Since its release in 1997, Satoshi Kon's tense debut feature Perfect Blue has grown into one of the most influential anime films of all time, even tempting filmmakers like Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan to just copy bits and pieces of it. It's hard to realise that this near-perfect paranoid thriller - inspired by B-movies and Italian giallo films - was Kon's first venture into feature filmmaking after working as a manga artist, writer, layout artist and background designer. The Japanese director went on to make four features in total (including Millennium Actress and Paprika), each of them memorable in their own right. A visionary tale about the dawn of the internet, the fractured mind and celebrity worship, Perfect Blue is an indelible part of the legacy Kon has left behind when he died in 2010 at the age of 46.
The film's protagonist is Mima, a shy J-pop idol and member of girl group CHAM! who retires to pursue a career in acting. She quickly gets a recurring a role in a crime drama series, but the part becomes increasingly demanding for her and for her manager Rumi. Furthermore, Mima is being stalked by an obsessed fan and finds that intimate details about her life are being published on the internet. After performing a rape scene, Mima's line between fantasy and reality starts to blur, her identity starts to crumble, and people begin to die.
Subverting horror tropes, this thought-provoking and multi-layered psycho story is not only preoccupied with toxic fandom, but explores (the female) identity, voyeurism, consumerism, the male gaze, and the complex relationship between the self and the other. Kon managed to take an entertaining B-slasher film and turn it into an extremely smart and harrowing experience.