Minasan kon’nichiwa (…hello everyone…). If it’s morning then Ohayogozaimasu (…good morning...), if it evening then Konbanwa (…good evening...). I’m hoping you’re having a good day and if not then I hope this article distracts you enough to think. (…I also do hope your day turns good…).
Have you watched the Perfect Blue?
Totally fine if you haven’t but it is an immensely admired and iconic anime movie.
It changes the way anime is perceived around the world because it is a gripping Psychological thriller. Satoshi Kon, whose other notable works include Paprika, Millennium actress and my own favourite Tokyo Godfathers, opened the possibilities of anime with what we’ll be discussing today. I give you my own perception in Perfect Blue: a terrifying melody… Let’s go.
Perfect Blue released first in the fantasia festival in 1997, garnered mostly positive and some critical responses. Released in almost a year later in Japan in February 1998. Rotten Tomatoes have rate it at 78% (…believe me, I’m so mad because it deserves more.…). What else? well, Darren Aronofsky highly inspired by Perfect Blue, bought the American filming rights to use the popular bathtub scene in Requiem for a Dream. You can see shadows of Perfect Blue in Black Swan too.
The conflict of Perfect Blue: a terrifying melody…
The story of Perfect Blue begins with Mima, our protagonist who is a singer in a fairly popular J-Pop girl trio CHAM!. The scene is at a concert where Mina is about to announce her retirement from the pop group and the beginning of her career as an actress. Even here you see the difference in her personalities; as Mima rides the subway with the common multitude she reminisces of the events at the last concert in her life. We see her two managers; Tadokoro and Rumi argue over what is best for her as she keeps quiet.
Accepting the transition from an innocent pop singer to an actress is taking a toll on her. Mima convinces her mother on call about being sure of herself, but could it be that she is just reaffirming her own confidence in the decision?. She receives a creepy blank call and later a fax covered with the word ‘traitor’. She is also plagued by the moment where a fan screamed to her about always looking at her room. With the help of Rumi, she later finds out that it is a webpage. Here, someone, whom she supposes is a fan updates on Mimas day like a personal diary.
The disturbing part is that the person seems to know the most trivial and minute details of her day. We are also introduced to “Me-mania”, he attends each and every event of Mima. It does seems like he is the antagonist in the movie. (…only one thing to say: don’t be fooled by appearances…).
Peak of the conflict in Perfect Blue:
Mima was attacked on her shooting set with an exploding letter before but Tadokoro opens it instead getting injured. But the peak of conflict in Perfect Blue starts at a later point. Mima is asked to do something that would absolutely change her sweet and innocent idol image; agree to act in a rape scene for the show she is a part of. She is also offered to model for a magazine where the photographer requires her to be well, nude. (…I know, perv right?…). She does agree to all of it and that is when everything gets more sinister. (…the bathtub scene is taking place around here after the photoshoot and rape scene…).
How Mima is feeling:
All around Mima, the people that are responsible for the tarnishing of her image are dying. The scriptwriter and producer first. The infamous stabbing scene with ‘Big Body’ pizza takes place here. On top of all this, the online impostor is posting about Mimas disdain towards her role.
In the midst of all this, Mima is torn apart from the inside, traumatised by the recent events. She senses herself to be responsible even when she isn’t. Her psychological well-being and personal identity are all mushed up.
She is losing track of time and is seeing a dolled up idol version of herself. This version keeps taunting and insulting her by calling her filthy before hopping or floating away. Mima is frantically chasing her but the scene is cut at where she almost hits an oncoming truck. (…Black Swan vibes anyone???…).
The scenes are especially confusing and she even repeats the same day twice. She wonders if the idol persona of hers has taken up form and is responsible for all the murders. Everything feels like a dream or a dizzy nightmare in this case. We don’t know what the reality is anymore.(…I don’t call it Perfect Blue: a terrifying melody… without reason. A warped reality is scary….).
Mima is on the verge of completely toppling over psychologically. Her show is also a psychological thriller where she is a patient of trauma and DID, committing murders. She is hallucinating the ‘Me-mania’ guy on the set and is always lost between segments of past days mixed with the present moment. The show does come to a successful end. But that day is hell for her.
‘Me-mania’ , a guy obsessed with idol Mima is finally attacking her while she is alone on the set. He tries to rape her and kill her, not believing her to be the real idol Mima that emails him everyday. She literally calls for help but Tadokoro is lying dead. He chased her and almost has her when she grabs a hammer, hits him and saves herself. Rumi finds her but the guy isn’t there anymore. Mima wakes up in her apartment but finds out to her shock, it is just a replica of her room not her apartment. It is actually Rumis place, she realises it has always been her.
Rumi is committing all the murders and who sent “Me-mania” to kill Mima. Rumi then attacks Mima dressed up in a red Tutu and believing herself to be the angelic idol Mima. She says that the real Mima, whom Rumi considers an imposter, is standing on her way and ruining her reputation. She stabs Mima twice and they both go on a chase through the city. However, Mima rips her wig out (…yes!!! Snatch that wig sis…). Rumi injures herself while trying to get it and gives us the iconic blood on face scene. Mima then saves her from an oncoming truck.
We see Rumi existing in a psychological facility still believing herself to be Mima and the latter bringing her flowers. Mima is a confident, matured and popular actress now. She is sure of herself and is healthy. She says to herself “I’m real” as she gets into her car after overhearing two nurses doubting if she is really the celebrity. The sky for once isn’t muddy or cloudy, it is clear and blue; a Perfect Blue. This denotes that it was not only just a tale of obsession but also of self-discovery and of acceptance of one’s true self. Isn’t it apt to call it Perfect Blue: a terrifying melody now?.
Gorgeous. Absolutely delightfully and horrifyingly gorgeous. The story has a deep undertone. If it feels like floating through a nightmare for Mima, it is an exhilarating journey for the viewers. I don’t think everyone gets this artful anime classic. Perfect Blue is one of the first anime movies I have watched and nope, no regrets. I thank the Universe for the movie. Nothing could have been better and that too on a limited budget. I can’t even imagine the amount of work out into creating something like it.
Perfect Blue is realistic; dreamy but practical. The story predicted some specific and awful possibilities of contemporary fans of modern day idols. It was made in the 90’s when these events were a little less common than today.
End note 2.0:
You fall in love more and more with every succeeding watch. You understand it a bit different every time but you see more into its perspective. Perfect Blue is so beautiful and would remain timeless with it’s take on the psychological relationships and wellbeing which still remain a stigmatised concept. Satoshi Kon really showed what animation could be.
I feel like it is kind of underrated. This thought-provoking and astounding movie is a song. It feels like a sad and terrifying melody; unforgettable and unmatched.
Warning: Not for squeamish or tenderhearted people. Contains blood, gore, violence and assault.
Please go and watch the Perfect Blue if you dare. Then tell me your thoughts on it.