Disclaimer: There will be spoilers! Also, there will be discussion of sexual assault or sexual violence against women and a lot of emotionally heavy themes talked.
Reader discretion is advised.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Perfect Blue, GKIDS (who have obtained the theatrical rights to the movie, had a two-night showing for this iconic movie. To celebrate the anniversary, PCUers gave their thoughts and feelings on Director Satoshi Kon’s psycho-thriller film.
First Impressions of Perfect Blue
Stacy: Perfect Blue was one of those movies that had me at WTF at the first viewing and captured my heart over time. When I first seen it, I was around about 18 or 19 years old. I stumbled upon it back during that time. The color palette and the story were intriguing to me, but I could tell that I missed…A LOT. It was not until I saw the movie through the eyes of a student studying psychology (at the time) when I started to really pick up on the little nuances that were being presented. I will say, the first time I saw this movie, I had too many questions and just as many possible answers.
Ashley: Oh, this is soooo 90s! Wait…omg, what is happening?! Honestly, I knew it was about a Japanese girl band and a girl going solo, but then it took a very HARD left. In the first few minutes, everything is fine but for me when I saw the creepy security guard I knew it was a done deal. I thought it would literally just end with him, bu there were sooo many layers!
Mima breaking away from “innocent” pop star to edgy and controversial actress
Stacy: Mima’s “story” is the story of quite a few child actors. They want to break away from that “persona” (remember that point, because it is important and I will get back to it later) so they will often do something so off brand that it will either cause controversy or shed that image of what made them a star. It is a right of passage for them. They want to show the world that they are adults. Therefore, one can use this allegory as a way of viewing Mima’s character. Everyone only knows her as this sweet and innocent pop star that wants to sing and dance and make others happy. Some risk had to be taken in order for her to shed that image. Now, I do not condone the way that it occurred in the film but things like this occur quite often, unfortunately, because child stars or stars that have innocent personas often go this route.
Ashley: It reminded me of how Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera back in the day. They all had squeaky clean and innocent Disney images and were adorable girls and boys next door. Then, they went solo and became sex symbols or did really raunchy and scandalous stuff to make sure you knew they weren’t little kids anymore. Mini was no different. She went from adorable and sweet “virgin” to posing nude for a magazine and doing a “sex” scene in a gritty crime drama. But, my only issue was, it didn’t feel like it was so much her wanting to do it, but more so her pushy manager and she just went with the flow until it broke her spirit.
Celebrity/public persona versus non-public persona
Stacy: Speaking of persona versus the person, what people do not understand when it comes to celebrity, we only see the persona, the mask that we wear when we walk out of the house or when we present ourselves on social media. (Yes, social media is your persona.) It is the fashion, the parties and lives that they lead. Their personalities or the non-public persona, is something that may not be seen, ever. We only see glimpses. Unless you know that person on a personal level, which at this point could be subjective, you only see the mask. You will only see what they want you to know.
Ashley: I have a decent amount of respect for those who are in the public eye for any amount of time. You have to put on a face and act how people want you to act. People see what they want to see and pretty much reject whatever else, and it sucks how some have to cater to that. In terms of Perfect Blue, Mima has to be this bubbly, perfect, and pretty person who is always on and happy when she’s out in the world. No matter what she was going through in her personal, she could never lash out or be that b**ch. The girl was getting STALKED and going through trauma, but couldn’t say anything or act out. I couldn’t do that for sure. She was suffering alone and it was brutal to see.
Sense of entitlement fans have over a celebrity figure
Stacy: Humans love misery. That is an observation. It is not fact but just a simple option. Humans also like to live vicariously through others who are living more “exciting” lives than themselves. So, when it comes to celebrities, people think that their lives are fair game aka “the price of fame”. People believe that once you devoted your life to the public, that the public own you. To point, they do. The public contributes to their popularties. Popularity may help to get people noticed for certain roles.
In this case, J-pop idols are the property of the public. Everything in their lives are controlled so that the public will admire them until their popularity wains or that they age out. Many fanatics will look at the group/celebrity and believe that they “made them”; therefore, everything belongs to them including their personal lives. It is this type of thinking that often would have celebrities have stalkers.
Ashley: Ugh! This irks me to NO END! People in general think that they’re entitled to someone’s time and energy based on if they made a personal investment into someone. When you think about celebrities who really suffer though this, I think about wrestlers and K-Pop stars. I remember reading comments in wrestling threads about how people called Sasha Banks is a b**ch because when fan see her at an airport and she doesn’t want to take a picture with them or say hi. Or how a lot of K-pop starts are not allowed to publicly date or date PERIOD so that they can keep up this illusion that they are single and available, so that they can sell merch and what have you. All of that is absolute BS!
Thanks for being a fan. Thanks for buying albums or merch. Thanks for watching all 64 episodes of whatever drama your actor or actress was in. BUT, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a photo when you see them out in public getting food with friends or leaving an airport. Just like us, they’re human too and need space. They don’t owe you anything my guy.
