Review

Perfect Blue

Synopsis:
Perfect Blue
Mima is a pop-star in a girly trio known as "Cham". (Think "Bananarama.") While not that popular (they've never broken the top 100 chart), they have a very devoted fan following. When Mima announces her retirement from Cham in order to pursue an acting career at the reccomendation of one of her managers. (The other, a former idol herself, is quite against it.) While the "normal" otaku all gather around to discuss this (and sell Cham fanzines), one especially (ahem) devoted fan is not at all happy about this. He seems to be popping up everywhere, and Mima is wondering who this guy is.

...But that's the least of her problems. She's gotten threatening letters, an obscene phone call, and discovers a fan web site, "Mima's Room", has a daily journal that knows WAAAY too much about her. "Who are you?" she wonders to herself.

Ironcially, that's her one and only line in a direct-to-video movie series she's starring in, "Double Bind". She repeats it over and over to herself, and events in real life start having an errie similarity to her screen-life. As her roles get more and more seedy (in one, she plays a stripper who is graphically raped by her audience), more and more bad things start happening. People close to her start dying. Is she killing them? Is she the stalker or the stalked?
Review:
Anime fans everywhere have been looking forward to this, one of four anime theatrical releases originally planned for this year, and one of only two to materialize. Was the wait worth it? You bet. Even with an English audio track that could use some improvement, that can't stop this fantastic suspense film.

According to an interview, director Satoshi Kon had some funding problems with this project, which was originally supposed to be an OAV series. Hence, some scenes (especially earlier ones) don't hold up well on the big screen. (There's some sprite shifting, and most pen lines are visible.) However, once the story gets rolling, all of that is quickly forgotten, and later scenes are so smoothly animated that fans thought that it was computer-rotoscoped. (In reality, computers were only used three times, for special effects.) Perfect Blue rips through its story at a breakneck pace, and the result is one of the most psychotic pieces of film making ever made. It's disturbing... It's freaky... It's a little bit confusing at first... It's not perfect, but certainly worth watching. The dubbed version was a little bit of a disappointment, however. As required by the plot, the music is dubbed, and despite what some fans felt, it was actually quite faithful to the original Japanese songs both in style and lyrics. That wasn't the problem... Some of the dialogue comes off as a bit corny, and the acting doesn't help matters much. (Some parts that were intended to provoke a chuckle have lost their charm, while others inspire unintentional laughs.) The otaku still use the "-rin" suffix to address Mima, which is sort of like a little girl version of "-chan". Of course, this isn't explained, so no one in the audience knew what that meant (It's translated by Rika Takahashi, whom I've blamed for similar problems in Clamp School Detectives). English on-screen titles also appear a few seconds early, which effectively kills the suspense a few times.

Manga Video has done with the theatrical release exactly what was done in Japan -- produced it in mono, while releasing a complete Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on home video. I have no idea why this was done, but it does cheapen the experience a bit. Little directorial touches to the audio track are missing too, like the boom box in the elevator doesn't overdrive at all. (Maybe the AC-3 version will sound better?) An alternate ending was also produced and was released on the Japanese DVD, and one certainly hopes Manga Video follows through with this as well.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : B+

+ One of the best thrillers in recent memory -- from any country!
Animation does not hold up well on big screen. Marginal dub.

Director:Satoshi Kon
Script:Sadayuki Murai
Unit Director:Kou Matsuo
Music:Masahiro Ikumi
Character Design:
Hideki Hamasu
Satoshi Kon
Art Director:Nobutaka Ike
Animation Director:Hideki Hamasu
Original Novel:Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Sound Director:Masafumi Mima
Director of Photography:Hisao Shirai
Executive producer:
Koshiro Kanda
Yuichi Tsurumi
Producer:
Hiroaki Inoue
Masao Maruyama
Takeshi Washitani

Full encyclopedia details about
Perfect Blue (movie)

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