Blu-ray Review: Perfect Blue

Perfect_Blue_Screenshot_2

Anime Limited’s Blu-ray release of Perfect Blue has been available in the UK for the past week, but is it worth upgrading to the Blu-ray version and what does it contain? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Perfect Blue.

Synopsis:

One of the most ambitious animated films to come out of Japan (or anywhere, for that matter), Perfect Blue is an adult psycho-thriller that uses the freedom of the animated image to create the subjective reality of a young actress haunted by the ghost of her past identity. Mima is a singer who leaves her teeny-bop trio to become an actress in a violent television series, a career move that angers her fans, who prefer to see her as the pert, squeaky-clean pop idol. Plagued by self-doubt and tormented by humiliating compromises, she begins to be stalked, in her waking and sleeping moments, by an accusing alter ego who claims to be “the real Mima”, until she collapses into madness as her co-workers are brutally slain around her.

Director Satoshi Kon, adapting the novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, shows us the world from her schizophrenic perspective: days blur, dreams cross over into the waking world, the TV show blends into her real life, until her life merges with her part and she can’t separate the ghosts from the real-life stalkers. Though the pat ending sweeps the psychosis and anxiety away with nary an emotional scar, it remains a smart, stylish thriller and one of the most intelligent and compelling uses of animation in recent years. Though tame by the extreme standards of “adult anime”, there is nudity and a few sexually provocative scenes, and the animation is detailed and stylised.

Our View:

For many UK based anime fans their introduction to the world of Anime was not through the course of highly edited episodes of Dragon Ball Z on Cartoon Network or Naruto on Fox Kids, but instead it was through various “adult orientated” feature length films, such as Appleseed, Ghost in the Shell and of course Perfect Blue.  It’s been over 12 years since its initial DVD (and VHS) releases in the UK and it is still considered a timeless classic and now here we have it remastered in High Definition thanks to the folks at Anime Limited.

Perfect_Blue_Screenshot_1

The synopsis pretty much covers what to expect from the film, but it’s basically a psychotic-thriller that see’s pop idol Mima change careers from a singer to actress, during this process we see her engage in a variety of different roles including an attempted rape scene, however while Mima might just be getting used to her new life as an actor her old fans are not, as a mysterious website appears which documents all of Mima’s daily activies, in shocking detailed. The film moves swiftly (and sometimes confusingly) between different locations and time periods, something which takes a while to get used to – even more so when a mysterious spirit version of Mima appears and starts killing employees related to Mima and her career. It’s a continuous plot twisting driven story that shows the emotional stress side of celebrity life-style, and in the case of Perfect Blue it is taken to the extreme – surprises and shocking discovers are in store for the viewer, but most of you reading this are probably already aware of it.

While the film has its highs and lows, some of which are due to poor English voice acting while others related to the films unnatural pacing, the film still manages to hold up quite nicely in this High Definition format – with the visuals looking more detailed and clearer than in any previous releases. This being said there are a few flaws, most of which are a common occurrence among older films being released onto Blu-ray, that being the picture quality consistency.

Perfect_Blue_Screenshot_4

Basically majority of the film is an improvement over the DVD release, however the whole film is grainy (an issue caused due to the films age) but some scenes look entirely different to the scenes surrounding them. For instance a scene in the office saw character colours look more discoloured and blurred, but in the next shot, a close-up of the character, that person’s colour became more natural, realistic and detailed – an example which is being shown in these two screenshots.

Perfect_Blue_Screenshot_5

As I said it’s something that happens a lot with old movies released onto Blu-ray, but it’s just a shame that the overall consistency in the picture quality is not as the same as Anime Limited’s Cowboy Bebop release, but this is most likely due to the original Japanese masters rather than Anime Limited themselves.

Extras:

The original DVD release of Perfect Blue had a variety of extra features, including some detailed interviews with the cast behind the film, and I’m pleased to confirm that all of these extras are included on this Blu-ray release of the film.

Perfect_Blue_Extras

It’s nice that all of the content remains, as it means that this Blu-ray release offers a more “complete” collection, as opposed to other distributors who drop content when they see it is not available in High Definition.

  • Interview with the Director (10 Minutes)
  • Interview with Junko Iwao (6 Minutes)
  • Ruby Marlow Q&A (3 Minutes)
  • Wendy Lee Q&A (3 Minutes)
  • Bob Marks Q&A (2 Minutes)
  • Angel of Your Heart Japanese Recording Session (5 Minutes)
  • Angel of your Heart Full English Song (5 Minutes)
  • English Credits
  • US / UK Trailer
  • Japanese Trailer

Variety Is key in this release, and that’s exactly what you get – with several cast interviews, behind the scenes videos and promotional materials being included on the disc. Those who thoroughly enjoyed the film will be interested in watching the Interviews and Q&A sessions, as each one provides an in-depth look at how the film was created, either from a director’s point of view or voice actors. To round out the “behind the scenes” content is a look at how the “Angel of Your Heart” song was recorded in a Japanese Recording Studio, while a full dubbed English song is also provided for some viewers entertainment. To balance out the collection (and offer a complete package) a variety of promotional materials from both the Japanese and English versions of the film are included, each showing their own pros & cons of promoting a film.

Specs:

Media:  BD 25 x1
Region: B
Running Time: 1:21:42
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), DTS-HD 5.1 (Japanese) & Dolby Digital 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Love it or hate it the film is exactly the same as we all remember it, a complex tale of stardom, murder and hidden desires but now the quality has been brought up to date thanks to the inclusion of a High Definition picture quality.

Perfect_Blue_Screenshot_3

In reality the visual quality is what you are paying for with this release of Perfect Blue, as everything else remains consistent with the previous DVD release of the film, even the audio track is the same as the one used on the DVD, its only the Japanese (which is far superior to the English Dub) that has been improved by being available in DTS-HD, however if you do not own a Surround Sound kit then sadly you won’t notice any difference between any of the audio tracks.

So the question I asked at the start of this review was “is it worth upgrading to the Blu-ray Release of Perfect Blue” – Put simply yes it is worth it, all of the content from the DVD release is present and the improved high definition picture quality really makes a big difference and even though the film is starting to show its age it is a great watch for fans of anime and thriller lovers alike.

Score: review-stars-3

Perfect Blue is now available on Blu-ray and DVD within the UK.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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