Satoshi Kon Movie Review Part 1: Perfect Blue

(Left to Right): Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Paprika

My love for Satoshi Kon and his movies knows no bounds. His works just confirm the status of anime as an art form that even rivals live-action cinema. Satoshi Kon was probably one of the biggest and greatest anime directors of the new generation, with these modern animation classics (refer to above image) to his name. Not the ‘was‘… Yes, sadly though he died last 2010 with his battle for liver cancer before he was able to complete his latest animation film Dreaming Machine.

This set of movie reviews had to be done. After all his works reached out far beyond the community if anime fans to a broader film community and has been internationally recognized. For a greater appreciation of Satoshi Kon and what his work is all about, I suggest you watch one of his films and I’m just a fan sharing to the interwebs my love for his animated films starting with his directorial debut Perfect Blue.

Note: I’ve yet to revisit Tokyo Godfathers and will soon review it after finishing my review of Paprika.


Perfect Blue (1997) was Satoshi Kon’s first masterpiece: a full-length animated pyscho-suspense thriller that became one of the most memorable animated films of it’s time. I’m sure the audiences during this time were caught off guard by how surprisingly visceral and strikingly cinematic this tale of nightmarish paranoia and suspense was, considering that it was in an anime format– a medium, then, that was overlooked by many. I was certainly surprised by this one; turned out to be a definite keeper in my favorite movies list.

Adapted from the debut novel of the same name by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, Perfect Blue tells the tale of a young pop idol Mima Kirigoe, who’s low ranks in the Japanese idol and entertainment industry causes her to struggle in her career. In order to move on and try something different, she quits her pop group CHAM to venture into acting. After being given a small part in a serial killer TV drama, Mima faces mostly negative reactions from her upset fans saying she turned away from her. Mima soon struggles in coming to terms with the demands of her new career once her role becomes less “clean” as her previous image as a pop idol. Many are unhappy with the situation, notably Rumi her agent and Mr.Me-Mania of one of her obsessive fans.

Things eventually go out of control once Mima begins receiving anonymous faxes labelling her “traitor” and when a website claiming to be written by Mima resurfaces with the contents revealing her inner most feelings and dissatisfactions with her career. Mima’s paranoia increases futher when people around her begin to be attacked or killed, which leaves her further in a claustrophobic state, struggling whether if these are all just in her head, been written in the drama role she’s playing or if this is reality itself.

R’s Thoughts: First time I watched this was back in highschool and I’m just glad to revisit this film again just late last year and I still love it! The whole atmosphere of the film remained disorienting for me, like how psycho-suspense thrillers should really be, without the expense of the excellent narrative that rattled me throughout. I think the anime format of Perfect Blue was indeed… perfect for it, since it gave the story more freedom in emphasizing the visual surrealistic yet nightmarish paranoia of Mima adding more to the degree of suspense the audience might have. The story behind Perfect Blue is simple enough but it’s how it plays out on-screen that makes it exciting. This is true especially when we see how the harrowing emotional struggle of Mima to pursue her idea of ‘perfection’ and to determine the truth descends to the point of incoherence.

The animation style is pretty simple and fluid, close to realistic which is way different from the distinct moe style that’s been so popular these days and this won’t give you problems in identifying with Perfect Blue‘s film noir feel. Not exactly how Disney dreams are made of but this is exactly just what I love about Japanese anime films.

Darren Aronofsky even watched Perfect Blue. Aronofsky never hid the fact that he’s a big fan of Perfect Blue and that Shinya Tsukamoto and Satoshi Kon are a big influence on him as a filmmaker and his visual style. It may be that he couldn’t be thinking about Perfect Blue when he thought of Black Swan. Although it’s underniable that some of Kon’s visual did emerge in in Aronofsky’s work and I think that’s just what happens when you are influenced by a particular artist you admire.

On a final note, watch it. I loved it immensely although I’m not saying you’re going to love it as much as I did but it will definitely let you see a whole different view about how anime is.



Filed under Anime

3 responses to “Satoshi Kon Movie Review Part 1: Perfect Blue

  1. Pingback: Satoshi Kon Movie Review Part 2: Millenium Actress | arisfael

  2. Pingback: Satoshi Kon Movie Review Part 3: Paprika | arisfael

  3. NyNy

    Good review! The film is definitely a real eye opener into an idol switching careers in the entertainment industry and how some people can’t tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

    Would you also mind reading my take on the film and commenting? There are some things I am confused about and need answers too!

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