What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this animated thriller may look like a Sailor Moon episode, but it has serious violence and death, with the recurring images of stabbing-victims with their eyes gouged out. The girlish heroine strips down to panties for a sexy photo shoot and is also semi-topless during a maniac attack. Swearing (in the English-dubbed version) includes the F-word but isn't constant.
What's the story?
In a plot-twisting chiller no less grisly for being rendered as a Japanese cartoon, winsome young singer-dancer Mima leaves the bouncy band Cham to strike out on her own as an actress. This career switch displeases some of Tokyo's more Mima-crazed fans. Mima's manager shows her a new thing called the World Wide Web (Mima's total Internet cluelessness is pretty funny; remember the movie is from the mid-1990s), with an instant homepage for Mima's blog entries. While Mima struggles through her first film role, a thankless bit in a cop thriller, she starts receiving dangerous threats, and entries on the blog site turn extremely personal and uncomfortable -- and Mima can't remember writing them. People get murdered around her, and bewildered Mima wonders if she is really herself at all, or her character in the movie, or an abandoned career path, in danger of termination.
Is it any good?
PERFECT BLUE is one of the better-known (in the West) adult Japanese animated features. Don't be fooled by the stylistic resemblance to Laputa or Steamboy; this is altogether nastier stuff, no talking-animal sidekicks, no cute robots -- although the filmmakers slyly use the brightly colored "shojo" cartoon imagery and "J-pop" tunes in a few masterfully weird suspense scenes, such as when Mima is threatened by a hallucinatory (?) alternative version of herself as a prancing, fairylike sprite.
The tricky plot challenges viewers to think what is real and what is imaginary or artifice, rather like A Nightmare on Elm Street, though not all of the storyline seems entirely explicable by the conclusion. It's not unlike many "slasher"-type movies done in Italy in the 1960s and '70s, now with cult followings, that prioritized delirious cinematography, gore, girls, and surreal atmosphere (and badly dubbed dialogue) ahead of logic. Those weren't for kids, and, though it goes lighter on the sex/drugs, neither is this.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the twists in the storyline. Did you see the surprises coming?
Does Mima remind you of any real-life troubled pop-starlets/actresses in the headlines?
Do you think this is more effective as a cartoon than it would have been in live-action?