Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySatoshi Kon
Produced by
  • Hitomi Nakagaki
  • Yoshihisa Ishihara
  • Yutaka Tōgō
  • Masao Maruyama
  • Hiroaki Inoue
Screenplay bySadayuki Murai
Based onPerfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis
by Yoshikazu Takeuchi
Music byMasahiro Ikumi
CinematographyHisao Shirai
Edited byHarutoshi Ogata
Distributed byRex Entertainment
Release date
  • August 5, 1997 (1997-08-05) (Fantasia Festival)
  • February 28, 1998 (1998-02-28) (Japan)
Running time
81 minutes
Budget¥90 million[1] ($6,875,200)[2]
Box office$768,050 (US & UK only)[3]

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブルー, Pāfekuto Burū) is a 1997 Japanese animated psychological thriller film[4][5] directed by Satoshi Kon[6] and written by Sadayuki Murai. It is based on the novel Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis (パーフェクト・ブルー 完全変態, Pāfekuto Burū: Kanzen Hentai) by Yoshikazu Takeuchi. The film stars the voices of Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shiho Niiyama, Masaaki Okura, Shinpachi Tsuji and Emiko Furukawa.

The film follows Mima Kirigoe, a member of a Japanese idol group, who retires from music to pursue an acting career. As she becomes a victim of stalking, gruesome murders begin to occur, and Mima herself starts to lose her grip on reality. Like much of Kon's later work, such as Paprika, the film deals with the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality in contemporary Japan.[7]


Mima Kirigoe, a pop-idol from the J-pop group "CHAM!", decides to leave the group to become an actress. Her first project is a direct-to-video drama series called "Double Bind". Some of her fans are upset by her change in career and persona, not least the stalker known as "Me-Mania" a frightening looking man whose real name is revealed to be Uchida. Shortly after leaving CHAM!, Mima receives an anonymous fax calling her a traitor. Mima finds a website called "Mima's Room" that has public diary entries which seem to be written by her discussing her life in great detail. She confides in her manager Rumi Hidaka about the site. However, she is advised to just ignore it.

Meanwhile, on the set of Double Bind, Mima succeeds in getting a larger part. The producers have agreed to give her a leading role. However, it is as a rape victim in a strip club. Rumi warns that it will ruin Mima's reputation, but Mima accepts the part voluntarily. Though it is apparent that Mima is indecisive, the atmosphere of the scene traumatizes her so that she increasingly becomes unable to separate reality from fantasy. She can no longer distinguish real life from her work in show business.

Several people who had been involved in the so-called "tarnishing" of Mima's reputation are murdered. She finds evidence which makes her appear to be the prime suspect, and her increasing mental instability makes her doubt her own innocence. It turns out that the diarist of "Mima's Room" is delusional and very manipulative, and that an intense folie à deux has been in play. The faux diarist and serial killer, who believes herself to be a Mima who is forever young and graceful, has made a scapegoat of stalker Me-Mania.

Mima kills Me-Mania with a hammer in self-defense when he attempts to rape her, and runs to her only support she has left alive, her manager Rumi. When Mima encounters Rumi, however, her manager is wearing a replica of Mima's CHAM! costume and crazily singing Mima's pop songs. Rumi is in fact the false diarist, who believes she is the "real Mima". Rumi is angry that Mima has been ruining the "real Mima's" reputation, and decides to save "Mima's" pristine pop idol image through the same means she has been using all along: murder. Mima manages to incapacitate Rumi in self-defense after a chase through the city despite being wounded herself. Rumi remains permanently delusional and institutionalized. Mima has grown from her experiences and has moved on with her life with new found independence and confidence.

Voice cast[edit]

Character Japanese English[8]
Mima Kirigoe (霧越 未麻, Kirigoe Mima) Junko Iwao Ruby Marlowe[9]
Rumi (ルミ) Rica Matsumoto Wendee Lee[10]
Tadokoro (田所) Shinpachi Tsuji Gil Starberry
Mamoru Uchida (Me-Mania) (内田 守, Uchida Mamoru) Masaaki Ōkura Bob Marx[11]
Tejima (手嶋) Yōsuke Akimoto Steve Bulen
Takao Shibuya (渋谷 貴雄, Shibuya Takao) Yoku Shioya Jimmy Theodore
Sakuragi (桜木) Hideyuki Hori Sparky Thornton[12]
Eri Ochiai (落合 恵理, Ochiai Eri) Emi Shinohara Lia Sargent
Murano (村野) Masashi Ebara Jamieson Price
Director (監督, Kantoku) Kiyoyuki Yanada Richard Plantagenet
Yada (矢田) Tōru Furusawa
Yukiko (雪子) Emiko Furukawa Bambi Darro
Rei (レイ) Shiho Niiyama Melissa Williamson
Tadashi Doi (土居 正, Doi Tadashi) Akio Suyama
Cham Manager Dylan Tully

