Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"No, I'm the real thing."

Perfect Blue is an important movie to me. I love some psychological horror and some slasher vibes, but beyond that, it's a movie I deeply identify with emotionally. It also has some very effective visually phrased criticism of men viewing women in a sexual lens, and exploration of the line where fandom turns to a sense of entitlement.

Undeniably influential, it’s pretty easy to see why some of Perfect Blue’s most memorable moments and images have been and continue to be drawn upon in many other films, with varying results: it's a very powerful experience to watch this movie. And the animation... the care with which the hand drawn animation was rendered is so palpable: as the girl group CHAM, clad in frilly confections, sing and dance their song “Angel of Love” (which is unequivocally a bop), there are small moments where the girls are dancing just slightly, realistically, out of time with each other. This was a choice and I love it !

Something that especially struck me on this watch is how much Mima’s transformation from pop idol to serious actress, a proverbial child-to-adult journey, is tinted with rage. Rage is not an emotion that the carefully constructed, sweetened Mima of CHAM is allowed. In her transformation Mima is finally able to feel this rage, especially at the ways in which she is exploited sexually. We watch her break down in wounded fury after being pressured into filming a traumatizing rape scene (an EXTREMELY disturbing sequence that is no less gutting on a rewatch), and have a dream where she shoves a screwdriver in the eye of a photographer who manipulates her into posing nude.

Mima is losing grip, illustrated beautifully through the disorienting yet never frustrating way her descent plays out. Mima’s confusion is communicated and deeply felt. Like her, we are growing unable to separate her reality from dreams from delusion from film. Paranoia engulfs her, completely understandably considering she has someone who seems to know everything about her blogging on her behalf, a stalker sending her letter bombs and multiple people around her getting brutally murdered.

In the film’s third act, Mima acts as final girl three times over: once with her stalker, who has decided to express his parasocial “protection” of Mima by cornering her with a knife and attempting to rape and murder her in a visual echo of her filmed rape scene; once with the flawless, girly, and cruelly judgmental delusion of herself as a member of CHAM that seems to haunt her; and once with Rumi, her assistant whom has come to believe SHE is the real Mima (one aspect of Mima’s emotional life I can’t really relate to).

What always felt so emotionally true and deeply resonated with me is specifically the scenes where Mima runs from herself — and is in turn, chasing herself down. “Maybe she is more like me than myself, my other self that I buried deep inside my heart.” Mima muses one moment. Part of me has come to believe that feeling two seemingly opposing parts of yourself and trying to figure out which one is actually you, is part of what it means to be a person, the constant process of growth and discovery. This growth can feel like you are constantly running from and chasing yourself. You are, of course, both of these warring selves. Aren’t we all the final girl in our own ways.