I’m at a loss for words when it comes to Perfect Blue. An animated film from late director Satoshi Kon. One of my few excursions into the art of anime, not because I don’t like it, but simply because I have such a minimal interest in it. I appreciate the art, but beyond that I’d written it off as this stereotypically childish medium that wouldn’t interest me whatsoever. Sure, I’ve seen a few scattered episodes of Pokémon, but on a cinematic level, I’d not seen anything like Perfect Blue.
The film follows Mima, a retired pop star who decides to take up the acting profession. Her spiral into acting reflects a spiral into insanity, as she is consistently followed by a murderous stalker, who will stop at nothing to preserve a pure image of his favourite popstar. It’s hard to gauge a performance in an animated foreign film since it’s difficult to understand expression or motif in a language I don’t understand. Perfect Blue counters this by going into the dark depths of unexpected horror and thriller conventions, becoming so unsettling that it breaks into the “difficult to watch” genre of film.
It’d be unwatchable given these horrific scenes if it weren’t for its compelling story and genuinely profound and interesting characters. The character design is exceptional, and this really adds to the story on the whole. Mima is a very interesting protagonist, and the balance between reality and dream-like sequences is balanced exceptionally well. With a supporting fast that ooze a feeling of shiftiness, it’s easy for an audience to connect to Mima as we don’t know which of her friends have an ulterior motive. It’s a great way of creating a genuine panic and tension that lasts for the whole movie.
A profound use of violence elevates Perfect Blue further than contemporary stalker style movies, and this focus on subtle yet overbearingly brutal and clear violence is one of its strongest components. Few and far between, but always as impactful as intended, with a variety of deaths littered throughout the film.
Perfect Blue is an experience I won’t quite forget for some time. It has all the makings of a truly unique and powerful thriller, with an added bonus of some great looking animation and a nice focus on the story. Satoshi Kon directs us through a powerhouse in tense story building, making Perfect Blue a great introductory film for those slightly interested in anime.