There’s a brief overview on the form itself below, before I get to the actual review.
I hope you enjoy these and as I mentioned before, I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have for future OVA-weeks 🙂
An animated film or series made for release on video, rather than for broadcast/theatrical screening
Generally, high budgets that can mean visual qualities are better than a typical television series
No fixed length, nor broadcast time-constraints when it comes to storytelling
To some extent, created outside regulation – and so they have a reputation for ‘anything goes’ when it comes to restricted content
Often (but certainly not always) based on original scripts, rather than being adaptations
Long wait times between episodes/installments for some OVAs
First OVA to be described as such was 1983’s Dallos from Mamoru Oshii
The ONA (Original Net Animation) is an obvious more modern equivalent
Twilight of the Dark Master (Shihaisha no Tasogare)
Twilight of the Dark Masteris a pretty dark OVA released in 1997 US / 1998 JPN, at a time some years after the peak of the direct-to-video format.
Even so, it’s mostly exactly what you might expect from an OVA – extra detail in general, extra detail on the violence and nudity, with some of it gratuitous but here, not exactly falling into the realm of modern shock-horror either.
And there is a story. And some great animation and use of colour and light at times too – not just via the general high-level from many OVAs, but there was one sequence in particular that was pretty compelling. Not because it was the greatest thing in the world, but because it was just really effective.
I think it’s the mix of flicker, of slow-motion, and the use of muted and also selective colour, that brought things together – I wonder how much of it was computer-assisted via layering, possibly? Seems like a lot of work to get everything in place.
The story follows the conventions of a revenge* thriller mixed in with some procedural, magic, horror and cyberpunk aspects too, and has at least a couple of surprises to go with the wide range of genres.
Now, that might sound like a lot going on, and it is, but I enjoyed the mix.
Today, director Akiyuki Shinbo would probably be best known for March Comes In like a Lion. Obviously, something such as a previous work by Akiyuki, The SoulTaker, is a far closer comparison in terms of content, when it comes to Twilight of the Dark Master.
In the end, I’m not sure how much of the visuals I can attribute to Akiyuki Shinbo or storyboard artists, verses manga artist Saki Okuse, but from the composition to lighting to framing, it’s definitely all well-above average for me.
So too, some of the character designs, which have both detail and some range. (Again, I mention this to contrast what seems like one of my more recent pet peeves – anime with characters who all look generally quite similar).
Now, this OVA is most definitely not suitable for the younger viewers out there – although, I doubt Twilight of the Dark Master is on the radar for that age group anyway.
(Or perhaps, on anyone’s radar for the most part).
I must note that for all the things I enjoyed about the OVA, Twilight of the Dark Master suffers a little from its reliance on low-key lighting and some pandering, but maybe more than that – as the ending just wasn’t as strong as the rest of the short film.
Ridiculously, I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is… maybe the shift in scale? It feels too sudden for me. If you’ve seen this one, that might make sense. Or maybe not!
Devil May Cry is another anime based on a classic game franchise, but I can’t judge this one in terms of its merits as an adaptation, since I’ve not played any of the games.
And so I’ll focus on the anime itself.
Devil May Cry: The Animated Series (Debiru Mei Kurai) 2007
In terms of plot, our hero Dante runs a demon-hunting business, ‘Devil May Cry’, while struggling to get out of debt in order to afford more strawberry sundaes 🙂
I enjoyed Devil May Cry without being thrilled by every moment; there was some great action and memorable creature designs, especially in the first two eps, along with a few stories that stood out above the others.
One thing that I found perhaps more interesting looking back, was the way that the villain works to link together what appears to be ‘only’ an episodic format. And while he might be typical for his archetype, he’s probably not so typical as the Big Bad. (I guess that’s a little vague but I wanted to make an attempt to avoid spoilers).
To continue on with things I enjoyed, Dante stands out in part due to his character contractions, rather than only due to the very satisfying high-contrast colours he’s given. Lady and J.D were other favourites from a cast that has nice mix of recurring and new characters.
