Winner - Best Animation Film at Fantasporto 1998 (Portugal) Winner - Public Prize for Best Asian Film at Fant-Asia (Canada) IN THE WORLD OF MAKE BELIEVE - THE PRICE OF FAME - MAY NOT BE WORTH THE COST OF IDENTITY Pop idol ... more »singer Mima Kirigoe looks forward to a bright new career after she quits her chart-topping trio to become an actress. But when she accepts a role in a sexually charged murder mystery TV series, someone is not happy with her decision. Mima?s life begins to change as she is threatened with disturbing phone calls, faxes and e-mails from a mysterious source. She also discovers alarming web sites describing intimate details and pictures of her new public persona. As she descends into a dangerous state of paranoia, helpless and afraid, some of her associates are now murdered by the enigmatic stalker. Reality and delusion merge into a terrifying world as Mima?s innocence is lost and her dreams become nightmares. Will she be next? In the tradition of great suspense masters, director Satoshi Kon (Memories/Millenium Actress), special advisor Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and Madhouse Studios (Ninja Scroll), bring Yoshikazu Takeuchi's thrilling suspense novel to the screen, in a tour de force that brings animation to a bold new level. A brilliant psychological thriller which breaks the mold of anime films, Perfect Blue was conceived in 1993 when Yoshikazu Takeuchi (Author) and Koichi Okamoto (Original Producer) approached Rex Entertainment with a 90-minute live-action video project based on Takeuchi?s novel. Production was delayed during early 1994 due to the Kobe earthquake and the decision to animate the film was made. However, given the unique nature of the project it was agreed to employ the best names currently working in the industry. Okamoto and Takeuchi employed Hiroaki Inoue as line producer, who in turn approached Madhouse Studios with the project. Although skeptical of what he initially described as "no more than a reckless idea", Masao Maruyama (Mad House, CEO) was inspired by the passion of both producer and author and decided to back the project. Word of the forthcoming production reached Katsuhiro Otomo who had previously illustrated Takeuchi?s work. Otomo read the script and suggested that Satoshi Kon (Jojo?s Bizarre Adventures, Roujin Z); a supervisor on his latest project (Memories) should direct the feature. Perfect Blue premiered at the ?Fant-Asia Film Festival? where it proved an instant hit. Its initial screening sold out within 30 minutes and two further shows were scheduled in order to meet public demand. As a result, Perfect Blue was awarded the Public prize for ?Best Asian Film?. The impressive imagery within the film found it?s way into both Darren Aronofsky?s Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Madonna?s 2001 Drowned World concert tour.« less
"Based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, 'Perfect Blue' is one of those anime that successfully attempt the unexpected. Written and paced more like a Hitchcock film than the typical action film, this is a story where the psychological aspects are as compelling as the sometimes-ferocious action. Mima Kirigoe is an idol singer, part of a moderately successful trio called Cham. Since the career life of these singers is, at best, a matter of a few years, Mima has decided to leave Cham to try her hand at being an actress. She lands a part in 'Double Bind,' a suspense thriller that will test her commitment in many ways, putting her in situations that some of her old fans find uncomfortable. This explodes into her life in a big way when Mima finds an internet website that purports to be written by her.Whoever is writing the site knows too much about what Mima is going through, and she finds herself stalked by an unhappy fan that has developed a fixation on her. Soon people are dying in gruesome circumstances, and Mima becomes more and more confused about whom she really is and what is real. First time director Satoshi Kon is merciless, making sure that the viewer gets few clues about which reality is real and whether what one sees is in 'Double Bind,' 'Perfect Blue,' or in Mima's mind alone.This is really a remarkable piece of work. Great care is put into artistic and musical values. It has striking graphic qualities without the viewer ever getting the feeling that the images are overwhelming the story. In addition, I particularly like the imaginative use of color. Of course, the use of music is particularly important in a film about Japanese popular entertainment figures, and Kon makes sure that the film lives up to aural expectations.This is a rough, gripping film. Violence, murder, and rape are depicted with the deliberate intention of making the watcher uncomfortable. It skirts the edge of being offensive, and is sometimes classified as hentai - animated pornography. It isn't by my standards, but 'Perfect Blue' is graphic enough to offend some people. Take this into consideration before deciding to watch."
