Perfect Blue / Pâfekuto burû
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Following a performance with her pop idol band CHAM!, front woman Mima announces that she is leaving the trio to concentrate on more serious work as an actress. The news is met with dismay by her many followers, and in particular by the sinister obsessive ‘Mi-Mania’, who resents the loss of his clean-cut idol. Supported by her manager Rumi – herself a former pop idol – and her agent Tadkoro, Mima kicks off her new career with a small part in a tv crime drama, but is upset to find this involves a traumatising rape scene. She has also discovered a spurious fan blog, ‘Mima’s Room’, containing disturbing posts – purportedly uploaded by Mima herself – which reveal intimate details of her life. Her sense of paranoia increases as her fear of stalkers grows, and when she starts to experience teasing manifestations of her pop idol persona, claiming to be the ‘real Mima’, her grasp on reality starts to crumble, leading her to suspect that she is the one responsible for a series of gruesome murders. And all the while ‘Mi-Mania’ is watching, apparently waiting for his moment.
The first of Satoshi Kon’s four anime features (he was working on a fifth at the time of his early death, at age 46, in 2010), all of which to a greater or lesser extent examine the erasure of the borderline between reality and fantasy, Perfect Blue had a rocky genesis before its widespread recognition as a ground-breaking masterpiece emerged. Never intended for cinema release, the film’s reception at Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival in 1997 (it won Best International Film) spurred numerous international festival screenings and led eventually to its domestic and overseas success. The intense psychological drama was considered outré for a mainstream anime release, but demonstrated that the genre could effectively tackle darker subject matter. The film also caught the moment when the concerns about the effects of emerging social media were first being voiced, and coincided with a rise in Japan of the ‘otaku’ (obsessive fan), with that phenomenon’s role in disintegrating mental health and stalking. Almost 25 years after its release Perfect Blue seems uncannily prescient of 2021’s mistrust of social media, and stands as a bold and visually arresting example of animated film.
”…Perfect Blue is a delirious, culturally astute invention” - Jonathan Romney, Sight & Sound.
”…haunting meditation on identity, femininity, and fame.” - Matt Brunson, Film Frenzy.
“Perfect Blue manages, through animation, to take the thriller, media fascination, psychological insight and pop culture and stand them all on their heads.” - Bob Graham, The San Francisco Chronicle.
Screening as part of Japan 2021: 100 years of Japanese Cinema, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. bfijapan.co.uk
Ruby Marlowe (English voice actor), Wendee Lee (English voice actor), Bob Marx (English voice actor), Sparky Thornton (English voice actor)
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