Perfect Blue -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £17.99
  • Running time: 81
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen Letterbox
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue

By Dani Moure     February 08, 2004
Release Date: July 31, 2000

Perfect Blue
© Manga UK

What They Say
Mima was a pop idol, worshiped by the masses until fashion dictated otherwise. In order to salvage her ailing career, she is advised to drop music and pursue acting. A soap opera role is offered but Mima's character is less clean cut than desired. Regardless, she agrees and events take a turn for the worse.

She begins to feel reality slip slowly, that her life is not her own. She discovers [imagines] her identical twin, a mirror image that hasn't given up singing. Internet sites appear describing every intimate detail of her life and a mysterious figure stalks her from the shadows. Her friends and associates are threatened [and killed] as Mima descends into a dangerous world of paranoid delusion. She fears for her life and must unravel fact from fiction in order to stay alive.

'Perfect Blue' represents a major departure from traditional anime subject matter, analysing the pop icon phenomenon, fame and its psychological impact on the performer. In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento, studio Madhouse, director Satoshi Kon and advisor Katsuhiro Otomo 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!
Perfect Blue is a finely crafted tale that examines the world of Japanese idols and the fans that follow them.

For the main review, I listened to the Japanese audio track. It's a solid 5.1 mix with no dropouts or distortions, and while it doesn't have a great amount of directionality it does help add to the atmosphere. English language stereo and 5.1 tracks are also present on this release. I only spot-checked them here and found no errors, but this is a dub I've heard several times from watching Perfect Blue on TV. The dub is quite good, with Ruby Marlow doing a nice job as Mima in particular.

The video has both its good and bad points. Presented in 1.85:1 letterbox, it looks good for the most part with vibrant colours and no aliasing that I could see. Occasionally the film does seem to become a little over-saturated, and at times some macro-blocking snuck in, particularly towards the end of the film. For the most part, though, bar the lack of an anamorphic release (and this disc is actually very old now), it's good.

The cover is quite good, with a boxed image containing two shots of Mima; one of her stabbing someone, covered in blood, and in the background a nice headshot of her looking rather troubled. The blue border overlaid on another image of Rumi lying down gives a nice effect. There are two quotes that make it onto the cover, one at the top and one at the bottom, which always tend to annoy me, though with a film as critically acclaimed as this I can sort of understand it. The back cover contains a selection of screenshots down one side and a synopsis and credits down the other. The disc features are clearly labelled in a box at the bottom of the back cover.

The menus are quite nice, with the main menu blending shots of the movie's production with an image of Mima. The scene selection and setup menus are your basic static menus, with fast access times. The extras menu is done up differently, to look like a computer screen and the links are done a bit like a basic webpage. My only complaint here is that the titles aren't exactly descriptive, though it's not too hard to figure out what takes you where. It's definitely a nice effort to keep in tone with the film.

There are some nice extras on this disc. First up, you have the recording of the theme song from the three voice actresses playing the CHAM girls, as well as a full version of the English song (though this is just the audio set to a still image). Then there's an image gallery with some stills from the film, accompanied by some text describing the images (which is a little self-indulgent at times). The real meat of the extras comes in the form of a selection of interviews. In total, the five pieces run just over twenty minutes. First up are interviews with the English voice actors for Mima, Rumi and Me-Mania. These are all audio-only set to stills, and while they're nice, they're all quite brief and there's not really time to delve deep into how they feel about their characters. Then there's a nice, but again too-brief interview with Junko Iwao, the Japanese voice actress for Mima. The best interview, though, runs about ten minutes and is an interview with director Satoshi Kon. It doesn't go into great depth, but it's nice to hear his perspective considering it's the first animated film he's directed.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Perfect Blue is one of those anime movies that comes along every once in a while and transcends the medium. Thought provoking, artful and superbly crafted, it's just plain and simply a fine film, anime or otherwise.

The story follows Mima, a singer in the idol group "CHAM", who is about to announce her departure from the group to pursue a career in acting, with the urging of her manager. The pop trio, together for two and a half years, has had little success, with none of their records breaking the top 100, but have built a devoted following. Indeed, one of the things the film explores is the devotion of fans and the effects that may have on an individual. How far will fans go to be devoted to their idols? Do they care how their actions affect the individual?

