The story is basically an observation of how obsessive and extreme people can become when they want to preserve a certain image of a celebrity. It's fairly slow-moving but if it was paced any faster almost all of the atmosphere and build-up would be taken away. It keeps you gripped and constantly wanting to know who this stalker is and what he wants/why he's going to such lengths.
Through a lot of the film I was completely unsure on whether what Mima's seeing is real or if she's hallucinating due to intense paranoia. Metaphors and illusions are used brilliantly and nothing is spoon-fed to you. The whole premise of the film strikes me as a stab at Japanese celebrity culture, and the execution is demented and even disturbing at some points. Mima's acting roles are often used to represent her train of thought and the fact you often view events through her eyes really adds an original touch.
Colours in Perfect Blue are very washed out and dull, which creates an incredibly realistic atmosphere. Because the colours and appearances of things are so ordinary I almost forgot it was animated. There's definitely a sense of realism to the art style. As well as that, the muted colours make for a very dramatic change when something violent happens; blood is much more vibrant in colour compared to everything else so it's a shock to the system.
Animations flow very smoothly and the character designs are pretty good. Some characters look deformed but it's almost like the appearance of each character mimics their mental state. It's a very interesting use of appearance in relation to reality.
I found the opening theme forgettable, but the music in the actual anime is incredibly well thought-out, It fits in with the creepy, surreal feel the whole film has to it. In a couple of violent scenes, music from Mima's band is used. That definitely makes for a disturbing touch.
The voice-acting is very good (subbed) - the characters sound real enough for you to genuinely feel tense when something bad may be about to happen to them. A special mention is definitely deserved for Mima and Rumi's voice actors, and the voice given to Uchida fits him perfectly.
One thing I loved about Perfect Blue was the use of silence. There isn't constant music like there seems to be in a lot of thrillers and horrors. Silence and a lack of music is used for maximum effect and it results in some incredibly creepy and harrowing scenes.
The characters aren't original - there's the pop idol, the protective agent and the crazy stalker... but the way they're used makes their personalities perfect. It would be hard to get quite as striking an effect with different character archetypes.
Mima was quite a well-rounded character in that you see her go from a normal well-adjusted pop idol to a raving, gibbering paranoid wreck, and it's done incredibly convincingly. Rumi again fits into a stereotype but her character is essential to the story.
I personally found Uchida terrifying. His demeanour and general attitude was quite realistic and the way he was drawn, although bordering caricature, somehow made him even scarier. He's every celebrity's worst nightmare.
Perfect Blue is a gripping thriller with a well-rounded and developed cast of characters, very good voice acting and interesting social commentary on celebrity culture. It twists and turns and keeps you guessing, and when you finally reach the end of this disturbing mental rollercoaster chances are you'll be surprised at where you end up. DEFINITELY recommend.
*Boogiepop Phantom (similar moods and art style)
*Death Note (themes of insanity and uncertainty)
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