Based on the novel Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Perfect Blue is the story of a young singer from pop idol group who leaves music to pursue acting only be stalked by a mysterious person leading to some gruesome murders. Directed by Satoshi Kon and screenplay by Sadayuki Murai, the film is an exploration of a young woman’s desire to do other things as she deals with her fans but also a growing disconnect with reality. Featuring the voices of Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shiho Niiyama, Masaaki Okura, Shinpachi Tsuji, and Emiko Furukawa. Perfect Blue is a rapturous yet eerie film from Satoshi Kon.
The film follows a young woman who chooses to leave a pop group to pursue acting where a series of murders had occurred on people around her as she also deals with a mysterious stalker who had created a website claiming to be her. It is a film that is about a young woman trying her hand in another form but also to grow out of the role of an innocent teen idol to work in television. Sadayuki Murai’s screenplay blur the line of what is real and what is fiction in the world that the film’s protagonist Mima Kirigoe (Junko Iwao) who wants to move on from being a teen pop idol and try her hand in acting where she gets a small role in a TV show as she managed to impress producers and others. Yet, there is someone who isn’t fond of her leaving her pop group as a mysterious figure stalks her while Mima would notice that a website with a diary she had written is making claims about her time as an actress where Mima believes that her old teen idol persona is wreaking havoc as she copes with the growing deaths and chaos that looms around her.
Satoshi Kon’s direction is definitely stylish in not just his approach to blurring the idea of reality and fiction but also play up into this new world of the internet and social media. With the help of animation director/character designer Hideki Hamazu, Kon creates a film that explores a young woman trying to make a change with her life as it play into the world of TV shows with some violent imagery as it is this different change to the world that Mima was previously was in that involved singing to teenagers as part of a pop trio. Kon’s compositions are largely intimate in the usage of close-ups and medium shots where he focuses a lot on the characters with some wide shots on their surroundings that include scenes where Mima is looking out at her apartment wondering who is stalking her. Kon also plays up into some of the sexuality as it relates to Mima emerging into adulthood as well as taking on provocative things such as a rape scene for the show where she plays a stripper or posing nude for a photographer.
It adds to this conflict about growing into adulthood away from the world of adolescent as Mima is often dealing her previous persona as a teen idol as the nudity that Kon presents is often seen innocently except in moments of violence. The violence is filled with blood gushing out as well and in slow motion at times where characters are killed or attacked in brutal manners. Kon’s approach to blurring the lines of fantasy and reality is a crucial as it play into Mima’s own mental state where she deals with the guilt over the people who have been killed. Even in the presentation of the show that Mima is in adds to this blur of reality and fiction where it does play into Mima coping with who she is but also what she used to be. The film’s climax is intense but it also play into the idea of identity as it relates to Mima as well as those around her in what they want her to be instead of who she wants to be. Overall, Kon crafts an evocative yet harrowing film about a young woman dealing with a stalker and a series of murders relating to her ascent as an actress.
Cinematographer Hisao Shirai does excellent work with the cinematography in maintaining some lighting textures for some of the scenes at night along with some of the interiors. Editor Harutoshi Ogata does brilliant work with the editing as it play into the suspense and drama with some of its jump-cuts and other stylish cuts. Art director Nobutaka Ike does amazing work with the look for some of the backgrounds in the places that Mima goes to along with her apartment and the TV studio set. Sound designer Shizuo Kurahashi does superb work with the sound in not just some of the sound effects that are created but also in the atmosphere to play into the world that Mima is in. The film’s music by Masahiro Ikumi is incredible for its orchestral score that also feature elements of electronic and pop music with the latter being something that Mima was a part of as it play into the world she used to be in.
The film’s wonderful ensemble voice cast feature some notable small roles from Masashi Ebara as a photographer who would photograph Mima in some provocative photos, Kiyoyuki Yanada as the show’s director, Emi Shinohara as the revered TV star Eri Ochiai, and Masaaki Okura as the creepy stalker known as Me-Mania who wears a gray uniform and is always lurking on set. Shinpachi Tsuji is excellent as Mima’s agent Tadokoro who is trying to get Mima some legitimate work as well as knowing that she wants to do more adult material. Rica Masumoto is amazing as Mima’s longtime manager Rumi who introduces Mima to the internet while dealing with the challenges Mima is facing as she expresses concern that Mima is going too far as Rumi was once a teen pop idol singer. Finally, there’s Junko Iwao in a brilliant voice performance as Mima Kirigoe as a former singer for a teen pop group who decides to try her hand at acting where Iwao displays a lot of the anguish and uncertainty of a young woman wanting to do something new as well as provide this disturbing take of a young pop idol trying to return to that role.
Perfect Blue is a spectacular film from Satoshi Kon. Featuring an ensemble voice cast, dazzling visuals, its theme of identity and adulthood, its hypnotic score, and its stylized presentation of sex and violence. It is a film that explores a young woman dealing with not just a series of murders and a stalker but also demons relating to who she once was and who she is trying to be. In the end, Perfect Blue is a phenomenal film from Satoshi Kon.
Satoshi Kon Films: (Millennium Actress) – (Tokyo Godfathers) – (Paranoia Agent) – (Paprika (2006 film))
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