Fixed the viewing deadline in the original post since Friday was the 28th not the 29th.
This was one of the first anime movies I watched in my mid-teens as I was working my way through the acclaimed classics like Akira and Ghost in the Shell. I didn't remember a huge amount about it, other than that I found it genuinely disturbing, particularly the stalker character, and that it was a bit of a headfuck. It opened my mind to the depth of the anime genre and the possibilities of the medium.
So I was really happy to have a reason to watch it again, being older and wiser, and also having recently finished working my way through Satoshi Kon's back catalogue. I've loved everything he made - he was a visionary for the anime movie genre - but this was the only time he went for this super dark, unsettling tone.
So, what did I get from this film on a rewatch? I think the main thing was a better appreciation of the message behind the film, as opposed to just viewing it passively as this really disturbing psychological thriller story. There's an obvious critique of idol culture in there, looking at the way Japan treats its female celebrities, but taking a wider view, there's questions of constructed identity, which are even more relevant in the social media age. This video explains it better than I can.
One of the things I really appreciated watching it again now was feeling this vibe of nostalgic eeriness that I only get from 90s films. I can't explain it very well but it comes from a period in time where it felt like we were a lot less connected, and while the early days of the internet were starting to open up new possibilities, there was still a bit of mystery to the world. I think 'hauntology' is closest I've come to finding an explanation for it. I don't know if I'm making sense but just throwing it out there in case someone else can relate.
It didn't hit me quite as hard on a rewatch, but I still think this is a brilliant movie. Although it's clearly a product of its time, I really appreciated the art style and world building. Mima is an intriguing and sympathetic lead and the stalker character is memorably creepy. I'm sure the tone of it won't sit well with everyone, but as a big fan of psychological horror and impenetrable narratives, it's my kind of thing. 4/5
Fun fact: He hasn't admitted it, but this film was clearly a huge inspiration for Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. That's another film that I loved and am due a rewatch.
☆"What if that illusion found someone to possess?"☆
Oh look, it's another anime I'm forced to watch against my will. You know what that means!
That's right, folks. The Daily Mosh Film Club is back!
After a brief respite in January, and a culling of the herd it seems, our little group of fans of loud obnoxious music has returned in 2020 to complain about movies and argue about what to watch. I caved in this time, as it appears there's quite a bit of acclaim for this animated psychological thriller from the legendary Satoshi Kon. However, I was notably not a fan of his demented fever dream Paprika, so I went into this film with a skeptical eye; nonetheless, I found something to appreciate in Kon's 1997 work even if I also didn't like it overall -- "one of the most important animated films of all time," so they say -- Pāfekuto Burū ["Perfect Blue"].
J-pop girl group CHAM is about to lose their biggest star, 21-year-old Mima Kirigoe (voice of Junko Iwao) -- though her bandmates call it "graduating" -- as she's moving to an acting career, a metamorphosis if you will for the talented young lady. Fans are shocked but mostly appreciative of her work, and excited to watch her in another arena. A notable exception is a strange obsessive fan called Me-Mania (Masaaki Ōkura), among others who send threatening or creepy messages; worst of all is a website she finds called "Mima's Room," purporting to be diary entries written by her. (Recall, this is before the mass ubiquity of the Internet. She barely understands the medium.) She talks about it with her manager Rumi (Rica Matsumoto) but it's hard to know what to do with isolated toxic fans. However immediately after, her agent Tadokuro (Shinpachi Tsuji) opens a letter which explodes, injuring him, intended for Mima. As she begins to fear for her safety, a new acting role features a difficult and traumatizing scene: a stripper who is graphically raped. She becomes increasingly paranoid and has difficulty separating fact and fiction, but when several people responsible for her new image disappear or are murdered, Mima must navigate the twisted machinations of her own mind to survive.
So apparently some accuse Christopher Nolan of stealing Inception from Paprika. I'm sure I'm also about the millionth person to say that I wouldn't be surprised if Darren Aronofsky might have been inspired by this film to make Black Swan. Based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel, Sadayuki Murai writes an intelligent screenplay that skillfully envelops the audience into Mima's nightmare. The way that he and Kon are able to craft scenes that at first seem real and then are revealed as part of her scripted acting career is honestly extremely clever. Even knowing this fact, aware that this is a film about a girl losing her mind and terrorized by her own psychosis, I found myself surprised at these little moments of augmented reality. It's very well done.
Despite a film distributor called "GKIDS," this is very much not a cartoon for children. Rape, murder, nudity, psychological terror, brutal violence, etc. Now, it's not THAT kind of anime your neckbeard college roommate used to watch: no tentacle dicks or alien schoolgirls. Instead it's a story that combines obsessive fandom, feminine celebrity culture, and phantasmic voyeurism into a tense but underdeveloped plot. While I really appreciated the intelligence it takes to trick the audience into falling for the same traps as Mima, and not knowing what's real and what's fake, the characters in Perfect Blue suffer from one-note depth. An ending a little heavy of exposition and loose on believability doesn't help, and with a groan-inducing lame final line that put a stamp on the poor final act of the movie.
There are also just clichés of anime films I cannot get over, especially viewed through a feminist lens. The weird pedo fetish of every woman is exhausting. I don't know how you all look past it. High-pitched baby voices, skirts about eight inches long, zero personality except for happysexytime, underwear (or more) visible in nearly every scene. I don't get it. As well, the animation in this film is merely "okay" as opposed to what was absolutely mesmerizing in Paprika; there's not much remarkable about the way this looks, filled with static backgrounds and characters who literally only move when they're talking. Who could possibly think the animation here is anything other than unremarkable?
In all, another mixed bag of a genre I will always dislike but attempt to find things in I appreciate. So Perfect Blue is a second Satoshi Kon film that I enjoyed for one good element -- its psychologically twisted story -- but I remain befuddled why this nonsense has such a crazy fan base. Don't make me watch a third one.
I think that I like this the most out of his filmography, if only because this was much darker and mature than Paprika, and I think the psychological elements are only amplified with how today's "information overload" culture is.
Thanks for bearing with us for this, V9733xa, and I'm eagerly looking forward to read your review for "Akira" once you get around to it.