Satoshi Kon


A Viewer’s Guide to the Works of Satoshi Kon

In 2022, anime is a globally beloved art form, and yet many Americans are still unlikely to know any of its greats beyond (of course) Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. In part, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can be blamed for that: It has only ever selected one Japanese film, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, for Best Animated Feature. And yet the late Satoshi Kon, who remained a cult figure when he died of pancreatic cancer in 2010 at the age of 46, has been arguably just as influential on American cinema. A young Darren Aronofsky worshipped him, potentially to the point of artistic theft, with some of the scenes from Kon’s 1997 masterpiece Perfect Blue reproduced nearly shot for shot in 2000’s Requiem for a Dream. (“I’d never seen the Japanese style of animation used just for a real adult, dramatic story,” Aronofsky says of Kon’s work in the 2021 French-language documentary Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist.) Christopher Nolan followed suit with 2010’s Inception, which has the fingerprints of Kon’s final completed feature film, 2006’s Paprika, all over it.
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Review: Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist

Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist breaks down the remarkable career of renowned anime legend, Satoshi Kon, the director responsible for groundbreaking works like Perfect Blue, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, and other emotionally raw and psychologically draining productions. Kon’s too-short career is broken down from multiple perspectives as Kon’s peers make sense of why his creations continue to resonate on such a strong level with audiences and why it’s been difficult for others to replicate the highs of his filmography.
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‘Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist’ revisits the worlds of the transformative anime director

“Thank you sincerely for all these beautiful memories. I loved the world I lived in. Just thinking about it makes me happy.”. Renowned anime film director Satoshi Kon wrote those words in his final letter before he passed away due to cancer in 2010. The director is most known for his transformative, surrealist films, like “Perfect Blue,” “Millennium Actress,” “Tokyo Godfathers” and “Paprika,” as well as his show, “Paranoia Agent.”
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Watching Pascal-Alex Vincent's summation of Kon Satoshi's work and life and untimely death made me more than a little bit sad. Not because the film is a poor tribute or account of one of the leading lights of Japanese filmmaking, it certainly is not. Rather, it has now been over a decade since the auteur-animator-director and simply, artist, died of Cancer. Kon left behind an unfinished feature, The Dreaming Machine, as well as a near perfect legacy of daring, complex and varied films, a TV series, a short film, and several Manga. He also left a vacuum in the an industry that has not only been (blessedy) occupied by new voices. Also, like any master of the medium, his influence has been imported overseas. Kon Satoshi did all this before his 47th year.


For those not ensconced in the variable world of anime, Satoshi Kon may not be the first individual who comes to mind as a notable auteur of the artform. The eccentric director’s tragically brief career directing feature films for Studio Madhouse, which liberally blended the boundaries between reality and fantasy in utterly enchanting ways, was cut short by a cancer diagnosis that ended his life at the young age of 46 back in 2010.