Perfect Blue is an insane movie. It’s got everything, from murder to split-personas to pop culture commentary. It covers so much ground in 90 minutes that it’s hard to believe.
But Perfect Blue also feels…very simple? There are excessive components to the film. But at its heart, the movie is about a woman’s struggle to make it in the entertainment world. And that blueprint can be boiled down to any person’s journey to discover themselves—any coming-of-age story. Everybody is torn between the person they could be and the person they’re becoming. Perfect Blue just takes that story and applies it to the mystery/thriller genre.
So if you’re a fan of that kind of movie with that kind of story, what other movies should you check out? In this list, I’ve got eight great options for you. Four of them are live-action, and four of them are anime. I hope you find a new favorite on this list.
Also, be sure to check out our definitive explanation of Perfect Blue. We get into every aspect of the story and explain everything!
1. Black Swan (2010)
What better movie to start with than the live-action film that is based upon Perfect Blue? Darren Aronofsky actually bought the rights to Satoshi Kon’s classic anime so he could replicate the bathtub scene for Requiem for a Dream. That meant Aronofsky was free to use the story of Perfect Blue however he’d like years later, which led to the creation of the movie many consider to be his masterpiece: Black Swan.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of this movie, sure to check out our explanation of Black Swan.
2. Your Name (2016)
Your Name, of course, is a wildly successful anime film—but there are plenty of people who still haven’t seen it! While Your Name is very much a romance (and Perfect Blue is not), the movies share similar themes that involve discovery and self-fulfillment. The film is constantly on uneven footing, tinkering with timelines and reality as the two characters try to understand what’s happening to them. Your Name is a wondrous, adventurous movie, yet feels tethered to the darkness of reality like Perfect Blue.
if you’re interested in further understanding this classic anime film, then read our explanation of Your Name.
3. The Neon Demon (2016)
It’s funny that it never occurred to me until I started writing this article, but Nicolas Winding Refn and Satoshi Kon share a lot of artistic sensibilities as filmmakers. Their stories focus on the darkness within characters, yet they use a wide palette of colors to explore that gloominess. And considering that The Neon Demon focuses on a young woman who’s trying to make it in the entertainment world (specifically the fashion industry), this 2016 film might be the closest Refn gets to Perfect Blue.
4. Spirited Away (2001)
On the surface, Spirited Away is decidedly a kid’s movie. But anyone who’s seen Hayao Miyazaki’s classic film knows that Spirited Away has some rather bleak moments. Much like Perfect Blue, this is a coming-of-age story about a girl’s journey to grow up without the guidance of her parents. The fear and self-doubt that comes into play when trying to navigate the real world (or maybe a fantastical world) is very reminiscent of Perfect Blue.
5. Mulholland Drive (2001)
You know what? Mulholland Drive was the very first movie I thought of when watching Perfect Blue. While Black Swan is a clear live-action remake of Perfect Blue, David Lynch’s 2001 film feels more like a cryptic nod. Much like Kon, Lynch is an experimental director who plays with surrealism and toes the line between fiction and reality. To boot, Mulholland Drive is all about a woman who strives to make it as an actress in Hollywood. Together, these two movies reveal the darker side of the entertainment business.
Confused by Lynch’s masterpiece? Then be sure to check out our explanation of Mulholland Drive.
6. Paprika (2006)
We can’t discount Kon’s other projects, right? The director has a handful of great films, including Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress. But of them all, I think Paprika has the most Perfect Blue energy. Both movies explore the fractured sense of self many of us experience as we try to make it in this unforgiving world. Both movies have characters with multiple personas. And both movies heavily employ the internet as a scary, undiscovered world that controls our lives.
Need help unpacking this crazy movie? Then don’t miss our explanation of Paprika.
7. Being John Malkovich (1999)
Identity is a huge component of Perfect Blue. Mima is constantly at odds with her career choices—but she’s also at odds with herself. Like…literally. A virtual version of Mima haunts Mima throughout the movie as she tries to become her own person. This aspect of the film reminds me of Being John Malkovich, which also involves an actor in Hollywood losing control of his body. While it is a much more comedic premise in Being John Malkovich, there’s a darkness to the film that’s reflected in Perfect Blue as well.
Be sure to understand all the ins and outs of this movies with our explanation of Being John Malkovich.
8. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
While there’s certainly a more playful tone to a movie like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, there’s also a profound sense of heaviness that can be found in any coming-of-age story. Makoto uses her time-leaping abilities to avoid many things in her life, but must learn to confront them head-on eventually. This desire to escape from reality is definitely a major component of Perfect Blue.