In terms of favourite episodes, ‘Rock Queen’ heavily features music and even record-collecting as plot points, so that was pretty ace. Some of the characters even got a happy ending too! I also really enjoyed the ‘Death Poker’ episode, as it was a little different to the more typical hack-and-slash of many from other plots.
Speaking of which, there’s plenty of demon-fodder in Devil May Cry, blood too, and some gore, though most (but not all) of it is focused on the monsters. Still, pretty obviously not the kinda anime for the young ones.
To quickly finish on something that bugged me, while Patty started off in brat-mode, she became far more tolerable as the series went on, but it’s a shame that in the end, Dante seemed to value her most as a bloody cleaner.
Another quick review today – feeling less than stellar after some dental work!
Jubei has so much going on re: the levels of parody and satire, and even a fairly constant stream of sight gags and absurdist stuff too – I recognised some but basically couldn’t keep up at all, and I’m sure I missed dozens and dozens of cultural allusions.
Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl – The Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch (1999)
But the comedy aspect almost always still worked for me!
The series holds the overarching, action-based storyline within the fairly sophisticated comedy framework nicely, it was usually pretty funny and on top of which, featured some great action sequences throughout its 13 episodes – with some of the more intense ones happening during the closing eps.
Here’s the premise, adapted from Wikipedia:
Jubei-chan follows Jiyu Nanohana, a modern junior high school girl and unwilling heir to the Yagyu Jubei school of swordsmanship as she deals with a mystical artefact, the Lovely Eyepatch, and all the enemies who seek her power.
Now, rather than dissect the plot, I’ll leap in to some dot-point highlights before finishing up the review:
The kanji changes on Bantarou’s t-shirt were a fun extra layer to his scenes
(And his song was pretty funny too)
Sai, Jubei’s ghostwriter father, was an interesting character… for positive and negative reasons
Visually, there were plenty of ratio changes or dramatic close-ups of objects like candles etc, that really helped to sell the parody of Chanbara
The tropes of the Shounen anime also get a bit of good-natured ribbing too
I also enjoyed seeing certain characters (without spoilers) cycle through good/evil roles
Poor old Koinosuke
Visually there’s a great range of styles within the show as well
The charming and resolute innocence of Jubei is a great counter to the action + comedy, even as it works on its own comedic level
Bonus points for a cool transformation sequence!
Having mentioned all of the above, I did grow weary of everyone’s obsession with Jubei’s breast-size.
And also, can anyone explain to me what the hell Jubei’s father is supposed to be doing when saving Jubei from the fever? Anyone?
And finally, there’s a sequel series available but I haven’t checked it out just yet, might do so one day, not sure.
For fans of comedy, satire and samurai stories.
3 Stars (4 without the creepy shit).
As a quick, closing example to show a touch of the humour – there’s these two shots one after the other during a dialogue scene, which I really enjoyed.
It’s probable that I’ve said this before but I find mafia-style stories a hard sell.
And yet, I’ll usually at least try them out.
Gungrave (Gangureivu) TV 2003
Part of what led me to give Gungrave a look was the connection to Yasuhiro Nightow and the promise of the supernatural that was lain out so convincingly during episode one (though not fulfilled until post episode 17 for me).
And while there are a few echoes of Trigun (Wolfwood’s Punisher etc) this is obviously quite different, not just setting-wise, either.
One example is the themes.
Thematically, the price of loyalty and betrayal are key in the anime – this is as much crime-family drama as anything else, remember? – but I was probably most drawn to the science-fiction elements in the end, and the sort of revenge plot that was eventually abdicated in favour of… well, I won’t spoil the ending, even in my ‘spoiler section’.
I also really enjoyed the designs, there’s a great range of characters here, but above all I probably liked Brandon/Beyond’s costume and the way that even his weapons are linked to the overall aesthetic (which holds a few hints of things common to the Western genre).
