I was excited to finally check this flick out. It's almost universally praised and even people who don't count themselves as anime fans mark it as a great film. I was a little worried that hype backlash would be a problem, but it doesn't prove to be the case at all.
The story centers around pop idol turned actress Mima Kirigoe. Her career change draws the attention of a dangerous stalker and sets off a chain of events that push her sanity to their limits and blur the lines between fiction and reality.
It's a really tense movie and it builds up really well as the movie goes on. It also does "mind screw" really well. It isn't just nonsensical and vague for nonsensical vagueness' sake. It all serves a purpose and it all comes together really well.
I watched the dubbed version and, while it did get better, I found the voice acting got rather stilted at times. I don't know if the original Japanese version is better in that regard, but there were some clunky lines and line readings peppered throughout the movie.
I was also a little disappointed that the identity of the stalker was given away so quickly. Just from the way he's animated, you can tell who he is. Actually, I was hoping that he would be a red herring, but that doesn't turn out to be the case. It would have been interesting to keep him off screen and play up the idea that it could have been anyone, but that's just armchair quarterbacking.
The plus side is that after he's dispatched, there's another plot twist that was really well done. You don't see it coming until just before it happens as the character lets out a line that sounds bizarre at first, but makes perfect sense once you realize what's going on.
Mima as a character is fine. She's perfectly pleasant and you do feel sorry for her as she is put through the ringer, but you don't really learn all that much about her beyond the fact that she wants to be an actress.
The movie does play on real world fears and, as such, is quite timeless. In many ways it's even more relevant as the internet plays a larger role in our lives and celebrities find themselves the center of more attention than they had been prior.
That being said, the instances of internet lingo are kind of hilarious for how dated they are. You can't blame them, the internet was still in its infancy, but it is rather amusing to listen to now. Credit though, the computers and browser logos were perfectly accurate. The attention to detail was impressive.
The movie is only 90 minutes, but it feels like it is a lot longer. Normally, that's marked as a bad thing, but here it works. There's so much going on and it is so engaging that you feel like you're getting 2 hours worth of content in less time.
I don't want to spoil too much as the movie really does thrive on going in fresh, but what you need to know is that the movie is quite fantastic. You should definitely give it a watch, or if you can find a copy, buy it. From what I've seen, copies aren't cheap, but it really is worth it. The movie is that good.