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Movie Review: Road to Perdition

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. When I was asked to review this movie, I found myself rather surprised. The “Road to Perdition” is a strange film all things considered. I’d hesitate to call it a masterpiece, and yet I’d also say that it’s above average in quality.

This is a sad fact once you realize this is one of the last great roles that Paul Newman ever had. I’m torn with how to deal with this film, because if you just want a dark movie about crime, it’ll be good for that… trust me, there’s plenty of drama and violence to go around.

What it isn’t good for is trying to tell a thoughtful and compelling narrative. The film lacks restraint or remorse, hammering out tragic fates for all the characters with an intent that has no grace. It doesn’t care for grace, only hard and fast cruelty under the guise of loyalty.

If that’s something that interests you, then this neo-noir drama might be up your alley. That being said, it isn’t up my alley at all these days.

Like a vast many films of this nature, it likes to pretend to be intelligent. Even the name is absolutely pompous, like an art-house film without the art. Right off the bat, just by looking at the name religious symbology smacks us in the face.

In Christian theology perdition references a state of being in which there is no redemption. Think doom and gloom, eternal punishment and damnation here. “Road to Perdition” when correctly defined then, actually reads “Road to Eternal Damnation”.

I’ll let you decide which title correctly reflects the mood of the film.

With a name like that, I was expecting a little bit more class and a lot less convoluted nonsense. The film is a tragedy, but there-in rests the issue. I knew that going into the film. That means I had a baseline expectation, simply because of the title and the trailer.

With quotes in the movie like “None of us will see heaven”, and all of the Christian symbology, it pretends to be much more philosophical than it really is. There’s little in the way of mindful foreshadowing. The film would rather beat you over the head with its symbolism like a rock to the forehead… the movie might be aimed at adults, but there’s little in the way of emotional maturity here.

Of course, what good is heavy-handed religious symbolism without a firm disregard for it? Yes, that was a question asked in sarcasm…

These religious undertones are mixed with a healthily dose of brutality, extortion and murder. Several of the people in the film attempt to live a much more pious life. They simply fail so terribly that it’s entirely laughable in the first place.

the whole sordid situation is played under the context of a double life for Michael Sullivan, as if that somehow excuses him for his scummy ways.

Several characters are self-sacrificing in a way. The film seems to impart that for a great number of these men, the family unit is much more important than his own livelihood. On the surface, that might be true.

Yet these two themes clash in a way that offers very little virtue at all.

The film takes place during the Great Depression. Embroiled in a crime syndicate, the families are torn between hard crime and familial devotion. Three sets of fathers and sons struggle upon this precipice. 

Tom Hanks plays the enforcer Michael Sullivan, a member of the mob. Tyler Hoechlin plays his son Michael Jr., a mere 12-year-old boy. The curious child tries to discover what his father does for a living. One night, the wayward youth hides in his father’s car. Then, he watches a man be killed by mob boss John Rooney, played by Paul Newman.

This would be devastating enough for a good plot-line, but as I said, this movie knows nothing about being subtle. To avoid confusion, I’ll now be calling Michael Sullivan, the father, Sullivan… and the son Michael simply to avoid confusion…

John Rooney’s son Connor, played by Daniel Craig, is a member of the mob as well. Connor has been stealing from his father, and that’s the heart of this supposedly tragic drama. Sullivan holds John in high regard, treating him as his own father figure. This bond goes both ways. John treats Sullivan as a son… so needless to say, Sullivan takes issue with Connor in more ways than one.

A rather notable quote stands out to highlight this. Passed down from Sullivan to Michael: “Your mother knows I love Mr. Rooney. When we had nothing, he gave us a home.”

I won’t attempt to distill the rest of the plot into a few paragraphs. It would be rife with contradiction, none of it succulent or even engaging to ponder about. The movie just isn’t built for that kind of complex analysis.

The movie is directed by Sam Mendes, and it’s based upon a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner… the damn thing is heavily revised by screenwriter David Self. Take that as you will.

When I watched “Road to Perdition,” as a teenager, I liked it a lot. These days, as an adult, I find it to be absolute crap… it tries to debate complicated moral ethos with the brute force of a jackhammer. Sadly, that’s the point that really sticks out to me. Nostalgia can’t even save this movie for me under direct scrutiny.

It would be disingenuous of me to say otherwise.

This film has been compared to “The Godfather,” but you can’t compare these two works. It really grinds my gears when people even try to do that. They’re entirely separate films. While both of them deal with the pomp and circumstance about the criminal underbelly, one does so without false pretense…

I’ll let you guess which one that is.

Let me be clear here, The Godfather makes no bones about who and what the characters are… mobsters… criminals… bad guys! There is no guise of heroism.

However in “Road to Perdition“, that narrative gets muddied… all the way down to the move and the trailer itself. No, I’m not joking. The movie does want us to buy into that kind of misguided tripe from the onset. It’s even in the advertising.

All of the characters, good and bad, are neck deep in the mobster lifestyle… and none of them even try to choose a better path. It doesn’t matter that Sullivan wants better for his own son Michele, he has no valuable concept of what “better” even is.

Sure enough, Sullivan paved a road to hell, but under no circumstance could anyone say it was done with the best of intentions.

While “The Godfather” offers critical questions about loyalty and the option to choose one’s own path upon a silver platter, “Road to Perdition‘ spits on the concept. It refuses to take its own pious themes, religious undertones and family bonds seriously.

The class and integrity provided to the Corleone family in one film, is abhorrently denied to the Sullivan and Rooney families of the other film. That is why you could never hope to compare these films at all.

One is a true film about mobsters and the confines of that lifestyle. The other is a film about glorified street thugs with more firepower and gumption than common sense.

The only saving grace Road to Perdition has as a film is that if you don’t think about it, then it is an okay film to watch. If you just want to see a simple crime movie play out tragically with no forbearance at all…. well, this is the film for you. It’ll give you a decent movie night sufficiently as an entertaining criminal romp.

There’s nothing wrong with a standard popcorn flick, but this is not the popcorn flick for me. If I’m going to watch criminals take the spotlight, I expect a much better baseline respect for themes involved.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Nuptial Letters: Gold Heart, Silver Chain Precursor #1

Author’s Note: I cannot promise you the most brilliantly written story on the planet, it won’t be perfect, it’ll have its own flaws. What I can say is that this story will offer a bone to chew and food for thought. If that’s to your liking, you may find something of worth here.

This is a precursor to my serialized fiction releasing on this website on May 4th, 2022. I hope you enjoy this tiny glimpse into the fictional world I’ve created, as that’s what this primarily is, just a hint of world building for you all.

Do bear in mind the totality of the story tags found within this fictional universe.

Genres (so far within the totality of the universe): Romance, Slice-of-Life, Drama, Fantasy.
Tags (so far within the totality of the universe): F/F, M/F, Mature Sensual Content, Mild Fantasy Violence.