Narrative-wise, there are a few time jumps across the series – and since this is somewhat of a prequel to the game of the same name, learning about the key players’ pasts feels like a logical move. Having said that, I’ve never played the PS2 game so I’m not sure how well everything fits together.
In a big cast there were a fair few memorable characters and voices (Bunji!), though for one, I did think that Lee became a bit shrill in later episodes. Another issue I had was that Maria was not given much agency, which was annoying, but at least the story afforded her some more functionality toward the end.
For me, a lot of the mafia stuff dragged.
It became a bit of a slog despite singular stand out episodes here and there or the great direction in them – and so I was most invested after Brandon’s ‘death’, though above all, I still liked the series.
Mika was cruelly under-utilised as a character and while bookies Widge and Gary (and Bear Walken and Dr. Tokioka) were other stand outs I haven’t mentioned yet, once I did start to crave vengeance on behalf of Brandon I think everything seemed to come together for me; themes, mafia and science-fiction aspects too.
The ending was really interesting but part of me also found it fairly unsatisfying – in terms of bloodlust, at least.
To keep harping on a bit about things I didn’t enjoy so much, making Brandon almost mute during his ‘grave’ era was also a disservice.
He was never much of a talker in the previous arcs, but denying him much in the way of speech really diminishes the potential to add extra depth to a lot of his scenes. Obviously, the visuals do plenty of talking but there could have been more facets to his final arc.
Having grumbled about all of the above, I have to say that I still enjoyed Gungrave a lot – and as a quick final, final thought, it was nice to see a bit of time (though not enough) spent critiquing the deep hypocrisy of crime families.
In many ways this is a less compelling echo of the film.
Same lead character of Jubei, similar quest feel with stumbling blocks presented by different monsters/adversaries to defeat, and there’s even some (toned down in comparison) sketchy content, but all without the production budget and schedule of a feature film.
Ninja Scroll: The Series (Jūbē Ninpūchō Ryūhōgyoku Hen) 2003
Naturally, there are going to be differences between the two forms – and I don’t always like to compare based on budget; as I should take the time to describe and evaluate a thing upon its own terms, right?
Still, I think at least some comparisons are worthwhile for this review – one of which being the MA vs R rating.
Another is the tone, far more comedic at times.
The Ninja Scroll series has significantly slower pacing too, as its straight-forward quest storyline is stretched to fit into the monster-of-the-week format (a format that I usually love).
Despite what probably sounds like a long list of grievances here, I enjoyed individual episodes enough to overlook the at-times stark differences between series and film, such as the Shelter from the Rain and A Dragon Within eps.
It was interesting also how bold this one is, with more exaggerated character design and the use of brighter colours; the series does ensure that it’s distinct from the film. However, in terms of storyline, in a way, the anime seems only generally concerned with the main quest its characters are on, and the supporting cast has limited impact on plot or theme, leaving the heavy-lifting to Jubei.
(Well, aside from Shigure, but she’s sort of ‘tagging along’ in her own story, sadly).
Further, while the design of a lot of the creatures and enemies were usually pretty interesting, during a lot of their scenes, I found myself keen get back to the main quest.
In that respect, the last two episodes were among my favs, since the team got to the lost shrine/city at last and kicked the magical aspect up a few notches at the same time. (There were also a few fun surprises toward the end, a nice escalation of stakes also).
However, I’m not sure I’d recommend Ninja Scroll to everyone, but if you love supernatural ninja stories there’s going to be at least a few elements you’ll enjoy. In addition, I liked the OP a lot!
Kurozuka is a sometimes jumbled, often compelling adaptation of a novel by Baku Yumemakura and which is on the surface, a vampire story.
After finishing the series I think it can be more comfortably described as science fiction/action with incidental vampirism, which is both interesting and – if you are looking for some vampires – disappointing.
