I’ve just rewatched Perfect Blue and boy, I am still blown away even though I’ve watched it years ago. Satoshi Kon really did a good job on this film. Perfrct Blue is a film worthy of many praises. Satoshi Kon’s exploration of the modern Japanese society and to a degree, human society and its folly are so brutally real that it is so fantastic. He really did a good job of exploring the culture and reality of Japanese show business.
I’ve wanted to compare Satoshi Kon’s observation of Japanese show business with my observation of the Japanese show business, focusing on the idol industry and it turns out that we have the same sentiments.
Let us face it, idols are all the rage in Japan today. From Morning Musume, to AKB48 to our so-called seiyuu overlords, these idols have many, many fans. Its safe to say that these idols have have a huge following and it wouldn’t hurt to say that these idols have a huge fanbase from within Japan. Let’s look at all these idols, you see these young, cute, irresistibly adorable, pure girls and fans can’t help but be attached to them. They have this certain something that makes fans attached to them. The secret is that these idols have a pure and innocent appeal that gains these idols many fans, who are mostly males.
Now, it should be noted that Japanese fanaticism is one of the most loyal in the world and they take the phrase “die for our ship” to whole new level. It should also be noted that the majority of the fan base of these idols are otaku fanboys who are willing to do everything for their idol goddesses. These fans will do everything AND I MEAN EVERYTHING for their idol goddesses with the condition that these idols exist solely for the fans. If the idol does something outside their “pure and innocent” image or something that is unapproved by the fans such as dating other men is perceived as betrayal and will be met with severe retribution by the fans and just as Japanese fanaticism is known for their total loyalty, their retribution when they feel betrayed is also well known.
Yep, the idol should only exist solely for the fans and in return, the fans give their unconditional support to the idol. It has always been that way. Idols in Japan, no matter what is somebody’s possession, they belong to their agent/handler, production company, or the fans. This is the truth that Perfect Blue has shown us. When Mima Kirigoe announces her graduation from idol hood, it displeases her fans and when she starts her acting career, a fan goes through great lengths to show his displeasure of Mima leaving idol hood. Perfect Blue also shows that Mima was also placed into acting by her managers, believing that she will rake more cash for her handlers, although she willfully accepts it.
Honestly though, Perfect Blue isn’t the only anime to show this truth. In the original Macross, there is a reason why Hikaru chose Misa over Minmay. It is because that Minmay belonged to her fans and he did not saw a future with her. Minmay spent too much time dwelling on her stardom that when she realized that she also loved Hikru, it was too late.
There are also real life examples of this truth. During the era of golden age of Morning Musume, member Mari Yaguchi was reported to be dating someone and this was met with severe criticism from her fans. This culminated into her leaving the group, supposedly choosing her boyfriend over the fans. A much more prominent example of this truth is of Aya Hirano’s confession of her sex life, in which her otaku fans rage over the fact that their idol seiyuu have been engaging in sexual relations with older men. This led to otaku breaking all their Aya Hirano related merchandise to show their anger and displeasure at being supposedly “betrayed”.
While the truth the idol is a mere possession is there, the truth shows also another truth in my opinion, the truth that idols are not treated as human beings but as mere objects. Idols are treated as mere tools by production agencies for network dominance and are treated by fans, especially otaku as mere objects of their gratification and desires that they cannot fulfill in reality.
If there is one thing I learned in rewatching Perfect Blue, it is that showbiz is a cutthroat industry. Indeed, there is no business like show business.