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Perfect Blue Ultimate Edition UK Blu-ray Anime Review

11 min read
The return of the classic…high price but the stuff you get…

The return of the classic…high price but the stuff you get…

What They Say:
Experience a directorial masterclass from the legendary Satoshi Kon and view the inspirational, thought-provoking and chilling Perfect Blue as you’ve never seen it before.

Mima Kirigoe is ready to leave her career as a pop idol behind and forge ahead towards a bright new future as an actress. However, casting aside her former image proves to be far more difficult than she imagined, and the murky world of show business threatens to drag her into the depths of despair. As the strains of her new career path take their toll, and a menacing presence from her pop star past lurks in the background, is Mima able to keep a firm grasp on the things that define her? And as delusions, fiction and reality blend together in her mind, just what is it that defines her anyway?

This Ultimate Edition release includes the film in a new, remastered High Definition transfer with additional bonus material, offering fresh insight into the film from the director himself; the haunting soundtrack score on CD; and a full replica of Satoshi Kon’s incredible storyboards for the entire film. Immerse yourself in the creative process of Perfect Blue, and marvel at the talent behind one of the most powerful animated feature films of all time.

The Review:
Audio:
This is a very unique release as there are two versions of the movie – the main production is remastered so you have an English and Japanese 5.1 Remix Dolby Surround sound mix, but also in the extras there is the original SD viewing in 2.0 Japanese (which you can also select in the main production). With this being cinema style quality in the remaster, this is a wonderful remix which also you can sync with various subtitle options (English, hard of hearing, signs and songs, or off) – with Perfect Blue original released in 1999, this is a 20th anniversary release and I watched it in the 5.1 Japanese track (I had previously reviewed it in the original Anime Limited Blu-Ray in English) – everything is crystal clear, no problems with the synching (the subtitles are also a bit different as very clear in white text), the background noise, foley is perfect and can’t fault this remix at all – as close to cinema quality in the comfort of my home room.

Video:
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL but again, there are two versions – the main movie is the full screen version whilst the original SD version on the extras is on a small screen with bars around it a la 4:3 style. It’s interesting that you do have both options as clearly the remaster is the superior one but nostalgia can kick in and compare the two as well. The SD version is similar to my experience when I first got Perfect Blue on DVD in the early 2000s – since then have reviewed it on Blu-Ray twice and this is clearly the best experience of watching the movie (I also watched it in the dark just to add to the cinematic atmosphere…then I remembered what type of movie it was…) – the cinematography is perfectly in line and whilst the older style of animation almost gives it away when it was set (doesn’t help that scenes that this is early internet when Mina doesn’t know how to use a computer as done in 1997), it doesn’t hinder the atmosphere and the in your face animation that it uses. It flows extremely well and the new format 20 years later just enhances the imagery.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release however this will be released in an online exclusive via Zavvi and All The Anime’s website where you get exclusive packaging, along with a ton of other stuff discussed in the extras section.

Menu:
The menu is surprisingly basic – we get a still picture of Mina among a bed of flowers with a starry background with the title below her and below that still a menu bar on another flowery background – the options are Play Film, Chapters, Set Up and Extras. Being a Blu-Ray your choices go through quickly and you can return to the menu via a pop-up bar when watching the film. Haunting music plays whilst you make your selection which does give it the Perfect Blue atmosphere, so the menu does its job in getting you ready and selecting your choices. Simple but effective.

Extras:
Along with the special edition extras, the Blu-ray itself has quite a lot of extras – some were in the original Blu-Ray release but others are new.

As mentioned, you can watch the movie in its original SD format – again, not sure why if you have the remaster but for nostalgic reasons that could be why (a fun tidbit is when you return from the movie it says go back to Mina’s room which gives you back to the extras).

The new extras including interviews and seminars with the late, great Satoshi Kon (director of Perfect Blue) – the big one is a three-part seminar done in 2007 with an assistant Runa Nagai as he actually teaches a seminar about Perfect Blue with students – whilst not made clear where he is, it does feel like I’m back at university and wish I had been part of this course. There is a lot in here so won’t go through everything but in general, he talks about how the movie can be any personal interpretation, the visual elements, whether he realistically foresaw the way Japan changes a person’s view from idol to actress, how the movie got labeled as a psycho-thriller, Mina’s humanity, the rape scene and did it go too far, the representation of the fish and one thing I never caught in my original review because I reviewed it in English, how you can interpret the final line in Japanese – this was something I never picked on and it throws you a huge curveball of Mina at the end which gives you one final mindscrew about the movie…nearly 20 years and I never knew that and when I watched the movie again, I gasped and thinking…oh god, is that really…

We have the English Credits, the original US/UK trailer, the UK Re-release trailer and the original Japanese trailer, as well as a recording session of the CHAM actresses singing Angel of Your Heart, as well as the English version of it (done to a still of the CD player in one of the movie’s creepiest scenes…)

We have interviews of Satoshi Kon separate to the seminar, talking about concerns/focus as it was his directorial debut, the difficulties working on it and the audience perception of the movie, and an interview with Junko Iwao (Mina, and to this day I can’t get over my head that she is also the voice of Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura who plays Mina…just a huge difference) – her thoughts when she got the part and how different it was to her usual roles, and how challenging it was.

We also get some interviews with some of the English cast albeit you don’t see the actors compared to the Japanese ones – we get Ruby Marlowe (Mina) as she discusses the approach to the character, does fame cause paranoia and wonders if Mina did ‘sell out’, then Wendee Lee (Rumi) on developing the character, does she relate to her, the fascination of celebrities and Rumi’s persona, and last we get Bob Marx (Me-Mania) as we get his reaction to the character as clearly it is quite different to most roles he has, preparation for the role, why Mina was favoured for him, and was he always so obsessive….

