Winter 2020 Anime: Official Info, Airdates & Trailers
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
The article contains spoilers for the anime movie Perfect Blue.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Perfect Blue was released back in 1997 and it is Satoshi Kon’s first film as a director and probably the best animated psychological thriller that you will ever watch. Even to this day, Perfect Blue manages to keep you on edge due to its mature themes and amazing story. But why is that? What is it exactly that makes Perfect Blue so creepy and unsettling? Even though there is graphic violence, detailed nudity, rape and lots of blood, these are not the only elements that make this film truly horrific.
Perfect Blue, like most of Satoshi’s work, likes to toy with reality a lot. He likes to make the viewer experience an absolutely beautiful mindfuck. Mima is the main character of the movie and she is presented to us as a young girl who moved to Tokyo in order to achieve her dreams of becoming a singer. We see that outside her life as an idol, she is just another everyday person with a normal lifestyle, something that makes her a very realistic and relatable character. But as she decides to make a career change, she is stalked and harassed to the point that she ends up losing track of what is real and what is not.
The film really challenges the viewers’ perception of what is factual and what is fiction with a lot of clever transitions and misdirection which makes the story highly immersive. Mima’s constant uncertainty and fear make her idol persona come to life as she begins to see illusions of her former self that start to drive her mad. However, Mima is not the only one who is lost. Rumi, as an ex-idol herself with a failed career, became possessed by the same illusion and lost her real self. Even her hardcore stalker Me-Mania thinks that he knows who the real Mima is, but in the end he knows nothing more than her character. So what exactly can be considered real and what not? Mima mistakes actual events for dreams, can’t keep track of her own thoughts or even who her online and TV persona is because Satoshi Kon makes little distinction for the sake of the viewer. We are called to join Mima into this deep pit of confusion which enhances the terrifying scenario of doubting your own self to the point that you question your own existence.
As the years go by, Perfect Blue becomes more and more unsettling. When the film came out, the internet was just making its first steps and no one really had a clue about social media and internet popularity. The film is now more relevant than ever because now everyone has their own persona and audience online. Perfect Blue, shows someone losing grasp of who they are. It’s about people perceiving us in ways that we don’t really choose and that perception becoming reality. We see the fictional character taking over the person. In a world that feels very real what would happen if someone lost control of this character? Honestly, this idea would freak anyone out, especially now that people like to show a ‘different’ side of them online and on social media. For example, think of me as the person who is writing this article for you (my audience). Wouldn’t it be creepy to think that the person who is writing this is not the same person when she stops typing? Did I manage to get you spooked? Because I was spooked when I thought about it…
If you have been active on the internet the last decade or so, you would know that fandoms are something that you should not take upon lightly anymore. There are hardcore fans out there who fan over everything, whether that is anime, bands or artists, shows or idols, internet celebrities, or models. Anything can have a fan base.
One of the many subjects that Perfect Blue addresses is that the entertainment industry is a nasty world. In this day and age, no one can doubt this. It is a strong critique of the dehumanization of celebrities as well as a reminder of the importance of your own identity. Idols are going through extreme amounts of stress and pressure in order to ‘make it big’. They are treated as products instead of human beings and they are seen as profit more than anything else. Mima is a great example of this. She is being manipulated by her agency even though she doesn’t want to be part of the things that they involve her with. And all this because she is been told that this is what will be ‘good for her career’. She is fed hopes of grandeur and does things despite her own will.
What does that have to do with fandoms, though? Fans and especially devoted fans don’t always support their favorite idols positively. It is quite the opposite actually. When they see that their idols are their own people and make their own choices, they seem to go crazy as they believe they know what is best for them. Fans that can be borderline stalkers invade the idols privacy constantly to the point of daily threats and harassment.
