Perfect Blue

Diving headfirst into Kon Month, I’ll be starting off with Satoshi Kon’s very own directorial debut, Perfect Blue. An adaptation loosely based off a book of the same name written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Perfect Blue originally hit theaters in 1997 and was greatly received by many around the world, not just anime fans. To this day, Perfect Blue has strong holding in the anime industry. Many people consider this movie to be Kon’s magnum opus among his many great films. I personally had not seen it and was skeptical of their opinions; even as I began watching the film I was skeptical of its greatness. However, by the end my opinion was greatly changed, and here’s why:

Mima Kirigoe’s heart belongs to singing; it has always been her favorite thing to do, and she had successfully made a career out of it in the pop trio called CHAM! However, her talent agents convince her that her future is in acting, and that being a pop idol is not the most prosperous life to live these days. So she decides to switch to acting, much to the disapproval of some of her fans, and lands a role in a murder mystery movie by the name of ‘Double Bind’. As she continues to the scenes for this movie, she becomes more and more troubled by her decision to switch to acting, and laments her time with CHAM! Weird things also begin to happen to her, including a deadly prank within a fan letter, and the creepy silhouette of a man that appears to be stalking her. The downward spiral continue to escalate for Mima, until she begins to lose control of her own reality, and strange murders start happening around her.

The first thing I’ve got to say about this movie is how great the handling is. Close attention is kept to everything at the minute details, and I could not find a single pointless thing within this movie; Perfect Blue would not be so perfect had anything been taken out. From the symbolic visuals, to the red herrings, careful consideration is put into all facets of this movie, and everything falls perfectly into place, which is quite hard to do, especially with psychological murder mysteries.

Speaking of red herrings, I’ve got to give kudos to Kon for this is well. The entire time the movie had me guessing, and I still couldn’t predict the twist. Whether this was part of the original book, or part of Satoshi Kon’s genius, whoever handled the red herrings of this movie did a great job. It had me guessing between about three people, and was really pushing at two of them that by the time you reach the big twist jaws will be dropped. On top this, the big twist actually made complete sense; while it did rub me a bit initially, two seconds of consideration had my convinced that it was perfect. Unlike a lot of mysteries where the final twist out of the end comes out of nowhere with absolutely no evidence pointing to it, or anything at all signaling that character, or where the big twist is just a deus ex machina, the twist used in Perfect Blue actually makes complete sense. In fact, it was this one detail of the movie is the largest deciding factor in my love for it. All in all, it was simply great.

However, to have a great twist you must have great characters, and Perfect Blue had everything. While the side characters were nothing more than background faces, and didn’t get a lot of individual attention, they were what made all the pieces fit. While I suppose this makes them plot devices, I do still consider them a lot stronger than that, especially Mima’s two talent agents, whom we seem to get a lot out of from little screen time. But of course, the greatest character of all is the lead, Mima Kirigoe. We see her at her best, and we see her at her worst; we see her at her most innocent, and when doing the darkest deeds. Overall, throughout the entire movie, we see her transformation into a stronger person, and we can even being to relate to her on multiple level. She actually seems like a real person, where some of the people she deals with seem like archetypes, and it was through her struggle that we get the delivery of such a great movie.

Next we have another thing that Satoshi Kon is greatly known for: his magnificent visuals. Now, being that this is an older movie from the 90’s, a lot of us younger generation anime fans may be a bit thrown off by the animation, which is outdated by today’s standards. Hell, it’s perhaps even more outdated than the computer Mami uses in the movie. But for the time, these visuals were pretty stunning. But animation quality isn’t what matters here, nor what we look for when watching a Kon movie; it’s the way Kon handles the visuals and uses them to add to the plot that we all love. While not as visually eccentric as in Paprika, the use of visual symbolism is astounding. I was probably able to spot the most obvious ones, like Mami’s fish, but I’m sure there are several that I missed and will have to watch this movie a few more times to catch. Aside from symbolism, the visuals also provide us with the gritty, not only with the bloody violence seen in the murder scenes, but also with some of the tests Mami has to go through while changing her persona; we get to visually see Mami’s struggle as she goes through probably what most young actresses like her must when making their career. So gritty, yes, but also very real, which is why Satoshi Kon is a visual genius.

I must lastly note that I especially loved how the audience is kept guessing at what is and isn’t reality as Mima begins to lose her grip. About halfway through the film, things get really exciting, and I had to try to keep up with dreams and reality, hallucinations and lucidity, and this kept me really engaged with this mystery. For once I really wanted to know what was going to happen and it kept me at the edge of my seat. Luckily, it did not disappoint.

So in conclusion, yes, I absolutely loved this movie. I know I was trying to give much harder, more criticizing reviews, but I cannot think of a single thing I do not like about this movie. It’s engaging, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s all-round perfect. I went in ready to tear this movie a new one and it flipped me on my ass. Maybe this is a sign that I’m a horrible critic, or perhaps just maybe I stumbled upon an amazing movie. If you love psychological mysteries, bloody and suspenseful horror, surprising real inner struggles, or just Satoshi Kon, you will love this movie. I rarely do this, but I’m giving this movie an unprecedented 10/10; Perfect Blue is perfect, and this has really excited me for the rest of Kon Month. Whether or not this is truly his magnum opus, I can’t tell at this point, but this movie alone has me falling in love with Satoshi Kon all over again. Watch this movie, because I say so. Until the addition to Kon Month, this has been Sachi, reviewing another amazing movie.

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