The following actors in the English adaptation are listed in the credits without specification to their respective roles: James Lyon, Frank Buck, David Lucas, Elliot Reynolds, Kermit Beachwood, Sam Strong, Carol Stanzione, Ty Webb, Billy Regan, Dari Mackenzie, George C. Cole, Syd Fontana, Sven Nosgard, Bob Marx, Devon Michaels, Robert Wicks and Mattie Rando.[13]


Originally, the film was supposed to be a live action direct to video series, but after the Kobe earthquake of 1995 damaged the production studio, the budget for the film was reduced to an original video animation. Katsuhiro Otomo was credited as "Special Supervisor" to help the film sell abroad, and as a result, the film was screened in many film festivals around the world. While touring the world it received a fair amount of acclaim, jump-starting Kon's career as a filmmaker.[14]

Kon and Murai did not think that the original novel would make a good film and asked if they could change the contents. This change was approved so long as they kept a few of the original concepts from the novel. A live-action film adaptation of the novel, Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete, was later made and released in 2002, and follows the novel more closely than Kon's adaptation.[citation needed] This version was directed by Toshiki Satō from a screenplay by Shinji Imaoka and Masahiro Kobayashi.[15]

Themes and analysis[edit]

Susan Napier uses her experience to analyze the film, stating 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."[14] Napier also sees themes related to pop idols and their performances as impacting the gaze and the issue of their roles. Mima's madness results from her own subjectivity and attacks on her identity. The ties to Alfred Hitchcock's work is broken with the murder of her male controllers.[14] Otaku described the film as "critique of the consumer society of contemporary Japan."[14][Note 1]


Perfect Blue premiered on August 5, 1997 at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Canada[16] and had its general release in Japan on February 28, 1998.[17]

The film was also released on UMD by Anchor Bay Entertainment on December 6, 2005.[18] It featured the film in widescreen, leaving the film kept within black bars on the PSP's 16:9 screen. This release also contains no special features and only the English audio track. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in Region B by Anime Limited in 2013.[19][20]

In the U.S., Perfect Blue aired on the Encore cable television network and was featured by the Sci Fi Channel on December 10, 2007 as part of its Ani-Monday block. In Australia, Perfect Blue aired on the SBS Television Network on April 12, 2008 and previously sometime in mid 2007 in a similar timeslot.

The film had a theatrical re-release in the United States by GKIDS on September 6 and 10, 2018, with both English dubbed and subtitled screenings.[21] GKIDS and Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray Disc in North America on March 26, 2019.[22]


The film was well received critically in the festival circuit, winning awards at the 1997 Fantasia Festival in Montréal, and Fantasporto Film Festival in Portugal.

Critical response in the United States upon its theatrical release was also positive.[23] The film holds a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus stating, "Perfect Blue is overstylized, but its core mystery is always compelling, as are the visual theatrics."[24] Time included the film on its Top 5 Anime film list,[25] and Terry Gilliam, of whom Kon was a fan[26] included it in his list of the Top 50 animated films.[27] Total Film ranked Perfect Blue twenty-fifth on their list of greatest animated films,[28] and /Film named it the scariest animated film ever.[29] It also made the list for Entertainment Weekly's best movies never seen from 1991–2011.[30]

Dennis Harvey of Variety wrote that while the film "ultimately disappoints with its just-middling tension and underdeveloped scenario, it still holds attention by trying something different for the genre".[4] Hoai-Tran Bui of /Film called Perfect Blue "deeply violent, both physically and emotionally", writing that "This is a film that will leave you with profound psychological scars, and the feeling that you want to take a long, long shower".[29] Tim Henderson from Anime News Network, described the movie as "a dark, sophisticated psychological thriller" with its effect of "over-obsession funneled through early Internet culture" and produces a "reminder of how much celebrity fandom has evolved in only a decade". [31]


Madonna incorporated clips from the film into a remix of her song "What It Feels Like for a Girl" as a video interlude during her Drowned World Tour in 2001.[32][33]

American filmmaker Darren Aronofsky acknowledged the similarities in his 2010 film Black Swan, but denied that Black Swan was inspired by Perfect Blue; his previous film Requiem for a Dream features a remake of a scene from Perfect Blue.[34][35] A re-issued blog entry mentioned Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream as being among Kon's list of films he viewed for 2010.[36] In addition, Kon blogged about his meeting with Aronofsky in 2001.[37]

