In today’s day and age, the adulation, prestige, and fame that a star gets are unparalleled. As such, it often makes one wonder if the actual person/ personality residing within the public persona ever gets diminished while constantly catering to fans or avoiding stalkers.
Are psychosis and paranoia real issues they deal with? The genius Satoshi Kon’s first film, Perfect Blue, explores these themes in-depth.
The film follows J-idol Mima Kirigoe, who has an envy-worthy fan following but is trying to change career lanes and become an actor. So she quits being a singer and takes up an acting job on a TV procedural called ‘Double Bind.’
However, her attempt to change careers is met with derision from fans, who want her to be who she already is. Regardless, she soldiers on and meets Rumi, a former idol and now her manager.
Gradually, Mima discovers the presence of Mima’s Room, an online platform where diary entries from her POV are published. This violation of her identity, combined with her regrets over leaving CHAM!, having to film a disturbing sexual assault scene for her new show, and fears of being stalked, causes Mima to descend into psychosis.
She has trouble understanding who she is, and to make matters worse, the people around her are starting to get murdered. In the midst of this, we get a startling climactic ending.
In the end, now a famous actress, Mima, visits Rumi at the mental hospital. The doctor informs her that Rumi still suffers from delusion and thinks she’s Mima most of the time. When Rumi walks up to a glass window, she sees ‘Idol Mima’ reflected at her.
Mima then leaves, and in the car’s rearview mirror, she sees herself and says, “I’m real.” These last words of the film indicate that only Mima knows who she is, while Rumi is lost in her mind.
What Is the Ending of Perfect Blue?
In the final act, Mima visits the mental hospital where Rumi is being treated for her dissociative identity disorder after she killed multiple people and even tried to murder Mima for not staying as an Idol. She brings her ex-manager flowers and gets an update from her doctor. She gets informed that Rumi is still suffering from the personality disorder that makes her think she’s actually the J-Idol Mima. As such, she rarely reverts to being her actual self.
Rumi then carries the flowers through the hospital and stands in front of a large window. She sees the ‘Idol Mima’ image reflected on the glass window instead of Rumi’s own face. Mima tells the doctor that despite everything that has happened, she is thankful to Rumi because she is what she is today only due to her. Then Mima takes her leave and walks out of the hospital.
Two nurses who see her passing whisper that famous actress Mima Kirigoe wouldn’t be in a psychiatric hospital. So she must be a look-alike. Mima then gets into a car and, while looking back at the rearview mirror, says, “No, I’m real!” The end. The ending is loaded and can be interpreted in different ways.
Who Is the Real Mima in Perfect Blue?
One interpretation of the ending is that when Mima looks into the mirror, she sees her real self, while when Rumi sees her reflection, she’s still stuck in the persona of ‘Idol Mima.’ So only one of them is living in reality, while the other is stranded in a perfect blue dream.
It is further emphasized when Mima says, “I’m real,” when the two nurses think she’s a look-alike. It shows that she is now certain of who she is and isn’t confused anymore.
It’s also interesting that Mima looks into a rearview mirror while Rumi looks into a large glass window. It feels like Mima is leaving her past behind to embark on a new future, while for Rumi, that delusion is her present and, quite possibly, her future. Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue also often blends fantasy and reality to create confusion in the minds of his audience.
He does this because he wants the viewers to know and feel exactly what Mima is feeling at the moment. For example, when Mima feels she is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder and doesn’t know if she is indeed the one committing the murders, the viewers feel the same confusion she does.
Another way Satoshi Kon wraps reality and fiction is by drawing parallels between what happens in the show Mima is acting in- ‘Double Bind’ and her real life. He then pushes those parallels to intersect with the other. This ensures that audiences can’t quite figure out when the TV show bleeds into Mima’s real life and vice versa.
Why Did Rumi Commit the Murders in Perfect Blue?
The film smartly and repeatedly shows that problems are caused when the gap between what one thinks of oneself (fantasy/ fiction) and what one actually is (reality) becomes too big to manage. Child Mima wanted to be a singer, but adult pop star Mima wanted to be a respected actress. It is a conundrum between who she was, who she is, and who she wanted to be.
However, Mima is able to settle into herself without fracturing her mind like Rumi did because she doesn’t lose her grip on reality most of the time. Even through her uncertainties, she is able to come back to who she is.
But Rumi never gets that chance due to the illness clouding her mind. However, there’s another factor that affects Rumi. This makes her think of herself as ‘Idol Mima,’ and it’s the lack of choice.
Rumi was an ex-idol like Mima, but she didn’t get to leave her profession of her own will. She was made to quit the industry because of her age. As a result, she latched onto Mima and her idol life. So when Mima decided to leave her popstar life, it created another fracture in Rumi’s psyche. So she went to extreme lengths to preserve that image of Idol Mima.
Unfortunately, her psyche never accepted her actual image/ personality as real. It instead chose the blanket of ‘Idol Mina’ to preserve her sanity. Overall, Perfect Blue is a sad and gripping movie that explores delusions, parasocial relationships, and psychosis in great detail.
So what are your thoughts on the ending of Perfect Blue?
Do you think the one who came out of the hospital was a confident and secure Mima? Or is she suffering from delusions of grandeur, and the ending was entirely an imagination?
Let us know your thoughts below.