Produced by Madhouse and directed by Tetsuro Araki, Kurozuka bears a few hints of aspects which later appear in Attack on Titan but here there’s an epic, centuries-spanning tale squeezed into 13 episodes.
I’m not able to put my finger on what I think made this anime close to being amazing, without getting there.
Fun action, interesting world with a good central mystery to the storyline, even a disjointed narrative structure to keep things from becoming too predictable… but something was missing.
Two things that I came up with after thinking a bit:
the set-up of a potentially doomed romance actually led to something else, a swift separation of the main characters which then denied them much meaningful interaction for nearly the rest of the series, and
the sheer volume of off-screen story that did not appear (or was not referenced) in time for the climax to have a big impact.
Did all of my grumbling mean I hated this series?
Not at all, but I guess it’s a very easy 3 Stars for the rating, since I’m glad to have seen it (and am now quite curious about the book), but at the same time, I don’t know if I’ll watch it again.
I end up spoiling the ending to this OVA just below these first pics, and so if Nasu is on your list then maybe read no further! Otherwise, I’m going to mention probably my fav part about this cycling drama, which is something that happens at the end.
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia (Nasu: Andarushia no Natsu) 2003
Nasu follows pro cyclist Pepe over the course of a single race on the day his older brother marries his ex.
The narrative describes this as Angel having ‘stolen’ Carmen, though she seems perfectly happy – but what I enjoyed was the fact that at the end of the anime Pepe obviously hasn’t forgiven either of them.
Is it petty of him? Warranted maybe?
I can’t decide, because in the OVA I suspect we don’t get the full context (compared to the source material perhaps) but I was sort of pleasantly surprised that there was no use of the ‘forgiveness no matter what’ theme in Nasu.
(And apparently I was so surprised that I’ve got another paragraph about it below, lol.)
It’s possible I expected that trope to appear due to the unwavering support Pepe receives from everyone while he races through the hills outside, and eventually through his hometown, in a compelling race featuring multiple threads. But the theme didn’t show up and I thought that was an interesting move, story-wise.
But getting back to the race itself, it’s not just Pepe vs the other riders, it’s Pepe vs the oppressive heat, vs his own limitations, vs his dream of escape, vs his lingering resentment and even the threat of being fired by his sponsor.
At only 45 minutes long I never felt a lag and throughout the OVA, the art and animation both felt top notch with a nice blend of 2D and subtle CGI to keep things dynamic perhaps – especially once the race hits town.
You’ve probably noticed from the screen caps that there’s a fair Studio Ghibli feel to the colours and character designs, and that might be because Kitarō Kōsaka* directs, and aside from that, his experience really shows in every aspect of the anime.
As a bonus, while knowing nothing about pro cycling prior to watching, I learnt a little during the course of the anime, perhaps enough to better understand a real life race were I to watch one.
Having said that, I don’t think you need to be a cycling fan to enjoy this – it’s a great, short drama with a vibrant setting and tension-filled race…
Highlander: The Search For Vengeance lands somewhere between spin-off and remake of the very famous 1986 Christopher Lambert film Highlander, a movie Queen fans may also remember due to its OST.
Highlander: The Search For Vengeance(2007)
I’m not really planning to do a comparative review so I’ll just say that I agree with what seems to be the general consensus out there, that among all the Highlander texts following the original, this is among the better ones.
In terms of genre, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance is a post-apocalyptic, science-fantasy action film from top to bottom, with top notch animation (Madhouse and Imagi Animation) that follows Colin MacLeod through the centuries on his quest for revenge.
And it is a classic (or ‘basic’ if you’re not a fan) revenge story with Colin hacking his way through various obstacles on a path toward his ages-old enemy Marcus Octavius, at times taking a break for war or love or perhaps just gratification – and as this is an anime take on the franchise, get ready for plenty of fan-service.
