Japanese anime has a reputation for big bullets, bizarre sex and explosive bloodshed - - all at once in the more extreme examples. Hence most of the flicks remain beloved on the cult circuit and rarely register with regular cinemagoers. However, Satoshi Kon's masterly thriller has the potential to break this stereotype.
Far from being a violent comic-book adventure set to a bad rock soundtrack, the story explores the dire physical and psychological consequences of celebrity on young pop icon Mima as she attempts to break into a serious acting career. First she gains a stalker, then people around her start dying in brutal fashion.
All the elements of a modern Hitchcock-style murder mystery are brilliantly handled, while the sort of tricks usually deployed to misdirect the audience are intelligently positioned to draw us deeper into Mima's tortured psyche until fantasy blurs into deadly reality. The result is a smart, innovative and gut-wrenchingly disturbing film.