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Satoshi Kon... One of the Rare Creators of Anime For Grown-ups Has Passed Away

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
The sad new is coming out of Studio Madhouse that anime director Satoshi Kon has passed away at age 47. His work included Perfect Blue - 1998 Millennium Actress - 2001 Tokyo Godfathers - 2003 Paranoia Agent - 2004 Paprika - 2006 And the Good Morning short for the Anime*Kuri 15 compendium. He had been working on children's feature Dream Machine I remember when Satoshi Kon's pyscho-thriller Perfect Blue hit the US. The to be revered director's initial calling card was actually divisive. Many anime fans laughed at and rejected it. Didn't like its lost lead. Snickered at its depiction of proto-blogging. However, it wasn't long before Kon became one of the paramount names in anime being produced for older audiences. Anime might be a medium of artistic possibilities, but given its economics, more often than not, it turns out works for children and specialized audiences. A thinking artist like Satoshi Kon producing works as tricky as Kon's was truly special. From a look at his career, written in response to Andrew Osmond's Satoshi Kon: the Illusionist In the last decade, movies and video games have made deep incursions into territory that was once the domain of anime and animation in general. There were images that were tremendously difficult to realize in live action and impossible in games, but available to animation. CG and improved game hardware have flipped the script. As a consequence, whole genres of anime have lost their importance. Who wants to sit back and watch elves and dragons fantasy anime, when games often offer a comparable visual experience, while allowing a player to participate. Yet, an area in which anime/animation can still assert an advantage is narratives in which the fantastic is blurred with the objective. Leveraging animation's ability for a director to erase boundaries and exercise nuanced control of the entire image, Kon is the master at this. There's the world as it theoretically is. Then, there is the world as it is reflected in media. Then, the world as it is interpreted by the human mind... subdivisible into conscious and subconscious, rational and irrational. In Kon's anime, these distinctions all collapse in on each other. Often starting with the foundation of a live action associated genre, whether it is Hitchcockian thriller (Perfect Blue), a Christmas story (Tokyo Godfathers) or life in retrospect drama (Millennium Actress), Kon convolutes it with the mind's paradoxes, contradictions and chambers of mirrors. His subjects project their interpretations out onto the world, at times seeing themselves as fantastic beings, dancing through the air or skipping through a city's neon signage. And yet, those interpretations are shaped by pressure from those around as well as a saturation of media influence. Rather than mechanistic stories, Kon's are shaped into knotted feedback loops. As a fan of anime and animation in general, this lose is deeply felt. Beyond technical considerations, business concerns makes anime a difficult medium to work in. Creators able to produce works like Kon's have been and will continue to be rare. You probably will not see many replicating works like Kon's. Anime had its boom and contraction of the 00's, but I'd argue that it turned out to be great decade for works for adults, in large part thanks to the unforgettable contribution of Satoshi Kon.

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