The non-linear structure to Colin’s search adds an extra layer to the narrative, weaving in and out of the past and future as we see him fight and struggle and even repeat some costly mistakes in different historical eras.
I’d have loved to see a little more from Colin’s memories of the 20th Century for one, but what existed served the overall picture of a battle throughout history.
It seems that when Yoshiaki Kawajiri is working with US production companies there’s a toning down of onscreen sex and violence compared to his other work, yet not a removal.
So you’ll still get explosions, decapitations, nudity and even (in this film) a presumably romantic sex scene, much like what could be seen in an 1980s/1990s action or thriller film. (Thus, in terms of audience it’s obviously not aimed at kids).
A few quick dot points before I finish:
I’m a fan of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s character designs and this anime is no exception
I do love imaginings of the future and cities in various states of decay (in fiction, at least) and so the New York setting was a highlight for me
Colin probably isn’t perhaps as multi-faceted as some other leads in the film, so you might find a fav side-character instead
If you’re exhausted from and furious about COVID and can’t stomach another virus subplot, then I’ll note this does feature one
Overall, I enjoyed the structure, the action and the scaling up of problems for our hero to face, all of it interwoven with backstory and some memorable leads too (not only Moya, who probably doesn’t have enough screen time to be called ‘lead’, I guess).
If you like the genre in general, or you’re a fan of the original movie, you’ll find this both a little different and very familiar, which could be a mark for or against, I suppose.
As I’ve mentioned here ad nauseam by now, science-fiction, futuristic, cyberpunk stories tend to be among my favs and so I expected to enjoy Goku Midnight Eye. In the end, it’s not my fav cyberpunk release but it still has plenty of the things you’d want from the genre.
Goku Midnight Eye(1989)
So too, if what you want is that the cross-pollination between US cinema and anime, with an undertone of ‘action-movie-from-the-1980s’ clear in both episodes.
Episode one was probably my fav of the pair, probably due to it being an origin story where we see how Goku gets his magical eye, an eye that can hack into any computer in the world.
Almost a year later comes episode two, which features a somewhat overpowered Goku. He still faces threats, and while his super-extending staff is almost comical, there’s maybe a tongue-in-cheek feel to everything that keeps this and the previous episode entertaining.
If I did read the tone of the OVA correctly, I do wonder how much of that is due to Buichi Terasawa’s manga – who is also responsible for Space Adventure Cobra, where the film adaptation is somewhat similar in tone but in a less grimy way, I guess.
And despite great direction from Yoshiaki Kawajiri there are a few tired clichés, especially when it comes to women characters, who seem to have only two options: femme fatale or eye candy (so very much noir-influenced). One character especially is noteworthy for her role as world-building element.
Ultimately, I would have watched more Goku (if any had been made) because I do like lone detective stories but I don’t know how to rate this.
(It’s a product of its time for sure, maybe of the OVA-era too… and something about that stripper-motorbike hybrid struck me as the kind of element that you could write an entire post on, but I’ll save it for now).
I can say that Goku is not aimed at kids, at least.
But if you want that mix of action, violence, nudity, oddity and futuristic tech from a bygone era of anime, then Goku’s your man.
As a side note, I found it surprising that here in Australia my DVD release (the uncut version) is rated MA rather than R, which would be more in line with the rest of the world.
Which I guess is meant to be a segue into a point about content – Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller featuring early internet culture and horror elements, a fair amount of gore and sexualised violence. There are other films out there that are more full-on but this is still a confronting adaptation*.
It’s also compelling on every level; from the intertwined elements of narrative, character, and sound to the visuals and the script and acting – I feel like it’s hyperbolic of me to say, but it’s probably a masterpiece.
I know that’s a loaded word but I can’t give everything I review here a rating of 3 or 4 stars, can I? 😀
So, preamble aside – I should mention the premise finally:
The film follows Mima Kirigoe, a member of a Japanese idol group, who retires from music to pursue an acting career. As she becomes a victim of stalking, gruesome murders begin to occur, and Mima starts to lose her grip on reality.
