Although first published in 1961 this feverish novella explores themes that are still being explored today such as celebrity fandom. The protagonist of the story is a ‘star’ and we soon see that he struggles with maintaining the persona of famous and beloved actor. Although Rikio enjoys his fame he also begins to feel disconnected from his own self, almost loosing himself in the roles he takes and, as his story progresses, his identity seems to disintegrate.
Because of his cynic outlook Rikio sounds much older than he is. There are moments in which he seems a passive participant in his own life, observing with mild distaste what other people do and criticising his contemporary Japanese society. The only person that seems ‘visible’ to him is his make-up artist, a woman who is older than him. The two seem to poke fun at the way the film-industry works and at Rikio’s adoring fans.
Much of what Rikio experiences and thinks comes across as being somewhat surreal or even as being part of a larger hallucination. As Rikio narrative becomes increasingly affected by his anxiousness over his career and life, I found myself feeling almost paranoid alongside him.
Overall, although this was far from ‘enjoyable’ it was an interesting and short piece of writing that might appeal those readers who have watched and appreciated Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue.
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