The Mirror

In Satoshi Kon’s movie Perfect Blue, he was trying to tell a story of Mima, who left the idol group and chose to become an actress. She went through anxiety, self-doubt and severe psychological torture, then finally grew up. In the movie, I found his usage of the mirror as well as the interpretation that a mirror reflect is controversial and rich in context. I want to share some of my understanding to enhance the movie interpretation and draw connection to social aspects related to Moe culture in contemporary Japan.

Picture 1: In this scene, the glass of the train serves as a mirror to reflect an image of Mima. This moment happens during the first day when Mima made her mind to become an actress.

Picture 2: In this scene, it utilizes the glass again. This time, Mima decided to be “raped” in double bind. Her past, the idol showed up for the first time, and it is the most important illusion that persist in the rest of the film.

Picture 3: In this scene, Mima finished her rape scene job and returned home. Being no longer “pure”, she recognized the death of her fish as her punishment. Then she looked at the mirror hanged on her wall and the idol illusion showed up again to deepen her guilty.

Picture 4:In this scene, Mima went to broadcast station to visit her past idol members. However, she realized that “Mima” was already there. After chasing “Mima” and falling down from the stairs, she looked at the mirror on the hall way and saw the illusion Mima scorning her.

Picture 5:In this scene, Mima might be filming an important scene of “double bind”. She was in the hospital due to her psychological instability and she was looking at a mirror reflection and saying: “I am an actress”.

Picture 6: In this scene, Yumi is chasing Mima across the street and trying to kill her. The mirror of the shop reflects the illusion Mima as Yumi.

Picture 7: This is the last scene where there is a mirror. Mima is saying: “I am the real thing”.

The common feature picture 5-7 share is their multiple possible interpretation. We cannot simply distinguish whether this scene is in Mima’s real life or her dream or even Yumi’s imagination. That is to say, both sides of the mirror may or may not reflecting the truth. As Mima’s psychological problem getting worse, director Kon also made his usage of mirror trickier. For example, the chasing scene may be recognized as a story that actually happend but not imagined. However, one can argue that Mima falling from the platform of Yumi’s apartment and did not even break her legs (since she still could run). The analysis may be even complex for the double bind scene, since there is possibly Mima’s dream, reality (she was in the hospital), and the actual TV series (she was acting).

In conclusion, I think the usage of mirror is very controversial in this movie. Director Kon may wish to tell us that mirror does not always exactly reflect an object, it reflects what you think the object is. Therefore, the second half of the movie can be understood in multiple ways as we can use the movie as a mirror to reflect ourselves. This movie may also criticize the Moe culture in Japan. Since a fan who accesses the media of Moe culture gradually take Moe as one of their identity and may completely wiped out their past identity due to their craziness. Their decorations of the bedrooms, their costumes and even their speech may be influenced in a variety of ways and finally dominant their mind. If their idol (idol in general) changes, it appears to the idol a normal transition of career whereas to the fans, that might be an utterly loss of identity and belief. The identity shift may not be simple given how crazy they were, and there is a chance to invoke frenzy fandom behavior.

Lastly, I am willing to hearing and replying any feedback/comments from you guys. Thanks!

3 thoughts on “The Mirror

  1. Qinyuan,

    This is an excellent post. I love that you did a close reading of each time Mima sees herself in the mirror, and that you tied it together with an analysis at the end of the post. I also did not notice the frequency of the mirrors. The usage of reflections also speaks to the idea of doubling–Mima’s two selves as idol/actress, “pure”/sexual, innocent/mature, girl/woman. Wonderful reading.

    Cheers,
    Amanda

  2. Nice post! I like your analysis focusing on the mirror. I didn’t noticed it when I watched the movie. I searched the movie online and read some comments from other audience . I found that the largest argument about this movie among audiences is the reality vs. illusions. Which part of this movie is true and which part is illusion on earth? Some people even have the one-min reality theory: only the 1 min in the interrogation room in is real. Mima doesn’t exist and the whole movie is imagined by Yoko Takakura (the girl in Double Blind). This sounds a bit crazy but possible. This movie is very complicated. I think everyone has his own opinion about the reality and illusion in this movie.

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