Saturday, December 27, 2014

Perfect Blue

The late Kon Satoshi brought us many widely-acclaimed films and shows such as Paprika and Paranoia Agent. However, in 1997 he made his directorial debut with Perfect Blue, adapted from Takeuchi Yoshikazu's novel of the same name. Though originally intended to be a longer, live-action film, the 1995 Kobe earthquake leveled the studio where it was being made, and reduced the budget of the film enough to make it into an OVA instead. Madhouse was hired to animate it, and after an international promotion campaign, it became quite successful.

Things started off so well...

Mima Kirigoe is the sweet, successful centre of the pop idol group CHAM!. However, in a shrewd career move on both her and her agents' part, she leaves the group to be an actress, much to the disappointment of her fanbase. Some become so upset by her image change that they abandon her altogether, but when people around her start turning up dead, it becomes obvious that other fans have other plans....

Scary shit right here.

Though it deviates from the book, Kon received the author's permission first and it turned out quite successfully. A live-action follow up movie, Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete, premiered in 2001 and stayed much closer to the book. The subject matter, despite starting off lighthearted and charming, gets dark VERY quickly, earning this movie a solid R for Rape.


The animation was, as to be expected of Madhouse, lovely, though it shows its age slightly. Kon's style choices (pouty lips and rounder, more realistic eyes) are showcased in full here, bringing back mental images of Paprika and Tokyo Godfathers. Kon also does the dead inside image quite well, making him tailor-made for the psychological thriller that this movie is.

Seriously, she looks like a shell here.

Given that she's originally from a pop idol group, music is a major element in this movie, and they did it well. The action scenes had a lovely overhyped electronica track to go with the quick movements, and the pop musical numbers were cute and fun. The dub was excellent as well, and they even managed to translate the songs into english and have them work out beautifully. It came as a surprise when most dubs just leave the original song in and sub it. (This may be due to the timeframe.)
This is what anime looks like in a Satoshi Kon movie.
I wasn't expecting it to wow me, and it sure as hell did. This may be because i went into watching it with the wrong mindset, but by the end of it i was literally on the edge of my seat. I never saw the twist coming, and it really proves Kon as a director, since from what i can tell the ending likely wasn't the same in the book. He also managed to play up the disassociation with reality through Mima's dream sequences and her internal conversations. You really start to see her mind unravel.

Pleading won't rid you of the demons in your head.

With that in mind (hah, pun), you reeeeally can't show this to anyone under 18. There are only two versions out there rating-wise, and the lighter of the two is R. There's a rape scene and several murders, shown in graphic detail, along with a few full-frontal shots, so don't show this to anyone without a strong stomach. This would also make a horrible introduction to anime, much as parents of the early 90's had their tastes coloured by the likes of Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell.

Just as bad as the internal turmoil is the external. Acting or not she's got a tough row to hoe.

Perfect Blue has been distributed by Manga Entertainment on VHS in 1999 and on DVD in 2000, so both are likely out of print. Torrents are easy to come by on google, but do yourself a favour and quality-check before you commit (as in, before showing this, watch and re-download as necessary). The copy i got suffers from major artifacting issues and some colour problems as a result. :\



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