Using just 80 minutes of screen time Satoshi Kon has crafted an air tight thriller without an ounce of fat. Perfect Blue follows Mimi Kirigoe, a pop sensation, as she makes a transition into the world of acting. She’s young, beautiful, talented, and idolized by the public and her career change upsets more than a few of her fans. A disfigured man appears and spookily follows Mimi where ever she goes. Simultaneously she discovers a stalker website (Mimi’s Room) dedicated to the pop Mimi, and condemning the actress.
The man follows Mimi around with a camera, lurking in the shadows, and serves as a grotesque representation of a consumerist society. As Mimi and her pop group CHAM perform a song the image of endless waves of men scrolls across the screen, cameras flashing and eyes agape with fascination and sexual interest. Indeed Perfect Dark is a film full of breathtaking imagery. Mimi’s career as an actress takes a turn for the traumatic, paired with the stalker threat, and her descent into fractured psyche is mimicked in the numerous haunting mirror images.
Masahiro Ikumi composes a wonderfully eerie musical score that heightens the tension as the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, creating an atmosphere rife with paranoia. Kon isn’t afraid to deliver potentially disturbing sequences, necessary to unsettle an audience and bring them into Mimi’s tormented world. A scene depicting a rape at a strip club full of excited and jeering men is a perfect example, with shots lingering on and on and the once clearly established “fantasy” begins feeling like reality. Satoshi Kon masterfully instills Mimi’s pressure, paranoia, and loose grip on reality in the audience. Perfect Dark is a thrilling and visually compelling examination of identity and the voyeurism inherent in a consumerist society, with atmosphere so meticulously crafted that its eerie uncertainty persists long after the final frame.