Effective Hitchcockian psycho-thriller anime
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 08/21/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Anime can fall into apocalyptic (Akira), cutesy heroine (Sailor Moon), hentai (LA Blue Girl), samurai (Ninja Scroll), or mechanistic (Neon Evangelion). Perfect Blue is notable in that it does not fit in any of those well-trod genres.After two and a half years of being lead singer with the techno-pop trio Cham, 21-year old Mima Kigiroe announces at a concert that she is leaving the group to pursue a movie career. One of the other members puts it more colourfully, that Mima has graduated from Cham. The move stuns her fans, but Mima sees her time there as wonderful, but felt suffocated by the innocent pop-idol image and that it was time to move on to newer things, such as her role in Double Bind, a psycho-thriller drama series where she plays the sister of a victim. Tadokoro feels that there's "no place for pop idols to appeal to the masses." Acting in this drama will be Mima's "make it or break it" opportunity.Upon the insistence of her agent Tadokoro to Shibuya, the scriptwriter, and the producer(?) Tejima, her role gradually increases, from the line "Who are you?" to something drastic, involving a traumatic scene Jodie Foster did in The Accused, only it's the stage of a strip club and not on a pool table. Besides, it's simulated anyway. This does indeed change Mima's image, but Rumi Hidaka, her other agent and former pop idol, is upset and even leaves during that scene.Mima has other problems. She comes across a website called Mima's Room, which initially causes her amusement, as it details an imagined day in her life, "Someone sures knows me"--but when she reads some things that actually happened, she gets scared.Mima is then confronted not only with those things, but with a version of herself as she was as Cham's lead singer, wearing her Cham dress. This "old" version insists HERSELF as is the real Mima, which makes the real and "new" Mima an impostor. There's also a sinister stalker, a mysterious hunchback with bad teeth that she notices and sees during her shooting scenes.Meanwhile, people associated with promoting Mima's new career move are getting brutally murdered, such as a photographer who took some nude photos of Mima for a magazine. For an anime, there is some detail in the photos shown that would not ordinarily be seen even in anime of this kind.There is one puzzling aspect. Despite having a fervent following, it seems inconsistent that Cham never hit the charts, yet when Mima leaves, we learn that Cham debuted in the Japanese pop charts for the first time. Normally, when a key member leaves a well-loved group, a new sound and sliding sales result, (q.v. Spice Girls, Bananarama). Trivia: the fax Mima receives reads "uragiri", which indeed does mean traitor.Most of it is influenced by Hitchcock's Psycho, but the violence of the murders recall Basic Instinct and Scream. Then there's the blurring between reality and delusion explored in Vertigo (Hitchcock again) and Alejandro Amenebar's Abre Los Ojos. Double Bind is similar to Silence Of The Lambs (modus operandus of the killer). The upbeat techno-pop and a trio becoming a duo also mirrors Bananarama, although the music is more Pet Shop Boys during their Very period. Then there's the usual lead singer leaving the group for individual fame and more money, as was the case for Peter Cetera and Bobby Brown. And one need look no further than John Lennon and Rebecca Schaffer in terms of demented stalker fans. These influences entwine themselves to yield an exceptional thriller, with a likeable heroine (Mima) to root for, as she grows despite her traumatic experiences."
Excellent Movie, but Falls Short of Perfection
g_roy | The Fifth Ring of Hell (Chelmsford, MA) | 12/06/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Perfect Blue is one of the most intelligent, creepy, funny, and disturbing films I have seen in a long while. I actually have the subtitled NR version, but I've seen both versions and there's only a few differences. The animation is fantastic, and the voice acting is well done. In the NR version, the length of the "rape" scene annoyed me (too drawn out for my tastes) but it's made up for by Mima's mental deterioation afterwards (rather, it shows the cause and effect). The film is fantastic and what makes it so striking is that it is a somewhat nonconforming anime in the fact that it could easily pass as a live action movie. The storyline is deleciously creepy and the observations made on Japanese pop culture are interesting, to say the least. The only bad thing about this film is the last fourth of the movie, when Mima actually begins to lose it. The manifestation of her old self is muddled and the blurring of days and reality becomes somewhat annoying. It can become tiresome to think that Mima is committing a murder but then suddenly awakens in her bed. But other than its one flaw, this is an sublimely entertaining movie that should be seen by everyone."
Perfect Blue is a near perfect DVD.