Totality Rating: This serialized content is “Mature” due to romantic overtures between adult women and use of hard language (cursing/swearing). No severe warnings currently apply to this fiction. Warnings will be added on an as needed basis.

Nuptial Letters: A Gold Heart, Silver Chain Precursor
Setting: The Black Causeway

Atop a formation of boulders lining a sea of inky black liquid, a woman sat with a pen in-hand. A pad of thick paper rested in her lap as she acted as a scribe, detailing her thoughts. They were as complex as a puzzle, but as simple as nature itself. A quandary and mystery rolled into one.

To my dearest Valda,

The moon shines brightly on this night, its glow reminds me of you. A sea of endless stars twinkle in your image. Tiny fractals cutting through the depths of the universe, just as you have cut through me. You’ve left behind an imprint, Valda…

It is one that I couldn’t hope to cast aside. Even if I wished to remain a solitary entity, joining souls is the Arvad way of existence. It is time for me now, I feel that ancestral urge within my being. An Arvad that does not act upon that calling, withers away to return to the elements once more, so they say.

Maybe it is true, perhaps that is what I am feeling tonight. The calling of my element, of the shadow, warning me that I shall be returned to it, if I cannot find a presence upon this land to be as one with...

With a tongue peeking out to wet her lips, Blair sighed softly. She felt that a hesitating pulse would be of a rather profound company at this moment. Sugar-grey eyes blinked back a salty sting, because she knew it was not folklore. No, it was the truth. Arvad were primordial, but they were not everlasting. They were given form by the desire of loved ones, parents who wished for a child like themselves. Yet, they could not maintain a bodily form forever, never upon their own merits. Smearing the sweat from her palm onto her tunic, she continued her letter.

It has been a month now, since we collected and crested upon that dance floor. In one single night, one of your kin, became one of my own. On that same night, I felt this distant unease that your presence so swiftly soothed…yet, to me the passing time feels like a vortex between yesterday and an eon ago.

I recall the celebratory drumbeats ringing in my ear. The shimmer in your eyes that night were like the stars above. The way that the flickering firelight played against them, just as the twinkling stars play against the swath of Basa, lighting the way across the lands. It looms within me so perniciously now, a thought that ghosts across my hands and my heart.

Her time was almost up. She could feel it, and her parents concerned themselves over it. Once an Advar came of age, a mortal soul had to accept them. A mortal had to give them a reason to walk the vast tapestries of Basa. She needed a tie to the mortal realm before she became nothing more than scripture… but to tie her soul to that of another wasn’t an easy thing. Convincing a Cadfan or Aasa to join souls with hers would promise their own ties to the shadow, and upon their deathbed, they too would become an Advar like herself.

Fated to an eternity as an Advar… with no afterlife to hope for, or cling onto… just a life of wandering the lands, and little more. Could she truly ask that of anyone? To be bound and unified endlessly like that?

I am happy to report that we have finally finished our business in the volcanic circle. My father says that we should begin our journey northbound. In general, it seems to be raining as we traverse the rocky channels of the Blackened Causeway. It is an arduous task. The tar pits in this region are just as I remember them; inky blackness and dead foliage as far as the eye can see. An endless vortex of searing blackness.

I’ll have you know, that there was an overflow recently. The tar has blackened the pathway once more with its wet and sticky ichor. This is a desolate place indeed, not even our best horses care for it. Northbound journeys tend to take some time though. I have come to expect the mutterings of the pack mules as they continue plodding along in the mud and muck.

I have often wondered, Valda, why do collections of your people see fit to inhabit places such as these? It cannot simply be for the highly priced commodities you see fit to barter with, can it? Although I can ask that, you’ve never been to the volcanic circle before, have you?

I wouldn’t blame you, if you haven’t.

Blair swallowed back a lump in her throat, she felt it stood to reason why she would be so greatly disliked, and why most of the Advar had the same issue. Flame, liquid, land, light and shadow, it didn’t matter. They were all outcasts, every single one of them. That was the way of the world, echoed as it was through the souls of the elements.

To befriend and Advar, to love them, that was not often seen as a natural thing.

Personally, I have never cared for the ash looming so predominantly here, not the heat that never ebbs. The wretchedly thick scent of sulfur burns my nose. Alas, here I am, burying my face beneath my cloak as grey water falls from the sky. The water stains upon the paper can be blamed upon that, but perhaps that is a comfort to you. At least you know that you are always persistent in my thoughts… distant and dreary although they are.

I have to send this letter now, before we take our leave from the outpost we’re currently residing in. I am afraid I’ll be out of a serviceable reach for quite some time. I’ll let you know when we re-settle. Until then, I’ll send you letters at every trade post and village that we pass by.

Wait for me, Valda.. and while you’re at it, just agree to marry me already. I know of your fondness for me. The way your hand fits in mine goes without saying. You belong at my side, in your heart of hearts, you must know that by now.

Fondly awaiting the day when we shall meet once more,
Blair Blodwyn.

Setting: The Vamon Coast

“Princess, another missive for you…”

“It had better damn-well be important,” Valda replied softly. She didn’t bother to look up to the servant. “If it isn’t, cast it into the fire. If it is, place it upon the table and leave me to my thoughts.”

“As you wish, Ma’am.”

She could not be bothered with the man disrupting her now. She was too busy penning a letter of her own. Delicate fingers plucked up the paper, scanning her words.


I’ve received what I hope to be every one of your letters. I don’t believe there could be one missing, but one can never be too sure. The carriers often have difficulty traveling about this time of year, what with the snow, and all.

Esoteric banalities of my feelings for you aside, you know that I cannot simply agree to marry you. You have to pass the approval of the eldest in my family line. Royal blood is not so quickly cast aside to the likes of an Arvad, much less an Arvad woman… the Birendra name is one not to be sullied by unfortunate blood. What could be more unfortunate than that of a woman without lands to call her own?

Oh, now I know how that sounds. I most certainly do not need a several page diatribe from you in return. Particularly never upon the merits regarding the Arvad way of life. I know just how deeply connected your people are to the ebbs and flows of the greenest pastures and deepest forests. The elements that so bind you, you would never be able to part with.

Ah, yes now, that is the problem, I’d say.

Of course that was the problem, and it prevailed in her mind for the reason why her family might decline. She thought on this, reconsidered her words, but there was no kind way to gentle her thoughts in the matter. As a Cadfan woman, she was lacking. She couldn’t do battle the same as her elder sibling, she could not bring herself to be conniving like her younger sibling, the best of the saboteurs. She could only do what was expected of her, and what was expected was to be of support to a noble lineage.

Sighing to great length, she looked up to the painted image upon the wall. The likeness of herself and her family hung there. Her father, once a principled and proud man, was also the relaxed sort. Temperance firmly in-hand. He could no longer speak on her behalf. If he could, he likely would have waved his large hand and sent her on her way. He would have blessed her to live a life as she saw fit… her elder sibling was not so easy-going.