Lastly, if you get the special edition – whilst a bit pricey (£89.99) you do get a ton of extra physical stuff – you get the CD original soundtrack, a 384 page Japanese Storyboard collection book as closely represented by the original storyboards done by Satoshi Kon, and a 48 page English translated companion book.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Perfect Blue is one of those films that any old school anime fan will know of, and most should have heard of at least even in today’s market. Originally made in 1997, it was released in the UK on VHS and DVD in a cut form in 1999, with an uncut form in 2001 – so this is the 20th-anniversary release. This is also the third time I have reviewed this movie and being one of my personal favourites, the fact I only caught something I missed beforehand shows how much suspense and mystery it still contains – the movie continues to be a benchmark in thrillers that blur the line between what is real and what isn’t, with a lot of the things talked about still holding true in today’s market, whether it be the pressure of celebrities, how idols are treated, and how stability is treated in modern day Japan.

This will be a relatively short review as my previous review had the in-depth story, but I will still go through it for those who haven’t heard or seen the movie before. We get our lead character, Mima Kirigoe, a pop idol for the group CHAM, a not very successful music group in terms of sales but have a dedicated fan base. She is leaving the group to try and become a serious actress much to the disappointment of many of her fans, however she feels suffocated by the pop idol world and wants to see if she can advance her career. She gets a role in a bit part on a show called Double Bind which initially has one line, but that line ‘Excuse me…who are you?’ is a perfect analogy of what is about to come when talking about Mina’s psyche…

Along with Mina, we have her manager Rumi, a former pop idol who clearly doesn’t like the direction Mina wants to go in, especially when her role increases…which involves her having to be in a rape scene. This is where the reality/fantasy starts to unravel as Mina goes for it seeing it as something she has to do, but you can tell she is indecisive and the scene is quite traumatic, which starts her on her trek to between herself…and another Mina which reverts back to her pop idol persona. Add to that fax messages calling her a traitor, and a website called Mina’s Room pop up which somehow seem to know every details of her movements and life, begin to freak her out…

To make things worse, people around her start getting killed, as she wonders if she was the murderer and she can’t remember. Her other associate Tadokoro gets a letter bomb, the director is killed rather graphically in an elevator, the photographer who took photos of her in the nude is stabbed many times by a ‘pizza boy’ (who you wonder if it was Mina) – yet all of these attacks seem to link to a crazed fan named Me-Mania who is the person behind Mina’s room, seemingly not happy that his pure Mina has gone into a rather sleazy role and career, which is definitely a good analogy even today how people can view pop idols to a degree (Japan still has this problem 20 years later)…

Whilst this seems ironically to help her acting, it concludes with Me-Mania attacking Mina, attempting to rape and kill her. Mina however manages to defend herself and knocks him out. She then turns to the one person she has always relied on….and I won’t reveal the twist here for those who haven’t seen it, especially with hindsight right at the end of the movie, but it is very shocking, graphic, twisted and downright mind screwy. It ends with a happy ending of sorts, but that’s if you believe Mina is still Mina at the end as the movie throws a curveball at the end which may make you wonder…

The movie is pure nightmare fuel at times – both with the physical imagery (a lot of blood is shared during the murders, the climax of the film) and the psychologically trauma that Mina has to go through – her other self, the jump cuts between fantasy and reality that the viewer is unsure which is which, the clues which Mina picks up on at the end to realise what is really going on (the fish and the poster being subtle clues if the viewer can pick up on it before Mina does) – also with the idea of how the pop idol trying to be a serious actress is only doing so in scenes which make her very uncomfortable. Add to that, even meeting her bandmates again means trauma as they are actually doing better without her, meaning she has no place to go apart from up. And whilst the ending suggests she is doing well for herself, there is still a slight hint that she is not all there yet…

It is an incredibly well driven story with a lead that you can easily identify with, feel sorry for and root for as you wonder if she is committing these crimes but you believe she isn’t, yet because of her damaged psyche, you are always unsure. With the representation of idols in media and even today that they have this image of being pure and innocent that anything to ruin that image can cause rage and even stalker like fans, it still holds true today (well, bar Mina unable to use the internet as this was early internet days) – the twist has just enough hints that it makes sense, and the scenes are graphic and terrifying even today. The hefty price tag for this special edition due to a lot of big extras is up to you if you want to go way behind the scenes and the visual representation of Kon’s first and still one of his greatest works, and if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely worth a watch.

Just don’t do it in the dark…

In Summary:
Perfect Blue is still a masterpiece 20 years later, and with the remastered quality both visually and audio wise, it is the best representation of the movie to date. Granted, the price tag is quite high but there are a lot of big extras both in the movie and come with the package that it may be worth the shot. The psychological thriller motif is still excellent, it definitely holds up well and Mina is still one of the best tragic leads I have witnesses in cinema. With movies like Black Swan out, this is definitely one of those where its influence can be seen in other films and the fact I only noticed a big potential twist in the last line of the film means there is still more I can watch. Always recommend this movie, just depends if you want to go the extra mile…

Features:
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Satoshi Kon lectures, Interviews, Original SD version of main feature (Japanese mono Dolby Digital 2.0 with English subtitles), CD original soundtrack, 384-page Japanese Storyboard Collection book, 48-page English translated companion book

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A+

Released By: All The Anime
Release Date: April 29th, 2019 (Exclusive to Zavvi.com and AllTheAnime.com)
MSRP: £89.99
Running Time: 81 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1:78:1 widescreen/SD 4:3

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.


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