RIP Satoshi Kon, anime director extraordinaire

August 28, 2010

Satoshi Kon was the only other director in the anime genre I knew by name besides Hayao Miyazaki. Now Miyazaki has become the only living anime director I know by name. As I learned today perusing the “New York Times” weekly movies e-newsletter, I noticed one of the first features was an interactive piece focusing on the trailers of Kon’s films. I wondered why they would come up with this now. Scrolling further down revealed his obituary. He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 46 just this past Tuesday.

It came as a terrible shock, as I took for granted that I would be seeing more of his work on the big screen soon. I am honored to have seen Paprika on 35 mm, even if only three other people were in the theater with me at the time. A true masterpiece of cinema, his final film explored the notion of a machine that could bring dreams into the natural world and the havoc that they might wreak. Tokyo had never had it more rough since the days of Godzilla.

Though it was based on a manga, the cinematic quality of controlled edits added a more appropriate medium to depict the sensation of the dream state, and the layers of stories pre-dated that of the dream worlds of Inception.

Appropriately enough, Kon had been working on his followup for years, which was supposed to see release in 2011, entitled The Dreaming Machine (Yume-Miru Kikai). It would have been the first of his movies to be based on an original story (all four of his other feature films were based on already published mangas). It was actually about robots set loose to roam a world after humans had gone extinct (Read more).

Kon would actually would leave a letter behind pardoning his too early exit. In the letter, which was mostly translated into English here, he seems to portend that this final movie will most likely never see the light of day, as he felt it still remained mostly unfinished, despite what you see in the still images here, which was first publicly released almost a year ago.

If only we could still get more from him, but what he left behind was on a whole other level in the world of anime, and even his first film, Perfect Blue, rewards repeated viewings.

Satoshi Kon was the only other director in the Anime genre I knew by name besides Hayao Miyazaki. Now Miyazaki has become the only living Anime director I know by name. As I learned today perusing the New York Times weekly movies e-newsletter, I noticed one of the first features was an interactive feature focusing on the trailers of Kon’s films. I wondered why they would come up with this now. Scrolling further down revealed his obituary. He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 46 this passed Tuesday.

It came as a terrible shock, as I took for granted that I would be seeing more of his work on the big screen soon. I am honored to have seen Paprika on 35 mm, even if only three other people were in the theater with me at the time. A true masterpiece of cinema, his final film explored the notion of a machine that could bring dreams into the natural world and the havoc that they might wreak. Though it was based on a manga, the cinematic quality of controlled edits added a more appropriate medium to depict the sensation of the dream state, and the layers of stories pre-dated that of the dream worlds of Inception.

Appropriately enough, Kon had been working on his follow-up for years, which was supposed to see release in 2011, entitled The Dreaming Machine (Yume-Miru Kikai), which would have been the first of his movies to be based on an original story (all four of his other feature films were based on already published mangas). It was actually about robots who roam a world after humans have gone extinct (Read more).

Kon would actually would leave a letter behind pardoning his too early exit. In the letter, which was mostly translated into English here, he seems to portend that this final movie will most likely never see the light of day, as he felt it still remained mostly unfinished, despite what you see in the still above, which was first publicly released almost a year ago.

If only we could still get more from him, but what he left behind was on a whole other level in the world of anime, and even his first film, Perfect Blue, rewards repeated viewings.

(Copyright 2010 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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