Perfect Blue -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A+

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A-
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 83
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

By Chris Beveridge     May 02, 2000
Release Date: May 02, 2000

Perfect Blue
© Manga Entertainment

What They Say
In the world of make believe…
The price of fame…
May not be worth the cost of identity…
Pop singer Mima Kirigoe looks forward to a bright new career when she quits her chart-topping trio to become an actress. When she lands a role in a sexually-charged murder mystery, Mima’s life begins to fall apart. Reality and hallucinations merge into a terrifying world where innocence is lost and dreams become nightmare.

Quickly descending into a dangerous state of paranoid delusions, Mima watches as Internet sites appear describing every intimate detail of her life. She is helpless and afraid as her associates are threatened and killed by a mysterious stalker.

In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento, director Satoshi Kon (Memories), special advisor Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira) and Madhouse Studios (Ninja Scroll) bring Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s thrilling suspense-novel to the screen in a tour-de-force that brings animation to a bold new level.

The Review!
After a bit of a delay from the release of the VHS versions, Perfect Blue has finally reached the DVD crowd, and many people are getting their first glimpse at a true anime masterpiece.

Perfect Blue sports three audio tracks. There's a stereo English language track so those without 5.1 receivers don't have to deal with downconverted audio, and English 5.1 and and Japanese 5.1 track. We listened primarily to the Japanese 5.1 track but spot checked the others and everything seems pretty solid. The first thing a lot of people noted, depending on their DVD player, is that even if you had a 5.1 track selected, your player will tell you it's a 2.0 track. Thankfully my receiver can translate this properly and there definitely are two 5.1 tracks. Other than this, we didn't note any problems with the audio. The 5.1 track isn't all that immersive, but does allow for some good use of the front soundstage giving it a bit more depth in some areas. A few sequences do use the surrounds, but since this is a thriller with more dialogue than action, it's not sound effect heavy.

On the video, there's a plus and a minus, depending on your point of view. The plus to me is that the film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The minus to me is the lack of an anamorphic transfer. After their first release of the gorgeous Ghost in the Shell, I had hoped that Manga would know the value of an anamorphic transfer and done the same for one of their more highly rated titles among both fans and critics. This is my only true disappointment with this disc, especially with it being such a recent production and having had a theatrical run. Of course, there are people who don't like widescreen movies to begin with, so there's a minus in it for them. For a non-anamorphic transfer however, it's definitely above average into the great area. Colors are vibrant throughout, black level is well done and the darker tones overall don't exhibit any breakup on my system. I tried my best during my first two viewings to find something with this transfer, but it looks solid. For the majority of people, this will look like a wonderful disc.

The packaging overall is pretty good, recreating the theatrical posters that were used during its art house run. There's lots of quotes throughout, ranging from Roger Corman to several newspaper reviews and an online site. At most, the front cover may look a bit busy, but if it helps sell this movie, it's worth it. The back cover gives a decent story summary, though it mistakenly lists the group Cham as a chart-topping trio when in the movie they never broke the top 100. There's several stills from the show on the back as well as a listing of all the features.

Well, not all of the features. For some reason, Manga has omitted the DVD-ROM label and any indication that there is any DVD-ROM content at all. More on that later.

The discs menu system really shines well here with a varying number of animated pieces. From the opening "Excuse me, who are you" segment to the various connecting submenus, there are some nice bits of animation. The scene index menu contains animated portions of each chapter stop and most of the submenus have some animation and music going along with it. Very stylishly done and very appropriate to the material at hand. Selections are accessed quickly.

For the DVD Video portion of this disc, there are several excellent extras. The interviews with the English voice actors are really well done, and it's something I wish more studios would employ. Hearing these folks in a normal conversational tone and talking intelligently will always help improve the view fans have of dub actors. The interview with Japanese voice actress Junko Iwao who plays Mima is presented in Japanese with subtitled translation and not an overdub as you see happen in more mainstream Hollywood interviews of foreign actors. The interview with Satoshi Kon is also pretty interesting. Maybe someday Manga can convince him to do a commentary track with subtitles for him so we can get a more detailed view of his adaptation of the novel to this wonderful film.

For those looking for the trailers, which aren't really hidden, they're in the links section of the extras page. Clicking on any of the three links will play the assorted trailers. There is also a real site for the Mima's Room link that's on the menu system, and it takes you to Manga's Perfect Blue site. Very nice touch!

There's a nice "In the studio" segment with the three voice actresses for Cham recording a song as well as an English version of the Cham theme with just a static backdrop. I really enjoyed the in-studio bits as seeing anything that goes into the creation of anime will be interesting to a lot of people.

For the DVD-ROM side of it, there's a wealth of original Japanese extras on this disc and bunches of BMP's and JPEGS for you to use. The interactive radio is pretty spiffy and there's screensavers and more. Check out our Digital Omake section for more details.

Up until I got this DVD, I had managed to keep away from knowing to much about this movie and the details of the storyline. That definitely helped my enjoyment of this movie, because like most thrillers, once you know what's at the end, it's not as good the second time around. This only affects Perfect Blue slightly however.

At the core of this movie is the idol singer Mima, part of the trio Cham. Mima has decided to move onto acting after her 2 1/2 year stint with the group, partially at the urging of one of her managers. From this point forward is where things really begin to break down in Mima's life, and the storyline takes on the exploration of fame and transition from being an idol singer, where change is practically forbidden, to acting, where change is a constant thing if you're good at it.

There is so much to this show, that doing much of a review will really begin to spoil the mystery of how it unravels. Mima's fans, the darker side of one of them, the varying incidents with people who care about her and those who hate her... all are examined to some extent with some in more detail than others. One of the things that this film really does is make you want to go back and watch it again to see what you missed along the way, much as the Sixth Sense did for a lot of people.

Since this discs release, there has been a lot of conversation and real nit picking at the various details to see how things go together. Everything in this movie is there for a reason, placed specifically to build the world that Mima inhabits and where her mind takes you along the way. With only two viewings I noticed a lot more the second time around that made sense and I'm sure a third and future ones will bring out more. As the English voice actor for Me-Mania says during his interview for this disc, the novel itself was very subjective and everyone came away with a different interpretation of parts of it. The movie is the same way, everyone will see something different and come away with a different opinion of it.

In my humble opinion, that's the best kind of movie. This disc is highly recommended. Take the 83 minutes, watch it in the dark with everything else quiet, and get absorbed into Mima's world.

Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Uncut Version,TV Spots,Trailer,Photo Gallery,Interviews,DVD-ROM Extras

Review Equipment
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.


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