Other media[edit]

Seven Seas Entertainment has licensed the English-language publication rights for the original Perfect Blue stories Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis and Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream for release in 2017 and 2018, respectively.[38]


  1. ^ Reference to the quote is provided by Napier as: Jay, "Satoshi Kon", Otaku (May/June 2003):22


  1. ^ "パーフェクトブルー戦記1 発端". Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1998. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Pâfekuto burû (1999) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Dennis Harvey (October 31, 1999). "Film Review: "Perfect Blue"". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Paul Chapman (August 9, 2018). "Satoshi Kon's Psychological Thriller "Perfect Blue" Heads to U.S. Theaters". Crunchyroll. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Crow, Jonathan. "Perfect Blue". AllMovie. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  7. ^ "Satoshi Kon, Anime's Dream Weaver". Washington Post. June 15, 2007.
  8. ^ Patten, Fred (2005). Beck, Jerry (ed.). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 190. ISBN 9781569762226.
  9. ^ Interview with English Mima (DVD). Manga Entertainment. 2000.
  10. ^ Interview with English Rumi (DVD). Manga Entertainment. 2000.
  11. ^ Interview with Mr. Me-Mania (DVD). Manga Entertainment. 2000.
  12. ^ "Original Animation". Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  13. ^ A Perfect Blue Day (DVD). Manga Entertainment. 2000. – closing credits
  14. ^ a b c d Napier, Susan J. (2006). "'Excuse Me, Who Are You?': Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Kon Satoshi". In Brown, Steven T. (ed.). Cinema Anime: Critical Engagements with Japanese Animation. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-8308-4.
  15. ^ "夢なら醒めて…". Japanese Cinema Database. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
  16. ^ "Perfect Blue" (PDF). Fantasia Film Festival. p. 64. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  17. ^ Kon, Satoshi (August 5, 2015). Art of Satoshi Kon. Dark Horse Comics. p. 124.
  18. ^ "PSP Perfect Blue". Archived from the original on January 25, 2006. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  19. ^ Josh Hurtado (March 2, 2014). "Now on Blu-ray: PERFECT BLUE Gets Some Much Needed Attention From Anime Ltd. (UK)". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  20. ^ Phelim O'Neill (November 23, 2013). "Perfect Blue, out this week on DVD & Blu-ray". The Guardian. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  21. ^ Alex Mateo (August 3, 2018). "Fandango Lists Fathom Events Screenings of Perfect Blue in U.S." Anime News Network. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  22. ^ "Perfect Blue Blu-ray". Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  23. ^ "Perfect Blue". Animerica. April 7, 2000. Archived from the original on June 13, 2004.
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ "5 Top Anime Movies on DVD". New York Times. July 31, 2005.
  26. ^ "Interview 03". Archived from the original on October 15, 2007.
  27. ^ "Time Out's 50 Greatest Animated Films – Part 3 with Time Out Film - Time Out London". Archived from the original on October 8, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  28. ^ Kinnear, Simon. "50 Greatest Animated Movies". Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  29. ^ a b Hoai-Tran Bui (October 26, 2018). "Ranking The 13 Scariest Animated Movies Ever". /Film. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "50 Best Movies You've Never Seen". Entertainment Weekly's. July 16, 2012. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  31. ^ Tim Henderson, Perfect Blue Review, August 12, 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  32. ^ Clements & McCarthy 2012 – entry: Urotsukidoji
  33. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (September 10, 2001). "Madonna: Drowned World Tour Review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2015. Though her Cowgirl image is easily her least significant incarnation to date, Drowned World proves that Madonna is still unmatched in her ability to lift cultural iconography into the mainstream. The Geisha cycle is epilogued with hard techno beats and violent imagery taken from the groundbreaking Japanese anime film, Perfect Blue. The story's main character, Mima, a former pop star haunted by ghosts from her past, dreams of becoming an actress but resorts to porn gigs in her search for success.
  34. ^ "The cult Japanese filmmaker that inspired Darren Aronofsky". Dazed. August 27, 2015.
  35. ^ "KON'S TONE » VSダーレン". January 23, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  36. ^ 2011/06/22 水曜日 - 高橋かしこ (June 22, 2011). "コンズ便り »コンズ便り» ブログアーカイブ » 雑食日誌2000 - KON'S TONE". Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  37. ^ "VS Dahlen". January 23, 2001. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  38. ^ "Seven Seas Licenses Yoshikazu Takeuchi's Original Perfect Blue Novels". Anime News Network. April 10, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
Book references

External links[edit]