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Animation and Anime

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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  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST

    We will miss him rong time

    by Bathman

    So velly velly sad

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:37 p.m. CST

    That is awful, he was a true original

    by lv_426

    Paprika and Paranoia Agent are awesome.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    I had to kill anime because it made a mistake...

    by DickJones most of it sucking so bad.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:44 p.m. CST

    A terrible loss

    by laguna_loire

    Paprika was superb, but you're right, Perfect Blue was a true case of a brilliant story, told in a unique medium (for that kind of story), cruel, tense, but always keeping the viewer on edge. The world is a worse-off place to lose such a talent.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:48 p.m. CST

    huge loss

    by kaijuturtle

    47 is not old & his movies were unforgettable

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:51 p.m. CST

    NO..this is awful.

    by donduck

    I'm not a huge anime fan, but between Kon and Studio Ghibli, they were the masters. <p> This is very shocking. I recently watched his body of work last week so this is very sad.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:55 p.m. CST

    DickJones and moreso Bathman...

    by LordPorkington

    You're both utter idiots of the worst kind. I don't really need to say much more than that, other than RIP Satoshi, your movies were truly wonderful. It's sad that we won't see what you had in store for us next.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Bathman, fuck yourself. Racist bitch.

    by Roketopunch

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3 p.m. CST

    honestly.. to Bathman & Dickjones

    by donduck

    This is the ugly side to fandom: the total apathy towards talented people, just because they're 'ignorant' to them. Kidding or not.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:01 p.m. CST


    by MacTard420

    This totally bums me out! Satoshi Kon was an amazing director! R.I.P. my friend!

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:02 p.m. CST

    That's terrible

    by Toonol

    He was the most talented anime director working, in my opinion. Yes, even better than Miyazaki.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Paranoia Agent

    by son_of_ebert

    Amazing series. If you start it make sure you finish it.. ending ranks up there with Cowboy Bebop..

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Sad to see him pass

    by tronknotts

    He made some good movies. Paprika is great film to go out on though. Lets hope he's in an afterlife that's at least half as magical as the dreamworlds he created. Also, DickJones, I hate you, but you did make me laugh. It doesn't matter where I am, or how sad the situation, a Robocop reference will always work on me.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:17 p.m. CST

    This is very sad

    by kungfuhustler84

    He was one of my favorite animation directors.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:18 p.m. CST

    R I P

    by LaserPants

    I love this guys stuff. He'll be missed.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:20 p.m. CST

    What a loss...

    by Minstrel

    I remember when I went to a late night screening in one particularly old indie cinema theatre here in Vienna, when they screend "Perfect Blue" once. That was some five years ago or even more. I enjoyed the movie, as I did "Paprika" too! RIP Kon-sama!

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:21 p.m. CST

    Perfect Blue was one of the greats.

    by UltimaRex

    RIP Satoshi Kon.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:24 p.m. CST


    by Speed Fricassee

    I got to sit through a Q&A w/ Satoshi Kon at a Paprika screening once, he seemed to have so much left in him! So shocked to hear about this news.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:27 p.m. CST

    by kungfuhustler84

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:28 p.m. CST

    Let me clarify something...

    by DickJones

    I'm saying anime sucks,not that this gentleman does/did.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:30 p.m. CST


    by fishpillow

    THis is truly a sad for for animation in general, not just Anime. Condolences to his friends and family.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:32 p.m. CST


    by CartoonFanboy

    Satoshi Kon was one of the few animation directors still pushing the boundaries of the medium. Losing such a unique visionary - especially one who was not yet 50 - is huge blow to both anime and animation in general. RIP

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:34 p.m. CST

    That's great Dick

    by CartoonFanboy

    but this isn't really the place for your generalized views on anime.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:45 p.m. CST

    fuck em dickjones..

    by Six Demon Bag

    i understand.<P>tell them BITCHES LEAVE

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:50 p.m. CST

    47!!!! WTF

    by TheJudger

    what did this guy die from. Had to be cancer or a tragic accident or something. Sad when people go out so young, even worse when it's a someone who's trying to enrich their world as well as ours with creativity. RIP

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:52 p.m. CST

    @Six Demon Bag

    by DickJones

    Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:54 p.m. CST

    Ok, I don't condone bathman's actions, but I did chuckle a bit

    by RedBull_Werewolf

    and the fact that he got in first, like he ws waiting for an obit to be posted so he could zing the man. thats trolling at it's finest<P>Anyway, RIP, i'm not an anime fan but I can respect it and he obviously was very important in it

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 3:54 p.m. CST


    by Drif

    This truly breaks my heart. He and Miyazaki ARE my favorite anime directors in the world. This is an ENORMOUS loss not only to the world of anime but that of animated features and art itself.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Absolutely gutted by this news...


