asian horror

Perfect Blue (1998)


Directed by Satoshi Kon (Paranoia Agent), Perfect Blue is an adequate thriller with some nice suspense and a few good twists to the plot.  If you’re familiar with Kon’s work, you know he tends to delve into the psychological, and Perfect Blue is no different, though I will say it is not his best effort.  While there’s nothing bad about this movie, it is feeling its age somewhat; anime has come a long way in the last sixteen years and films today tend to overshadow some of these earlier attempts, making them seem a bit dull in comparison.

Sweaty’s Stats



Not much, but there are a few good scenes of anime boob.


There is a bit of blood and the rape and murder scenes are pleasantly violent, but this one’s not particularly gory.

Screwball Factor

This movie plays it pretty straight.  It’s a psychological thriller done in a late nineties anime style; dark, serious and straightforward.



Our story revolves around Mima, a pretty, young pop star who seeks to further her career by becoming an actress.  Innocent and naïve, Mima leaves the decision making to her two managers, a man named Tadakoro and a woman named Rumi, though the two appear more parental than managerial at times.  While Tadakoro can’t wait to start whoring Mima out in front of the cameras, Rumi argues that an acting career will “tarnish” Mima’s good-girl pop princess image.


Not exactly something we worry about much here.

Ultimately Rumi gives in and they secure a part for Mima in a movie.  After playing the victim in an exceptionally brutal rape scene, Mima is left shaken and traumatized.  Coupled with the fact that she’s been receiving threatening notes from obsessed fans who are unhappy with her departure from singing, Mima is on her way to a nervous breakdown.  This does not, thankfully, stop her from posing nude in the Japanese equivalent of Playboy.


Obligatory pic to meet my boob quota for the day.

Enter our villain, Mr. Me-Mania.  A fairly stereotypical obsessed-fan stalker/killer, Me-Mania is convinced that Mima’s J-pop persona is the “real” Mima, accusing the actual Mima of being some sort of imposter.  He stalks her, leering creepily at her from the crowds during her on-location shoots.  Now I have a warning here: woe be to those of you who settle on the dubbed* version of this movie, because the English voice actor for Me-Mania is just terrible.  The movie does this great job setting him up as a legitimately intimidating and scary guy, then blows it three-quarters of the way through when he opens his mouth for the first time.


“So what do we have here, a quiet psycho recluse killer? Let’s give ‘em a silly, squeaky voice. Fuck it, it’s a cartoon, right?”

Soon after, Mima discovers this new-fangled thing called the “internet,” in which someone has set up a website dedicated to her, chronicling where she goes, what she eats and even what foot she uses to step off the train in the morning.  Paranoid and afraid, Mima starts going all Jacob’s Ladder on us, hallucinating and struggling with the ability to tell reality from dream.  When people around her start dropping like stabbed flies, Mima worries that she may have more of a role in their deaths that she’d like to admit.  After she’s assaulted by Me-Mania and chased down by her imaginary pop star doppleganger, the real truth behind the murders begins to unravel.


Guess he didn’t see that one coming, eh? Eh?

*(Hold the pitchforks — yes, I know subbed>dubbed and it’s heresy to suggest otherwise, but allow me to offer one rebuttal: with the dubbed version of this film you get to hear the smooth, sexy, Spike Spiegal voice of Steve Blum in several scenes.)


Mmm. “Bang,” indeed.

Final thoughts

While the movie does a good job of keeping you guessing, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the way they decided to wrap things up.  When you do a mindfuck movie a la something like Donnie Darko, you set up the audience to expect the unexpected.  Unfortunately Perfect Blue’s ending just didn’t have the gut punch I was hoping for.  However, I do have a soft spot for nineties anime, and again I applaud the decision to animate what would otherwise be an average thriller.   As I’ve stated before, I’m personally not a huge fan of thrillers in general because I tend to find them a bit too drab against some of the more extreme films I watch for the ‘Hooch here.  Still, I think it’s a decent entry in the genre.  So for fans of soft horror and anime, I say go for it – everyone else, give this one a pass and watch Kon’s fantastic Paranoia Agent series instead.

Score: 7/10, paces well, decent suspense, a little dull overall


IMDB for this one

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2 replies »

  1. I’ve got a complete COWBOY BEBOP & GHOST IN THE SHELL, along with WOLF’S RAIN. Good anime is grand to watch, everything else is rushed bullshit, Asian Hanna/Barbera crap.


    • Yeah, anime in general can be pretty hit or miss, but there’s definitely some great stuff out there. Bebop will always be my favorite I think, and I was a hardcore DBZ fan there during the Toonami run of it, but there’s been some post-80s/90s gems too (I just started on Attack on Titan, which has been really good so far). If you haven’t watched Fullmetal Alchemist I’d say give that one a try; it’s got some some very solid writing and is one of my all-time faves.


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