Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect blue poster 1997 movie japanese anime
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong thriller with horror aspects

Sometimes a bit too twisty for its own good

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Perfect Blue

Studio:  Madhouse

Genre(s):  Animated/Mystery/Suspense/Horror

Release Date(s):  July 1997 (Fantasia Festival)/February 28, 1998 (Japan)

MPAA Rating:  R

perfect blue jpop cham mima

I’m a JPop singer with dreams!!!

J-Pop star Mima Kirigoe has decided to part ways with her band CHAM! and dive into acting.  Pushed by her manager Mr. Tadokoro, Mima takes a role in the crime thriller Double Bind against Tadokoro’s assistant’s Rumi’s concerns that Mima could ruin her image.  Mima finds herself falling more and more into the role of the violent series that seems to be becoming reality.  When she discovers a website called Mima’s Room that seems to know every step, Mima questions if she is real or if the image she’s seen of her past persona is the real Mima.  Meanwhile, very real murders are being committed, and Mima questions if she could be responsible.

Directed by Satoshi Kon, Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー or Pāfekuto Burū) is an anime psychological horror thriller.  The film was Satoshi Kon’s first animated feature as director and was released to critical acclaim.  The film premiered in July of 1997 at the Fantasia Festival and was released in Japan on February 28, 1998.

perfect blue mima kills photographer

We all go a little crazy sometimes

Like a lot of American audiences, I heard about Perfect Blue second hand.  Having never received a big release in the United States and being a fair weather fan of anime, I didn’t learn about the film until Darren Aronofsky talked about recreating a scene in Requiem for a Dream from Perfect Blue.  The film is kind of hard to find in America with copies popping up on YouTube and often being shut down rather quick, but it is worth seeking out if you can see it.

The plot for Perfect Blue has a lot going on in it.  There are aspects of Repulsion and Dressed to Kill, but you can also see the direct result of Perfect Blue in Aronofsky’s Black Swan which has very similar themes and ideas.  The plot twists and takes on dreamlike moments, and you never know what is real, the movie, or Mima’s delusions.

perfect blue mima vs rumi ending

I hate it when my fantasy me kills my real me

In the questions of reality, you almost get a little frustrated.  By the third or fourth waking dream, I felt a little jaded and just started to write off stuff as dreams.  It would have been the easy answer to have her be completely crazy so you knew you were going to get something else…but the way Satoshi Kon pulled off the reveal shows his style and ability.

The film also looks fantastic.  Like a lot of anime, the film combines pushing the limits of animation and stylistic shooting.  This leads to a surreal world that both seems fake and ultra-realistic.  This makes the horror even greater as the film almost becomes a satire near the end.

Perfect Blue is a good film that deserves to be seen.  Unfortunately, it is still not readily available here.  I think I prefer Satoshi Kon’s Paprika to Perfect Blue, but both films are strong.  It is unfortunate that Kon’s life was cut short and we have few films and works by him, but Perfect Blue is a great legacy.  Kon followed Perfect Blue with Millennium Actress in 2001.

Related Links:

Millennium Actress (2001)

Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

Paprika (2007)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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