Archive for August 26th, 2010

by Stephen Russell-Gebbett

Satoshi Kon was one of the great Japanese Animators whose combined work at the turn of the Century represented a creative wave as strong as that felt in France in the late 50s or Hollywood in the 1970s. With Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro), Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday) and Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) he revolutionised the medium not so much in form but in emotional depth and artistic subtlety. Animation had never been more serious or been taken more seriously.

Beginning his career as a Manga artist, Kon developed a relationship with Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira, and wrote his first anime Magnetic Rose as part of Otomo-helmed portmanteau film Memories. Magnetic Rose, about a couple of men in space seduced and tormented by traumatic visions of the past, contained much of the themes that would dominate his later career –  the fine line between the real and the unreal, the shearing off of personalities, a sick emotional malaise that lies at the heart of society.

The loss of certainty and the obsessive consumption of pop culture were explored in his first two films Perfect Blue (1998) and Millennium Actress (2001). They were two sides of the same coin, with Perfect Blue harbouring an intensely pessimistic outlook (the title itself  could translate as ‘complete unhappiness’) and Millennium Actress an open optimistic fable. (more…)

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