Fandom: Satoshi Kon

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here. In the future I’m going to review a lot of anime, and plenty of Kon’s works. However, it simply didn’t feel right to do that without first talking about his many accomplishments, so I’m going to do that first.

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There is a lot to talk about, but I’m only going to give a brief overview here. If you want to know more beyond this blog post, you should begin by watching the anime mentioned here, and then branching off from there.

I doubt I have to say this, but Satoshi Kon was a huge influence in the anime industry. If you’ve been an anime fan for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of him. At the very least, you’ve probably heard of at least one of the animated titles he directed.

His notable works include: Perfect Blue (1997), Millennium Actress (2001), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Paranoia Agent (2004) and Paprika (2006).

His aspiration in life was to become an animator, but thankfully he blossomed well beyond that. In his career he was credited for being an animator, screenwriter, manga artist, and a director.

His ability as a director is what I truly want to highlight here. Though keep in mind, he had other talents too. Each of them just as prolific and noteworthy in their own way.

In the 90’s animation was striving to do new things, and reach a larger audience. Kon fit the needs of the industry well in regards to that. He was able to utilize the anime medium to its fullest potential as an art form.

In 1997, Satoshi Kon had built quite a name for himself. his reputation almost preceded him in the anime industry. His visionary skill would land him a directing role. In collaboration with studio Madhouse, Satoshi Kon was able to direct his first feature length film; Perfect Blue.

Now, let’s make no mistake about this. Kon was an absolute master in directorial design. Love or hate his works, it doesn’t much matter. The man was an influence either way. He took to his craft with a keen eye for detail. Each of the films he directed are unique. None are without depth. In my personal opinion, his productions are incredible.

I’ve done a review of Perfect Blue, and you should check that out if you want more information on that film in particular. To summarize my thoughts though, Perfect Blue is by far one of the most compelling anime movies that I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

It is both hauntingly beautiful and unsettling at the same time. The themes are wrapped up nicely between reality and surrealism. Paranoia and mental unease are cornerstones to be explored here. Although the series is a bit dated by today’s standards, this is a true masterpiece in storytelling. It shouldn’t be overlooked, dispute the dated feel. There is so much to unpack about the world, Mima, and the concept of idol culture in Japan.

Even if his works aren’t exactly mainstream media, his influence impacted the anime industry unquestionably. Satoshi Kon’s films are way ahead of their time thematically. They challenge viewers, and often they require more than a single viewing.

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In order to completely catch every minor detail Kon skillfully embeds into films like Millennium Actress, it’s best to watch them at least twice.

They’re darker by their nature, and tend to require a more mature viewer. One that is able to critically think about the themes that are so prevalent in his media. His works are often saturated with several layers of metaphor to drive the stories forward.

Kon was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. 2010, leaving behind a legacy in anime that shouldn’t be forgotten. With the flood of new anime every season, there is no shortage of things to watch. In fact there’s not enough time in a day to watch them all, but to cast aside those older gems would be a disservice to anime as an art form.

I have memories of watching his works with my friends. I spent way too many nights huddled under blankets and starting popcorn fights over his anime, and I’d never be able to thank him, or the medium of anime enough for that.

So, that’s it then. I’ll leave it here for now.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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6 thoughts on “Fandom: Satoshi Kon

  1. Satoshi Kon is one of my favorite animators. If the worst thing in your career is Paranoia Agent, then you know you’re doing something right. I’m glad you made this tribute to him. Shame how everyone seems to steal his ideas.

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    1. I agree he should have been handed far more respect as an artist. I also think Kon saw what he was doing for other aspiring creators too, and that fulfilled him. At least, I want to hope so.
      That some people took advantage of him, well that’s the devil’s deal of being a creator. A sad fact, but one Kon was intimately aware of.

      I don’t want to be bitter about that. Instead, I try to think of all of the creators he likely empowered by his work. I mean hell, I don’t even feeling okay writing reviews without first paying tribute, and I’m just a no-name blogger.

      Paranoia Agent is so under appreciated it’s annoying. That will be a review I certainly will make in the future. Nowadays, anime fans are spoiled rotten. Anime makes it onto Adult Swim and other such mainstream platforms fairly easily, but back in the heyday of Paranoia Agent it had to compete with the likes of Inuyasha and FMA. Don’t get me wrong, those were certainly great anime too in their own ways, but nowadays psychological anime are a dime a dozen and it’s just not how it was back then. I mean, the only other anime even close to getting a television slot was Ghost in the Shell. Other than that you had to hope MTV would pick up something that wasn’t Black Lagoon…and let’s be honest, MTV loved to pick up Black Lagoon…

      I realize I’m showing my age here, but yeah. Paranoia Agent sits happily on my shelf, and I am 100% not ashamed to admit that, lol. It had a few really bad episodes (when compared to his other skillful works), but all in all, it’s a solid series hands down.

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      1. Sure thing. I certainly hope so when it came to Satoshi Kon during his lifetime. It angers me how he was taken advantage of with Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan.

        It’s cool that you don’t want to be bitter because I HATE when people ripoff others whether it’s movies, inventions, or music. Like you, I do my best to give creators the credit with my reviews. I also made a concept album based on various originators as well.

        I didn’t say Paranoia Agent was bad. It’s a good series, but I liked his cinematic works a lot more. However, I do hear you out when it comes to the concept of mainstream exposure. I’m surprised any of Kon’s works would share airtime with InuYasha, FMA, and Cowboy Bebop back in the day. That’s right because Stand Alone Complex was on there at that time. I wasn’t watching MTV, so I didn’t know that about Black Lagoon.

        Don’t feel bad about it. I’ve said things that partially revealed my age at times. Haha! Good on you for owning that series on DVD.

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