Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Animated People: Satoshi Kon

It's always sad when people pass away, but it hurts doubly so when it's a gifted member of the animation community. Today, anime director Satoshi Kon passed away in his home at the far too young age of 46. Kon was the director of several animated films including "Perfect Blue," "Tokyo Godfathers," "Paprika," and "Millenium Actress."

I first encountered his work when I purchased the initial release of "Ghost in the Shell: Innocence" at Best Buy and it came in a shrinkwrapped 'double feature' package with "Millenium Actress." After getting my GITS fix, a few weeks later, I watched "Millenium Actress" and was transfixed by the ingenuity that I saw on the screen. The story is about two documentary filmmakers who are interviewing a famous actress nearing the end of her life--a time when her career had been over for years. Satoshi Kon found a way to integrate the actress and the interviewers into the flashback narrative structure that kept the story from becoming an endless series of flashbacks bookended by talking heads. While perhaps not one of his more well known films (due to it's non-traditional, non-typical Anime story), "Millenium Actress" set the stage for his 2006 film "Paprika," a mind-bending, visual feast of storytelling that proved how Hollywood should be looking East for inspiration and more complex storytelling.

Satoshi Kon died before completing his film "The Dreaming Machine" and the world of Animation lost more than a director, it lost a true visionary whose films rank on a level with Katsuhiro Otomo, Osamu Tezuka, and Hayao Miyazaki.