Perfect Blue

Distributed By Manga Entertainment
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: R for Violence. Nudity. Recommended for mature audiences
Running Time: 80 minutes

Reviewed by Jon Minners

Perfect Blue, from Manga Entertainment, and directed by Satoshi Kon, is both a very jarring look into the world of pop and a surreal slasher film, all in one.  Putting everything you thought about anime movies on the backburner, Perfect Blue strives to be something different, following the story of a pop icon named Mima Kirigoe who leaves her girl group, Cham, to explore new opportunities in the world of acting and a solo singing career.  It's sort of like Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, but with a whole lot more drama involved. 

Her fans become distraught when Mima's first television role includes a scene where she is raped. To complicate matters, a web page dedicated to her, knows a little too much about her life and now Mima must deal with a crazed stalker, killing people who "forced" her to do things the stalker feels was not right for the young actress. And as the media, the fame, and success of Mima's career spiral upward, Mima gets caught up in the tabloid and Internet rumors and begins to unravel, not knowing which part of her life is real and which is just an act. Of course, the viewer has a hard time figuring this out as well.

As the murders increase, the question centers around who is committing these crimes. Could it be Mima herself? Just when you think you know the answers, something happens to make you question everything all over again. Not until the last scenes, are you sure of anything, but when it is all over, Perfect Blue makes sense, and the viewer leaves very satisfied with their viewing experience.

And everyone will walk away satisfied.  While Perfect Blue has some violent scenes and nudity, there is a sense of real artistic value in this film.  It was an integral part of the movie, adding to the film experience and not something to appeal to the horny fan's sex lust, even though they, too, will be pleased as punch. 

Adding to some wonderfully animated images, the music for this film was catchy, especially the opening track.  Even the dance numbers seemed well choreographed, all coming together to serve as a genuine peak into the world of entertainment and how it can be great one moment and dark the next.

When watching this all unfold you forget you are watching what many would say is just a cartoon. It seems so real. Mima struggles with identity problems, and must find out who she really is. She deals with negative press and peer pressure. There are no rocket ships, or crazed robots doing battle with one another. This movie deals with real emotions and real people who you only know for 80-minutes, but remember them for a lot longer.

In that sense, Perfect Blue breaks the mold of most animated fare, with material, lifelike characters and dialogue that puts it more on the plane with the upcoming Dreamgirls release and not something like Princess Mononoke, which is equally riveting, but more obviously an anime.  Perfect Blue could easily be scripted into a live action movie and actually has been, and while I have yet to see that movie, I can honestly say the anime deserves all the praise it gets.

In a time when there are still only a handful of great anime films to really talk about, this is definitely one film that should not be missed. Perfect Blue gets a perfect score in my book.

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