Perfect Blue 1998
Animation in film is a hit-and-miss proposition. There are more ways in which the film can fail than ways to succeed. The animation can be shoddy or too unrealistic, the voice acting flat, the music can be annoying or mismatched to the action, the plot and dialogue can be ham-fisted.
Perfect Blue does in animation what could have been done with live action, and, interestingly, it was concieved as a live action film, but was changed when the studio slated to produce the film was damaged by an earthquake. A psychological thriller that is clearly intended for an adult audience based on the violence and nudity on screen, Perfect Blue is the story of “[a] retired pop singer turned actress’ [whose] sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.” from IMDB.com Think of it as an animated precursor to Black Swan.
It’s the best animated feature I’ve seen that includes all of the necessary elements for quality. Where some films possessed only great animation, but lacked a coherent plot… or lacked consistent voice acting and music integration… or were the plot was oddly paced… or substituted gratuitous literary allusions and quotations for good writing… Perfect Blue is only lacking, if only slightly, in one regard. At times the animation is simplistic and falls apart in comparison to what is seen elsewhere in the film. This aside Perfect Blue should be on your list of anime to see.
Check out the entire film free online (with English subtitles): Perfect Blue
Interesting side note: the characters access the Internet, which is shockingly new to one character in 1998 Japan, via a dial-up service that requires the phone itself to be directly on the modem(and not just the phone line as later seen). Also the computer used is a Macintosh Performa and they surf the web using now-defunct Netscape. Am I the only one to remember them both? Sometimes film, even animated film, is an archaeological artifact.