Friday, August 27, 2010

Chapter 7: Satoshi Kon 1963-2010

I know this posting is late. And I don't feel equipped to do a proper tribute to him. Still, I must show appreciation to one of the premiere animators of our time.

Kon was one of the greatest of the new wave anime directors, marked by his disregard for convention. In a medium that often relies on cliches and tropes, this put him at head of the class. Kon was a master of Hitchcockian suspense. A screening of Perfect Blue can show you that. On first view, I had no idea what to make of that film, other than it set me on edge. What was more amazing was his mastery of the human element. Tokyo Godfathers and Millenium Actress (my favorite) are especially resonant films because they tell human stories. From there, he jumped easily to the weirdness of Paranoia Agent. This is a story about a black boy on rollerblades in Japan who helps people to self-realization by blind-siding them with a baseball bat, and, by God, the show works. His work blurred the lines between reality and fantasy, while showing a knowledge of Japanese culture in all its glory and darkness.

It is important to remember he worked on classics like Roujin Z and Memories in his early career. He was young and surely had several more beautiful films left in him. For the shortness of his life, his career spanned a pivotal time in the history of anime, and he sure as hell made his contribution.

This is a translation of his final blog. A gut-wrenching farewell. Everyone should read this.

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