• Perfect Blue (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 26th, 2019.
    Director: Satoshi Kon
    Cast: Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto, Shinpachi Tsuji, Masaaki Ôkura
    Year: 1997
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    Perfect Blue – Movie Review:

    The feature film directorial debut of Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers), 1997’s Perfect Blue tells the story of a pop chanteuse named Mima. She sings in a band called Cham and her star is very much on the rise. When she decides to leave singing behind her for a new career as an actress and model, there is some backlash from her fan base. Her manager, however, urges Mima to make the change and before you know it, she’s got a big spot on a production called Double Bind. In this project, her character is raped. None of this sits well with her fans, particularly her male fans, but Mima’s newfound ambition seems to know no bounds.

    Shortly after this happens, a few people affiliated with Mima wind up dead and Mima realizes she has a stalker. She gets a creepy letter and receives some creepy phone calls. Then she finds a website that seemingly tracks her every move. As more victims pile up, Mima starts to become understandably paranoid and becomes haunted by her former self, all while the killer gets ever closer to her.

    Perfect Blue is a slick, De Palma-esque thriller told with a whole lot of visual style and a penchant for mindfuckery. Some will take issue with the finale, which is fair enough (and we won’t spoil it here) but even if it doesn’t end as strongly as it starts it is still very much a movie worth seeing. It’s clever, suspenseful and stylish and it makes some interesting observations about celebrity, specifically the codependency that seems to exist between a star and her fans. The fact that Kon is so good at keeping viewers guessing as to what is Mima’s reality and what is hallucinated keeps us intrigued in the storyline. Yeah, fine, that’s been done before and since but it’s done particularly well in this film and as such, there’s a lot suspense able to be derived from this aspect of the movie.

    The animation style employed in the first half of the movie isn’t as interesting as where things go, visually speaking, in the second half but interestingly enough it seems to build in style as the movie builds in weirdness. You could argue that the earlier chunk might have benefited from a bit more style and polish but then, you don’t necessarily want the visuals overshadowing the story. Overall though, this works and works well. The voice acting in the Japanese language version is also pretty solid, suiting the look of the characters well.

    Note that the version of the movie presented here is the completely uncut version that runs 81:47.

    Perfect Blue – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory credits this AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer as a ‘new digital remastered presentation of the film’ and the 1.85.1 widescreen solid but not without some noticeable flaws. Colors look quite good and black levels are solid and there isn’t much in the way of print damage to note but some DNR has been applied here, smoothing over the image a bit, and it looks like there's some sharpening going on here as well. There's also some noticeable wobble in the picture here and there. Watchable and definitely miles better than the old non-anamorphic DVD but the transfer is, sadly, less than perfect.

    The best of the three audio options on the disc is the Japanese language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. A Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix is also included, as is the English dub, which is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The Japanese 5.1 mix is the best of the tracks provided. It has good range and fidelity, using the surround channels well, particularly when it comes to music. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are well balanced.

    Subtitles are provided in English that translate the Japanese track. A second set of English SDH subtitles translate the English dub, while a third set of subtitles translates only the signs and the song lyrics.

    There are some interesting extras here, including the original Japanese theatrical cut. This runs 81:19 and is presented in standard definition with Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio and with English subtitles. The uncut version makes this more or less obsolete but it’s nice to see it preserved here for posterity’s sake.

    New to this release is a video document that contains just over forty-one-minutes of lectures by Satoshi Kon all shot around 2007. This is presented in three parts and here he examines the film for some students and discusses with them his creative process and discusses some of the censorship problems that he ran into while working on the picture. It’s a very interesting piece and well worth taking the time to watch.

    Also new to this release is selection of new interviews. Ruby Marlowe, the voice actress who played Mima in the English version, speaks for just under three-minutes. Wendy Lee, the voice actress who played Rumi in the English version, speaks for just over two-minutes. Bob Marx, the voice actor who played Mr. Me-Mania in the English version, also speaks for just over two-minutes. These are brief but interesting as they explain their thoughts on the feature and their work.

    We also get a six-minute interview with Junko Iwao, who voiced Mima in the Japanese Mima cut and an eleven-minute interview with Satoshi Kon. These are in standard definition and appear to be archival pieces.

    For those who appreciate the music in the movie, we get just over four-minutes of footage that shows of the ‘Angel Of Your Heart’ studio recording sessions which are kind of neat to see, as well as the full English version of ‘Angel Of Your Heart.’ It’s an audio only piece but it’s good to see it included here.

    Additionally, the disc contains the original Japanese theatrical trailer, the original U.S. trailer, the UK re-issue trailer and an alternate Japanese trailer. Menus and chapter selection are also provided on the disc, which is a combo pack release, meaning it also includes a DVD version of the movie with the same extras on it. Both discs fit inside a standard sized Blu-ray case that in turn fits inside a slipcover.

    Perfect Blue – The Final Word:

    Perfect Blue is a very well-done thriller, a smart and unique animated picture that will easily hold your attention from start to finish. The Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory presents the with a less than perfect transfer that is, at least, still a massive upgrade over the old DVD, with multiple audio and subtitle options and a nice selection of extra features. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Perfect Blue Blu-ray screen caps!