Unlike Paprika, I find Perfect Blue very difficult to write about. The two movies are similar in that they both obfuscate the line between reality and fantasy, and their chronologies are not necessarily continuous. To give credit where it’s due, Satoshi Kon’s movies all handle these kinds of elements masterfully, resulting in as little confusion as possible, but I do have to admit that I found Perfect Blue difficult to follow the first time I watched it. And a part of the reason for that is that I had a hard time grasping what the movie was really about.
Is it about the idol industry in general, or is it specifically about singing idols “graduating”? Is it about stalking, both in real life and on the internet? Or is it perhaps, as the later scenes seem to indicate, about personal fears and problems with handling adulthood and career? I would like to claim that it’s mainly trying to convey a message about the idol industry, but the psychological elements and the delusions are such an important part of the storytelling that I can’t dismiss them as being somehow “secondary”.
And there is one thing that I particularly like about the psychological aspect of Perfect Blue: Unlike Paprika, it’s not science fiction. There’s no device that causes the delusions and the obfuscation of reality and fantasy. All of it comes from the main character’s own mind. I didn’t find Perfect Blue as easily enjoyable and digestable as Paprika, it actually confused me a lot, but in retrospect, maybe that’s the price I had to pay to experience this particular story. Sure, I imagine part of the reason why Paprika was more palatable was due to Kon getting better at telling stories over time, but I still think Perfect Blue was a really interesting story.