Satoshi Kon - Tribute

By Moira Sullivan

It is with great sadness to hear the news that the Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon passed away on August 24 at the age of 46.  Kon received the diagnosis that he had pancreatic cancer on May 18 with little time left to live. In a blog written to his fans Satoshi Kon during this time he remarkably shared with us how dishonorable he felt it was to leave the world before his parents, and humbly admitted to other shortcomings.  He repeatedly used the expression “Sorry to leave before you “ in his endearing testimony. This was an incredible opportunity to share in not only the life but also the reality of Mr. Kon in his final days. He leaves several memorable films in his legacy.  
Kon began his career as a manga artist and later worked with anime. He never made a live action film and preferred to draw his films. His debut film was Perfect Blue, in 1997, followed by Millennium Actress in 2001, Tokyo Godfathers in 2003 Paprika in 2006 and the television series Paranoia Agent made in 2004.  He was also deep in production on his fifth film The Dream Machine at the time of his death, another one of his concerns in leaving so suddenly.

Studio Madhouse produced Kon’s films where he served as staff director. As opposed to Hayao Miyazaki, Kon’s anime can be seen as colorful and inventive narratives with adult themes. Whereas Miyazaki works with mythical creatures, often with girls who learn how to become independent, Kon makes humans and their follies the focal point. In the case of Millennium Actress and Paprika his characters have superhuman powers and pass through different dimensions of reality. In Millennium Actress a famous actress interviewed about her career after she has retired shows her life as if were a film in this anime. In Paprika a doll expresses that the Internet and dreams are very much the same, a view that is particularly Satoshi Kon,  because one goes underground into a subconscious state.  As such there is a visually stunning parade of dolls, furniture and appliances, and the incongruity of the objects clearly represents the fragmented architecture that is the stuff of dreams. One can only wonder how Kon would have developed in the coming years, each film an improvement on his previous work and his ability to convey hyperrealism. His characters were not all good or all bad, and embody defects that define the human condition such as in Tokyo Godfathers  where he presents an unlikely set of guardians for a child. But in all that he created, he showed that reality was also a virtual world. And that we can learn just as much from it.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Venice

© 2010 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 09/02/10
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