Perfect Blue is the directorial debut of Satoshi Kon. Like all of Kon's work, Perfect Blue explores the theme of perception: one's perception of self, other’s perception, and the perception of reality. A constant theme of Perfect Blue is the distinction between illusion and reality.
Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a member of the J-pop idol group, CHAM!, as she makes the transition from an idol to an actress. To make the switch, however, Mima must shed the innocent persona that comes along with being an idol. Unfortunately, not everyone, Mima included, is ready for her change. What follows for her is a dark journey that has her questioning her own sense of reality.
While battling her inner dialogue regarding whether Mima the idol or Mima the actress is the "real" Mima, she also finds herself at the whim of a stalker who has taken to the internet, claiming to be the real Mima. As the internet Mima's depictions of her day to day life become disparate from her recollection of the day, she begins to buy into the faux reality.
At the height of her confusion between what is and isn't real, several people essential to Mima's transformation start turning up dead, with Mima having visions of their deaths. As the deaths get closer and closer to Mima, she must come to terms with her transformation before it's too late.
Perfect Blue is a great thriller that explores identity. Here are 6 Anime Movies Like Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue:
Similar Anime to Perfect Blue
- Aired: November 2006
With the similar themes and thematic choices made in his films, it's nearly impossible to make a list of movies similar to Satoshi Kon's works without another of his films making an appearance. In the case of Perfect Blue, it is Kon's last feature film, Paprika, that has the most striking similarities. While the details differ, Paprika also weaves a tale of mystery that deals with voyeurism, identity, and reality.
Paprika tells the story of Dr. Atsuko Chiba and her alter ego, Paprika. The head of a revolutionary treatment, which allows doctors to view a patient's dreams with the use of a device called the DC Mini, Dr. Chiba is aware of the dangers that could arise were the DC Mini to fall into the wrong hands. Atsuko's fears become a reality when the DC Mini is stolen and her colleagues start acting strangely and dangerously. Dr. Chiba and one of her patients must find the culprit before too much damage is caused by the improper use of the DC Mini.
Perfect Blue saw a recurring theme regarding the ability for illusions to become reality. In a very similar manner, Paprika explores the way that our dreams and reality affect one another. Satoshi Kon manages to create two films that, while vastly different in execution, are able to feel similar to each other thanks to the themes and questions they raise about self and reality.
2. Omoide No Marnie (When Marnie Was There)
- Aired: July 2014
When Marnie Was There follows the story of Anna Sasaki, a twelve-year-old sent to spend the summer with her relatives in a quiet seaside town. Here she meets a young girl, Marnie who lives in the mansion next door. Marnie and Anna's friendship is anything but ordinary. While Marnie lives in the mansion next door, for most of Anna's stay it is nothing but an abandoned mansion. When the two girls play, however, the mansion and other since abandoned parts of the town come alive. As Anna's time in the town draws to a close, she must discover who her new friend truly is: is she a ghost, a figment of her imagination, or something more?
When Marnie Was There is not a serious thriller, but it does a great job of creating intrigue and mystery that will keep the viewer engaged. When Marnie Was There, while not being a dark thriller in the same vein as Perfect Blue, has its fair share of moments that has the viewer and characters questioning what is and isn't real. A tale of friendship and identity, When Marnie Was There is sure to please those looking for a thriller with a feel-good message.
When Marnie Was There Trailer
- Aired: August 2010
After experiencing the worst day of his life, a middle schooler, Makoto Kobayashi committed suicide by overdosing on pills. Miraculously, Makoto makes a recovery and awakens in the hospital bed, despite being pronounced dead minutes earlier. What is unknown to Makoto's relieved family is that while it may seem that Makoto has come back to life, his body is actually in possession of an unidentified soul. In order to enter the cycle of reincarnation, this soul must find out what the greatest sin of its past life was, as well as, what led Makoto to commit suicide in the first place.
