Satoshi Kon Synthesis
Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue seeks to explore the by-product of an obsessive community. The director presents an external and internal synthesis of society, realism, and fantasy. The film considers how technology and the world of entertainment provide an escape from the confines of the real world. Thus, it considers a potential danger from both aspects.
Despite many film directors adapting the film into live-action, Kon’s treatment still makes the fun that is visible throughout his career. He is a manga artist, writer, screenwriter, storyboard artist, and anime feature filmmaker. By including hallucinations, virtual worlds, pop culture fabrications, and reality, he forms the entire film that the audience cannot distinguish in the first place.
Only as the film progresses does the gap between audience and narrative reveal a fractured soul. Structurally, the film opens itself up to a psychoanalytic analysis. However, it is much more a critique of the influence of media and its culture on the talent and audience involved.
If such a thematic preoccupation inspires, Kon can eliminate the character. He also leaves red twists behind, not an easy-going film. The film is set in the Japanese pop idol industry, revealing a whole web of consumption, marketing, and talent exploitation. The story follows Mima Kirigoe, the most talented member of the successful simple J-pop trio named CHAM!.
On the other hand, she acts like a doll with a childish nature. Despite her aspiration to break away from her teen idol persona and become an actress, Mima’s public image transformation is constantly informing the community that reacts to and shapes her persona. There is Rumi as her manager and former pop idol herself and her stalker, Mamoru Uchida, a maniac with bad teeth with faraway eyes present as an alien from Mima’s life story.
In her creation of a sexy new image, Mima put her idol persona aside. Her identity for the sake of shooting explicitly negotiated a bigger role in a television series. However, the expansion includes a traumatic rape scene.
At first glance, Kon introduces a motif that stands out from the outside and inside. He represents a series of reflective contrasts between literal and figurative meanings. When Mima gets on the train home from a concert and looks out the window, she peeks as if through a television or computer in a hyperreal world. There is a line where the invisible mirror between herself and the real world separates and restores the image of the protagonist’s stage persona.
The relationship between Mima’s personal and external identity informs not only the visual texture of Perfect Blue. However, Kon regularly interrupts Mima’s scene in her apartment with her various types of appearances. When Mima is alone in her apartment, she maintains a weak relationship with her family with a phone call once. However, her performative self regularly strikes her mind.
She also reads the first-person entries on the website when alone, claiming the forum to be a true diary of herself. It includes very accurate, up-to-date entries on Mima’s inner thoughts. At first, she was flattered but in the next sequence, she became disturbed. The audience is always wondering if a fan writes a site.
When Mima submits to the needs of others, in the sense of killing her former self, she succumbs to such hallucinations, beginning to see her former pop idol persona as a sprightly disembodied entity. The entity attempted to try to replace the original Mima with alternatives like a doppelganger, snagging her more mature output to join her pop trio once again.
In the specific sequence, Mima’s motives become clear when she receives a fax with the word traitor on the page. Out of the blue, Kon cuts Mima’s appearance on the television series where she asks who the real her is.
Paradox of Reality and Hallucinations
Apart from exploiting a motive from the inside and outside, Kon also likes to obscure the audience’s ability to distinguish between hallucinations and reality. On the whole, the question of existence keeps repeating itself. Such questions can be read by the audience as questions about the identity of the stalker, Mima, and even people who watch the film.
Broadly speaking, the identity of the film becomes so fractured that it is even tragic given the very humble status of Japanese culture. On the other hand, Mima never reached superstar syndrome. Many J-pop groups are very happy to be listed in the 80s on the pop charts, which entered mainstream internet culture and became a favorite among young people for listening to city pop songs.
Mima’s definition of serious and mature acting involves a very disturbing and exploitative pattern, having real traumatic consequences when Uchida tries to rape her in reality. It revives the scenes that the sequence filmed in favor of the television series. Therefore, Kon’s condemnation of the patriarchal entertainment industry fell into the ideological trap of realism. Regardless of which, the film’s assessment always refers to Kon’s influence on Darren Aronofsky, raising thematic visual touches for Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan.
