Survive Style Sonata + Bright Futures: Cine Wave Baraba w/ subtítulos en ingles

Master Filmmaker Kon Satoshi 1963 – 2010
August 25, 2010, 6:00 pm
Filed under: News, Tribute

It has been reported that anime filmmaker Kon Satoshi has passed away due to cancer at the age of 47. I won’t start retyping what can already be found about his history on other sites but instead write about memories I have of his films.

I saw Paprika when it first came out at a small two theater art house called The Mayan. I was just getting started to really get into foreign film and I took my then best friend Dan with me. Even though it was opening week for Paprika the theater it was placed in was the smaller of the two with cramped seating. This was the first anime film I had seen in a theater. Near the end when a shadow figure and a naked little girl, both the size of Godzilla, fight I looked over at my friend Dan and heard him muttering over and over, “What the fuck?”. He was having a small freakout to the oddities on screen but I fell in love with the animation and later on subsequent viewings the sentimental but honest look at trying to make your own independent film.

After that over the course of four years I was able to see his other three films; Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers.

Each of these were the types of movies that once their credits started rolling I felt I had to start loaning them out to anyone willing. All his works have the recurring element of dreams, in some cases the aspiration variety rather than the surreal.

While Perfect Blue touches upon darker elements of humans, Millennium Actress (which is unfortunately out of print) was the tear inducing in one man’s dedication to his favorite actress. I watched this in the start of a marathon to go through some animation DVDs I had yet to see. I decided to bring it over to my grandparents since we all had just finished Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle recently. Although Millennium Actress is rooted in reality more so than Howl’s the presentation with the mixing of the fact and fiction with past and present made it more fantastic than the Ghibli film; as well as more affecting in a dirt-in-the-eyes way. Animation was the only option to successfully mix the different ages of the titular actress without having to try their best to cast a series of actresses who looked similar. The effect in the film was that we are watching her grow up. Unfortunately there is a parallel in that the actress’ work was stopped abruptly for the documentary filmmaker/fan character just as for Kon’s and his fans.

Kon’s best testament to human worth was Tokyo Godfathers about an abandoned baby found by three homeless: a drunk, a transvestite, and a teenage runaway. The three then decide, some reluctantly, to find the baby’s parents to find out why they left the kid there. What follows is an adventure and a domino effect of chance where each characters’ pasts are brilliantly revealed. Most likely his most feel good film and possibly the best from his oeuvre.

The medium of animation was a perfect fit at creating a the surreal visual style needed to throw the viewer off. A great example is the opening credits to Paprika which I watched recently with another friend. I had always remembered this sequence as being awe inducing and after another viewing it was not just me making it better in my memory of the scene.

Although his follow up to Paprika, The Dream Machine, was scheduled to come out next year I do hope that they release what they have. This will be the final push to find the three volumes of his mini-series Paranoia Agent that I am missing which, along with Millennium Actress, is out of print.  It was exciting to go backwards into his library of creations which may be small but had heart and the imagination that some bodies of work will never have with twice the amount of time Kon was given.


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