Issues women face with stalking
Stacy: This is a heavy. The perfect example of how a man sees a woman is the scene where the stalker held his hand out in front of Mima and the angle of the shot was set up, that Mima was dancing in his hand. There is a group of men that is society that believe that women are objects to have and prizes to collect. Women are just supposed to be pretty and do house work. Women do have will. Women do not have autonomy. They have no right to say no. They should be happy that someone would have them. Stalking takes this to a completely different level.
With stalking, the subject (could be male, another female, or non binary person) believes that everything that you do, you supposed to be with them. They have an overwhelming sense of entitlement. Most of the time, the victim, has an idea of who there stalker is. They go to the proper authorities. They let them know what is going on. They tell them about the harassment, the constant phone calls, letters, text messages. They hire security, if they are a celebrity/or important figure, for their protection. Having a stalker bring about levels of anxiety to the victim. With some victims, if their stalker gets caught, it will take years of therapy to get over.
Ashley: Man, this is a heavy. I’m gonna start this off, I personally have never been stalked. I only know what it’s like though people I know and stories. I know how messed up the laws are for stalking and how it sucks to be a woman who is stalked. In terms of what happened to Mima, it was tragic! Someone made a blog dedicated to her and was journaling her life to a T! In this public diary thing, they transcribed her personal feelings as if they were her and that really messed with her. They had pictures of her in the store and just knew things. They made sure to make her know that they can make her feel isolated and alone. It was devastating and emotional. There have been so many personal narratives told that I’ve seen and read about what stalking does to a person and how powerless someone can feel, ESPECIALLY when the law isn’t on your side. Living day in and day out, wondering if today is the day you’re gonna get caught by your stalker. Mima was living that and it was an emotional journey to watch her go through that.
Mima’s management group’s approach to her actress career (i.e. that rape scene)
Stacy: Sometimes having a management group can be the best idea. They help get you work in whatever field of entertainment; however, not all management is good management. It takes that cliché saying of “if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything” into practice. There are some celebrities that have things in their contract that states “no nudity” and other things that will protect their integrity. However, management, who all they want to do is get their clients jobs with.
Ashley: Male manager A was absolute TRASH! THROW HIM AWAY!!!! He basically wanted to get Mima’s innocent persona scrubbed from the record and give her a very hot and heavy, sexual image. That is fine and all, but to encourage someone like Mima who is new to acting and to the world really to do a rape scene…a GROUP rape scene….that’s rough. Sometimes it great to have a management team to help shape your career and what not, but the duo Mima had really set her up. Rumi, the other manager was too passive so the other guy could just run ship. That scene really messed Mima up too. She was traumatized and that was hard to watch; the scene she did and the aftermath.
Thoughts on the how reality breaks down for viewer and Mima
Stacy: The beautiful thing about Perfect Blue is that it gives a glimpse into a mental disorder called “Folie à deux”. According to Atefeh Ghanbari Jolfaei, Mehdi Nasr Isfahani,and Reza Bidaki, researchers who did a case study on this disorder in 2011, its characteristic feature is the transmission of delusions from “inducer” (primary patient), who is the “originally” ill patient and suffers from a psychotic disorder, to another person who may share the inducer’s delusions in entirety or in part and you can read more about this disorder here (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252781/). In other words, and in reference to the film, Mima’s manager is the one with the actual psychosis; however, she is projecting those same feels and symptoms towards Mima to the point that Mima herself experience them. We, the viewer, see the projection and interpret it as Mima is having a psychotic break. It is this psychotic break that was always interesting to me. Seeing how psychosis effect those around you was one of the things that truly made me wanted to watch Perfect Blue on multiple occasions and to (briefly) study the subject.
Ashley: After taking the movie in, I was impressed with how they were able to show a breakdown in reality not just for Mima and Rumi, but for the viewers as well. In general, before I get to the deep stuff, I enjoy anime works that can open and bend the mind and play with reality. There is a psychiatric syndrome called shared psychosis or ‘Folie à deux’ (French for Madness of two) and it’s a syndrome where hallucinations or a delusional belief is transmitted from one person to another. At first I thought it was Mima that was going through the motions and transmitting her hallucinations of this “Other Mima” onto others , but that was how the movie wanted me to see it…in the beginning anyway. In actuality, it was really Rumi who was projecting onto Mima. Looking back, all of this was triggered roughly around that rape scene for the TV drama. While it was happening, Rumi was going through a traumatic experience or reliving one through Mima and that opened up a lot of old wounds and shattered an identity she was clinging to; the identity of being a young and innocent pop star. There were so many mental twists and turns with this movie that left you thinking and analyzing more than you realize. Made me proud to have an anthropology degree that’s for sure haha.
Overall thoughts and recommendations of Perfect Blue
Stacy: My overall thoughts. Perfect Blue was my gateway into enjoying shows like Psycho Pass and B the Beginning. It allowed me to appreciate This is definitely a film to enjoy if you are into the psycho-thriller genre.
Ashley: Watch it. Proceed with caution though if you’re easily triggered by certain things dealing with assault, violence, and other things. This movie is HEAVY. But, if you like Psycho-Pass, B: The Beginning, and other brain candy animes…this is it. Watch it with a friend if you’ve never seen it.