While there is a list of famous anime films Americans would love to see adapted into a live-action movie, one that sits near the top of many “Most Wanted” lists is Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. Aside from being a good movie in general, it seems like one of those rare animated films that would feel as much at home in live-action as it does in animation.

Like with much other famous anime, Perfect Blue WAS being considered to be adapted into live-action by an American director! The problem was this director may have unintentionally sabotaged his own dreams of making the movie a reality.

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What is Perfect Blue?

perfect blue fish

Perfect Blue is a Japanese animated psychological thriller film directed by Satoshi Kon and released in 1997. The film follows the story of a young pop singer named Mima Kirigoe, who decides to leave her music group to pursue a career in acting. However, her transition into acting proves to be difficult as she is plagued by hallucinations and delusions as she begins to lose her grip on reality. As the story progresses, Mima's life becomes increasingly intertwined with the dark and violent world of her psychotic stalker, leading to a series of unexpected twists and turns.

Known for its complex narrative structure and exploration of themes such as identity, fame, and the impact of media on individuals, Perfect Blue has received critical acclaim for its innovative storytelling and is considered a classic of the psychological thriller genre that rivals the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. In short, this seems like a perfect film to remake for American audiences. Just change the setting to America, turn Mima into a pop star, and everything should be fine! And sure enough, the film DID catch the attention of one filmmaker!

Who is Darren Aronofsky?

Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky is an acclaimed American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He first gained critical acclaim for his feature film debut, π (Pi). Since then, he went on to direct a number of highly regarded films, including The Fountain, Noah, The Wrestler, mother!, Black Swan (for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director), and most recently The Whale, Aronofsky's films are known for their intense, often disturbing subject matter and unconventional narrative structures. This is why, on paper, it seemed like Aronofsky would be the perfect director to tackle an American remake of Perfect Blue. And in another lifetime, maybe he would have. However, Aronofsky made a critical mistake in his attempts to make the movie.

Satoshi Kon Accuses Aronofsky of ‘Copying’ Perfect Blue

When Aronofsky made his second film – Requiem for a Dream – he told the story of several people who slowly lose their minds to drugs and other substances, to the point where they start losing their grip on reality. Not only does the storyline mimic Perfect Blue to an extent, but a scene where one of his characters screams in a bathtub is a literal copy of a famous scene in Perfect Blue (YouTube comparisons exist, however, we cannot show you them because of the sensitive nature of the scenes in question).

When Satoshi Kon – the writer and director of Perfect Blue – saw Requiem for a Dream, he was extremely upset. He felt that Aronofsky had copied his film without proper credit. Aronofsky claimed that he was paying homage to Kon, but the scenes were so similar in visuals, aural, and context, that the act seemed to go beyond homage (not to mention that the story of the movie was treading similar ground as Perfect Blue). Hearing about this conflict, Aronofsky made plans to meet with Kon to apologize…as well as make a request.

Aronofsky Attempts to Buy the Rights to Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue Mima Lying Down

When Aronofsky met with Kon in person, he apologized for the misunderstanding that Requiem for a Dream caused. While Kon was reported to have initially been appreciative of the gesture, he got suspicious when Aronofsky brought up that he would love to make an American live-action remake of Perfect Blue. Kon, feeling that Aronofsky had already copied too much, was not in the mood to sell Aronofsky the rights to the film and do more copying (and potentially receive more credit for creating something he didn’t). There was also an issue with Kon being busy making his second film and carving out a name for himself outside this one film.

It should be noted that after making Tokyo Godfathers, a live-action Japanese remake titled Perfect Blue: Yume Nara Samete was filmed, so Kon does not own the rights to the Perfect Blue novel. What he DOES own is HIS version of that book, and that is the version that Aronofsky wanted to adapt! Though Kon would blog about this dinner and express some admiration for the young indie director (at the time), he ultimately would not give Aronofsky the rights to remake his Perfect Blue and be forever skeptical about giving those rights to anyone after the Requiem for a Dream debacle. While Aronofsky never did get to make Perfect Blue, a later film of his – Black Swan – seemed to be even more inspired by the famous anime than his previous film (though Aronofsky denies the similarities to this day).

MORE: Will Satoshi Kon’s Unfinished Final Film Ever be Released?