    A staggering, heartbreaking loss of an extraordinary artist. :-(

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:10 p.m. CST

    that sucks...

    by spidercoz

    He was one of the few anime-ka whose name I bothered to learn, I was really looking forward to his next project. 47 is way too young.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:14 p.m. CST


    by dadwhereareyou00

    bathman thats hilarious. and anime is a waste of time! its a bunch of turds whom never seem to grow up and have absolutely no social skills so they create cartoons to fill the void. sad that he died but still. my point has been made. BRING ON THE HATE

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:17 p.m. CST

    Grownup Anime is an Oxymoron

    by matthooper8

    Let's be honest.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Grownup Anything is an oxymoron.

    by UltimaRex

    Especially around here. Consider your surroundings before opening your north.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:33 p.m. CST

    People are going to be idiots...

    by nico_laos

    ... and talk shit about anime. But those idiots never saw 'Millennium Actress'. And if you did see it and didn't like it... then you're a fucking idiot with a 'Boondock Saints' poster on his wall. Let's be honest.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:34 p.m. CST


    by elgato73

    Talk about a kick in the nuts. Kon was a true genius. From Perfect Blue on, he changed anime for the better. His now final film, Paprika, was pure cinema at its best. With the color palette in that film and its striking visuals, you didn't need LSD to take a great trip. Just a horrible, horrible loss to the anime and film world. I was so enamored with what I was hearing about Dream Machine too. I wonder if Madhouse will complete it?

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:34 p.m. CST


    by UltimaRex

    And what exactly do YOU do to fill the void hm?

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:44 p.m. CST

    Anyone here fawning over Inception

    by shibi

    Owes it to themselves to check out Kon's works. With the exception of Tokyo Godfathers, they all were likely influential in the creation of Nolan's opus.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:44 p.m. CST

    A great career cut short.

    by The Gline

    He was only just hitting his stride, IMO. I wrote an appreciation of his work here:

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Hey remember...

    by nico_laos

    ...that scene in 'Requiem for a Dream'... with Jennifer Connelly in the bathtub was a shot-for-shot homage to a scene in 'Perfect Blue'.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 4:52 p.m. CST

    by nico_laos

    ht tp://

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:04 p.m. CST

    RIP Satoshi Kon. Your vision was truly unique

    by Willbraham

    You left us too soon, but your works will be admired and inspire people for years to come.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:08 p.m. CST

    The article should also mention Memories

    by shibi

    He didn't direct, but he did write the first segment "Magnetic Rose" and it has his handprints all over it.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Paprika may be the best animated film ever.

    by Mahaloth

    I'm shocked and saddened.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:15 p.m. CST

    this is tragedy

    by conbarba

    and what makes it even worse is just how few people know the true impact of his work. And then we get the assholes around here spitting the usual shit about anime and blah blah. Kon was not only a incredibly gifted illustrator, he was also a master not only of anime, a master of cinema, period. Time will put Kon in the high place he deserves.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Checked Wiki. He died from a heart attack

    by Planty_McPlant_Plants_His_Plant_At_AICN

    Apparently he developed an eating disorder and was addicted to drugs. What a terrible shame. Oh, and Bathman - FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. I HOPE YOU DIE OF ANAL CANCER.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:29 p.m. CST


    by T 1000 xp professional

    I was about to ask what happened to him, but Planty answered it I guess. Terrible loss for the film world. I was anticipating his next movie too :( man, so sad.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:33 p.m. CST

    A Big Loss

    by Darkguardian

    Sad news to say the least. He was one of the most talented in the anime field. To lose him at such a young age is tragic. I grew up on this stuff and don't watch it much anymore but I watched all his movies as well as those of Miyazaki and in some ways Kon's work is more innovative in terms of storytelling. Sad news indeed. RIP

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 5:43 p.m. CST

    This completely sucks...

    by superhero

    A creative genius is never have another one of his, this sucks...

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 6:03 p.m. CST


    by Lain Of The Net


  • Aug. 24, 2010, 6:04 p.m. CST

    Loved all his movies.

    by Super Rabbi

    This is sad. Rest well Mr. Kon.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 6:25 p.m. CST

    Christopher Nolan killed him...

    by Mr. Moe

    Kon died of a broken heart when he realized that Nolan ripped him off.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:07 p.m. CST

    The Choppah

    by gruemanlives

    so evil it's funny.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Fuckin' sad day! I'll miss Satoshi Kon!

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    If any of you bitches never seen Paprika please get your lazy asses to Blockbusters and enjoy!<p>You'll find it will stimulate your senses to the max!

