★★★★★ 4.5 Stars
“The passion, the obsession, of the so-called Darling Rose – had been so strange that he had transformed the blossoms into rose petals. At least, in that moment, that was how Mima saw it.”
Surreal, vile and unnerving to its meaty core. Perfect Blue is paced like a soured dream – jarring and dancing the threshold between reality and nightmare.
The truly unnerving part is how relevant this story is – this was written almost thirty years ago, and the toxic nature of commodifying women and young pop stars in the media has not changed a bit since.
The “metamorphosis” that takes place is a… bizarre one. Oddly it’s not so much the heroine’s as the villain’s – an obsessive, unbelievably creepy fan who drives much of the story. A bashful voice in a cartoonish outfit hiding a relentless violence.
Mima never changes herself, only changes her pop-idol image from that of an innocent to that of a seductress. Even this is due to media pressure, not necessarily because she wants to that much, but the unnamed fan never takes this into account. He is just hellbent on this idea of “innocence and purity” like it will make everything perfect – so fixated on Mima staying this idealised girl that no amount of murder, skin-stealing or self-mutilation matters as long as it keeps her part of his pop-TV fueled fantasy. It never matters to him that Mima should be able to dress and act however she likes.
The characterization and plot points can be a little haphazard or weak, especially so with minor characters like Tadokoro and Eri, but I did like Mima’s relationship with her assistant Rumi, and even though it’s grotesque I thought the author did a great job conveying the mindset and warped logic of an unstable mega-fan.
Oh, and don’t expect Perfect Blue to be like its film version – though I recommend both, they are wildly different species and according to their creators, intended to be. In my opinion, they’re both enjoyable (if disturbing) in their own medium.