Thursday, March 21, 2013

Excuse me, who are you?

The day after I first saw Perfect Blue I went to HMV and bought a copy on VHS. Over the next few months, I watched it a couple of times a week, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it over a hundred times.

Yesterday I found myself at a loss and figured I'd give it another look - it's been, I'm sure, three or four years since I last saw it. I'd recently downloaded a Blu-ray rip (I've bought it on VHS and twice on DVD; if there's a UK Blu-ray release I'll be all over that, so I figure I can justify this) and hadn't gotten around to checking the quality yet.

Some of it hasn't aged well. The quality of the animation is pretty good, although there are some really sloppy scenes and in more than a couple of places you can see where the artists have coloured outside the lines. The character design for ME-MANIA has always bugged me (I think it would be more effective if he was an otherwise normal person), but I'd never noticed before the similarities between his eyes and Rumi's.

I'd usually watched the dub before (it was the only option I had on VHS), but I did notice a couple of places where the translation loses some impact. Mima's line in the TV show, "who are you?" ("anata dare nano?") is translated in the dub to "excuse me, who are you?" in order to match the flaps. Obviously she can't hysterically scream "excuse me" when chasing down her hallucinations, so the line isn't repeated throughout the film in English the way it is in Japanese.

I'm glad to see the creepiness holds up, though. It builds tension and then cuts away, leaving you disoriented and unsure what actually happened, and if it happened at all. I'm still unsure about the "real" events in a couple of places, even having seen the film so often. The film uses sex and nudity more than is probably strictly necessary, but it's almost always shot and scored to make you uneasy (I'm sure there's a lot to be read into this apparent fear of the female form) rather than as fanservice. It's also a little surprising to see a film with no male lead - Mima gets through the whole ordeal entirely on her own.

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