By Merle Bertrand | December 11, 1999

Okay, word association time. Name a “Japanimation” movie currently in release which starts with the letter “P.” Nope, not that one. In fact, leave the kiddies in their “Pokemon”-induced daze in an adjacent theater, supervised by an unfortunate older sibling, who maybe didn’t take out the garbage like you asked. Meanwhile, you can check out Satoshi Kon’s interesting animated psychological thriller “Perfect Blue.”
When Mima leaves the popular squeaky clean pop group Cham for a less wholesome acting and modeling career, it’s not a particularly welcome development for her fans; especially her best friend Roomie, herself a former Cham member. Uncertain of her career choice, yet determined to shed her pop idol image, Mima forges ahead despite the warning inherent in a letter bomb she receives on the set of the trashy TV show, “Double Bind.” As if that, combined with discovering that an unknown cyber-stalker who knows her every move and puts words in her mouth on an unauthorized Mima website, wasn’t creepy enough, she soon notices a mysterious and grotesque, dead-eyed, crooked-toothed stalker freak staring at her from the fringes of the set. After people associated with “Double Bind” start turning up gruesomely murdered, Mima’s grip on reality begins to slip; especially when her pop idol persona appears and taunts her, before impossibly skipping away Mary Poppins-like from building to building. Before long, Mima’s first line as an actress, “Excuse me…who are you?” also fairly well sums up her own mental state as she takes method acting to the extreme, tottering precariously between the real world and the world of her TV character.
“Perfect Blue” is a bit of a mixed bag. What starts out as a fairly conventional and effective stalker drama with a cyber-twist, soon gets too cute with its dreams within dreams set pieces and shifting realities. It’s kinda nifty at first, but Kon just keeps piling it on until you just roll your eyes, throw up your hands, and scream, “Enough!” Granted, this helps you identify with Mima’s slipping hold on reality, but that doesn’t necessarily make watching it enjoyable. Nor does Mima’s stilted dialogue looping, so silly it’s distracting, which makes her seem like even more of a ditzy airhead. Then, of course, there are the usual disconcerting features associated with the charming but simple animation style, anime. While some of the wide shots are actually pretty slick, everything else is extremely jerky and crudely drawn, except Mima’s breasts which, I swear to God, jiggled. (Lord, I’m fixating on naked cartoon boobs. I REALLY need a girlfriend!) Viewers more accustomed to Disney animation or even the Sunday night Fox block might be put off by this style. For everyone else, however, “Perfect Blue” isn’t a half-bad way to spend a rainy afternoon, especially if the kids are off soaking up Pokemon-mania.

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