Satoshi Kon is an artist that left behind a lasting influence, not only on the animation world, but the filmmaking world in general. Kon’s own beats and shades of surrealism can be seen in a lot of genre pictures to this day. Directors like Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan have admitted that much by paying homage with their own films. “Perfect Blue” is that groundbreaking animated masterpiece that you probably didn’t know inspired a lot of modern and contemporary filmmakers if you’ve never seen it or heard about it. Now with the new anniversary release available, there’s no time like the present to visit what is one of the most unnerving thrillers ever made.
Mima was a pop idol, worshiped by the masses with the group CHAM until deciding to help her dwindling popularity. In order to salvage her career, she is advised to drop music and pursue serious acting. A soap opera role is offered but Mima’s character is less clean cut than desired involving a lot of nude scenes and raunchy sex. After agreeing, she begins to feel reality slip and is terrified that her life is not her own. While obsessed with the mirror image of her former self, her friends and associates are threatened (and viciously killed) as Mima descends into a dangerous world of paranoid delusion and out of body dreams. As the body count rises, she fears for her life and must confront reality and fantasy if she has any chance of living.
Satoshi Kon’s thriller is prophetic as it is scary, as it comments very heavily on the idea of becoming famous and the toxic fan culture that fame can breed. When we meet Mima, she’s being held to a higher standard than is humanly possible by her fans, and her self doubt about transforming from a pop star in to a serious film star is increased by an online community that outwardly hates her for her insistence on changing career paths. Director Kon focuses in on a lot of these subtle moments that help add to the increased mental torture that Mima endures that culminates in the unfolding of the grisly narrative.
“Perfect Blue” constantly blurs the line between reality and hallucination as we’re never quite sure what Mima is thinking most of the time she’s on screen. Kon undercuts the hazy dream like moments with stark, grisly scene of gruesome violence and aftermath of vicious crimes. Kon cuts to them immediately, a sharp blow to the increasing tension of Mima’s own livelihood and exploring whether or not she’s next. While we’re always in the head space that we know more than Mima does, when the movie has closed, we’re never quite sure if we could really trust our eyes. By the time Mima finds herself at the mercy of the persona inflicting such horrible crimes in her honor, we’re left with a sense of satisfaction for Mima, but also never quite certain how she will fare.
Mima, in the end, is still a major celebrity and her sense of self worth still lies in her fans, even when the narrative is resolved. “Perfect Blue” is a fantastic film, and a still relevant statement about the nature of being a celebrity, and the cult of fandom. It’s also an eerie, and richly layered thriller packed with imagery and plot beats that still echo in modern cinema today.
GKIDS and Shout! Factory have compiled a wonderful new edition for fans of the movie that have been waiting for a new edition for years. The Blu-Ray release includes a 41 minute lecture with director Satoshi Kan which should prove a master class for anime and film buffs; it’s a three part interview with Kon who speaks at length about his creative process and how the film was conceived. Produced ten years after the film was released, this is a wonderful segment. There’s the original SD version of “Perfect Blue” which is unrestored with Japanese/English DD 5.1 and Japanese DD 2.0 audio options. There is the English Credits from the SD English Dub Version included clocking in at four minutes.
There’s the “Angel of Your Heart Recording Session” clocking in at four and a half minutes with the trio of singers for the film recording one of CHAM’s songs from the film. There’s the audio only “Angel of Your Heart Full English Version” with the song in English. Next there’s the original US/UK trailer for “Perfect Blue,” the UK Re-Release Trailer, and the Japanese Trailer. There’s a ten minute interview with Satoshi Kon, a six minute interview with Junko Iwao in Japanese Mima, a two minute audio only interview with Ruby Marlowe in English Mima, there’s an audio only interview with Wendy Lee in English Rumi, and an audio only interview with Bob Marx. Finally, the release comes with a DVD Copy of the film with all of the aforementioned Special Features included.