4) Perfect Blue (1997)
For People Who Like: Vertigo (1958), Black Swan (2010), Inception (2010)
Often described as the greatest film that Hitchcock never made, Perfect Blue is a disturbing thriller directed by Satoshi Kon, a popular anime filmmaker who unfortunately died after directing only four films. Each of Kon’s movies were critically acclaimed, but many believe he was unable to improve upon Perfect Blue, his debut feature.
The story follows a young pop star called Mima Kirigoe who joins a TV show in order to develop her career further. Unfortunately, many of the fans are outraged that Mima left her popular girl group behind and one in particular begins to stalk her, calling herself Me-Mania. As she becomes more and more traumatized by the events surrounding her, Mima soon becomes incapable of distinguishing between reality and the fictional show she works on.
Despite featuring gratuitous sex and violence, tropes commonly associated with stereotypical notions of anime, Perfect Blue transcends convention through its unique exploration of issues concerning identity and perception. Some critics were puzzled by the directors choice to forego live action in favor of anime, but Kon made a smart choice here, using the artifice of animation to warp Mima’s subjective understanding of reality to the point of madness, enhancing the central theme of the movie. Perfect Blue is adult filmmaking at its best and it’s such a shame that the anime world lost Kon so early on in his career.