Book Review: Yoshikazu Takeuchi’s ‘Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis’


Jake Lankford

"Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis" is not a book for everyone, but it is an underappreciated, obscure classic.

Jake Lankford, Staff Writer

If you have ever heard the name “Perfect Blue,” you’re probably thinking one of two things. One, never heard of it. Two, the cult classic anime film. Let me introduce a third option to the table – the obscure, horrifying novel that started it all, “Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis,” which I will refer to as “Perfect Blue” in this review.

“Perfect Blue” tells the story of Mima, a pop idol who decides to revamp her image from innocent idol to bombshell beauty. This transition catches the attention of a sick, depraved sasaeng fan, a term that basically means a stalker fan, who enacts an incredibly sadistic plan in order to forcefully keep Mima’s innocence from the start of her career. A plan that forces Mima into some incredibly dark places as the stalker drags her through his disturbed, warped way of thinking. Nothing more, nothing less.

What Takeuchi does with this plot, however, is where things get interesting. Takeuchi paints a horrifying portrait of pop idol and stalker in the nine chapters that make up “Perfect Blue” that is nearly impossible to forget once you turn the last page. Every last visceral detail is laid out in unflinching detail for the reader to take in. When something horrifying happens in “Perfect Blue,” Takeuchi ensures to show every last detail of it.

All of this is relayed in a cold, minimalist style of writing that only adds to the horrors taking place. Everything in this book, from basic descriptions of mundane activities to the aforementioned depravities, is written in a distant, detached prose that creates succinct, consistent sentences that create a fast, unforgettable read. One of the many highlights of this style is how Takeuchi depicts the psyche of Mima’s insane stalker. No purple prose, Joycean stream-of-consciousness, just the thoughts of a truly deranged person placed front and center for all to read. Another highlight is how Mima’s job is described. Sure, she’s an idol, but the way Takeuchi writes it, you’d think he’s describing someone’s mundane job.

Unfortunately, “Perfect Blue” isn’t perfect in the characterization department. The characters are underdeveloped and only Mima and her stalker receive the tiniest bit of characterization. Any other characters are nothing more than extras. I’m disappointed, in fact, because while Takeuchi was able to craft a unique, eerie plot, he left characterization behind in favor of his plot. Mima was an interesting character and so was her stalker, but it was sad to see them so underdeveloped and plot-driven. Other than that obvious problem, “Perfect Blue” is a creepy, visceral read that hits the ground running and slams right to a close at the end.

In short, “Perfect Blue” has no shortage of craziness across its nine chapters. Takeuchi takes you on a harrowing rollercoaster ride through Mima’s nightmare and the stalker’s psyche. Not one moment is ever let up upon, and when Takeuchi does let up on the gas pedal, you know that it isn’t long until Takeuchi floors it again. “Perfect Blue” will make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, but at the same time, you are fully engaged in its psychological and visceral horror.

This is not a book for everyone, but for those who are fans of the book’s famous film adaptation, David Lynch’s films, or any kind of horror, I encourage you to pick up a copy from your nearest bookstore. This is truly an example of an underappreciated, obscure classic.

Prose: 9/10
Characters: 5/10
Plot: 9/10
Themes: 9/10