Satoshi Kon, Leading Light of Anime Films, Dies at 46

Satoshi Kon, Leading Light of Anime Films, Dies at 46

Satoshi Kon, the Japanese filmmaker and comic-book artist whose dazzling visual compositions and humane, emotionally vibrant works won him a devoted following in animation circles and beyond, died in Tokyo on Tuesday at the age of 46.

While Mr. Kon’s film work incorporated many familiar anime elements, with pixie-like female characters, sensitive robots, futuristic cityscapes and an anxious fascination with both the creative and destructive power of technology, it was also well versed in literary and cinematic traditions far beyond contemporary Japanese popular culture.

Satoshi Kon: Good Morning

This commemorative piece honors Satoshi Kon by sharing two short films, which provide a small sample of Kon’s work and impart an impression of his cinematic style and thematic fascinations.  Good Morning is a one-minute short film that shows a girl waking up, who exhibits a personal sense of disconnection in the process of awakening.

Satoshi Kon: Good Morning

Satoshi Kon: Magnetic Rose from Memories

The second film presented here is one that marked the first time the world took notice of Kon as a filmmaker to closely watch.  In 1995, two years before his directorial debut with Perfect Blue, Kon wrote and provided the artistic direction for Magnetic Rose, a 45-minute film that screened theatrically as part of a short film triptych called Memories. The actual director of Magnetic Rose was the legendary Morimoto Kôji, who is known for collaborating with and accommodating new artists of great vision.  In Magnetic Rose, through his writing and artistic contributions, Satoshi Kon proved he could meet the  challenge of working with some of the anime world’s great luminaries, and now the piece is recognized as the most memorable part of the film.

Magnetic Rose presents a gothic ghost story in space, a narrative in which three astronauts come across a wrecked space ship and enter a surreal reality built upon dreams.  Created the same year that Ghost in Shell was released, Magnetic Rose similarly has become a touchstone work for a generation of serious, philosophically-minded anime devotees, and it is still frequently discussed 15 years later.  The film is presented here in five video segments.

Satoshi Kon: Magnetic Rose from Memories-Part 1

A detailed review of Satoshi Kon’s artistic contributions was published in today’s edition of The New York Times.

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