In his short life he wrote, animated and directed some of the most magical, thought provoking and emotionally engaging anime films, which thankfully made their way across the world.
As a staff director at the prolific Madhouse Studio he created works such as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, the TV series Paranoia Agent, the sublime Tokyo Godfathers and my personal favourite, Paprika.
To be honest there’s nothing more to say other than this is really terrible news. I was late to the Satoshi Kon show, seeing an early trailer for Paprika and falling in love with what I saw, I then devoured every second of his work I could get my hands on.
Like the very best art his work seemed to blend universal truths with his own wonderful and unique qualities; his work contained countless moments which in another film would have been perfunctory or throwaway but instead were infused with a breathtaking beauty and a sense of understated awe.
Magic, memory, dreams, touchstones of the past and powerful visions of the future were all intrinsic to his works, but the soul of his films were crowded with characters who felt the tragedy and beauty of the world keenly, and Kon’s ability to render these on screen was almost without compare.
The only thing left to say is: see his films. If you were a fan then you’ll need to, and if you’ve not heard of him or seen his work then you’re in for a really wonderful time.
In an interview from DVDVisionJapan conducted at Dreamworks Satoshi Kon said of his film, Millennium Actress,
I think that the most important theme to me was “time.” For instance, I am giving my interview here at DreamWorks. While I’m having a conversation with you, I also think about Japan, and the places I had been a long time ago. In other words, I have thoughts and images of far-distance while physically I am here at this moment. I could be thinking about a long time ago or what I shall do tomorrow, or in the near future. So, there are past, present and future tenses in one world.
They all exist in one’s life or one’s world. That kind of thing is irrelevant to others, but it is ‘ultimate truth’ for that person. I don’t want to make a message evident in my film, nor I don’t want to make a message-oriented film…It’s kind of difficult to put in words what I wanted for my audience.
At any rate, I wanted to express my attitude toward filmmaking or any strong desires on my part through this film. So, my message to the audience would be that we all should be honest to our true desire or will, and that we should be positive toward life.
Here’s a collection of clips which, while divorced from their original context as they are, provide a glimpse of the wonders Kon created.
Kon was working on a new film called The Dreaming Machine, a few images of which you can see below, and I truly hope that the film will be released and serve as a tribute to a master animator and director.
Thanks to Twitch for these images.