This is sick and this unfortunately happens. I don’t even have to point out examples here. Just have a look at all the insane things fans of the Kpop scene do day-to-day (from sending cakes with lethal poison to the point of even invading houses to shit on the idol’s house floors). When an idol is aware of those people, how do they proceed on becoming famous and how can they not be scared for their life on a daily basis thinking that someone likes them and/or hates them so much that they could actually harm them?
The direction of this film is made to distort the viewer’s understanding. Especially in the third quarter of the movie, everything is quite disorienting. As Mima starts to lose control of who she is, scenes start to merge together. We are taken from her apartment to a television studio and vice versa. Scenes that seem to take place in Mima’s everyday life are viewed to be part of the ‘Double Bind’ TV show and as the tension of the movie grows even higher, Mima can’t keep track of what version of her reality she is in. A great example of how well this movie plays out with that theme is the infamous rape scene where we start experiencing this integration of reality and fiction. When the scene starts, everything looks very real, the guy is raping Mima while she starts to scream and at that point, the director cuts the scene but tells everyone to keep their positioning. The narrative is interrupted here in such a genius way where the obscenity of this scene is at its climax. The guy that rapes her apologizes to her and we get to have a look at the emptiness of Mima’s face as she is clearly not happy with what she is doing. The fiction of the show at this point reaches a level of realism that it’s taken as it truly happened, which starts the blending of the everyday life events with those of ‘Double Bind’.
Satoshi Kon really uses the environments and the colors in the film to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the situation. In the beginning, everything seems to have a washed down tone and Mima’s surroundings look well placed and comforting. But as her situation grows darker, the colors become very harsh and extremely saturated, to the point that they might even overpower the scenes, acting like a visual metaphor for her mental state. The use of the color red is particularly interesting throughout the whole movie. A color that is symbolic of blood, violence, sexuality is seen almost everywhere in the background of the most important scenes. When Mima is at the photographer’s place locked in the bathroom, the walls in it are overwhelmingly red, highlighting the inner turmoil with her idol self. When the screenwriter is in the parking lot and is taking the elevator, we see a shot of the intensely red elevator floor with a radio playing Mima’s music really loud that symbolizes how the idol Mima is in the middle of a ‘sea of blood’. And the list goes on with Mima’s red walls in her apartment when Mima is reading the red covered script of her rape scene, and of course, the red dress Rumi is wearing at the end while she is trying to kill her.
Every time I rewatch Perfect Blue I have more and more questions about its themes and plot. But what really dazzles me up until this day is the ending. At first, I thought that everything was all lovely jubbly. Mima managed to become successful and found her true self. But after watching it now that I am older I understood that the movie has a rather interpretive ending.
We see Rumi at the facility that she is being held and Mima paying her a visit. Mima says to the doctor that ‘Thanks to her I am who I am today’ then on her way to her car some nurses think that she is the renowned actress Mima Kirigoe but then say ‘I guess she was just a look-alike’ . When Mima finally gets into her red car she looks in the mirror and says: ‘No, I’m real’ while smiling. Now, is she the Mima that wanted to become an actress or is she the idol Mima that has taken over her completely? For the first time in the movie, we see the clear sky in the background, a ‘perfect blue’ sky if you like. Does that mean that she actually came to be what she wanted and considers herself perfect or that she became perfect in the way that other people see her?
Perfect Blue is a story to be experienced. It’s a masterpiece in every possible way. From the way it uses its colors and direction to the voice acting and the detailing of each scene, everything works so well together that it is almost impossible not to awe in its amazingness. Perfect Blue manages to show that true horror is experienced in many ways. Even though it focuses more on the psychological side of horror, there are scenes with obscene violence that will make you cringe. It’s a film that puts you into a constant thinking process and even the smallest detail in it has a meaning and a reason to be there. In other words, Perfect Blue succeeds in being a timeless title, something that recent films fail to do so.
Original Work: Takeuchi Yoshikazu
Direction: Kon Satoshi
Character Design: Hamasu Hideki, Kon Satoshi
Music: Ikumi Masahiro
Work: Madhouse, Oniro
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
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