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Anime: Perfect Blue

"Excuse me. Who are you?"

Perfect Blue is the film debut of director Satoshi Kon, who would go on to produce other work investigating the boundary between the real and the imaginary such as Paprika, Paranoia Agent and Millennium Actress.

Mima Kirigoe is a mildly-popular Idol Singer who decides to leave her group to pursue a serious career as an actress. She manages to land a small role on a sexually-charged murder mystery series, but starts to struggle with the increasingly-intense demands of her part.

After her character is involved in a rape scene, Mima discovers an internet blog supposedly written by herself, or rather, the "innocent" persona she used as an Idol Singer. Mima has no memory of writing such a thing, but the entries are far too accurate and personal to be a hoax. Is it a Stalker with a Crush? Has Mima developed a Split Personality? Or is something far more sinister afoot?

Provides examples of:

  • Acting In The Dark: What the director of Double Bind does to his actors, making the parallels between the Mima and the character she plays in the movie even creepier as both start to suspect they are the killer.
  • Animated Adaptation: Adapted from a novel.
  • Asshole Victim: Pretty much everybody who got murdered, though the sheer brutality of their murders far outstripped any of the ways they'd wronged Mima. The one exception to this would be the one justifiable homicide committed in self-defense against a would-be rapist and murderer.
  • Attempted Rape: Near the end of the film the stalker Me-Mania attempts to rape and kill Mima, but she knocks him out by slamming a hammer into the side of his head.
  • Author Appeal: In-universe - it's suggested that the seedier aspects of Double Bind are done largely so the screenwriter can indulge his own perverted fantasies.
  • Ax-Crazy: Me-Mania, Mima at one point and Rumi.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Averted. When Mima poses for nude photos, her pubic hair is shown and the cleft of the vulva is very briefly visible.
  • Bland-Name Product: A "Niken" camera appears early on, but a "Nikon F4" camera shows up later. The Niken is actually an in-universe example, and only appears on the set of Double Bind; the Nikon is the photographer's own camera.
  • Break the Cutie: Mima's sanity slowly erodes over the course of the movie as her identity is assaulted.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated
  • Chekhov's Gun: The mention early on that Rumi was a former idol singer herself.
  • Contractual Purity: In-universe example, which has some horrible consequences.
  • Cuckoo Nest: One of the hallucinations indicates that Mima's Detective Drama character is the real person, and her "Mima" identity was fabricated as a coping mechanism to deal with being raped in a strip club (which may or may not have been part of the show she was working on). At least, it was probably a hallucination.
  • Deconstruction: Of Idol Singer (via the stalker angle and the scenes depicting the ins and outs of the business and its consequences) and of Fanservice, as almost every significant instance of it has decidedly ugly undertones.
  • Dark Reprise: A far-off, muffled version of "Angel of Love" is heard in the parking garage when the screenwriter for Double Bind is murdered.
  • Deranged Animation
  • Detective Drama: Mima's first post-singer role is as a rape victim in one of these.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Me-Mania makes himself visible to Mima at CHAM's last performance, and several times thereafter.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Used multiple times (as well as showing us conversations or scenes that seem like they're really happening, only for a director to yell "cut!" — the main character was just filming a scene in the television show she's in) to ramp up the suspense and paranoia that the main character feels.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: As Mima loses her grip on reality, she does this more and more often.
  • Dying Dream: Sometime after a near-death encounter with a truck, Mima speculates that this trope is in play as she doubts that she's really alive.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the end, when visiting Rumi in the mental hospital, we see that Mima's not only a famous actress now, but also seems to be quite well-adjusted. In the Japanese version, one last Mind Screw makes the nature of this scene ambiguous, but it's played straight in the English dub.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Me-Mania watches the CHAM performance with his hand outstretched and one eye closed, simulating the illusion that Mima is dancing in the palm of his hand. This sets the tone for his character throughout the film.
