Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura, Yôsuke Akimoto
Director: Satoshi Kon
“A retired pop-singer-turned-actress’ sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.”(IMDb)
What to Expect
Beautiful protagonist/unattractive antagonist trope
Fans be crazy
Whooooo are you? Who who. Who who.
Why You Should Watch It
Besides the main character making you feel old with her computer illiteracy, Perfect Blue is a thrilling mind fuck concerning one woman’s struggle to define her identity while under the microscope of stardom. This adaptation of Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s novel holds your interest by unraveling reality bit by bit until you can’t tell real life from delusion.
Worth Checking Out (B)
Seeing how the latest technology is incorporated into films from the late 90s and early 00s is always a fascinating affair, because they continually remind us how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. For instance, only 11% of inhabitants in the developed world were internet users in 1997, compared to 81% in 2017. Kon does a wonderful job of taking the nascent World Wide Web and turning it into a major antagonist in Perfect Blue. It’s marveling, and maybe a little disconcerting, to draw parallels between the ways the internet is used to connect fans to celebrities in the late 90s with today. The sense of false intimacy the site Mima’s Room provides her fans, and Rumi’s email correspondence with Me-Mania, is all too similar to celebrities on Twitter and Instagram who can personally reach out to any fan (and vice versa) with a tap of the finger.
Mima (Iwao) breaks off from the pop group CHAM to try and make a name for herself as an actress. She takes on graphic acting scenes and risqué photo shoots to try and establish a new image, but is worried that in tarnishing her reputation as a ‘pure’ pop idol, she has reduced her worth as a person. Having CRAZY-ASS FANS doesn’t help her mental state either, not to mention the script for the show she’s in begins to blend with her own life. We’re horrified to see her rape scene enacted on the same set with the same movements when Me-Mania assaults her, and more than a little confused to see the final scene she acts out meld with the photographer’s murder and her incapacitating Me-Mania. And the first line of the first scene she acts in, “Who are you?”, is repeated whenever she encounters her imaginary pop idol self. The question is a projection of Mima’s inner battle—who is she, and who is she trying to become?
Rumi (Matsumoto) appears to have access to Mima’s apartment, so it’s likely that she could have planted the bloody clothes in the closet to frame Mima for the photographer’s death – after all, both Rumi and Me-Mania consider her an imposter and want to be rid of her. Framing her for murder would be one way to do that. However, it’s also entirely possible that Mima murdered the photographer herself. In the show Double Bind, her character dissociates as a way to protect herself from the trauma of her rape. Mima’s conflation between her acting job, real life, dreams, and even what day it is could be signs of her own dissociation from the trauma of the pretend rape and the nude photo shoot. She murders the photographer because she harbors resentment for what he convinced her to do. This could also mean she was responsible for the murder of Double Bind’s writers for the same reason. Mima can’t reconcile with this lewd image of herself and must exact revenge on those she holds responsible.