Shan Wickremesinghe | 07/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't watch the commentaries or other extras before the film as it will give away key plot points - namely the ending. Go to the official dotcom website of the same name for information about the making of the film. The official site says that this was meant to be a live action film but production was interrupted by the Kobi earthquake and it was decided to change it to an anime. There is a mention of an earthquake in the background of a scene on a television set.I'm reviewing the version I saw, the Australian DVD release by Madman Entertainment as the licensee for Manga Entertainment. It is unusually Region Coded 1,2 and 4 (the zones of USA and Canada, Europe and Japan and South America as well). However, it is recorded in PAL format and except for Europe, these countries use NTSC, a different playback format. As a general point, make sure your DVD player has PAL playback before buying any PAL disc even if the disc is your region code or region zero (no region code) otherwise it won't play back properly or at all. There might also be differences between this disc and other region versions so check what extras you get. I don't like watching dubbed live action films but I'm perfectly happy with the English dubbed version on this disc which is well done. The Japanese language track with or without subtitles is also available. It's worth watching the watching the Japanese subtitled version. It gives a different feel to the movie. Some dialogue gets a different emphasis. It also shows up one error in the English dub at 1 hour 1 minute and 32 seconds. Mima should have said "Rika Takakura" not "Mima Kirigoe". This is confirmed by the Japanese language track and accompanying subtitles. This is important as it clears up some confusion that might be created in that scene as a result.Mima Kirigoe is a pop singer who is quitting her group "Cham" to take up acting. We quickly learn that longevity in the music business can be short in Japan. Starting at ground level in the acting business means she has no choice but to do scenes which are worlds apart from her wholesome pop image. Someone starts stalking her and sending threatening letters. One explodes injuring her manager. Even more disturbingly, she finds a website (called "Mima's Room) that has details of her life that only she could know. Things get really scary when she starts using it herself to find out what she's been up to as her emotional state deteriorates. Murders of people involved with her acting career start happening. She might be being haunted and terrorised by her former pop persona that objects to the indecent things she has to act out. Mima may actually be hallucinating the threats and that she's being stalked. She may also be hallucinating the murders. She might actually be committing the murders. In fact, she might even be hallucinating her entire career but committing the murders - or not. Or she may be simply be going mad. Believe me when I say anything is possible in this film.The last 30 minutes continually keep you guessing as the filmmakers keep shifting the ground beneath the viewer's feet. You have to repeatedly question what is real and what it not, a difficult but enjoyable task and you have to especially be on your toes to keep up. What has been going on seems to be conclusively settled, if for no more reason that there is nothing following the end to contradict the final scene. The theme music is quite eerie and totally appropriate for the tone of key scenes in the film as Mima starts her spiral downwards. There is also a frenetic score that perfectly fits the intensity of the murders (or is it 'murders'?).This is an excellent film and a first class thriller. Within the first few minutes, I had even forgotten that I was watching an animated film. This film has a great twist ending, a killer final half hour and a streamlined plot in a compact running time. 3 things a recent and totally unrelated release "Minority Report" didn't have and needed desperately. The DVD extras are very good. A screen says you are being connecting you "Mima's Room" and uses a reverse of the pull away shot from Mima's apartment window in the film by zooming into her apartment, past Mima and then displaying a menu for the extras. Commentary from three of the main English voice actors is very informative and thought provoking about how they interpreted the film and decided to play their roles as a result. It is also interesting to compare Mima's English voice actor to her Japanese equivalent's take on the role. This is the director Satoshi Kon's first animated feature and he does a great job.There is a photo montage using frames from the film and text that details the key events of the film. Also, some studio footage of the Japanese voice actors singing a Cham song and the separate English equivalent (sound only) is an option. There is also some footage of the animators working on the film in the opening menu screen, it would have been nice if a small feature had been added showing the making of the film as well.Surprisingly (and fortunately) this film has not yet been optioned by Hollywood for a remake. This would not be a popular suggestion but IF amongst the current lot of Britney Spears, Mandy Moore et al, one of them did appear in a remake of this film and IF they stuck as closely as possible to this film and IF they did a good job, it would definitely add a dimension to their acting careers. There are obvious parallels as they also are all shifting their focus from their music to acting, which is the theme of this film, especially the downside of that transition and that of fame in general. However, that is a lot of 'if's and probably far too many to give great odds of success. All things considered it's probably good we have fortunately been spared the threat of a remake. A great movie and a great disc. Go see it, buy it if you can't rent it."
Anime on anime
nigiliton | Cambridge, MA | 12/29/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The anime universe is pretty self-contained, and as the canon grows the need to reference the outside world decreases. Most of the famous exceptions (eg Mononoke, Barefoot Gen, Grave of the Fireflies) aim for universal moral messages. Perfect Blue stands out in that it's an anime about contemporary Japan. Although it owes a lot to the thriller genre, Perfect Blue isn't as widely accessible as the familiar storyline might suggest. People who have spent time in Japan will recognize this. Those who haven't should just be aware that despite its being anime, and despite the surreal elements, Perfect Blue is about the real, present, non-anime Japan. The beautifully drawn scenes of everyday life in Tokyo, particularly the supermarket and train scenes, are a nice indication of this.Perfect Blue tries to do lot of things and mostly succeeds. On one hand, it's a critique of the voyeurism and violent, juvenile misogyny of Japanese pop culture. On the other hand it's part of that culture itself, loaded with these very elements. For the most part, director Satoshi Kon not only manages to do everything, but actually integrates his own balancing act with the story's theme of existence on the margins of a predatory and all-pervasive pop culture. Kon's decision to produce Perfect Blue as an anime -- sometimes criticized on the grounds that it doesn't take full advantage of the genre -- was a stroke of genius.Toward the end, Perfect Blue loses its balance and becomes more complicit than critical. The final action sequence is video-gamey and the contrived ending explains too much, undermining much of what was interesting about the movie.Still, this is one of the best and smartest anime around. In its use of anime as a vehicle for examining contemporary Japan, Perfect Blue is highly original. On top of everything the theme song, "Ai no tenshi", is the best Japanese pop song ever. And in a fitting display of voyeuristic excess, the DVD lets you watch it being recorded in the studio."