  • Extreme Doormat: Mima, at least for a good chunk of the movie.
  • Eye Scream: A man gets stabbed in the eye by a supposed pizza delivery guy. Another man is murdered, and later on his body is shown with the eye sockets all bloody and the eyes missing. Me-Mania gets hit in the eye with a hammer. There's basically a sample of this in every murder.
  • Fan Disservice: Happens every single time there is nudity in the movie. There's the rape scenes, the scenes where Mima is getting photographed naked, etc.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The fan letter briefly shown in the beginning of the film is actually an angry letter, complaining about the declining quality of Mima’s performances, and saying that Tadokoro ‘will not be forgiven’.
    • Rumi starts crying and leaves the studio during the rape scene.
  • Freak Out: Mima, coming home at the end of a particular traumatic day after filming a rape scene, finds her beloved pet fish dead, and loses control for a moment, trashing her apartment. She (as well as Rumi) has numerous moments where she freaks out throughout the rest of the movie.
  • Glamour Failure: When Rumi is chasing after Mima, we see the fake Mima elegantly prancing after Mima while the reflection on the store windows in the background shows Rumi running and looking quite grotesque and noticeably out of breath.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Mima does this with a teacup at one point.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Rumi, as a result of her delusion coming crashing down and failing to kill Mima, is seen permanently delusional and institutionalized at a mental hospital.
  • Gonk: Arguably a few characters due to the art style, but most definitely Me-Mania (see Nightmare Face below).
  • Groin Attack: One of the murder victims is repeatedly stabbed in the crotch with a screwdriver.
  • Harassing Phone Call: After Mima converts to acting from her pop-idol career, she receives at least one threatening message and phone call (each from her stalker Me-Mania).
  • Idol Singer:
    • Mima, Yukiko and Rei, making up the idol group CHAM.
    • Rumi was one when she was younger.
  • I Just Want to Be You: Rumi is like this toward Mima by the end.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Rumi when she leans over a broken window, as in her delusion she doesn't realise how overweight she is and misjudges the distance between her body and the glass.
  • Improvised Weapon: An umbrella, in this case.
  • Internet Mimic: Rumi posing as Mima.
  • Jerk Ass: The punks at the beginning of the film making a scene at CHAM's final performance with Mima.
  • Jump Cut: Faster and faster as Mima loses her grip on reality.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Mima and her mother both use the Kansai dialect in their phone conversation in the beginning.
  • Kill the Cutie: Both Me-Mania and Rumi come very close to killing Mima.
  • Loony Fan: Me-Mania is an obsessied stalker of Mima.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex / My Celebrity Crush Is Not A Slut: Me-Mania seems to have this issue.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Me-Mania turns out to be working for Rumi.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: The CHAM-costumed version of Mima that harasses and berates her.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: When Mima's Double Bind character is manhandled and raped by a rowdy crowd, the actor playing said rapist quietly stammers "I'm so sorry." between takes.
  • Mind Screw: Until the climax, which partially serves as a Mind Screwdriver, until the Wham Line. It gets worse when you notice Mima was singing her solo at the beginning in Rumi’s voice.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: In the final confrontation between Mima and her alter ego, both Mima and the audience see the alter ego as the phantom Idol Singer Mima that has been haunting Mima. Only the mirror reflection shows the truth — that it's really Rumi dressed up as Mima.
    • Inverted in the mental hospital - Mima (and the audience) see Rumi in real life, and her reflection in the window is Idol Singer Mima, demonstrating that Mima has moved past the movie's events while Rumi is still stuck in her delusion.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Non-Napoleon example. Rumi, Mima's manager, increasingly comes to believe that she is Mima.
  • Never Found the Body: Seems to be the case with Me-Mania at first, then subverted pretty hard.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Me-Mania's face is visibly deformed.
    • There is a more subtle case with Rumi, whose eyes are just a little too far apart from each other.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: While not as extreme as many examples, Mima's persona in CHAM! seems very deliberately girlish and childlike. Her attempts to overcome this trope are what sets the plot in motion.