Even the Aasa have kingdoms and villages to call their own, Blair. It is true that eons of war and separation have made them detest our ways, generally speaking… yet, it is the Arvad that continues to face the utmost scrutiny. That said, my betters have agreed to have a nuptial meeting with you… that is all they have agreed upon, mind you… I suppose it is the best we can hope for.

The best, and the worst, a fact Valda had to keep in mind.

It was not the fact that Blair was an Advar that posed the issue, no, far from it. Her elder sibling was also bound to an Advar after all. It was that Blair did not intend to settle, or to live the Cadfan way of life. Who knew what would come of this meeting?

You really are something of a ragamuffin, Blair… always complaining about the way we Cadfan enjoy our idle luxuries. You should know just as well as I do that we aren’t so affected by the locations we inhabit. That would be exactly why we call them our home in the first place. It would be completely preposterous to think otherwise.

No, I have never been to the volcanic circle. I have, however, heard wondrous things. The power plants are reliant on the volcanoes there. If only we in the northern and southern tips could harness that power for ourselves, we’d be much better off. Alas, unlike the searing heat centralized to Basa’s center, we know only the bitter cold bite of a never-ending winter… it gets colder by the day it seems. There is no useful seismic activity for us to draw upon, either. Only the whims of the winds and waters that pass us by.

Then again, we are a people that do not travel much. We have so little use for wandering a landscape that hardly welcomes us. In fact, quite frankly I should think that you’re a fool… why even take an interest in me? It makes such little sense when you are such a restless person.

I will await your missive once again, I hope your ensuing travel doesn’t take an eternity.

Cordially yours,
Valda Birendra

End of Precursor…
Precursor #2 will be released April 20th, 2022
Precursor #3 will be released April 27th, 2022
Chapter one to be released May 4th, 2022

Go to Precursor #2 (does not release until April 20th 2022)

Further Author’s Notes: This was only a small taste of a very long story, and for what little it provided you, I hope that you enjoyed it. If you like my written work and want to support me, there are ways to do so down below. This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

Side note, that tar pool was originally a picture of a tree that I liquefied in a paint program. I just farted around a bit to make it look that way. Patreon supporters got to see it days ago as a sneak peak… there will be more sneak peaks/artwork, and world building showcases for anyone of the right Patreon Tier.

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Anime Review – Your Lie in April

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. Today I’m reviewing a drama anime, before I do though we should define the difference between drama and melodrama.

Drama is a noun. In the context of this review it means to express an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. Melodrama is also a noun, but it means to sensationalize a dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions. Sensational means over the top in this instance, but unless you’re Penny Polendina from “RWBY” sensational doesn’t always mean its good.

Actually, I’d argue that most bad drama anime are accidentally melodramas by their nature. Good melodrama is even more difficult to write than drama itself. For example Oniisama e, also known as Dear Brother is a melodrama anime done right.

Unfortunately, crappy drama anime are dime a dozen, melodramaticin all the wrong ways to a fault, and searching for cheap ways to pander to the viewers because that’s the easy thing to do. We’ve all seen them out there.

Every year more mindless drivel gets released only to be forgotten. To be honest, good drama anime are very difficult to come by. That’s why Your Lie in April is an important anime to discuss.

It isn’t a melodrama by its core nature, and it isn’t particularly bombastic either. At the end of the day, Your Lie in April is very well written drama anime.

Your Lie in April or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, released in 2014. It was directed by Kyōhei Ishiguro and written by Takao Yoshioka. The studio that worked on this dramatic title was A-1 Pictures, so you know going in that the music is going to be amazing and the animation quality isn’t going to flounder under its own weight.

There is plenty of media for this series, including manga and a light novel, as well as an OVA. I’ll just be focusing on the anime though.

For me personally, it wasn’t the hardcore gut-punch that many claimed it to be. That being said, it shouldn’t be overlooked or bypassed. To even think otherwise would just be flat out stupid, because there are so many things this anime gets right.

A Simple Story Done Right

Your Lie in April isn’t about complicated interwoven narratives. It can’t carry the same sort of gravitas that some other great anime can. It doesn’t need to do that, and it doesn’t attempt to be more than it is. I can really respect series that understands the core messages and themes it conveys.

Let’s be honest, painting a narrative that encapsulates themes of traumatic experience and coming of age concisely and consistently isn’t always easy. These are teenage characters, but Your Lie in April manages to handle the story incredibly well.

It’s a simple story filled with complicated emotions. It isn’t anything more than that, and it doesn’t want to be. Therefore, what we have instead is a true series of heartfelt emotional turmoil, and the process of overcoming it.

We follow a boy by the name of Arima Kōsei, who is as troubled as could be. After his mother’s death, he lost his love and passion for the piano. He can’t even listen to the sound of his own playing without being bogged down by the emotional weight of it all. Suffering a mental breakdown at a young age, two years later he still struggles with his trauma.

At the beginning of the anime, about halfway into the episode Arima describes how he experiences the world. To him it is a place full of monotone. The vibrancy and thrill of life itself is something he just can see for himself anymore. This is a metaphor for a slew of deeper issues, but on a surface level saying he’s chronically depressed isn’t an understatement.

The catalyst for his emotional levity comes in the form of a young blond haired girl named Kaori Miyazono. She is a skilled violinist with a free spirited personality and a passion and flair for music arts.

Kaori lacks a fair amount of restraint, and Arima observes she has a bit of a violent personality at times. Regardless of that, he’s very interested in her. Kaori’s musical talents and her outlook on life are the influences he needs the most. She lacks his stringent views of the musical arts and she fills a void in Arima’s creative ability.

Slowly and with no small amount of effort, Kaori revitalizes Arima’s love of music. Through her, he begins to see music as an outlet he needs. Slowly, the world becomes a vibrant place for emotional and personal growth once more.

See what I mean? Your Lie in April has a simple and uncomplicated plot. As you can probably guess, this means the anime needs to dig deep to be fully enjoyed. The plot is an emotional journey of the soul itself, a story of triumph over trauma… or in some cases, acceptance over grief.

It’s not groundbreaking by any means, and I’d hesitate to call the series foundational to the anime medium, because it isn’t those things. That being said, the anime is a beautifully told story. Concepts of love and the desire for hope are focal points for the characters. It is what drives the plot forward.

Familial love, romantic love, a passion for hobbies and interests, and a love for life itself trickles into the narrative commonly enough. Hope for the future is what blend the ideologies of these youths together.

Love in spite of trauma and hardship. Love in spite of grief, and love clung onto tightly even when letting go of the past, are all themes well represented here.

Hope and inspiration are the balm for Arima’s traumatic past and his emotional burdens. The healing powers of music plays a strong role here as well. Showcasing that for some people, music is not only a talent, it’s a legacy.

There is also a thick layer of metaphor here, as music is used as a way to connect these characters. It gives us a deeper clarity to who these people really are. Rather than having a character simply go on long and cumbersome diatribes, music becomes the looking glass that allows us to really see beyond their carefully constructed masks.

