Sunday, October 31, 2010

Artist: Satoshi Kon

In light of the recent death of one of my all-time favorite anime directors Satoshi Kon, I wanted to spend my blog post sharing some of his work. Satoshi Kon, veteran director at the Madhouse ltd., is the mastermind behind the groundbreaking new-age anime films Paprika and Paranoia Agent, as well as the critically acclaimed psychological thrillers Tokyo Godfathers and Millenium Actress. Arguably, Satoshi Kon's dramas are just as powerful both aethetically and dramatically as some of the anime directors best known to the Western world including Hayao Miyazaki and the ancient Katsuhiro Otomo.

Here are some sample clips from his films:

Aesthetically, scenes from Kon's films are typically colorful and visually effective. Kon's later films layer backgrounds and lighting to create papery u-kyoe effects, heavy silhouettes, and colorfully illuminated streets and sky lines. Story boards for Kon's films are often drawn entirely by Satoshi Kon himself. In addition, Satoshi Kon often uses variations in traditional anime drawing such as simple flattening colors/color texture, transparency, and brightness to transition between alternate realities and shifting moods in more recent films like Paranoia Agent and Paprika. In these films Kon pushes some of the boudaries in drawing by illustrating impossible shape shifting between an objective reality and the worlds of dream and cyber life.
Satoshi Kon's work also has a challenging level of depth and irony that bring to life the characters and world he creates. One of my favorite examples of this is in Satoshi Kon's Millenium Actress, where Kon revists in his own work, the history of World War II actress Chiyoko Fujiwara. Here, Kon adopts the traditional cinematic styles from WWII Japan to show the life and film journey of the actress. The centerstage of film is Chiyoko Fujiwara herself, who chases an unknown man through movie after movie, each time essentially playing out versions of her own life/search through different film mediums.
Film Trailer from Millenium Actress:

Two related links on Satoshi Kon:

Also worth looking at is background art from Makoto Shinkai:

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