A classic movie brought back to life on the Blu-Ray format and it is still an excellent psychological mind screw as it was back when initially released.
What They Say :
Mima Kirigoe is one third of chart topping girl-pop group, CHAM! But she is keen to put the childish career of the pop singer behind her and pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Her fans are skeptical however, and she quickly discovers that the transition is nowhere near as easy or enjoyable as she’d hoped… After getting a part in a very adult murder mystery drama, her life takes a turn for the sinister. She uncovers a blog detailing her life in intimate detail, and as a real life killer begins to attack the people around her, delusion and reality blend into one and she begins to question her own identity… …
The Blu-Ray releases in the UK seem to know what to expect as we have an English and Japanese 5.1 audio release along with a 2.0 Japanese audio release. The right speaker with a High Definition television makes this a real joy to watch. At times the animation actually maybe too clear and the pixilation’s can be made out throughout which can be distracted but overall not in a bad way as a remastered 1998 release can only be with the technology now available. The two 5.1 releases were excellent as one of the movies I watched in both languages as really enjoyed both audio tracks in general – the dub is a bit louder on standard set but that isn’t too much of an issue. Set in full screen format, there were no issues in terms of slowdown, images being blurred when pausing or distortion between audio and subtitles, so overall a very good visual/audio release.
Like with most Blu-Ray releases in the UK I’ve noticed, the menu is very quick in terms of selection without any delays as you immediately get to your sub menu of choice when you select Play Film, Chapters, Set Up Or Extras. One thing I did notice is that you have to scroll down to the bottom when selecting to get back to the main menu instead of a button you press to go back which I initially had to get used to. It is set on a scary almost psychedelic image of Mima with roses in the background with the selections on the bottom. The image is static though so whilst interesting isn’t as interactive as other menus I’ve seen, but it does the job well with no problems with selections on the main menu and when reverting back to the menu when watching the movie.
We get quite a few interview style extras in this release – starting with an interview with the late Satoshi Kon (Director) – he mentions it was the first animation film he directed (he would later do similar psychological anime in both movie format (Paprika/Millenium Actress) and anime series (Paranoia Agent) – here he goes through what the main issues were, how the sketches were drawn and trying to see how the audience would react. It was interesting to know despite his first major production he has a hand in picking the voices for his actors as he was looking for the right people to deliver the message of the film. It’s quite informative for a short piece and nice to see the late great man in action.
Also on the Japanese side we have an interview with Junko Iwao (Mima) – it’s quite funny as last time I heard her recently it was rewatching Cardcaptor Sakura where she plays Tomoyo – to say the two are very different characters is an understatement! She gives her thoughts about when she got the part, the mixed feelings playing the role of such a psychologically tortured woman yet how it broadened her roles and horizons as an actress and how to work different types of characters and the challenges there of. So it’s interesting in how Perfect Blue almost made her in developing her as an actress which is interesting.
On the English side, we don’t get live interviews like the Japanese ones, but we do get some short Q&A’s of some of the English voices over some clips of the movie. We get Ruby Marlow (Mima), Wendee Lee(Rumi) and Bob Marks(Me-Mania) answering questions about their characters – Ruby’s is probably the most interesting as she is asked how she had to keep the two Mima’s separate and her thoughts on her psyche like if fame does cause paranoia, whilst Wendee has to discuss her development of her character without giving away the twist at the end, which are definitely the more informative.
We get a live recording of the opening CHAM song in Japanese ‘Angel Of Your Heart’ sadly with no translations and also the full English version of it as well (strangely with a solitary clip of the record player in the elevator scene). We also get the trailers for the US and UK versions, and the Japanese trailer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Perfect Blue was one of those movies that I always noticed and was one of the first, if not the first DVD movie I remember alongside Princess Mononoke that I owned anime wise when I first became a fan. Originally done in 1998, 15 years later it still holds out as one of the great psychological animated movies out there and enhanced further by the technology now available.
