Perfect Blue (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, February 16, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, May 02, 2000
Overall Rating: 4.9 (on a scale of 1-5)
English Acting: 4
Well, I missed Perfect Blue when it was out in very select theatres in California. But I did catch it when it came to video. The movie picked me up hurled me to the ground, then picked me up and did it again. I loved it. I could hardly wait for the DVD. And now that I have it, I can feel that my collection is much closer to completion. Yep this is gonna be a gushy review, so turn back now if you don't wanna hear about a great movie and a great disc.
From a technical standpoint this disc is excellent. Compared to the brand new VHS tape I saw, this DVD blows it away in both picture and sound. DVD is the only way to see Perfect Blue, and Manga has delivered a top-notch disc. You get a widescreen version of the film with great clarity and sharpness. The soundtrack is in 5.1 in both languages and that's a real treat. The menu works very smoothly and has lots of class. It fits the mood of the show perfectly, especially the "Mima's Room" menu. The cover art is the same as the tape, and it will grab attention, as will the screenshots on the back. All the information you need about the DVD is on the cover. This disc comes fully loaded with extras. You get interviews with the director and Japanese voice actress for Mima. You also get interviews with English voice actors for Mima, Rumi, and Mr. Me-mania (It was a great to hear the infamous voice of Jinnai speak in his normal voice). There are hidden trailers on the links section, a behind the scenes with the voices of Cham, a music video (of sorts), a slide show of stills, the preview reel from Manga showcasing their titles and a DVD-Rom extra... wow! Such a loaded disc with such a great movie? How can you not get this disc?
Perfect Blue is everything a sophisticated anime can aspire to be. It's intelligent, exciting, thought provoking and beautiful. Yes, I liked it. But all that aside, this movie is the perfect example of how animation can be used to tell a story that isn't wholly aimed at children or young adults. Animation can be used to bring us closer to reality then we knew was possible. With animation you can create a true work of cinematic art. Perfect Blue is my first exhibit.
One of the obstacles that I always run into when trying to explain my love of anime to someone is the fact that when they think of animation they think of "kids stuff" or Disney. If they know something about anime, they have an image in their mind of graphic violence, women with large chests kicking butt, and tentacles. And while I try and explain that anime crosses all genres and all ages, they just stare blankly at me, waiting for proof.
How about Perfect Blue?
Well it's a double-edged sword really. While Perfect Blue will appeal to some people it is definitely not for all tastes. It's got some very disturbing moments, using graphic violence and imagery. It's a thriller in every sense of the word, so someone who prefers comedies might not like it at all. And some people will just focus on the nudity and the violence, furthering their already distorted view of anime.
So who should see this film? Anyone who enjoys a good, disturbing film. Anyone who enjoys film as an art. Anyone who is willing to examine the film after it's done and think about it. This is not a passive experience, this is the type of movie you talk about and that haunts you from time to time (just like Serial Experiments Lain, EVA, and Vision of Escaflowne).
Well now that we've got our prospective viewer, just what are they going to see? Perfect Blue revolves around the pop idol Mima Kiragoe. As part of the group Cham, Mima has gotten a loyal following of fans, but has not achieved the success she had hoped for. Her agent manages to get Mima a part on a sexually explicit murder mystery TV show. Mima leaves the group to make it as an actress, but not entirely by her own choice.
Unfortunately some of her most "loyal" fans take this badly. Not only has Mima left Cham but she is tarnishing her cute idol singer image. Things begin to get out of hand when Mima begins receiving hate mail and threats. Under the pressure of her new job, Mima's world begins to fray. Her dreams mix into reality and she begins to see hallucinations. All the while a mysterious figure lurks near her watching and waiting ... for the perfect moment... to keep Mima from tarnishing herself any further.
Of course there is much more that happens. I don't want to spoil the whole plot for you but suffice to say that this movie keeps you on your toes. After a while you are completely immersed into Mima's tortured and confused mind... and it's damn scary.
The animation in this film is top notch. While not quite up to Ghost in the Shell or Akira standards, it does a great job of pulling you in. This is due mostly to technique and editing. It's rare to see such an excellent use of editing in an animated work, but Perfect Blue does a wonderful job with it. As I stated above, you get completely pulled into Mima's mind. And seeing things from her perspective is like living in a nightmare. I really applaud the director and his editing team on this one, they did a great job. Combining the excellent animation with style and technique and the movie definitely holds it's own.
The sound work and design is also excellent. It has to be to keep up with the rest of the film. And listening to it in 5.1 surround was a real treat. There are plenty of interesting and creative sound uses in this movie, mostly involving the scenes where Mima's sanity seems to be on the line. The combination of the visuals and the sound, work together to really pull you into the film and not let you go.
To be honest the plot isn't anything too original, as far as thrillers go. There have been plenty of movies about the famous person being stalked by a "killer" fan (Misery being on of the best ones). What sets Perfect Blue apart from most of them is the style and ingenious editing. Perfect Blue manages to keep you constantly off balance. You are never quite sure where you are, or when you are, or even who you are. This movies strives to be more than the typical thriller, and in a genre that has been done to death in recent years, it succeeds.
Well, I enjoyed the English cast's work on this movie. They all performed excellently, with a few exceptions in some of the lesser roles. Anyone familiar with English dubs will recognize some of the voices right away. This is a bit of a detriment in a way, mostly because some of them have done so well in other roles that you keep imaging them still in that role (Who is Lain? Why it's Mima of course. Or is Mima, Lain? Or is Mima god?.... anyway...) I thought that overall the cast did a fine job and goes to show just how far anime dubs have come. I doubt such a good dub could have come out five years ago. As evidenced by the interviews on this disc, these actors are into the art of acting and take it seriously.
The music is top notch. Not only are the numbers performed by Cham appropriate and used at the most opportune moments, but the English versions aren't too bad either. I still prefer the Japanese versions but both do a great job of adding to the film. The score also stands out. It's tough to make a score that not only works with the movie but works on its own too. Perfect Blue's score manages to do both. There are segments that just make your skin crawl. And mixed with the soundtrack and the visuals... well, I've said it once and I'll say it again... it's perfect ;-)
So yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It's a piece of animated art if I ever saw one. Perfect Blue does what it sets out to do and more. If you enjoy a good film that will leave you breathless, and then have you talking about it long after it's over, then don't wait. Get this movie right now. It is worth seeing and owning. It's rewatchable, especially when you really get to thinking about it. You just have to go back and see if your suspicions were correct after all... only to find new pieces to the puzzle.
***Proof that this film will help to create new fans***
I was all set to do my review of Perfect Blue when I remembered that I hadn't checked the subtitles. I popped the DVD in and watched it in English with subs, just to see how accurate the dub was (it's very close. Great job!). Anyway, my sister returned home and came in just as Mima announced her leaving Cham. My sister didn't leave until the credits rolled. Now I do feel a bit sorry for her, she had work in the morning and then go to school, but she was enthralled. At the end she looked to me and said, "Wow! That was great. I gotta get my boyfriend to check that out. You mind if I borrow it?" Do I mind? Of course not, more anime fans brought into the fold. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA! And I have Perfect Blue to thank for it too.
***Yes! Another one has joined us...***
P.S. ***Special Note from LadyCat*** Roman embellished that story just a bit. But his sister did love the movie! (Hey! You always ruin my fun, LadyCat! ;-)
Panasonic A110, Pioneer Elite Pro-107 (45 inch screen), Kenwood THX certified 4.1 receiver, Boston Acoustics (5 speakers and 2 subs)
Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Running time: 83
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Perfect Blue