  • Not Himself: Both Mima and Rumi.
  • One-Woman Wail: Used in the song 'Virtua Mima'.
  • Opera Gloves: The CHAM costumes have these.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: A repeated narrative device in the movie.
  • Otaku: In this case there's an otaku for Mima.
  • Panty Shot: We receive one from Rumi near the end while she is wearing the pop idol outfit. It is definitely Fan Disservice considering she just accidentally impaled herself on a broken mirror and is struggling to walk.
  • Parasol of Pain: Umbrellas are not meant to be used that way, Rumi.
  • Public Exposure: Mima poses for a photographer who gradually convinces her to undress.
  • Punny Name: "Me-Mania" is "Mimania" is "Mima mania".
  • Psychological Horror: A particularly horrifying one, at that.
  • Psycho Supporter: Me-Mania.
  • Reality Subtext: In universe: When they finish shooting "Double Bind", everyone congratulates Mima on her performance as a mentally disturbed woman with a split personality. She may have been that good because she herself has... issues.
  • Room Full of Crazy:
    • Me-Mania's room is full of pictures of Mima.
    • Rumi's room looks like an exact copy of Mima's room
  • Save the Villain: Mima to Rumi at the end.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Mima's first acting role, two characters in the scene discuss a serial killer who removes his victims' skin because he wants to be a woman. That plot sounds a little familiar.
    • Tadakoro also mentions "Jodie whatshername" in a later conversation about Mima's career. He was specifically referring to The Accused, in which Foster plays a rape victim.
  • Shower of Angst: Mima takes a bath in the middle of the movie after all the shit she goes through.
  • Show Within a Show: Extreme type 4 example, such that at times it's unclear whether what you're watching is happening to Mima or her character (or maybe both).
  • Society Marches On: When the film was originally released in 1998, the Internet was still a relatively new phenomenon. Today, the scene where Rumi explains to Mima how computers and e-mails work is either amusing or redundant.
  • Soft Glass:
    • Averted: Rumi gets a serious cut from leaning through a broken window.
    • Played straight when that window (one in a storefront, no less) was completely shattered in the first place by being hit by an umbrella.
    • Also averted when the photographer is murdered.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • How the hell can they play something as upbeat as "Season" over the end credits of a movie this horrific?
    • The light, happy bubblegum J-pop tune "Ai No Tenshi" underscores the gruesome carnage throughout the movie. It's even heard when Double Bind's writer, Shibuya, got killed.
  • Split Personality:
    • Rumi, at least.
    • Another disorder related to schizophrenia, called Folie ŕ deux. The subjective nature of a person's image and how it may differ from that actual person, possibly even taking on a life of its own, is one of the major points of the film.
  • Stalker Shrine: Rumi's room is an exact replica of Mima's room.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Me-Mania is obsessed with Mima.
  • Stepford Smiler: Both Mima (Type A) and Rumi (Type C).
  • Stylistic Suck: The show-within-a-show Double Bind features abundant sex and violence and borrows rather heavily from other well-known psychological thrillers.
  • Tears of Fear: Mima during the rape scene, during her Freak Out moment after returning to her apartment, and as she's running for her life from Rumi.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Satoshi Kon loves this one.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Mima does this while having a bath, underwater.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Mima.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Me-Mania for Rumi.
  • The Voiceless: Me-Mania for most of the movie.
  • Wham Line: The final line in the film in the original Japanese version.
    Mima: (In Rumi’s voice) I’m the real one.Japanese 
    • Not so in the English dub, where the line is "I'm the real thing" and said in Mima's normal voice.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Mima's overweight, middle-aged female manager Rumi was a former pop idol who didn't last and now thinks she's the real Mima.
  • X Meets Y: Walt Disney meets Alfred Hitchcock, according to Roger Corman.
  • You Would Make a Great Model: Happens to Mima's character in Double Bind.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: The CHAM costumes feature this as well.

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