Perfect Blue: A Nightmarish Thriller

Former J-Pop Idol, Mima struggles to escape her past image.

For its 20th anniversary, superb animator Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue is getting a nationwide theatre release. Luckily for fans of Kon’s chilling psychological thriller, the Coral Gables Art Cinema will be hosting a screening of the film as part of their After Hours program this Saturday, October 6th, at 11:30pm. Kon’s directorial debut showcases his skillful animation style and penchant for stories with dreamlike qualities, and in Perfect Blue’s case, we get a nightmarish glimpse into a woman stripped of her personhood.

At the center of Perfect Blue is Mima Kirigoe, the former lead singer of faux J-Pop idol group “CHAM!”. After leaving the group, and her pop star image, in hopes of becoming a serious actor she gets her first job on a crime drama “Double Bind”. Mima’s new image and career choice are met with aversion by everyone: from her talent agents to her own mother, but none as unsettling as the opposition she receives from a stalker who runs a creepy fan website titled “Mima’s Room”.

Mima’s stalker posting to “Mima’s Room”.

Perfect Blue erases the boundaries between the fictional and reality as the film progresses. This ambiguity about what is “real” and what’s not is seen in Kon’s later works up to his final film in 2006, Paprika. The audience is pushed to experience Mima’s distress as she is forced to navigate public perception, her own desires, and the threat of violence that follows her everywhere.

Perfect Blue established Kon as one of the world’s leading animators and helped create a shift in the way anime would be perceived. Some of the world’s biggest live action directors even took note. Christopher Nolan has said that Kon’s work inspired him, especially in the making of his 2010 film Inception. Darren Aronofsky, who was in talks with Kon to adapt Perfect Blue into a live action film, before Kon’s passing to pancreatic cancer, shows the strong influence of Perfect Blue in several scenes of his film Black Swan (2010).

Perfect Blue’s legacy is no secret to fans of anime, as they will definitely enjoy seeing the fast-paced thriller on the big screen, but the film is also an extraordinary introduction to those not familiar with the popular style of Japanese animation.


 Jose Ramirez is an English major minoring in Psychology and working towards a Film Studies Certificate.