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Perfect Blue [FB]
Aug 26th, 2011 by Dan

Perfect Blue

It's as weird and creepy as it looks.

Idol culture is weird. I mean, bizarre. It only just hit me while I was watching the opening of Perfect Blue that the main fans of these idol groups are men! The shitty, poppy, stupid J-Pop that is peddled throughout Japan by gaggles of over-cute women doing choreographed dances have male audiences. It’s so weird. I mean, in the states we have guys who perv over girl groups and female artists, but none of them would admit to being “fans”.

Several Kotaku articles I’ve read reference the immense amount of pressure that pop idol fans have to remain “pure.” Rather like hiding John Lennon’s marriage back in the early days of The Beatles, these women aren’t allowed to express any emotional or sexual involvement with men in public and they’re quite serious about it. Fans will turn against impure idols very quickly.

Satoshi Kon, whose favorite topics seem to be obsession and dreams vs. reality, tackles this otaku culture right off the bat with Perfect Blue. It’s funny how much disdain he seems to have for the hardcore fan that seems to comprise anime fandom in Japan (at least from a western perspective). I’m not saying it’s without merit, since obsession of any kind is a little dangerous, but it’s always seemed risky to me. It also lends legitimacy to his message since he’s using their medium against them. Well, that’s not completely accurate, I mean, obsessive groups exist for every type of fandom, but the anime otaku is not exactly high on the obsessive social totem pole.

If I had to complain about one artistic decision in this movie, it’s choosing to make Me-Mania, the scary stalker-level fan of our main character, Mima, look like an absolute troll. His eyes are misshapen, his teeth are disgusting, and his hair greasily covers up half his face. It’s a cheat to make him seem so abnormal, in my eyes.

Here I am talking specifics when I haven’t even explained the plot! The aforementioned Mima was part of an idol trio, CHAM, and she’s “decided” to leave the group to go into acting. I put that in quotes because Mima seems to just do what she’s told. Her fans don’t seem to take this very well and a threatening fax and a letterbomb make their way to her.

The problem is that her new gig as an actress is in a seedy crime drama where she is immediately thrust out of the “good girl idol” light and into the “this girl is not pure” light by way of a rape scene in the drama. It’s disturbing and kind of gross to watch and Mima’s already fragile consciousness seems to snap right here. She wasn’t really raped, but the acting and scene are horrifically tough to deal with and she can’t quite cope, but her manager continues to push this darker bent.

All the while Mima has stumbled onto a webpage seemingly written by her describing her daily movements and actions to a scarily accurate degree. She knows she’s not writing it, but the psychological trauma of reinventing herself and her already fragile psyche starts to make reality and fiction start to blend. Scenes in her life seem to happen, but then are actually scenes from her drama. I won’t spoil much more past here, but this is where the movie starts to get that Satoshi Kon feel.

As a viewer, this movie was tremendously disturbing. The fake rape scene begins blending reality and the drama in scary ways and Mima’s stalker seems scarily determined to get her to return to her singing career. What I especially enjoyed was watching Satoshi Kon’s trademark shots and symbolism start to take shape here. Certain scenes and ideas are definitely explored and expanded upon in his later work and that was really cool. I also loved that this movie took things to a much scarier and weirder place than Paprika.

If you can’t handle psychological thrillers, stay away from Perfect Blue, but everyone else should check this flick out. Considering his later work, it’s an unsurprisingly solid freshman effort from Satoshi Kon, even if it’s rougher around the edges than his later work. Definitely worth watching.

AUSA Perfect Blue-13

Is cosplaying Perfect Blue missing the point? Doesn't matter, it's still pretty cool

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