At one point in our cultural history, Satoshi Kon’s PERFECT BLUE was a monumental anime achievement introducing a new level of realism, gore, and nudity. Plus it confronted its audience with the psychological implications of Japanese fan culture.
PERFECT BLUE’s influence is profound. Some say that BLACK SWAN was a shot for shot ripoff…erm…homage to the anime.
What is most interesting to me, at this point, having just re-watched it, isn’t all the ground that has already been covered exploring the various and uncanny ways the film illustrates (see what I did there) the creep factor as fandom becomes murderous psychosis.
Nor am I all that interested in the long visual shadow the film’s design and choreography have cast over other media. Instead, I was appalled at how poorly the movie has aged.
The movie’s quaint relationship with the emerging internet, aside, there are several problematic aspects to the plot. For one, the whole issue of sexuality – as a pop idol, Mima is constantly shown as a personal doll for the creepy Me-Mania. This forced perspective rendering of Mima reduces and negates the (over)-sexualization of the virginal pop idol (to say nothing about the fetishization of the pop outfits). As a pop idol, Mima is real only as sexually inert sex object – a collectible doll- hyper-sexy but ineffectual as a mature sexual partner.
That is why it is horrific when the older, overweight woman attempts to fulfill the pop idol role. Her age and her weight negate her functioning as anyone’s dolly plaything. So once again, the delusions of a fat, embittered, old woman steer the murderous schemes to undermine and strip the younger, more desired woman her emerging successes.
There are other issues with the transition from soft entertainment (immature pop idol) to hard entertainment (serious dramatic “acting”) that is transversed only through exposure (display of nudity) and violence (sexual attack). This metaphor for growing up is ham-fisted and fraught with problems. For instance, the pop idol needs to be punished for abandoning the dolly-verse of her innocence.
Overall, PERFECT BLUE maintains its cache’ but not without complications and potential spots of groaning dismissal.