To be clear, every character has one one these masks, the “lie” you could say. Even the free spirited Kaori is not exempt from this. She has once too, and it is just as tragic and cumbersome as Arima’s own.

The cast is huge. Since the anime is only twenty-two episodes in length, many don’t get the time they deserve. This isn’t too awful though, as the series was never meant to hold aloft a complete medley cast of characters.

At the end of the day only two characters really matter, Arima and Kaori. Everyone else just functions as plot threads to build the world these characters inhabit. Many of the side cast don’t get fully completed stories, and since the plot is so centrally focused anyway, it doesn’t rightly matter.

However for all of the good things this series does manage to do well, there’s just one way it entirely fails in every way possible.

Repetitive Trauma: Eventual Desensitization

Trauma is not a one-size-fits-all narrative lens. After an emotionally crippling experience, recovery has highs and lows. Recovery isn’t easily attained, meaning cycles of repetition can occur. Even though it is very factual to life, generally speaking it isn’t very satisfying to watch.

The cycle of trauma is a vicious one. When poorly handled, it can come off as overbearing. As fans, we usually expect better of protagonists by default and that doesn’t help. We want to hear stories of victory, but in some ways this is a story about loosing more than winning.

By its pure definition, trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. That means it sinks into a person with a vice-like grip. You don’t just get over it. That’s not how deeply seeded trauma works.

There is a “two-steps-forward and one-step-back” mindset that hard hitting emotional trauma causes. Recovery itself isn’t a linear path. Enter in Arima to that cycle of repetition, and we can see where this causes the main issue I have with Your Lie in April.

Arima is incredibly human for his depiction of circular patterns of thinking. He has a tenancy of falling back down into his own poor mental state.

Several times in the show we see how this impacts him emotionally. There is no question about how heavily it weighs down upon his poor self-image. We can’t avoid the topic, the anime won’t let you.

Although, to a point touching upon his trauma happens too frequently. It’s easy to get bored with him or to lose any ounce of sympathy you have with him. A huge part of that comes down to his constant inner monologues.

His struggles would negatively impact anyone, but especially a boy like him. We don’t need that point beaten into us, yet it often is.

While many characters use music to truly express themselves, there are times the thick and heavy mental state of the characters does that job too. Particularly where Arima is concerned, it can be too much.

I praised the show’s ability to use music as a means of emotional expression and metaphor. That’s because when those moments don’t happen, we get the exact opposite.

Sometimes it seems like the series thinks it needs to beat the point of his anxieties into us, because we’re too stupid to figure it out on our own.

When inner monologues do happen, they’re long and almost too heavy handed. Sometimes it detracts from the musical piece on stage to have the monologue laying so thickly over the top of it. This isn’t a psychology or sociology anime. In the attempt to make Arima feel more like part of humanity, what we have instead is a loss of that human nature itself.

In a way, that’s almost genius. No, I’m not kidding. Listen, it doesn’t matter if we want to admit this or not. It is pure fact. Arima is the personification of what trauma does to a person when left untreated. He should have gotten the help he needed long ago, but he didn’t and what we see is that result. Trauma harms his way of thinking in different ways, damaging the greater logic he needs in order to see his own self-worth.

As much as it sucks to realize this, that holds true to reality. This is why so many people just don’t recover from emotional strain in real life. Even when they think they are on the road to recovery, they can be proven wrong, and it can resurface or come back with a vengeance.

Across several episodes, Arima describes playing the piano as if being under water. The sound dulled, or at times he’s down so deep he can’t hear it at all. While these moments showcase his true anxieties well, it comes so often that it can feel like you’re watching versions of the same scene over and over again.

The issue is though, real life trauma and creative narrative stories don’t always mix very well. This isn’t a true story. These are characters and this is an anime. We need to be able to see the humanity in the characters too, not just the mental struggles they present to the story.

Your Lie in April is not anything like Anohana, that’s for damn sure. This is why it lacks the emotional gut-punch for me. We lose the character Arima to his own brain more times than not. Their mental diatribes lack parts of the core human experience. Notably, it and quite sadly, it lacks any real catharsis.

It gets to a point where I just don’t care about Arima, because I feel like he’s a character better suited to far more heavy handed series. Your Lie in April isn’t by its nature a dark series. It’s emotional, sure, but it’s not dark and gritty.

There’s too much poorly placed comedy to really draw me into a darker narrative. The over all tone of this series doesn’t suit a darker narrative anyway. tragic storytelling is not the same as dark storytelling.

All-in-all this is the largest issue in the series and for some it could even be a deal breaker. I know several people who dropped the show because of Arima alone midway through.

Honestly, that’s a real shame because Kaori’s story is just so damn good in the second half to a point she nearly steals the show, and for good reason.

Speaking of Kaori, by now you’re probably wondering why I am avoiding saying too much about her. Well, I wish I could say more on that, but I won’t.

No, really, I can’t dive into that, because it is way too fundamental to the story to speak at length about it. I don’t want to spoil her story arc for those who haven’t seen the series. I want you to watch it and see it for yourself.

What I will say is that Kaori is the reason you watch this anime. Her message, her emotional traumas, and her bond with Arima aren’t things you just pass up. All of it is just just too good, and it will kick your ass emotionally more than Arima alone ever could.

It also finally gives Arima the catharsis he’s needed for the vast majority of the twenty-two episode run time. So yeah, sorry, can’t spoil it. You’ve got to experience it for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Yes, there are many flaws with this show. Even so, it doesn’t diminish that Your Lie in April is one of the best drama anime out there. While it doesn’t usually portray as melodramatic, it can toe the line sometimes.

The series is also possibly one of the best examples of how real trauma manifests in a person. The series explains why it is not so easy to move beyond it. The show fully displays those difficulties even when its a hindrance to do so.

That legitimate “two-steps-forward and one-step-back” traumatic cycling is very hard to find in any anime series. Usually it just isn’t done well. Normally it has some supernatural or magical component to it… or there are time skips clogging the recovery itself.

Your Lie in April offers that distinct personal looking glass of that trauma inwardly. On top of that, it manages to do it in a fairly digestible way. Completely accessible for teenage viewers and with a core theme that suits reality. Often times people in mental health recovery programs take up the arts as form of healthy outlet. Arima’s coping skills through music are very reminiscent of that, even though music is part of his trauma in the first place.

It’s a messy message to send, I won’t deny that. However that alone holds true too. Trauma will never be clear cut, and it would be impossible to avoid the triggers that cause trauma for your entire life. Learning to move above and beyond that will never be simple. One day, you need to find the way to cope with it, or you’ll just continue to suffer.

Arima learns that the hard way, but it is a lesson we all come to learn in our lives at some point.

Kaori’s involvement in his life, and his newfound love of music isn’t a cure-all, and that’s the key. Thanks to Kaori’s influence and using music as a touchstone, Arima finds a way to deal with his traumatic life experiences in a helpful and meaningful way.