Mima's first acting gig isn't the biggest break; she has one line in an episode of a popular drama. Nevertheless, it's a break and she continues on with the hope that the role will grow, which her manager is pushing for. All the while, CHAM begin to see some success as a duo, but Mima doesn't look back. She is shown an internet site called "Mima's Room" which is where her most devoted followers go to see what she is doing. One poster catches her attention, though, and immediately paranoia begins to set in. This person knows exactly what she's doing, where she's been and even what she's bought, all the time. Mima is completely freaked, and when her manager is injured by an explosion from a letter sent to her, it only compounds her fears.

Soon Mima's role is expanded upon, but she has to take part in a rape scene. This scene sends her over the edge, and the film takes an even darker turn. Mima descends into complete paranoia and loses her grip on reality. She begins to have disturbing nightmares of murdering the people involved in her success, and continuously sees one of her fans, who posts on the website as "Me-Mania" wherever she goes. She even begins seeing ghostly visions of herself back as a pop idol. She's breaking down, and the boundaries between what's real and what's not become increasingly blurred.

Right from the start, it's clear that Perfect Blue is going to be something a little different, but it's when Mima begins to break that the film really hits its stride. As Mima becomes more and more paranoid we can see exactly how this affects her, and the music becomes more eerie and we see the visions she sees. Then, as the lines become blurred and she starts to confuse her nightmares with reality, director Satoshi Kon portrays the scenes in such a way that it's not even clear to the viewer what is real and what isn't. Each time Mima suddenly woke up in her bed, I questioned whether the preceding events were real or a nightmare, and in many cases it's still not entirely clear after some thought. It's all just superbly crafted to give a great insight into Mima's feelings and state of mind.

And that is part of the beauty of Perfect Blue. It's a film that becomes quite subjective, and each viewer is encouraged to formulate their own thoughts on what's going on and takes away their own experience from the film. The ending itself is quite conclusive and brings everything together in a nice and quite surprising way, but it's interesting in that it can still be interpreted in several different ways.

The atmosphere throughout the film is perfect. It opens feeling almost cute as the girls are singing, yet there's still a sinister sense looming. As the film continues and Mima's mood begins to change, the atmosphere moves with it and the music and the tone become extremely dark and disturbing. You can really feel the change in Mima as she becomes paranoid and aware of everything around her.

The cast of characters in the film all fit together extremely well. Mima is a great lead; the young pop idol with a dream of becoming an actress, who has trouble realising how hard an industry it is to break into, and can't cope with the craziness of some fans, not knowing how to handle it when they begin to stalk her. Rumi is the nice manager's assistant who is looking out for Mima, yet doesn't like it when she leaves her idol roots for new pastures, while the manager himself is your typical pop manager type who disguises his attempts to further himself by trying to help Mima herself. Me-Mania looks extremely odd and stands out in every scene, looking like a complete weirdo and indeed being the obvious target for everyone's suspicions, including Mima's.

The animation throughout the film is very good, and as mentioned Satoshi Kon's directorial style really helps bring the film to life and makes it stand out, drawing you in to Mima's world and her current state of mind. The music is also superb throughout, adding to the atmosphere and changing suitably as events unfold.

The disc itself is nicely presented, and while the video quality could be slightly better (and how I would love to see a remastered anamorphic release), it is packed with some good extras for fans of both the Japanese and English versions, and altogether it's quite a well-rounded disc.

In Summary:
While on the surface Perfect Blue looks a little like your standard psychological thriller with some neat plot twists and a bit of mystery thrown in, it turns out to be one of the finest anime movies I've ever seen, and one that will no doubt be fondly remembered as a classic. It delves deep into its subject matter and takes a close look at Japanese idol culture and the effects it has on individuals. Seeing how Mima lives and how she's viewed by both the public and the industry really gives a unique insight that is quite surreal and often disturbing.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this film to any anime fan, and anyone else looking for something a bit different. It doesn't hold back in its portrayal of sexuality and violence, but it's never gratuitous, and shows the disturbing reality (or not) of the events that unfold. Perfect Blue is a movie that's sure to leave an impression on anyone that watches it.

Japanese Language (5.1),English Language (5.1 and 2.0),English Subtitles,Interview with Director Satoshi Kon,Voice Actor Interviews,Original Theatrical Trailer,Musical Photo Gallery,Behind the scenes Performances

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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