Perfect Blue

a Perfect Blue collage

Rating: 4½ Rampages

Mima Kirigoe is an unsuccessful pop singer. Facing her lack of popularity, her manager advises her to drop music in favour of a switch to acting. She follows his suggestion and starts her new career with a role in a pedestrian TV series. Depressed and frustrated by this turn of events, she suddenly discovers in her life a strange young girl who looks just like her, has her name, and is invisible to all but herself. Mima also discovers that every tiny detail of her life is accessible on the Internet, and is slowly gripped by a paranoid fear that will take her into the realms of schizophrenic madness. Regardless, she continues to work, trying to hold in check her emotional fragility and psychological instability, which are gradually transforming her into a far less kind and innocent individual. At the same time. a number of mysterious incidents transpire around her and she realizes the chilling resemblance between her own life and that of the character she plays on TV.

Is it nothing more than coincidence? Does her invisible alter-ego actually exist? And who is the enigmatic figure who watches her from the shadows? Mima, on the verge of insanity, must soon plunge into these dark mysteries and cast light upon this secret world where fiction, reality and murder diabolically conspire against her. The first animated film of psychological horror, Perfect Blue was produced by a brand new Japanese production company which distinguishes itself with the serious, contemplative nature of their work. Thus, it's not surprising to see the names of Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Memories), Satoshi Kon (Memories' scriptwriter who takes up direction for this work), and Hiraoki Inoue and Masao Maruyama (the producers of Memories) at the root of this film.

At first viewing I wasnít sure what to make of this, as it can be extremely confusing. At many points in the story, its difficult to tell if what you're watching is reality, or her delusion, or was what we just saw a delusion and this is reality, or... =) After looking at it a couple of times itís easier to make out the lines of the story, which are very well done. The art is quite unique and every bit as well-constructed as the story. This is a disturbing, surreal thriller that most certainly should be seen, but more than once or youíll be missing a lot. As a side note, Perfect Blue made its world premiere at last year's "Fant-Asia" festival in Montreal, Canada, making it the first work of Japanese animation ever to be screened in Canada (theatrically, no less) before being shown in Japan. Opened in theatres in late 1999.

Herself the Elf sez: I saw the dub in theatres.....gah. I'd been hoping that since Manga has a fairly good track record with dubs (Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor 1 & 2) that this dub would be decent. Obviously they had to scrape the bottom of the voice-acting barrel, because nearly all the actors are horrifically wooden, especially Mima. She seems to have only one tone of voice, and that's shrill. It's great to try to match the English dialogue to the Japanese lip movements, but in my opinion delivering lines naturally is more important. I can't blame it all on the actors, though, because the English dialogue itself was godawful. You had punk kids delivering lines in grammatically perfect sentences; I really have to wonder if the person writing this ever tried saying the lines out loud to see if they were at all believable. All in all, it's a dub to definitely avoid. It totally spoiled the experience of an otherwise wonderful movie and probably set back the progress of anime in North American theatres by a couple of years.

Available subbed or dubbed through Manga Entertainment.

Perfect Blue - site for the commercial release with lots of info. Don't watch the trailer, though; it's a terrible hack job.