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Darren Aronofsky wanted to remake Perfect Blue

Masao Maruyama confirms the Black Swan director met with Satoshi Kon to discuss a live-action adaptation of his cult classic anime, back in cinemas this week

Satoshi Kon’s producer Masao Maruyama has opened up on Perfect Blue, the cult-classic anime rereleased in cinemas this week.

In an interview with Dazed, Maruyama confirmed that the late anime auteur met with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who wanted to adapt the film as a live-action remake. Those plans never came to fruition, though several scenes in Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) bear striking resemblance to Perfect Blue, which also shares themes of obsession and fractured identity with the Hollywood director’s film. 

“I met with (Aronofsky) alongside Kon,” said Maruyama. “It wouldn’t have been a problem with an adaptation; we thought that a director of that status could have adapted the film and done it in his own way and that would have been fine. But I think that Aronofsky’s Black Swan, including the similarities it has to Perfect Blue, is a very interesting film.”

Maruyama went on to speak about the enduring legacy of Kon’s film, which premiered at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal 20 years ago. “I think people are finally beginning to understand Perfect Blue,” he said. “Back then, animation wasn’t really seen as art. Now it’s different, there are all different types of animation, different styles, different modes of expression. But Satoshi was on top of that before anyone else and better than anyone else.”

As co-founder of the Madhouse anime studio, Maruyama worked with Kon on a string of acclaimed projects, including Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika, the last film the director completed before his death from pancreatic cancer in 2010. Perfect Blue, his first animated feature, tells the story of a Japanese pop star-turned-actress whose world falls apart with the appearance of a stalker. (You can read our feature on how Perfect Blue predicted a dark age of internet celebrity here.)

“This type of (psychological) horror is not something easy to make using the storytelling techniques of animation,” said Maruyama of the film’s enduring appeal. “It’s not so difficult if you just want to tell the story of a guy stalking a girl, but we were more interested in telling the story of the girl who’s being followed.

“(Mima, the film’s protagonist) is trying to advance from being an idol to being a proper actress, so she has all these worries that go along with that, but at the same time she’s being stalked, not just by this guy but by various other elements that try to put obstacles in her way, and even, at a certain point, by another version of herself. We tried to create something that reflected all of that in a very complicated structure that was quite different to anything that we’d seen at that point.”