And that blurring of reality and fantasy when I first saw the film was so immersive, and I love it now too, even though I know what’s going on when it comes to those subsequent viewings.
I was definitely wrong in my prediction about who was responsible for the murders when I was younger. But if you’re quicker than me, you won’t need any second or third screenings to see all the clues, because they’re nice and clear and so the truth doesn’t seem like it comes from out of no-where. There’s no cheap, empty twist.
But I hope if you have never seen Perfect Blue that you still experience a bit of surprise at the ending.
And if you were inclined to watch this film more than once, I hope you also get a chance to focus on the mechanics. I won’t go deep into the production and story elements but I want to use just two classic examples, editing and camera/point of view, to discuss how effortlessly Perfect Blue establishes that feeling of unreality and positions the camera as an unreliable narrator.
[From here, I think it’s possible to see and/or infer spoilers, so tread with caution]
Onscreen, we are shown Mima as the following over the course of the story:
Idol turned actress/centrefold
A character on drama Double Bind
Blogger from ‘Mima’s Room’
However, the intercutting between scenes, locations and roles is often done without viewer cues for time or space.
This is one way that Perfect Blue visually represents that blurring between real and unreal. And when the cutting-rhythm between picks up its pace to show Mima’s state of fear and disorientation, the same effect is cast onto the viewer too.
Here, I’m thinking especially of a long sequence in Mima’s room where she’s waking up over and over when the frequency of cut becomes fast as 2 to 3 seconds compared to maybe an average of 5 or 6 seconds elsewhere. Obviously, it’s not a strobe effect (not yet) but the audience doesn’t get a lot of time to interrogate what they see. Instead, you’re dragged along, just as unsure as Mima is about exactly what’s real.
On to camera!
Camera (and its role in creating point of view) when it comes to storytelling is clearly a very versatile tool.
But I want to focus on when it presents as ‘objective’ and ‘omniscient’ by nature of its ability to see and show things beyond what a main/point of view character perceives.
Again, as with the editing** what I’m always thrilled to notice here is how unreliably the camera operates in the film.
Kon takes advantage of our assumptions. Firstly, if we are shown something on screen that Mimi is not aware of then it is true. This is definitely a feint but it’s aided by the storyline and the idea that the camera is objective – the idea that it shows us, the audience, truth.
We see what Mima cannot see/remember, even if Mima is not involved in events because we need that extra information to think that we’re ‘ahead’ of Mima, that we might know who the killer is and why they kill.
Secondly, we assume that we’re generally riding along in Mima’s point of view during the film. This is another natural assumption. It’s her story, her struggle, and we spend the most amount of time watching her, invested in her life. When the narration moves beyond Mima and her immediate surrounds, it’s almost always to show how other folks are interested in Mima.
These assumptions help the camera to operate in that sly way of the unreliable narrator.
In a movie asking us ‘what is real?’, the scenes it chooses to show us are often clothed in Mima.
When we witness Mima murdering the sleazy photographer and right after see her inability to recall how bloody clothes appeared in her wardrobe, we accept that what we’ve seen is truth. After all, Mima has been having trouble keeping track of reality and we know she deeply resented filming the rape scene at the club. Of course Mima is somehow involved in the murder! And yet… just because the camera showed us something from ‘her point of view’, doesn’t mean we must accept any of that at face value.
I hope I was able to explain what I saw in those elements, as it stands that’s probably giving a bit much away re: spoilers, if you’ve never watched the film. If you have seen Perfect Blue, then you doubtless know what I’m talking about there.
Okay, so moving on from production and story elements now, I want to write about one of the major themes, and also quote Kon’s related remarks.
The exploitation of pop idols is one theme that runs through the movie but perhaps not in a didactic way – at least, not via dialogue. Perfect Blue is still a psychological thriller rather than being a drama or documentary, but the entertainment industry and related obsessions are key to everything that happens.
