibuya, the screenwriter of Double Bind.
  • Hideyuki Hori as Sakuragi
  • Emi Shinohara as Eri Ochiai, an actress who plays a psychiatrist in Double Bind
  • Masashi Ebara as Murano, a photographer who arouses the ire of Uchida by taking erotic pictures of Mima.
  • Kiyoyuki Yanada as the director of Double Bind.
  • Tōru Furusawa as Yatazaki
  • Emiko Furukawa and Shiho Niiyama as Yukiko and Rei, Mima's co-singers in the idol group Cham.
  • Akio Suyama as Tadashi Doi, a delinquent who disturbs a live CHAM show at the beginning of the film. He is Uchida's first victim, as revealed in a newspaper clipping posted on an elevator.

The actors in the English adaptation are listed in the credits without specification to their respective roles: Ruby Marlowe, Wendee Lee, Gil Starberry, Lia Sargent, Steve Bulen, James Lyon, Frank Buck, David Lucas, Jimmy Theodore, Elliot Reynolds, Sparky Thornton, Bambi Darro, Melissa Williamson, Dylan Tully, Kermit Beachwood, Sam Strong, Carol Stanzione, Ty Webb, Billy Regan, Dari Mackenzie, George C. Cole, Syd Fontana, Sven Nosgard, Bob Marx, Devon Michaels, Robert Wicks and Mattie Rando.[4]

Production[edit]

Originally the film was supposed to be a live action direct to video series, but after the Kobe earthquake of 1995 damaged the production studio, the budget for the film was reduced to an original video animation. Katsuhiro Otomo was credited as "Special Supervisor" to help the film sell abroad and as a result the film was screened in many film festivals around the world. While touring the world it received a fair amount of acclaim, jump-starting Kon's career as a filmmaker.[5]

Kon and Murai did not think that the original novel would make a good film and asked if they could change the contents. This change was approved so long as they kept a few of the original concepts from the novel. A live action film Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete was later made (released in 2002) that is much closer to the novel. This version was directed by Toshiki Satō from a screenplay by Shinji Imaoka and Masahiro Kobayashi.[6]

Like much of Kon's later work, such as Paprika, the film deals with the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality in contemporary Japan.[7]

Release and broadcast[edit]

Perfect Blue was originally released on VHS in 1999 on both a R rated version and it's original unrated uncut version. It was later released in 2000 in a unrated-only DVD release. Both were released by Manga Entertainment. For the Region 1 UMD video release of Perfect Blue, Manga Entertainment featured the movie in cinema widescreen, leaving the movie kept within black bars on the PSP's 16:9 screen. This release also contains no special features and a single audio track (English).

In the US, Perfect Blue aired on the Encore cable television network and was featured by the Sci Fi Channel on December 10, 2007 as part of its Ani-Monday block. In Australia, Perfect Blue aired by the SBS Television Network on April 12, 2008 and previously sometime in mid 2007 in a similar timeslot.

Analysis[edit]

Susan Napier's uses feminist film theory to analyze the film, stating that, "Perfect Blue announces its preoccupation with perception, identity and performance - especially in relation to the female - right from its opening sequence. The perception of reality cannot be trusted, with the visual set up only to not be reality, especially as the psychodrama heights towards the climax."[5] Napier also sees themes related to pop idols and their performances as impacting the gaze and the issue of their roles. Mima's madness results from her own subjectivity and attacks on her identity. The ties to Alfred Hitchcock's work is broken with the murder of her male controllers.[5] Otaku described the film as "critique of the consumer society of contemporary Japan."[5][Note 1]

Reception[edit]

The film was critically well received in the festival circuit, winning awards at the 1997 Fantasia Festival in Montréal, and Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal.

Critical response in the United States upon its theatrical release was mixed. Some critics did not understand why Perfect Blue was done as an animated film[citation needed], while others associated it with common anime stereotypes of gratuitous sex and violence.[8] Kon responded to this criticism by stating that he was proud to be an animator and Perfect Blue was more interesting as animation.[5] A quote attributed to Roger Corman describes it as a combination of Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney.[9]

Time included the film on its top 5 anime DVD list,[10] and Terry Gilliam, of whom Kon was a fan[11] included it in his list of the top fifty animated films.[12]

Perfect Blue ranked #25 on Total Film's all-time animated films.[13]

It also made the list for Entertainment Weekly's best movies never seen from 1991-2011.[14][15]

Influence[edit]

Madonna incorporated clips from the film into a remix of her song "What It Feels Like for a Girl" as a video interlude during her Drowned World Tour (2001).

In 2010 Darren Aronofsky acknowledged there being similarities between Perfect Blue and his film Black Swan (only as a director), but said that it was not an influence.[16] Kon blogged about meeting Aronofsky in 2001.[17] A re-issued blog entry mentioned Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream as being among Kon's list of movies he viewed for that year.[18]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Reference to the quote is provided by Napier as: Jay, "Satoshi Kon", Otaku (May/June 2003):22

References[edit]

  1. ^ Interview with English Mima (DVD) (in English). Manga Entertainment. 2000. 
  2. ^ Interview with English Rumi (DVD) (in English). Manga Entertainment. 2000. 
  3. ^ a b Interview with Mr. Me-Mania (DVD) (in English). Manga Entertainment. 2000. 
  4. ^ A Perfect Blue Day (DVD) (in English). Manga Entertainment. 2000.  - closing credits
  5. ^ a b c d e Brown, Steven (September 2008). Cinema Anime - "Excuse Me, Who Are You?": Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Kon Satoshi by Susan Napier. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 23–43. ISBN 978-0-230-60621-0. 
  6. ^ "夢なら醒めて…". Japanese Cinema Database (Agency for Cultural Affairs). Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  7. ^ Satoshi Kon, Anime's Dream Weaver, Washington Post, 15 June 2007.
  8. ^ Review at filmcritic.com
  9. ^ "Perfect Blue trailer". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  10. ^ 5 Top Anime Movies on DVD, 07/31/2005
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Time Out's 50 Greatest Animated Films – Part 3 with Time Out Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  13. ^ Kinnear, Simon. "50 Greatest Animated Movies". TotalFilm.com. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  14. ^ http://animeshinbun.com/news/1028208/entertainment-weekly-names-perfect-blue-one-of-the-50-best-movies-youve-never-seen
  15. ^ http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20483133_20609091_21180933,00.html#21180933
  16. ^ Aronofsky Q+A, Filmadelphia
  17. ^ "NOTEBOOK »NOTEBOOK» ブログアーカイブ » VSダーレン - KON'S TONE". Konstone.s-kon.net. 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  18. ^ 2011/06/22 水曜日 - 高橋かしこ (2011-06-22). "コンズ便り »コンズ便り» ブログアーカイブ » 雑食日誌2000 - KON'S TONE". Konstone.s-kon.net. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 

External links[edit]