“Excuse Me,Who Are You?”: Performance, the Gaze, and the Female in the Works of Kon Satoshi

  • Susan Napier


In 1997 the director Kon Satoshi rocked the world of Japanese animation with his first full-length film, Perfect Blue, a complex and stylish psycho-thriller about a pop idol whose decision to leave her career and become an actress leads to extremely violent consequences. Some critics paid it perhaps the ultimate backhanded compliment, suggesting that the film’s contemporary urban setting, sophisticated narrative, and highly realistic visuals made it seem more like a live action film than a conventional anime. For the record, Kon goes out of his way to insist that he is proud of being an animator and plans to stick strictly to animation, echoing his mentor Ōtomo Katsuhiro’s assertion that Perfect Blue is more interesting precisely because it is an animation.3 Indeed, certain of Kon’s cinematic preoccupations, such as the fluctuating relation between performance and identity, the tension between the ideal and the real, and, above all, the very porous line between illusion and materiality, seem to be perfect candidates for exploration within the animated medium.


Homeless People Male Character Female Character Television Series Female Protagonist 
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  1. 10.
    See Susan Napier, Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke ( New York: Palgrave, 2001 ), 225–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 14.
    Mary Ann Doane, “Caught and Rebecca: The Inscription of Femininity as Absence” in Constance Penley, ed., Feminism and Film Theory (New York: Routledge, 1988), 206.Google Scholar

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© Steven T. Brown 2006

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  • Susan Napier

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