Colorful isn't nearly as dark and gripping a tale as Perfect Blue, but it does deal with the theme of identity. Although the soul is not that of Makoto Kobayashi, he begins to identify as Kobayashi and caring for the people in his life. In fact, Colorful ends with the same type of self-assertion as Perfect Blue, an ending which helped to assert Colorful's place on the list.
Any Anime Like Perfect Blue?
4. Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken (The Case of Hana & Alice)
- Aired: February 2015
After transferring to a new middle school, Tetsuko "Alice" Arisugawa is immediately ostracized and bullied by the other kids in her class. She soon learns that her bullying has something to do with a strange rumor regarding her class. A year prior, in Class 1, "Judas was killed by four other Judases." Intrigued by the rumor, Alice begins investigating the Judas murder. With the help of her classmate, Hana, who may be the only person that knows the truth about the murder, she sets off on an adventure to solve the mystery.
The Case of Hana & Alice is a fun murder mystery that, like Perfect Blue, does a great job of creating an atmosphere that will allow the viewer to become completely immersed in its story. The mystery in The Case of Hana & Alice is a bit simpler than Perfect Blue, but it is the fact that the movie is grounded in reality, that makes the mystery that much more special. The adventure turns out to be bigger than the mystery, but The Case of Hana & Alice manages to create a tale that will keep the viewer engaged throughout.
5. Koukaku Kidoutai (Ghost in the Shell)
- Aired: November 1995
Ghost in the Shell is a classic anime thriller. In the year 2029, mankind has made significant technological in the field of cybernetics. These advancements in technology have allowed for the human body to be augmented with cybernetic parts. The technology is so advanced that some people are just the consciousness – the ghost – inhabiting a cybernetic body –the shell. One of these ghosts in a shell is Motoko Kusanagi, a member of Public Security Section 9, a government agency entrusted with the national security of Japan.
Motoko Kusanagi, and the Public Security Section 9 must find a terrorist known as "The Puppet Master." With very little to go off of, Section 9 must track down the Puppet Master, who hacks ghosts and replace them with false memories. Using this technique, the Puppet Master is able to compel people to do his bidding, such as carrying out assassinations.
In addition to the thriller aspect of Ghost in the Shell, regarding the Puppet Master, and what he wants, the movie also deals with the identity of self, most importantly what it is to be human. With her entire being made of cybernetic parts, Kusanagi throughout the film questions her humanity. In a sense, Ghost in the Shell plays on some of the same ideas as Perfect Blue, but on a grander scale: Perfect Blue looks at how a person's identity is determined, Ghost in the Shell explores how humanity is determined. In both film's the very person that causes the crisis for the Kusanagi and Mima turn out to be the one that helps them find answers to their questions regarding self.
Ghost in the Shell Trailer
6. Kara no Kyoukai 5: Mujun Rasen (The Garden of Sinners Chapter 5: Paradox Paradigm)
- Aired: August 2008
Tired of being haunted by dreams in which his mother kills him, Tomoe Enjou takes matters into his own hands and kills his parents. Unable to return home, Tomoe takes shelter with Shiki Ryougi, a mysterious woman who herself claims to have killed as well.
Garden of Sinners: Paradox Paradigm doesn’t become much of a thriller until the end of the first act when Tomoe sees his mother walking the streets. Now questioning his own memories, Tomoe and Shiki return to the scene of the crime and Tomoe's home, where even more questions about the murder and exactly who Tomoe is being raised.
While Perfect Blue explains its mystery with the use of psychology, Garden of Sinners looks towards the world of the occult. While they look to different devices to tell their story, both are excellent thrillers about murder and identity.
The Garden of Sinners Chapter 5: Paradox Paradigm Trailer
Perfect Blue is a classic anime that shows the power of the medium. With great storytelling and character development, Perfect Blue tells a tale that will have the viewer on edge from start to finish. Not all of the films on this list are thrillers, but they manage to explore the same themes and concepts as Perfect Blue.
Let us know what you think of Perfect Blue and the other films on the list in the comments below!