In 1997, when the late director, writer, and animator Satoshi Kon decided that Perfect Blue would be the first story he would share with the world, I don’t think he thought in his wildest dreams that it would speak to events happening so many years later.
The anime cult-classic, which features a story and style unlike anything produced at the time, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month. Perfect Blue marked the beginning of the illustrious career of a creator whose name is as highly regarded as Hayao Miyazaki’s. Blue is an adult story, made for adults, told in a medium that, even if popular today still carries a stigma of being for kids…or emotionally stunted adults. That’s a topic that Kon understood all too well, and it’s one that he takes aim at in the film—along with other aspects of Japanese society.
If you’re seeing Blue for the first time, prepare for a thriller that would probably make Hitchcock nod in approval. If you’re seeing it with 2018 eyes, you may notice the angry young men with no shame, and the older men who when seeing a young woman with ambition don’t see a woman, but see an object to exploit.
The film may be set in the past, one with fax machines and basic-looking web pages, but its prescience will make you think of the present. That’s why it’s a classic.