Fright Fest 2016 Review #8 – Perfect Blue (1997)

perfect-blue
He’s got the moe girl, in his hand…

Subgenre:  Psychological / Anime

Summary:  A pop star’s mental state deteriorates when she transitions to an acting career.

Review:  As a member of the girl group Cham, Mima has a comfortable but boring life.  Tired of performing the same rote songs day in and day out, she decides to leave the trio and try her hand at acting.  But with her new job comes unexpected psychological pressure, both from predatory media figures and a mysterious stalker.  As Mima delves deeper into her role on a hit TV show, she begins to question her decision to leave the group.  Her sanity grows increasingly fragile as she starts to confuse the TV show with reality, and she’s haunted by visions of her pop star incarnation.

Perfect Blue is a bad trip of a movie, and I mean that in the best way possible.  Even before Mima’s mind begins to crumble, the images of the hungry crowds and blinding flashbulbs are enough to overwhelm her completely.  The same is true of the scenes where she’s sexually exploited under the guise of “art.”  Her only allies in the dog-eat-dog world of show business are her two parental agents, but they’re powerless to put a stop to Mima’s loosening grip on reality.

By addressing so many topics at once – celebrity, voyeurism, exploitation, levels of reality, etc. – Perfect Blue sometimes bites off more than it can chew.  For the most part, however, these elements come together in a satisfying and disturbing whole.

The Verdict:  A dark, stylish piece of anime filmmaking, Perfect Blue gets seven-and-a-half strained starlets out of ten.  You’ll never listen to cheesy J-Pop the same way again.

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