Perfect Blue (Pafekuto buru) (Blu-ray) (1997)

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Due Out for Sale 17-Aug-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Interviews-Cast & Crew
Music Video-”Angel of Your Heart” Recording Session (4:22)
Music Video-”Angel of Your Heart” Full English Version (4:15)
Credits-English Credits (3:47)
Trailer-US / UK Trailer (1:39)
Trailer-Japanese Trailer (1:55)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 81:42 (Case: 150)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Satoshi Kon
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Junko Iwao
Rica Matsumoto
Shinpachi Tsuji




Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Masahiro Ikumi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Mima (voiced by Junko Iwao) is a member of a wholesome all-girl pop group, Cham. Although Cham have not had a top 100 hit, they have a small but devoted fan base. But Mima wants to be an actress and so, supported / pushed by her agency managers Tadokoro (Shinpachi Tsuji) and Rumi (Rica Matsumoto), who is also a close friend, Mima announces that she is leaving the pop group to join the cast of a TV police series. This does not sit well with fans, one especially, and Mima starts to receive abusive faxes, heavy breathing phone calls and a small letter bomb delivered to the set which injures Tadokoro. As well, an internet website has gone on line; it has very precise and complete details of Mima’s day to day activities and her thoughts. Someone obviously knows her very well indeed.

     To change her wholesome image and to increase Mima’s part, the TV series writer and producers propose that her character is attacked and raped in a strip club. Rumi is opposed, but Mima agrees; the graphic scene is filmed and Mima also poses nude for a magazine photographer. But Mima is in conflict between her new and old personas and starts seeing and talking to her old Pop Idol self as well as constantly seeing a distinctive stalker fan. When the writer of the series and the photographer are both brutally stabbed to death, Mima’s life and the life of her TV character spin together and intertwine; what is real and what is an illusion?

     Perfect Blue (Pafekuto buru) is an intense psychological thriller from director Satoshi Kon, his first film in a short career of four acclaimed films before his death in 2010 at the age of 46. Perfect Blue is an animated film that is certainly not for children as it deals with themes including voyeurism, celebrity, obsession, illusion and above all reflections upon identity; it could be, and indeed was originally intended to be, a live action film. But in this case the animation serves to heighten the unreality of the situation; anime is unreal to start with and here in Perfect Blue the distinction between illusion and reality is constantly blurred, so it is hard to know if what we witness is dream, illusion, reality, or indeed, a different reality! And as the film constantly jumps around between scenes, and even recycles back onto itself, the viewer is never sure just where we are.

     Perfect Blue became an almost instant cult success when released in 1997. It remains a powerful and tense psychological thriller and its comments about identity and celebrity are even more relevant today with our reality TV and saturation social media.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Perfect Blue is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, near to the 1.85:1 original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is an unusual looking anime with character designs that are chunky and certainly not very pretty. The early crowd pans are also quite jerky but the film settles down into solid lines and nice looking, if muted, backgrounds. Colours are mostly muted as well, although there are sections of deep, rich colours, especially red. Blacks are solid.

     There are some minor artefacts but nothing distracting.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate.

     The English subtitles are in American English in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in when the Japanese dub is selected so can be removed for Japanese speakers. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Audio is a choice of Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (although the menu says LPCM 2.0), Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English Dolby Digital 5.1. Note that on the set up menu the two Japanese audio tracks are the wrong way around, so if you select the DTS you get the Dolby Digital.

     I listened to the DTS. Audio design is an important aspect in a psychological thriller and Perfect Blue does not disappoint. Dialogue is clear and the surrounds and rears featured voices, cars, trains, rain and crowd noises. As well, there were sudden loud noises and switching between speakers to give an unsettling experience. The sub-woofer added appropriate bass to the unsettling noises.

     There is an English dub featuring Ruby Marlowe, Wendee Lee, Bob Marx and Gil Starberry if you don’t want to read subtitles.

     The music by Masahiro Ikumi, surprisingly his only credit, was effective.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Interviews

     Interviewees are:

     Kon and Iwao speak on camera and answer questions, in Japanese, from an off camera interviewer. The director speaks about his focus, casting, the visual style and his intentions. Iwao talks about getting the part, the character and voice acting. The three English language interviews take place off screen while footage from the film plays. They each answer text questions about their character, fame and the relationship to other characters.

”Angel of Your Heart” Recording Session (4:22)

     Three Japanese girls at the microphone recording the song (in Japanese of course) which is featured in the film.

”Angel of Your Heart” Full English Version (4:15)

     The English version plays over a static animated background.

English Credits (3:47)

     The English credit roll. This credit roll also occurs at the end of the Japanese credits of the film.

US / UK Trailer (1:39)

Japanese Trailer (1:55)

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is currently no Region A US Blu-ray release of Perfect Blue. Amazon.com lists only a Japanese import, without subtitles, for which some sellers are asking $US71. There is both a standard and collector’s edition Blu-ray in the UK, but it is expensive and details are sketchy. Our Blu-ray seems a decent alternative.

Summary

     In Perfect Blue director Satoshi Kon delivers a well thought out and well constructed animated film that keeps us guessing about what is real and what is illusion. The themes, including voyeurism, celebrity, obsession, illusion and identity, are as relevant today as when the film was made, maybe even more so.

     The video and audio are good. The extras are OK.

     A DVD of Perfect Blue was released in this country some years ago. It was reviewed on this site here, the reviewer noting it was not 16x9 and had substantial aliasing, artefacts and interlacing, while the surround use was minimal. The main extras on that DVD are repeated on this Blu-ray and the vastly improved video and audio makes it easy to recommend an upgrade if you are a fan of the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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