Perfect Blue (1997)

In her article Excuse Me, Who Are You?’: Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Kon Satoshi,” Professor Susan Napier says that Perfect Blue “…announces its preoccupation with perception, identity, voyeurism, and performance – especially in relation to the female – right from its opening sequence. The perception of reality cannot be trusted, with the visual set up only to not be reality, especially as the psychodrama heights towards the climax.”

In effect, this Japanese animated film is a giallo, despite coming twenty years after that genre had its best efforts and being made 6,000 miles away.

Mima Kirigoe has left the J-pop group CHAM! to become an actress on a detective show called Double Bind. Many of her fans are upset that she’s left behind the innocent character that she had portrayed for a more adult role and some of her fanbase are not the young girls who traditionally love this style of music; Mima’s fans are dangerous stalkers that send mail bombs and create websites that don’t just describe her daily life but somehow her thoughts in way too knowing detail.

As Mima’s part in the show grows — including a graphic scene of assault that will destroy her clean image forever — she becomes increasingly disconnected from reality, obsessed with the website of her life and even seeing her past self.

And then everyone close to her starts dying and the evidence points to Mima.

Through it all, our heroine finishes the show and learns that her character has killed and assumed the identity of her beloved sister because of dissociative identity disorder. As the crew leaves, one of her stalks attempts to make the assault scene real under orders from the real Mima.

So who is the real Mima? Does innocence have to be lost for us to move beyond our past? And how many times did Darren Aronofsky watch this? Not only did he take a scene directly out of it for Requiem for a Dream, he had to admit that there are similarities in his movie Black Swan.

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