Now, are there better depictions of this sort of theme out there? Sure there is! However, all of those better examples I come up with aren’t as easily accessible to viewers, or they’re filled with concepts just aren’t useful for younger teenagers.

Your Lie in April doesn’t shy away from emotional difficulties, but I’d never say the anime goes too far down the rabbit-hole either. It can be heavy handed, but I wouldn’t call it nightmare fuel by any means.

This strong balance makes it one of the best drama anime out there that focuses on traumatic life experience. If that sort of thing interests you, then you have to watch this anime and come up with your own opinions. There’s no question about that.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. If you liked this review please be sure to check out similar content down below, plus a few announcements of upcoming anime review content.

We have a lot of great review content coming up in the following weeks. The Patreon exclusive poll has some results in for one game review and one anime review. If you want to help decide content going forward, becoming a patron is your way to do that.

Anime: Zombie Land Saga in the first week of June.
Game: Valkyria Chronicles for the PlayStation 3 also in the first week of June.

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Anime Review: Claymore

Warning: The anime I am reviewing today is called Claymore. It is rated TV-MA (Mature Adult). Therefore, it is not suitable for young viewers. The series contains adult themes.
Mature Content: Without question Claymore has graphic violence and gore. Children are absolutely mistreated emotionally and physically in the series. A male character flat out states he intends to rape an adult woman.
Kern’s Disclaimer: This is not just a typical hack-and slash action show. It should not be treated like one. Know that going into it. One more time for the people in the back. This anime is NOT for young or impressionable viewers. If you have delicate sensibilities regarding the content warnings above, maybe just don’t watch this anime. I won’t be held responsible if it triggers the absolute crap out of you.

Did you read the warning? I put that there for a reason, so you better have read it. There is some content in this anime that even gets to me a little, and I’m no snowflake. Anyway, if you didn’t heed that warning, that’s your problem now. I did my due diligence as far as I’m concerned. Assuming you did read it from this point on, let’s get started.

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Yeah, it’s time for another review. Today I’m going to talk about an anime that isn’t perfect, in some ways it isn’t very good at all, however in others it truly shines. I have always enjoyed it, despite its many flaws. There aren’t many series quite like it in my personal opinion. This anime is called Claymore.

Now, depending on your particular tastes in anime, there’s no shortage to pick from nowadays. As fans, our choices for solid anime has never been better. However, if you were a fan back in 2007, you know that the anime fandom was quite a bit different.

We didn’t exactly get the same flood of series that we do nowadays, and while we got a plethora of great shows over the years, fans had a tendency to cling onto their chosen favorites for just a little while longer. Mostly this is because a favorite and beloved anime was just harder to replace.

This is especially true for anime that deviated from the normal offerings of a yearly line-up. Yes, I do mean yearly, because back then full seasonal floods were just harder to find legally. We still had a lot to choose from, but nothing like the magnitude we do today.

Needless to say, when an anime manages to hold my interest for any length of time, I am impressed. This one stands my test of time. Claymore lingers in the back of my mind as a series I can fondly recollect, to me that is vastly important.

It was directed by a lesser known man by the name of Hiroyuki Tanaka. You may not have heard of him, because although he occasionally deals with extremely popular anime, he rarely dabbles in positions widely acclaimed by the anime fandom at large. Funnily enough, he would later have his hand in shows like Attack on Titian as an assistant director.

Dark World Done Right

Claymore is the sort of series that demands a particular attention to detail. There’s a lot of carefully embedded themes that help to build the lore and law if its world.

Animated by the studio Madhouse, it stands the test of time, more or less.

Even when the scenes do look dated by today’s standard, I’d never think them awful. The series is packed with action, and dips in quality do happen from time to time. This is not their best work, but it’s certainly not terrible either. Corners were cut, but never in a way that makes you truly cringe.

There’s a real sort of grit and grime that allows this series to age very well. When it wants to look beautiful or captivating, it does. Red pools of blood can shimmer in the darkness like a dark omen in one moment, while in the next a moonlit sky can softly drape across the land. There’s a duality here, layered in a way that only an anime like this can really pull off.

This is a historical, nearly medieval world. As many anime tend to do, it takes place in an alternate universe from our own. Plenty of sinister little truths lurk behind every corner, and emotional levity comes in small doses. All of this is encapsulated with a sunning soundtrack that is perfectly fitting for the themes at play.

Due to the existence of monsters known as Yoma, the people in this world are tormented and live in fear of their existence. This stands to good reason, as Yoma tend to feed off of humanity. They are quite demonic in behavior, but not necessarily in appearance. You see, not all Yoma make themselves obvious. Yoma can live among humanity, blend in as a human and act as a human might.

Yes, that’s right. These aren’t your typical monsters under the bed. Yoma can live among humanity, and might linger there without being found. How do they do this, you ask? Simple, a Yoma can take the form of any human that they’ve eaten. So long as they’re careful and calculating, an unsuspecting village may never know a Yoma lives among them.

Due to this, Yoma are not to be pitied. They are inhuman creatures, often posing a great threat to society and therefore they need to be expunged.

This is where the Claymore come in to the narrative and the plot begins in earnest. Claymore are the ones that take down these beasts.

Warning, there are spoilers beyond this point. If you don’t want spoilers, just go watch the show (provided you keep in mind the warning I gave above). Go find it, and watch it. it’s on Funimation, and I think maybe Hulu. There is an actual age gate on the anime on most reputable websites. That means you’re going to have to actually log into the website, like Funimation for example, just to watch the series. Anyway, with that said, let’s continue on.

The Story

Dotting the landscape there are sleepy little towns that would otherwise be peaceful. However, the townsfolk have come to the conclusion that a Yoma lives among them. This poses two different threats. The first is that Yoma would eventually eat them if it continued to live there. The second is that the townsfolk would have no real way to detect the Yoma hiding among them. For all they know their best friend or loved one could be the Yoma simply hiding its true form.

There is really only one way to deal with a Yoma, and that is to hire a Claymore. Now a Claymore is many things, all of them equally as deadly as the Yoma themselves. You see, these women are half Yoma, half human hybrids. Even when they sustain incredible bodily damage that would kill a human, they don’t easily die. Normally they heal right on the spot. For example, even while impaled like this Claymore is below, she is still fighting fit to take down her enemy.

They’re created and trained by a mysterious group known only as “The Organization” an otherwise nameless entity. As far as these women are concerned, they may as well be entirely removed from humanity itself.

A Claymore is created by cramming the blood and flesh of a dead Yoma into a living, breathing, human female. This combination slowly turns her into something not quite human, not quite beast. They’re given their names because of the swords they wield, and the fact that they’ve completely renounced the concept of a peaceful human existence.

They are not to trifle in human affairs, kill humans (even when those humans are bandits, thieves, and murders themselves), or in any way think themselves as equal to humanity. There is no exception to these rules, and a Claymore that defies them will be hunted down and killed by her own kind.

