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Monday, August 30, 2010

R.I.P. Satoshi Kon (1963 - 2010)


This weekend I heard the sad news that Japanese animator Satoshi Kon died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 24th. He was only 46.

Mr. Kon was an anime director of great renown and, more importantly, of great skill and artistic sensibility. As an animator the style of his drawings were unique, rooted in traditional anime but with a personal touch that was distinctly his own. I could always identify a Kon project within seconds by its look. As a filmmaker, his work was always unconventional and varied from the touching comedy of Tokyo Godfathers, to the stylized suspense of Perfect Blue (his first feature), to the fascinating exploration of the connection between dreams, reality, and the internet with Paprika (an acknowledged influence of the current film Inception).

As a fan of Kon's work, I found his films to be uniformly intelligent and thought-provoking. Beyond that, Kon's films demonstrated a great pathos and interest in the experience of being human. He courageously delved into metaphysical and epistemological questions with wit, honesty, and intellect. Yet, Kon never allowed his work to be swallowed up by its themes, to devolve into something meaninglessly abstract. And he always respected the intelligence of his audience, refusing to "dumb down" his films into something trite. Kon used his work to examine issues, not to editorialize them. He never gave in to the temptation to preach through his films and instead allowed the unforced plot, uncontrived characters, and contemplative themes to play out "naturally." Kon trusted that his work would speak for itself-- a hallmark of true artistry.

The world has lost a great artist. Satoshi Kon will be missed.

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