We are introduced to a girl group named CHAM, who whilst not sales popular have a solid fan base in their concerts. However one of their members, a woman named Mima, is leaving CHAM and hoping to change her career to become an actress. The fans reaction to this is upsetting and some aren’t quite happy with the change in career, one in particular with a very unique and rather disturbing look which hints at things later on, along with a fan calling out saying they love ‘Mima’s Room’ which confuses the former pop idol…
Aided by her manager Rumi, she gets a bit part in a drama series known as Double Bind. At first her role is very minor and her manager isn’t too happy about it, but things start to go a bit screwy when she gets a fax at the studio simply labeled ‘Traitor’. At first this seems just like a loony fan’s threat, but it soon takes a different tale in the loony stakes when Rumi hooks her up to the internet and we discover Mima’s Room is a webpage which Mima discovers that someone is practically following every move she makes…
Mima’s psyche starts getting into paranoia from these coincidences, as there was an explosion at the studio as well injuring the director, but to add more pain to this, whilst Mima does succeed in increasing her role, her first part with this is to play the part of a rape victim in a strip club. The scene is shot with Rumi not approving as it feels it will degrade her in the eyes of the fans, but Mima has the attitude of trying to make it and doing the role will prove she wants to be an actress. Whilst the scene is done (and rumoured that it was a way to get through the director’s own perverse fantasies – not helped when a photographer later on does some nude shots of Mima), she begin to really unravel as she snaps when she returns home and her pet fish are dead…so in tears and mental pain, this leads her to almost create another side of her…as she is unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. We start to see the other ‘Mima’ who is in her old CHAM outfit, seemingly part of Mima’s imagination, but with CHAM actually doing better without her, she wonders if the fans are correct and that her new work has made her seem less than worthy…
…but now she wonders about other things, because members of the crew are now being killed, and Mima actually wonders if she is committing the murders herself now in this delusional state. It doesn’t help that the people dying were the photographer and director who did the nude shots and the rape scene which maybe what pushed her over the edge. Seeing her cut herself on a teacup whilst wondering if the blood is real to her manager is the first of many moments where the viewer has to wonder if what we are seeing is Mima committing acts, or she is seeing delusions. She doubts her own innocence, runs away from her old friends, and chases an illusionary Mima wondering her own sanity, whilst realizing the creepy guy from the concert at the start seems to also be following her as he appears to be involved at least as he sees Mima to no longer be his ideal, which leads to a very disturbing scene later…
However whilst the conclusion seems obvious, it turns out to be something even more shocking. The finale I won’t reveal as it is a major spoiler so for those who haven’t yet seen it I will keep quiet, but it leads to so much questions as well as answers. What is real and what isn’t? The hints earlier at the true ‘other Mima’ combined with how Mima works it out (a call back to the goldfish believe it or not is the key) as you have to work it out along with Mima. Some very disturbing and bloody scenes (and the appearance of the guy Me-Mania, who in turns was a willing pawn in the true grand scheme…but the fact he takes it way too far means you don’t have any sympathy at all with him) – the chase scene between the two Mima’s, combined with the blood and the various shots of who is who, it can get confused but at the same time, it makes you want to watch and rewatch so you can see all the hints and clues, and just show how one person made Mima so psychologically tortured, and why.
Perfect Blue is a real trip of a movie. The term ‘nightmare fuel’ has been issued in the past and I can’t agree more. Both in physical pain (the filmed and attempted rape scenes, the various cuts and blood that occur, the many deaths – some extremely gruesome like eyes getting gouged out or a man’s testicular area being repeatedly stabbed) and mental pain as you and Mima wonder what is real and what isn’t. Mima is a character that in the same of an hour and a half, you become engrossed with as she starts as former idol just trying to change her career, into psychologically tortured young woman who wants her life (and her mind) back, not knowing who is causing her pain. You feel for her as she is an innocent pawn caused by the paranoia of fame even in small amounts, and you feel that almost any celebrity could easily be succumbed to the same state.
The only real issue I have with the film was that it did feel rushed. I understand it was supposed to be a several episode OVA but instead was narrowed down to a movie, and it is quite obvious they had to rush what Mima has to go through. Several characters barely introduced die due to this (though they at least get involved with a potential reason why Mima could be a suspect in their deaths) and whilst the excellent shots of CGI backgrounds and trains around Mimi before it cuts to a shot of her on her own as she wonders if she has been in Shinjuku, there are several instances of that sort of scenario in the movie which works wonders for showcasing her psyche at the time, but at the same time you wish they had done more in trying to show her divulge into insanity, but had to take a few shortcuts to get there. From what they did, it was an amazing job, you just wished there was more.
Still, Perfect Blue is still one of the great anime movie pieces, and my favourite of the Kon works. And to see this in today’s technology, it is a true treat and one to definitely rewatch.
Perfect Blue is a masterpiece of a movie that delves into the psyche of a young woman troubled by fame and changing her career, how both the outside world and her inner torment can turn something perfect sane into someone completely different. The story is told as best as it could be in the time frame, the true villain(s) are brilliantly revealed and the physical and mental trauma is as well established as you could get. Outside of wishing it was more and the ending being a bit more fleshed out, it is one of the great anime movies of the time, and in Blu-Ray, even better. Just don’t think of watching it before you go to bed…
Content Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: November 27th, 2013
Running Time: 90 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.