Assigned by numbers denoting their skill, they are considered mere monsters, even when it is clear that they are not entirely like the humanity they vow to protect.

The fate of a Claymore is hardly peaceful, and usually ends tragically. Anyway you look at it, their mere existence is rather lonely and their fates promise to be the selfsame as the Yoma themselves. If a woman becomes a Claymore, her days are numbered and that’s just a cold hard fact that these women accept. They understand that this is the way of the world, and will not change.

The story one follows one such woman. A fairly young one at that. Her name is Clare, and as a Claymore her job is to dispatch where she is told to go, and slay Yoma that put humanity in danger.

She is a person of very few words, favoring action over mindless diatribe, and because of this her speaking lines are rather limited, despite how central she is to the story and overall plot of the anime. This is not a disservice to her character. In fact, I’d say this is a marked improvement over the typical protagonist that doesn’t know how to shut the hell up.

Clare acts decisively, with brutal skill in combat and a very clear-cut view of the world. Clare is many things, but she is no pushover.

She is not to be trifled with as far as humanity is concerned. Now unfortunately whenever you have an incredibly self-assured, competent female protagonist, running around in a world full of monsters, you also tend to have the jackass male sidekick.

You know the kind I’m talking about…

They’re usually worthless, and often times beyond help. These are the sort of guys you want to hit with a hammer, because they could not possibly survive in the world that surrounds them in any meaningful way. There’s just no way that the world would not eat them alive.

Well, sorry to say it, but we have one of those, yet again. His name is Raki and he is young, stupid, and you could get the same characterization out of a little lost puppy on the side of the road. Actually, that’s likely an insult to puppies, my apologies. Not even his own village likes him, he’s exiled from it.

In any case Clare saves Raki from the Yoma that she was hired to kill, and begins to teach him the ways of the world. This is the lens in which the entire series hinges heavily on from this point. Monster fights, traveling the world at large, and Clare trying to keep Raki out of harms way.

When I mean that this is the shows core themes, I’m not kidding. When we aren’t following Clare and Raki, We’re following a different Claymore named Teresa and through that lens we’re shown Clare’s backstory. In these flashback episodes of sorts, we come to find out Clare’s past isn’t incredibly dissimilar from Raki’s own.

She was once a human girl with no place to turn, and traveled with world with Teresa. As a child, Clare was enamored with the concept of becoming a Calmore, not fully understanding the terrible life they tended to lead. After a rather gritty and sorrowful series of events, Clare is left alone in the world again. She decides to become a Claymore herself, just like the woman who had been trying to raise her.

All in all, the plot is serviceable, and outside of Raki, the cast is generally well rounded when they show up. Now sadly, as many series tend to do, it deviated strongly from it’s manga in the ending.

If you are a written media purists, this will no doubt make you want to throw your chair at your nearest screen. For the rest of us, the ending isn’t amazing, but the journey proceeding it is well worth it regardless.

Final Thoughts

Claymore is not without flaws, and it makes some very questionable choices on occasion. There are times that you can only be brought to wonder what drove such narrative decisions forward. The inclusion of certain small details and the firm exclusion of others can make the show sometimes feel a bit muddled. It is never for very long, but this is something to keep in mind.

Honestly, in my personal opinion the show is at its best in the flashback episodes of regarding Clare and her upbringing. If the show contained more of that, it would probably be better off.

Furthermore, Raki acts like a small boy, a mere child. Yet, he is quite clearly a teenager. The average viewer wouldn’t be wrong to expect better of him.

I was certainly very disappointed by the lack of a decent male lead. I’m not saying he needed to be a bad-ass, but his lack of emotional maturity is completely agitating. He can be prone to complaining, and crying. For some, it might actually be a deal breaker. He is that bad, and I will not defend him.

This brings me to my last thought. Claymore is a mature story of losses and grievances. These women live within a society that just doesn’t have any room for compassion or understanding. Each Claymore has her own reason to become one, or at the very least, a reason to exist in spite of being one. The world they live in lacks emotional warmth, and their eventual deaths promise to be violent ones.

These are themes that constantly pervade the narrative, so while this ensures awesome fights, it also promises bleak outlooks upon their world at large. If you like dark story telling, this anime has that. You can dip into the waters of cynicism as much as you like.

In my opinion, the ideal viewer for Claymore would probably be a person able to handle mature themes and dark world building, set in an almost medieval society. The series is age gated by most reputable places, and has some blood and carnage, so that part matters. Secondly, this ideal person would also need to be in favor of a strong female protagonists and supporting cast. Overlooking the walking insult that is Raki, decent male characters are few and far between.

Lastly, an ideal viewer would likely be one that hasn’t read the manga before. The deviations are just enough to be agitating. This is a series you want to watch first, and read the written material after.

In the end, if you’re the right kind of viewer, I think that Claymore is certainly worth your time. The series has plenty of heart and soul, but it’s also a bloodbath in combat scenes.

I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable. I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable.

However, if you expect the hero to always win, with no trauma or strife, find a different show. This is not the one for you.

You can check out some of out other anime related content below. I hope you find something you enjoy. Also, please consider supporting us on Patreon. It keeps the blog advertisement free, and allow Kreshenne and I to produce more content for you to enjoy.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you in the next post.

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Kern’s Collections: Haibane Renmei

Hello everyone, it’s Kernook here. Welcome to “Kern’s Collections” a series dedicated to brief glimpses of media and why you might enjoy them.

Primarily this series will focus on anime related content. These aren’t full reviews. I’d rather offer a brief glimpse into a piece of media. I’ll offer a few thoughts, and perhaps a bit of introspection.

Video Production

This is the finished video regarding this blog post, if you’d like to watch a video instead of reading. It is written, and read aloud by me.

I’m Kernook, or “Kern” for short. I’m part of “The Demented Ferrets”. You can watch the video on YouTube as well. I hope you enjoy the content.

Today I’d like to talk about Haibane Renmei, a rather short and sweet anime that’s only thirteen episodes long. It is an anime that is gentle in its implied cruelty. Due to the nature of the characters and their struggles, there’s a depth in this series that you may find hard to locate elsewhere.

These lost souls, with wings and halos are known as charcoal feathers. You’ll notice they don’t actually have white feathers, but grey or charcoal colored ones. This world they inhabit is almost a purgatory. Living alongside humanity they cannot have the finest of things, and the names given to them hold special significance. One that they most hold aloft over all else. It’s their one key to eternal peace.

They are born into the world from cocoons, knowing little of where they came from and a foggy dream to light their way in this newfound life, if you could really call it that. Bound by a strict set of rules that they must abide, they await the day they’re called to skies, to what might be the heavens.

Haibane Renmei is just as much about grief as it is about joy. Sorrow and regret live alongside happiness and catharsis. These charcoal feathers have but one real goal. They must come to terms with themselves, their circumstances, and what they must ultimately leave behind.