I suppose you could argue that putting a naive singer through such horrors is in and of itself a heavy-handed comment on the industry but it doesn’t strike me as a lie either. Pop idols (world-wide, not just in Japan) are certainly regularly exploited. (Here’s a much better article on the film and topic).
And Horror can not only function to illuminate the evil that humans are responsible for, but become cautionary too. For me, the story of Perfect Blue has that effect.
Getting back to my opening comment, I want to repeat the idea that this film isn’t for kids. Sexual violence is a significant part of the plot. It’s used as a weapon by the entertainment industry, almost as a way to tarnish Mima’s reputation and inflict self-loathing and doubt (and thus, presumably, later make her much easier for the industry to control).
In fact, the writing of the rape scene into Double Bind isn’t really considered a decision worth involving Mima in, the scriptwriter and director are more worried about her agency’s reaction.
The same violence is also both a threat (and action) from a certain character and shot in such a way that definitely evokes terror. (And so if you know that’s something you don’t want to see then skip Perfect Blue.)
Satoshi Kon himself seems to be of two minds about the club scene from Double Bind especially. The special features on my disc include interviews and lectures and in one part, he is looking back on the film from years later, which I found very interesting:
“At the time, it was supposed to be an OVA. We didn’t know it was to be released in theaters. So we thought we had to make it stand out as much as possible. OVAs don’t get a lot of publicity. So I thought we should have a graphic scene, but I went too far.”
“But this scene was too graphic. When I saw this blown up on a threater-size screen, I ended up looking down.”
These quotes make me wonder exactly how much pressure the industry and OVA-era forms put on creators, as well as performers? Is Kon suggesting that he might have made a different version of the same story if he directed it during a different time, after becoming so well-known?
Impossible to know, of course.
Now, I can’t miss an opportunity to mention Darren Aronofsky.
You might know his films, two of which are Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. In the same interview/lectures I mention above, Kon mentions that Aronofsky wanted to remake Perfect Blue and you can see here a famous homage(?) from Requiem for a Dream and if you are familiar with the premise and tone of Perfect Blue then you’ll be right at home with Black Swan.
I’m not as well-read on this issue as others out there but Kon didn’t seem to be too impressed himself.
And finally now, I should mention that nostalgia plays a roll in how much I enjoy Perfect Blue. Both for a time when the internet was young and for something I first saw long ago. (In terms of the technology aging, I think it’d be fun to update things with today’s technology if this film were ever remade).
To my eye, pretty much everything looks top notch from Madhouse in terms of the animation and backgrounds etc but if you’ve been raised on modern, bright anime then the colours here may feel a little dull (which adds to the realism of course).
I don’t want to forget mentioning Masahiro Ikumi’s disturbing score, which will probably echo in your head for a while after watching the film – especially Virtual Mima. Some parts evoke a real clash of analogue and digital and it’s all drenched in tension 😀
This has turned into one of the longer reviews I’ve written for quite a while and so I think it’s time to wrap things up, otherwise it’ll never end.
I think this might be Kon’s best film although my favourite of his is probably still Paprika, but if you’re seeking something equal parts confronting and compelling, then Perfect Blue is probably worth seeing at least once.
*Pāfekuto Burū: Kanzen Hentai as written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.
**Costume plays a really big role here too.
WordPress is (for whatever reason) not letting me add captions to the images but I want to note a couple of things – the ‘anime billboard/poster’ is funny and I noticed that like in many other films from Satoshi Kon, film-making itself is once again referenced in the story.
The recurring reflection motif is sometimes very ‘upfront’ like in the first image, and other times a little more subtle like in the image two above.
The amount of clutter in a lot of the rooms really adds to the sense of claustrophobia that develops in some scenes.
I also eventually noticed just how often the camera shows us Mima from behind, hiding her face and expression, maybe obscuring her relationship to the Mimi who torments her?