- Release Date
- Feb. 1998
- 1 hr. 21 min.
Perfect Blue is a 1998 Avant Garde Drama Horror anime film by longtime Japanese animation studio, Madhouse. Whether viewers are longtime anime spectators or just starting, there is no doubt that they have seen at least a few of this studio’s creations. For instance, they have created adaptations for Death Note, One Punch Man, No Game No Life, Hunter x Hunter, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. However, no matter how big a fanbase may become, that does not mean they are immune from creating terrible adaptations. Can a movie from the late nineties still be worth viewing, if it ever was, to begin with?
J-pop idol group CHAM! has entertained its fans for the last two years. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and CHAM! Must see one of its members, Mima Kirigoe, leave the group for her acting career. While Mima’s choice is met with a mixed response, she hopes her fans will continue to support her on her new journey.
Though Mima quickly learns that some of her fans are a bit obsessed with her, their obsession would soon spirals out of control. With death threats, letter bombs, and a website that seems to know everything about her every move, Mima finds herself slowly becoming trapped in a nightmare she can’t seem to escape from. With murders piling up and her mental state slowly degrading, can she discover who the culprit is before she becomes the next victim?
While some viewers may question whether a film from the nineties is entertaining and, even more importantly, worth watching? Though this may be a fair assumption to some anime fans, the age is just a red herring, as this story is more relevant now than when it premiered! Considering that the mix of genres within this film are well written and even fans weary of watching a horror movie for the most straightforward reasons, they’ll even enjoy this, as the term “horror” doesn’t adequately describe the genre elements within the story. How the world uses social media and views musical artists as god-like creatures seem weirdly accurate to modern-day life.
Another positive is that Perfect Blue pacing was solidly put together. For a film that’s just below an hour and a half, it feels perfect within that timeframe. It was fast enough to keep the viewer guessing what would happen next, like an episode of Criminal Minds or Law and Order SVU television series. But not too fast causes the viewer to question if they missed something or makes them feel like the story is skipping parts altogether. What makes this even more interesting is that some modern-day anime films and even series have a huge problem that boils down to this aspect of their story, which nailed it perfectly.
While there are many positives within this film that could be mentioned, like the memorable story to the ability to captivate its audience no matter how many times they watch the movie. But when it comes to the negatives, there aren’t that many to mention, albeit one is major that needs to be said to viewers who have yet to see the film. There are some scenes of rape, and if viewers are uncomfortable seeing nudity and stuff like that, this may not be for them. However, this is not done in a sexual way when the film uses nudity; they ideally use it to continue the story and mess with the viewer’s mind, and I’d be shocked if anyone who saw nakedness in this film thought of it as sexual.
If the wonderfully written story was not enough to entice a potential viewer, maybe the art style will do it for them. While the art is not as flashy as modern-day anime or films, this has an exceptional style to it as well. With the powerful psychological elements within this film, the artwork is solid; mixing the bright and colorful J-pop lifestyle with the sudden shift to the actress that’s “normal” is fascinating as everything seems so realistically drawn. Of course, it’s an anime, so it’s not real, but viewers will enjoy a more slice-of-life art style to this story and enjoy everything that Madhouse offers.
The animation production of Perfect Blue is just as outstanding but slightly less compared. While the art style is beautiful, the production values are clear on where they put their money towards. We will never know whether this was based on a director’s vision, source material, or whatnot, but it did the job. Please don’t misunderstand what this film is all about with its production level, it was well crafted, and the characters are very well developed to the point where some modern-day anime series are put to shame. Some viewers may even question if the two versions of this film are different. Don’t hesitate to watch any version, as both the original Japanese and the English versions are equally excellent.
The characters within Perfect Blue are vast and very well developed, but some are done better than others. Mima Kirigoe is an actress who was a former J-pop idol for the group CHAM! While she was having a moderate amount of success as a B-list celebrity when she changed careers, that’s when her personality shone and crumbled all at the same time. She is a friendly, sweet, and caring person, but much like many young people within the entertainment industry, she is a bit too naive and gets taken advantage of for the most part. She has no skills with the new World Wide Web technology but is a swift learner. Don’t underestimate her talent, though, as she has the drive and the dedication to do whatever her heart desires.
Rumi is Mima’s manager and a perfect one at that! She is caring and attentive to her stars’ needs whenever she is needed. Though she is seen mainly as a motherly figure at times, she can also be seen as a welcome mat to the producers and higher-ups within Mima’s new career. However, she was against her moving out of CHAM! She never stopped helping her with lines and easing her nerves while on set.
Bon Tadokoro is another person working on the Mima team, but it is unsure what his actual title is as it’s never officially stated in the movie. He is the one that initiated the idea of getting into the acting field and leaving CHAM! He is not a well-developed character as he is not seen very much, but when he is on the screen, he leaves a lasting impact on the characters’ lives. Altogether.
Perfect Blue is one of those anime movies that viewers will watch and question everything they witness. While it is best to go into this film without any knowledge before viewing it, sometimes things are out of our control. This film will forever be ingrained into your mind and stay there no matter how many years it’s been. With the simplest yet challenging to comprehend storyline to modern-day life is remarkable. Realistically this is one of the best examples of what a mind fuck type of movie truly is, as, by the end of it, viewers are questioning everything they have just seen. Was it real? Was it all fake? Nobody knows, but there are plenty of theories online that are very entertaining.
Don’t underestimate a film based on its age, as this film is one of the most memorable creations before the turn of the century. Perfect Blue will make viewers want to watch the movie again, but their brains will tell them, “Don’t you dare.” Watch this film and be amazed at everything this film has to offer and understand why this anime film won so many awards upon its premiere.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.