There are certainly slight biblical representations in the series. You’ll find small nods to the concept of god, faith and scripture. The idea of an afterlife, and a place waiting for these charcoal feathers high in heavens. Although these themes are left vague, it is no question that these undertones exist. There is such a thing as being “sin-bound” in the series, and the Haibane that become “sin-bound” often suffer great personal struggles because of it.

I find myself at odd with the series more often than not, when I’m watching it. I often wonder at the conclusions the series comes to. I can only wonder if these ideologies can truly stand in the world upon which the main story is built. As poetic as those narrative decisions are, as gritty as they can sometimes be, they are at least acceptable.

This, I believe that this is the entire ethos of the series. It is what drives the plot forward, even thought it has very little in the way of action. There are so few moments that feel directly urgent to the characters, and I feel that is the point. This is about overcoming something larger than any foe.

It’s about acceptance in a situation where such a thing is very hard to come by.

Haibane Renmei is not a series for everyone. It might seem soft and angelic, but the first time those same angelic wings spring out in a bloody mess, you’ll learn otherwise.

I can only praise this series for everything that it is, and forgive it for the many things it is not. I wish that I could say that you must watch it, but frankly I can’t say that. I hesitate to do so, because this is not an anime for the average viewer.

You won’t have amazing fights. It’s hardly in the genera of cute girls doing cute things, and really it isn’t a slice of life. It isn’t horror by nature and it’s not a healing anime either. It does not fall into any of the common tropes as anime fans understand them today. To classify it at all, diminishes it. At least, that’s what I believe.

What I will tell you is this.

Haibane Renmei sits proudly on my shelf. I regard the series very highly. I think that it is probably one of the most poetic anime I have ever seen.

I have watched many series that deal with the general themes presented here, but never in a way quite like this. The ending didn’t leave me overjoyed, but it didn’t spiral me into sadness either. It was, in a word, fitting.

If you want to watch Haibane Renmei, it can be found on the Funimation website.

For the right sort of viewer, it would likely be seen as a master piece. However, I’d bet that the sort of viewer I’m talking about is few and far between. You’re not to get all of the answers in a series like this. Even the mere question of… “What really is, a Haibane?” Will be left vague and without a solid answer.

Sure there are things you can extrapolate, given their appearances. Still, that answer is not at all set in stone. So, that’s where I’ll leave it. If you choose to watch the series or not, it’s up to you.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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Anime Review: Perfect Blue

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here, and it’s time for an anime review. Today I’ll be talking about Perfect Blue. Before I do that, though, I’d like to discuss the director behind the work very briefly.

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Satoshi Kon was a master in directorial design. He took to his craft with a keen eye for detail. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2010, leaving behind his works of art as a legacy to the anime industry.

In brief summary, Kon’s works are noteworthy to say the least and each of them are particularly unique. Frankly, his productions are incredible, even if they aren’t exactly mainstream media.

The fact of the matter is, most of Satoshi Kon’s greatest works are way ahead of their time thematically. They challenge viewers, and often require more than a single viewing.

Satoshi Kon combines the art of anime with his ability to craft an interesting narrative. His works are often saturated with several layers of metaphor to drive his stories forward. In order to completely catch every minor detail he skillfully embeds into his works, it’s best to watch them at least twice.

Fandom: Satoshi Kon

His aspiration in life was to become an animator, but thankfully he blossomed well beyond that. In his career he was credited for being an animator, screenwriter, manga artist, and a director.

In 1997, Satoshi Kon had built quite a name for himself. His reputation grew quickly. His ability to craft compelling stories gave him an edge in the anime industry. In the 90’s animation was striving to do new things, and he was just the sort of person able to utilize his skills to the fullest potential. In collaboration with the studio Madhouse, Satoshi Kon was able to direct his first feature length film; Perfect Blue.

Satoshi Kon’s First Film: Perfect Blue

Originally, Perfect Blue was a fictional novel under the name “Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis” written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi.

The animated adaptation does make a few narrative changes, so keep that in mind. There is also a second novel named “Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream”. Both are worth a read if you love the Perfect Blue series.

As of writing this review, you can find both books on Amazon, same with the film.

Perfect Blue is a psychological drama. Its themes are heavy and introspective. It dives feet first into the darker aspects of what it means to be a Japanese idol, and the implications of that choice.

Thanks to its deep narrative and chilling atmosphere, it will be an unsettling animated movie for some viewers. This is by no means a children’s anime.

Perfect Blue was originally released in 1997, but in 2019 it was remastered. Now there is a blue-ray edition of the film as well. There is a dub and a sub of the series, and both will serve you well. Though I must admit, I do prefer the sub slightly over the dub.

Spoiler warning: From this point onward, there will be spoilers for the animated adaptation of Perfect Blue. You have been warned. This is a film you may want to watch before you see the spoilers.

Perfect Blue tells the personal story of a Japanese idol named Mima. She’s established and fairly successful, but she believes that she can do better. Therefore she decides to leave her singing career behind, choosing to become an actress instead.

Quite quickly, she manages to get a small role in a murder mystery series. Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go horribly wrong for Mima, and it’s the crux of the entire movie.

Now, there is something to be said about idol culture, and the mentalities surrounding it. Japanese idols are a strange concept to anyone unfamiliar with it. In truth, westerners don’t have a one-to-one comparison for idol culture, so can be hard to describe.

Basically, a Japanese idol is a teenage girl or a very young woman who fits into a societal mold. These girls are dressed up in cute outfits in order to sing, dance, and perform for their fans. Furthermore, idols are expected to behave in a certain way. They have plenty of rules to follow, and they don’t have a lot of personal freedom. Idols are meant to encourage and inspire their fans, maintaining a perfect image for the general public.

Perhaps the nearest comparison I could make is the old days of the Micky Mouse Clubs, but even that falls on its face because idols are usually not children. Rather, they are late teens or young adults.

A somewhat sinister fact to this is that normally these girls don’t come from prominent families. Most of the time, they’re nameless and unpopular at first, rising to stardom because that’s what idol fans like to see.

This cultivated narrative suggests to fans that anyone who tries hard enough has the chance to be an idol themselves. Perfect Blue portrays the dark side of idol this particular type of idol culture.

Mima can’t just leave her identity as an idol behind. As much as she might want to, Mima can’t escape who she was, or the image she portrayed. In a way you could say she is a slave to her fans.

One fan in particular starts retaliating when she decides to start acting. This new role takes away from her purity and innocence that an idol should portray. Due to that, things become dangerous very quickly for her. Sadly, this also trickles down to those she’s associated with.

As people in Mima’s social circle end up being murdered, Mima must learn to cope with these new dangers. To make matters worse, Mima has trouble coming to terms with her professional career.

She believes she making the right choices logically. Emotionally though, those choices aren’t fulfilling in the slightest. They just don’t excite her like she thought they would. Instead, she ends up just going through the motions of daily life, feeling almost numb to her success.

She doesn’t voice this outwardly as she much as she should, keeping it to herself. Inwardly, she feels as though she needs to live up to a certain expectation, and since she was once an idol, this is no surprise.

