Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

Kon Satoshi

Posted in Japanese film by bourdaghs on the August 26th, 2010

I am stunned to learn of the death of anime director Kon Satoshi. He was only 46; the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Kon was for my money easily the best director in Japanese anime. Each of his remarkable films expanded the boundaries of what the medium was capable of. The first one I saw was Millennium Actress (2001), his second feature, and it knocked me out: it’s a stunning homage to the history of Japanese cinema. I immediately tracked down Perfect Blue, his debut film, and from that time on made a point of seeing everything he released. His art reached a peak with Paprika (2006), a truly mind-blowing film. Here is what I wrote about Paprika when I first saw it:

Iím convinced that Kon is the most important director of anime in the world, and Iíve been wanting to see this one since the day it was released. I wasnít disappointed: it may well be his best film yet, and that is saying something. This is after all the man who has already given us Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers. Stunning visually: the first five minutes had my jaw dropping. The plot is tangled, but that is appropriate since the film is about the logic of dreams: an experimental device that allows psychotherapists to enter the dreams of their patients falls into the wrong hands, becoming a deadly tool for manipulation. Dreams are the stuff that we are made of, and Konís story unfolds an allegory about life under conditions of mass media, consumerism, and technology. It all ends with one of the main characters buying a ticket to see a film directed by Kon Satoshi. I canít wait for the directorís next film!

Kon was apparently close to finishing that next film when he passed away. I still can’t wait to see it, but will have a hard time accepting that it will be this master’s final work.

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