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:28 p.m. CST

    GDamn it

    by micbenxyy

    His films are amazing.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:30 p.m. CST

    This is very sad news.

    by Octaveaeon

    There was so much to look forward to from him. He is without a doubt one of the greats, even beyond anime; in no small part due to his understanding of the medium, and the creative process itself, but also of the imagination in general. <p>I have nothing more to add. His work speaks for itself.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:33 p.m. CST

    That's sad news...

    by veritasses

    _,.,~'`'~, (RIP) ,~'`'~,.,_

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 7:35 p.m. CST

    Why My Friend Satoshi Kon is dead by Harry Knowles

    by Neck_Lucas

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 8:10 p.m. CST


    by Fixthe Fernback

    Only 47! Jesus. He was one of my fave talents not only in anime, but working in cinema fullstop. Loved his work; Paranoia Agent was downright genius imo.<P>The world is a poorer place.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 8:17 p.m. CST

    Sad Day

    by ranma627

    Millenium Actress was such a powerful piece of work, Paprika was a stunning experience and Paranoia Agent was a mindfuck of greatness. He will be missed.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 8:40 p.m. CST

    I am a miserable mother fucker right now

    by The_Crimson_King

    this news hits me like a ton of bricks, Satoshi Kon was one of my absolute favorite anime director's

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 8:52 p.m. CST

    Oh SHIT-!!!

    by Johnno

    Damnit we lost a good one here! R.I.P. Kon! I loved every one of your works! Incepion may have been great, but Paprika truly showed what entering a dream world was all about! I too started out a fan of his from Perfect Blue, it showed that anime could be as great and provoking a medium for adult thriller drama! Millenium Actress is by far my favourite movie of his! A love story to cinema! Tokyo Godfathers was also a gem with great characters! Paranoia Agent was also brilliant! Even the few seconds of that NHK short were so awesome and it was the best one out of that compilation! I was looking forward to Dream Machine!!! Damn!!!!!!!!!!!!<br><br>And Bathman and dickjones... I hope the next time you walk through a door, someone takes a screwdriver to your eyeballs!!!!

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 9:05 p.m. CST

    Made atypical anime

    by Chief Joseph

    It's ironic the usual ignorant xenophobes pulled out their tired "teh anime sUcKz!" rhetoric. This guy's stuff was so different from what everyone else in Japan was doing.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 9:15 p.m. CST

    People who say...

    by nico_laos

    ... anime sucks really baffle me. It's like saying Hollywood movies suck because you don't like romantic comedies. For those of you that will never venture into Kon's work because it was anime... consider this: Kon is to anime what Pixar is to CG cartoons.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 9:19 p.m. CST

    and the guy was only a year older than my dad

    by The_Crimson_King

    47 is way too fucking young

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 10:09 p.m. CST


    by Toonol

    "People who say anime sucks really baffle me."<p> You have to realize something: The people saying that are just really fucking stupid. Hence, as you point out, their ridiculous blanket condemnation of a medium. It's like somebody not liking 'Cats', and so hating all theater, everywhere.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 10:25 p.m. CST

    It's cancer folks, not drugs or heart attack.

    by Mahaloth

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 11:19 p.m. CST

    Oh, no. No.

    by Rhuragh

    Goddammit. I've only seen Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers, and Millennium Actress, and that was enough to cement him as one of my top directors list. We just lost a giant who should have had decades more to amaze and move us. I am crushed. I think I'm going to go cry now. RIP, Mr. Kon. You will be missed.

  • Aug. 24, 2010, 11:39 p.m. CST

    He's probably designing areas of heaven right now

    by Nerd Rage

    should be quite a show.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, midnight CST


    by Saltoner

    Ugh. The animation industry mourns. Our hearts sigh.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 12:14 a.m. CST

    We've lost one of my favorite directors.

    by elwinransom451

    Satoshi Kon is my favorite anime director, and one of my favorite directors of all time in any genre. He was really akin to Hitchcock with his treatment of dreams, identity, and even, romance. I've been turning people on to him ever since I saw "Sennen Joyu" (Millenium Actress). I am very sad.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 12:47 a.m. CST

    Perfect Blue Is A Great Film That Deserves A Live Action Version

    by Media Messiah

    "Perfect Blue" is a great movie. It would make a truly great live action thriller. I have said for years, but is anybody in Hollywood listening?