As Mima’s career path shifts, so does she as a person. She constantly finds herself placed in very uncomfortable circumstances . As dark realities start drifting to the surface, she struggles to find her footing as an actress.

Mima is forced to act out scenes for her television series that she isn’t comfortable with, and she attends photo shoots for magazines that contain nudity. This goes against Mima’s formerly squeaky clean idol identity. Sadly, she conforms in spite of her discomfort with it all.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, there’s one more detail to this sordid puzzle. A detail that truly makes this animated film something truly haunting.

Mima isn’t necessarily in her right mind. Instead, she begins to hallucinate. Her former idol identity manifests in front of her. This image begins teasing her, taunting her, and asking her to dive deeper into her own depression. This image begins to ask Mima if she’s living the life she really wanted for herself.

It happens more than once. Each time this happens, it’s rather disturbing, both to Mima and to us, the viewers.

The vision of her idol identity keeps appearing and toying with her at every opportunity. It’s as if Mima is slowly going mad. At one point Mima even sees her idol identity sitting in the back seat of someone’s car. A point that I’ll come back to later.

The mental spiral continues to get worse for Mima. She begins passing out during the day and waking inside her apartment. She has absolutely no recollection of how she got there. She begins to see photos uploaded to a fan site that she doesn’t recognize and she begins to question herself, feeling as though she’s losing her mind.

The most disturbing part of all of this is that the television series that Mima has been working mirrors this. It has all of the same basic story beats. This gives viewers several narratives layered with complex implication and metaphor.

As we watch Mima struggle, we’re inclined to wonder about who she is as a person. We’re brought to wonder just how much of her life is a fabrication, and how much of it is real. Viewers are encouraged to question the stability of Mima’s mind, and what she sees as reality.

Frankly, all of these contextual pieces would be terrifying on their own. However, mixed together the way that they are, it is truly unsettling in all the right ways. The themes linger long after the anime has been turned off, and that’s by design.

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Perfect Blue’s Perfect Metaphors

Satoshi Kon knew how to get his point across. He understood the fine lines of media, and how to make them work in his favor. He approached Perfect Blue with a firm understanding of what he wanted to do, and how to get it done.

The meticulous editing and scene changes found in this film are some of the best I’ve seen in anime. The film relies heavily on implication and juxtaposition to carry important scenes forward.

One moment, she’ll be standing over a dead body in a scene she’s acting out.

In the next, she’ll be standing in front of an audience, preparing to perform.

These scenes compare and contrast two stressful situations for Mima. She’s wearing the same expression in both moments, but one is much more horrific than the other.

As I said above, viewers are encouraged to question her sanity and what she believes to be real. This is one key scene, among many others, that truly contextualize Mima as a character.

It’s at this point I’d like to remind you of two other important scenes. One is the scene about the photos on the fan site she found. As I said above, she has no recollection of the pictures that were taken of her. However, the clothes are certainly in her closet, even if she can’t remember buying them.

The second scene is of the moment she see’s her idol identity sitting in the passenger seat of someone else’s car. She can’t deny what she saw, but even she can admit the entire idea is pure insanity on its face.

As Mima questions herself, viewers are asked to question her as well. As the concept of reality shifts around her, we begin to see that not everything is as it seems. We realize that her experiences are not trustworthy.

We can’t help but question which of the experience she’s having is the real one. Maybe only one situation is, maybe they both are, or perhaps it’s all just a fabrication of a very ill mind. This brings me to my next point…

Who exactly is Mima?

Mima’s Conflicted Identity

Throughout the film, it becomes clear that Mima isn’t being entirely honest with herself, or those around her. As I stated above, she truly struggles to find her place in life.

She’s not a happy person, at least not professionally, socially, or emotionally. She lives a very complicated life, with several facets of her personality being hidden away from the public eye.

Mima lives a double life. It may be two sides of the same coin, but that is a very isolating thing to do. We see this play out in the film.

It’s arguable that her supreme sense of isolation leads to her unhealthy mindset and warped perception of reality. It’s also arguable that she’s isolated purely because her perceptions are warped to begin with.

Viewers will never truly know the answer, it’s left strictly up to interpretation.

Mima is rather lonely in the privacy of her own apartment. Meanwhile, her idol persona is outgoing and charismatic. Lastly, her actress persona is someplace in the middle of the other two.

These conflicting identities lead her to a crisis of sorts. At times, it seems as though the idol personality within her is trying to break lose. It seems to gain a personality of its own. The way it seems to harass her is another question in and of itself.

Are these her own personal thoughts of self hatred given form? Or is the idol within her becoming it’s own split off personality, separate from Mima as a person? Or is she simply a ghost of who Mima once was?

Once again, the answer is not so clear. While it’s true this isn’t likely a purgatory of sorts, the trials placed in front of Mima are no less troubling.

Most of what viewers see is through the eyes of Mima, and what she goes through in daily life. With these many personas in constant conflict, her personal identity gets lost in the shuffle.

It’s anyone’s guess. That’s what makes this film so good. You could debate this endlessly and never come to a final answer.

Has Perfect Blue Aged Well?

Perfect Blue was originally released in 1997. In some ways it is a product of its time. When it comes to the world itself, it shows its age in spades. Decor looks dated to be sure, and that says nothing about the world during that era of time.

Electronics in the film reflect the era of the late 90’s. As a result, so do some of the conversations in the series. For example, there’s a scene where Mima learns how to use the internet for the first time.

Televisions and computers are the sort that you would find in the late 90’s. What was once top of the line equipment now looks like a relic. If anything, I do appreciate the little Mackintosh logo at the bottom of the computer and on the box. There are plenty of little nods like this all over in the anime.

If you are old enough to remember the 90’s these are neat little additions. I’m sure that in the 90’s additions like this helped the narrative to be more immersive.

As far as the actual animation goes, it holds up quite well, even in it’s original state. Thanks to the blue-ray remastering of the anime, those who want high definition certainly have an option too. The soundtrack to the show is as haunting as it is beautiful. Each track melds into scenes flawlessly, building tension and atmosphere when it needs to.

Final Thoughts

Perfect Blue is not an anime film for everyone. In fact, I personally believe a good number of people won’t like it at all. It can be hard to recommend to the average anime viewer.

It isn’t a relaxing show, and it has some pretty brutal pacing. That, coupled with its dark and sinister themes, lead to a very complex and morally grey narrative. It is a thriller, and that can’t be understated.

The film relies heavily on its psychological drama to carry the story forward. Many scenes are purposefully unsettling, and Mima is an enigma by nature. Several questions are left unanswered and up to interpretation.

The ones that will be answered, may not be satisfactory or to your liking. That’s just the nature of this film, and Satoshi Kon’s directorial style in general.

That being said, Perfect Blue is by far one of the most compelling anime I’ve ever watched. There is so much to unpack about the world, Mima, and the concept of idol culture in Japan. If you can tolerate the concepts in the anime, you may find a real gem here.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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