On the other hand, Kon’s work is much more layered than the stylistic approach of Aronofsky’s substance, in which he often ignores aluminum. In addition, Kon’s films have not only stylistic antecedents. Fractured minds create alternative identities, and attack, but often use a clear point of view. With such extensions, the film gets a lot of comparison with Giallo films, following a maniacal murderer with a personality disorder with an exploitative nature. The antagonist’s existential yet sexual motivations often stab the eye.
Male Gaze Contradiction
In short, the audience always cannot ignore Kon’s visual care orientation, especially in Perfect Blue. When Kon criticizes how Mima is being infantized and objectified by those around her, he is taking part in her objectification by cutting explicit images apart. It acts as a characteristic of the film included in the entire sub-narrative of the anime.
The concept of consumer society, especially modern anime, creates a series of representational contradictions about the male gaze and identity. However, Kon’s films show such a concept with the impression that the audience does not feel as sexual as Mima but is disturbed and feels ironic.
According to Kon, having a young man as the central character in the film must recognize the youth well. By having a person of a different gender from the main character, he must personally want to know more about such a main character. Kon has an interest in Mima, transcends her identity crisis, and becomes a sexual attraction from a male point of view.
Popular Culture Reflection
The paranoia of surveillance provides a well-deserved censure of the modes of exploitation and appearance that men have always dominated. Regardless of which, it falls into the paradox of representation that perpetuates such aspects. At the end of the film, Kon reveals what happens when pop culture images take over the identity of an entertainer completely.
It leaves the audience in a confused state of being unable to resolve the tension between constructing one’s subjectivity and serving as an object of the male gaze. Rumi, Mima’s agent, has adopted Mima’s pop idol identity as a second personality, killing her to preserve her. It served as a transformation so complete it convinced Uchida.
Such a comparison can be compared with the psychology of Norman Bates from Psycho, revealing Rumi as a victim of dissociative identity disorder. However, Mima’s self-doubt about the real version of herself persists, leaving the audience always wondering if Mima will end up like Rumi in a cracked mental hospital.
In Kon’s other works of art, his films always concentrate on how psychology processes cinema and the medium above all. Millennium Actress became the second feature of Kon, about the main character playing an old film star reminiscing about her career as a cameraman and interviewer. Her memory is evidence that her visual memory is very connected with the audience’s visual memory of iconic moments from Japanese film history so that the audience is carried away into the cinematic fantasy of biographical fiction.
Like the film, Millennium Actress transports cinema in stark contrast to Paprika, another Kon film, where dream images and films conspire with artificial spaces on the internet to influence the subconscious. However, once an external influence attacks a character, such a device sends a dream that spills over into reality. The film confuses both concepts in a highly detailed yet complex series of visual information.
Tokyo Godfathers is another prominent Kon feature, a sentimental comedy about three homeless people who find a baby. On Christmas Eve, a person leaves the baby, considering the three protagonists will adopt the child or find her parents. Apart from Kon’s few masterpieces, the animations in Perfect Blue rarely attract attention and are much more artistic. The story always needs more room to breathe, given the many twists and turns in the film’s final scene.
Narrative explanations of being possessed by illusions are also not sufficient to satisfy all audience questions. Although Kon introduces the problem of representation in the way he describes his criticism of the private and public sphere, the film is still thought-provoking. However, his comments about toxic fandom, virtual environment, celebrity worship, and entertainment culture provide a sharp prediction of how such factors continue to attack every aspect of individual life, especially in such an era of modernism.
- Hankins, S. (2019). “Torture the Women”: A Gaze at the Misogynistic Machinery of Scary Cinema.
- Loriguillo-López, A., Palao-Errando, J. A., & Marzal-Felici, J. (2020). Making sense of complex narration in Perfect Blue. Animation, 15(1), 77-92.
- SWALE, A. (2020). Anime and the Conquest of Time. Japan Review, (35), 199-218.