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 1:05 a.m. CST

    R.I.P. Satoshi Kon

    by justmyluck

    What a loss. Kon's style and direction was consistently unique, clever and inspirational for fans of animation. If the cause of death was Cancer, I did notice him smoking on the "Paprika" DVD extras; so hopefully not another great pulled out of our lives by the #%&@%! cigarettes. Thankfully his animated films were distributed around the world with the due respect and high quality - and will live on.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 2:01 a.m. CST

    Kon was only 46

    by andrew_osmond

    He was born in October 1963.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 3:43 a.m. CST

    The Most Amount of TB's

    by Demerson

    That Scott Green will ever have. Right here.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 5:21 a.m. CST

    I thought all anime was for grown-ups?

    by MyScroteHasGout

    who else gets excited by monsters raping 14 year old girls?

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 5:36 a.m. CST

    Nice to see offensive obit comments deleted for once

    by MattmanReturns

    Every obit turns into a shitshow of trolls trying to be "shocking". This is a great loss.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 6:51 a.m. CST

    Absolutely Devestated.....a true visionary.

    by kidkombo

    just happened to browse imdb and caught that headline today and just froze when i read the words R.I.P. Satoshi Kon....ive been in a daze for the rest of today. fuckng sick to my stomach that life decided to take from us a beautiful person who through his work has truly moved me, inspired me, and provoked deep thought. i really felt that i got to know him as a person through his work, and that is a rare thing indeed. i will always be grateful, that in an industry monopolised by uninspiring, cliched dreck, that Kon sought to push the medium of animation to its limits, not only through animation, but storytelling and theme. I'll miss him so fucking much.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 8:23 a.m. CST


    by Johnno

    YOu obviously missed he live action Akira and Robotech story threads

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 8:51 a.m. CST

    Upsetting :(

    by fassbinder79

    One of the great directors in the history of cinema (animated for otherwise). A brilliant artist. Just think we will never get another Satoshi Kon film after Paprika. :(

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 9:27 a.m. CST


    by geekzapoppin

    That was the last thing I expected to see this morning. He was one of the few truly-brilliant directors working in Animation, Japanese or otherwise.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 9:40 a.m. CST

    Pancreatic cancer...

    by nico_laos

    ...not lung cancer according to wiki. Just think... for the rest of your life, you will never get another Satoshi Kon film. He had been working on 'The Dream Machine' for two years now, so I'm sure there's enough of it to be completed by someone else. I nominate fellow Madhouse director Rintaro.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 9:45 a.m. CST

    Dream Machines artwork.

    by nico_laos

    There's some concept art as well as some still from the animation over at the The Dream Machine website.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 11:21 a.m. CST

    RIP to a storyteller

    by UGG

    one of the best in his field

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 1:25 p.m. CST

    A True Genius

    by louisse

    Even his series had a quality animation. God damn that man knows how to do anime. He will be deeply missed, its breaking my fucking heart.

  • Aug. 25, 2010, 3:42 p.m. CST

    it was pancreatic cancer

    by Conans Sword

    ad least thats what wiki and some anime sites say. fucking cancer, scares the shit outa me. i lack the ability to properly articulate a heartfelt message never having been very good with words. i will simply say his works where some of the first animes I ever watched and having never even met him i feel a sense of sadness and loss at his passing. I hope theres an afterlife, i dont think there is which scares me sometimes if i think about it for too long, but if theres anything at all i hope he's out there somewhere.

  • Aug. 26, 2010, 5:08 a.m. CST

    Wasn't very familiar with him...

    by Wungolioth

    but my condolences to his family. I think I may have started watching Paranoia Agent once, but didn't get to finish it, I'll have to seek it out.

  • Aug. 26, 2010, 7:31 a.m. CST

    Wow. This is terrible.

    by Motoko Kusanagi

    Seriously, what a loss.

  • Aug. 26, 2010, 2:36 p.m. CST

    RIP Satoshi

    by badmojojojo

    Your incredible vision and imagination brought me alot of joy, particularly during painful periods of my life. I will treasure your movies always.

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  • Oct. 13, 2011, 6:08 a.m. CST

    14 Months Later

    by Henry Fool

    Coming back to this article 14 months later, it pleases me to see how little trolling was done in this forum. Satoshi Kon was an amazing visionary. He was easily as talented as his peers like Miyazaki and Oshi. His work was completely original, combining tightly plotted storytelling with brilliant, hallucinatory visuals.<br /> <br /> Paprika & Perfect Blue remain two of my favorite films of all time. We are fortunate that his final film is being completed. Before he died, he left a series of videos for his animators so that he could continue to direct the film, posthumously, from beyond the grave.<br /> <br /> He was truly something special and even now, fourteen months after his death, I continue to mourn his loss. He was my favorite anime director to come out of Japan. I still get sad whenever I think about his passing.<br /> <br /> I miss you Satoshi. I hope when I take my own journey to the other side, that I can meet you there and talk about all the films you would have made had your life not been cut so tragically short.