How Satoshi Kon’s anime Excellent Blue predicted Twitch & Okay-Pop obsession
In 1999, Satoshi Kon launched his first characteristic, Excellent Blue, into U.S. theaters. The movie would mark the start of an illustrious but tragically quick profession of animated movies that tapped into societal obsession and isolation, themes that also resonate right this moment. Kon’s work, particularly Excellent Blue, dove into what it means to have two personalities: one introduced to the general public and the “actual” self.
Launched on the cusp of widespread Web utilization, Excellent Blue anticipated how the web area could be used to control and scare folks, particularly by way of stalking. Kon additionally addressed rising issues round otaku, or younger people who find themselves obsessive about some side of popular culture, and the way their obsessions might solely be fueled by the entry granted by the Web. In 2019, Kon’s movie is extra related than ever: each movie star’s motion is scrutinized, girls with an internet presence are regarded as commodities, and everybody has two personalities to juggle day in and time out.
Excellent Blue follows Mima as she transitions from pop star idol to severe actress. She started her profession within the lady group, CHAM, the place she attracts the eye of 1000’s of male followers. However when she leaves the group to pursue a brand new line of labor, these males develop indignant. They dissect her performing jobs and chastise her selections. The angriest of all is her stalker, Me-Mania, a repulsive character whose room is plastered with pictures of Mima. He creates a weblog referred to as Mima’s Room the place he pretends to be writing posts by the younger lady. Mima, having simply obtained a pc, is studying how one can function the Web and stumbles upon this website. As quickly as she begins studying Mima’s Room — paired together with her new position on the crime present Double Bind — her grip on what’s actual and what isn’t slips away.
In navigating what the Web might imply for the longer term, Kon tapped into male obsession with the feminine physique and a presumed possession over girls they’ve by no means met. The introduction of CHAM within the movie’s opening moments arrange this relationship between male fan and feminine star. Teams of otaku are seen milling round earlier than a CHAM present, shopping for fanzines, scouring the Web for information in regards to the group, sharing movies of previous live shows, and gossiping about Mima. These teams of otaku, all male, are proven all through the movie, offering a glance contained in the thoughts of an obsessed fan and the way Mima’s actions are perceived by strangers. Because the present begins, crowds of males armed with video cameras cheer for CHAM as all of them collectively stare upon Mima and her group mates’ younger our bodies.
CHAM’s followers brag about attending nearly the entire group’s live shows and really feel, on account of their assist, that they’re owed a say in every lady’s profession strikes. In a single particular occasion, Mima decides to movie a rape scene for Double Bind. Her supervisor warns towards it, saying it is going to destroy her profession and her harmless persona that has earned her a lot consideration. Sadly, her supervisor isn’t fallacious and the gossiping otaku are proven scoffing as Mima’s alternative.
We see this concept of possession that males exert over feminine our bodies an increasing number of, notably on the subject of feminine on-line personalities. Twitch streamer Amouranth suffered followers’ wrath after they discovered she was married. Amouranth gained fairly a big Twitch following however as soon as it was revealed she had a husband, followers had been enraged and doxxed her. They thought, since she had by no means talked about she was married, she was single and subsequently extra obtainable. They felt betrayed. Her mod even explicitly instructed her that he thought since she was single that he had an opportunity together with her. Amouranth made a remark in regards to the controversy and sarcastically stated, “Haven’t you heard the information? Each feminine on the web is eligible to be dated by individuals who see her. She’s an eligible candidate for each one who sees her. That’s the legislation of the land.”
In Excellent Blue, Kon imagines the worst-case state of affairs: Me-Mania, who goes to disturbing lengths to say Mima as his personal, and causes her to slide into an unsafe psychological state, one filled with concern and confusion the place she just isn’t positive who she is anymore. Even within the ‘90s, Kon noticed the problems of obsession with J-Pop teams and examined how that obsession would solely develop with the assistance of the Web. Not a lot has modified once you take a look at the present Okay-Pop sensation, BTS. The group is revered world wide, and has change into a content-creating machine, fueled by a military of followers who demand entry to all features of their lives. Just like the CHAM-obsessed otaku, the ARMY — what BTS followers name themselves — choose over the group’s music, pictures, and movies. The habits of the ARMY mirrors the opening scene of Excellent Blue: followers scouring the Web for info, swapping tales, and scrutinizing profession selections. The members of BTS even have quite a few stalkers, some who function fan websites that embrace paparazzi-like photos of the group. The idea of Mima’s room, one website operated by one stalker, has blossomed into an internet of obsession that stretches throughout the Web as we all know it right this moment.
Whereas the general public doesn’t have true entry to BTS’ non-public lives and can’t actually know the way such consideration has affected their psychological states, there isn’t a doubting the strain followers placed on its members. It’s turning into company follow for teams equivalent to BTS to domesticate ravenous followers by way of nonstop content material creation, from new songs, movies, and even apps, not not like the interior workings of Japanese media seen by way of Mima’s personal profession negotiations. The world of Excellent Blue exists on the cusp of such practices, the place younger persons are manipulated into idealized photos that may be unfold amongst followers like wildfire.
Nonetheless, even these of us who have interaction with social media expertise a bit sliver of what it means to be Mima. We curate our lives and current them on-line as good moments of what we would like folks to imagine are lovely lives. We’re all Mima using the practice, looking the window and seeing a mirrored image of her popstar persona. Deep down, we need to please those that take a look at our Instagram grids, Fb web page, and Twitter timeline. Influencers analysis how one can create the right Instagram format, painstakingly modifying photos to ensure all of them obtain the identical lighting, hues, and distinction. Simply as Mima begins to lose grip of her actuality, we’re additionally lured into one other place the place everybody has the right job, relationship, pet, and life. We slip right into a realm of hysteria, attempting to show ourselves to these on our feed.
Social media tradition is an exponentially bigger model of the world Kon envisioned with Excellent Blue. Regardless of creating the movie on the daybreak of the trendy web, Kon tapped into the risks of technological fantasy and the harm it does to the obsessor and the targets of their obsession. In a world dominated by social media clout and follower counts, Excellent Blue scratched the floor of a digitally saturated tradition that might blur the road between on-line personas and actuality. From Okay-Pop fandoms to the day by day ritual of posting on social media, Mima’s world has change into our personal. All of us stay in Mima’s room.