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IN SHORT: Seriously inappropriate for anyone under 17. Period. No discussion necessary. [Not Rated]
That summary line is from the publicist. Cranky endorses it heavy-handedly. Long time readers know of my love for animation and my admitted lack of education about Japanese anime. There are three types of anime; without embarrassing myself by using a language I don't understand they break down to "standard" animation, cute-stuff for kidlets a la Sailor Moon or Pokémon, and absolutely hardcore adults only material.
Perfect Blue is absolutely hardcore. I'll be blunt to scare the parental units first, then we'll get into the bones of the story. Fundamentalists will consider Perfect Blue to be pornographic, as its main character moves from a pop-star music world to a soap opera career in which photographers get her to pose nude for publicity shots. By the end of the film she will be attacked and raped and confined to a mental institution. Or maybe not, as this tale of schizophrenia, stalkers and image sublimation tears into your cortex.
Understand the difference in culture demonstrated here. In Japan, hard core pornography in comics is considered normal. Phonebook sized XXX comics are read by the suits on their way to work on the train. It's a different world from where we come from. More disturbing, to these eyes at least, is the graphic violence depicted in Perfect Blue. Ice picks into the eyes, a couple of bloody murders and the aforementioned rape. If this film were rated, it would carry an NC-17, no question about it. Parents, and the rest of us grownups, have been warned. This is absolutely not for children. It's not for most American adults, either.
The story: Mima Kirigoe has had a good career as part of a PopMusic girl group called Cham. Think Spice Girls at the bitter end and you've locked in to Mima's position. Prodded to leave music behind for a career as an actress, she bows off the mainstage leaving shocked fans behind, including a gray haired, pale thin geeky looking stalker type. Needing to lose the squeaky clean image, Mima is convinced to take a role which will require her to be "raped" and whose publicity shoot turns into a soft core bonanza. The Cham fans aren't happy, and Mima's advisors and scriptwriters start getting killed in gruesome ways. It may be the stalker, who is maintaining a detailed daily website which purports to be from Mima herself or it may be a schizophrenic Mima, whose split personality is asserting itself in an attempt to set right what has gone wrong. As a straight psychological drama, there's a good nut of story here.
Cranky couldn't lose himself in the story because the quality of animation varies wildly. The changes aren't indicative of Mima's mental state, or of anything symbolic that I could figure out. Then there's the violence, which is nauseating, disturbing, creepy -- you add the synonyms. Cranky was gasping for air and reeling from the very unpleasantness of this story.
You know how I've been describing the thought of an animated flick for grownups? This ain't it. The thing is, this story could do gangbuster biz as a live action flick, it's certainly deep enough and has enough twists and turns. We accept the violence in "live" movies because, at a most basic level, we know it's all fake. Graphic cartoon violence is way beyond our parameters. Perhaps we've been mind-wiped by Disney, but watching this kind of violence in cartoon format is truly stomach turning.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Perfect Blue, he would have paid...
Which is mid-week rental level Perfect Blue is reco'd only if you're a die hard anime fan or curious and self-confident as all get out (as in "no cartoon is gonna make me sick...")
Give it five years and you'll probably see a live action remake.
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