Hi everyone! Just a preface I made a video of this topic on my youtube channel but worked so hard on it that I wanted to share it here as well! Satoshi Kon was a master of psychology and the blend of fiction and reality. I watched all of these anime besides Paranoia Agent for the first time and really enjoyed my experience so here is a post about Satoshi Kon and his famous anime’s!
Satoshi Kon was born in Hokkaido, Japan in 1963. He always loved animation and otaku culture and wanted to be an animator since high school.Some of his favorite works are Space Battleship Yamato, future boy conan, and mobile suit gundam. Kon graduated college with a graphic design degree. He also enjoyed foreign films and novels and enjoyed painting.After graduating he assisted in many screenplays and films. His general theme was blending fantasy and reality as well as psychology/human nature. Fun fact, Kon actually scripted and co-produced the fifth episode of the original Jojos Bizarre Adventure anime.In 2010, Kon was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He was told he had half a year to live. Kon died in August of 2010 at the age of 46. It is clear to me how much he loved the anime world and being apart of it and was really sad some of his works would not be completed.
Satoshi Kon created two manga one shots that are both unfinished called “Seraphim Wings” and “Opus”. Seraphim wings is about a world going through a pandemic and a young girl who for an unknown reason is immune to death. Travelers and policemen set out to see if this young girl can help save the world. This story is very short and practically ends at the start of the journey which is sad but what is there is a good read and fantastic art!
Opus is one of the most interesting manga I have read. It is about a mangaka who get sucked into his own manga and one of the characters he is going to kill off tries to stop him from finishing the series. The whole ides is so creative and interesting and Kon knocks it out of the park with the visuals. The manga is mostly complete with the last chapter being the sketches and rough draft Kon was working on before his death which was very cool to see. Highly recommend!
I watched these all in the order they were made and in dub 🙂
Perfect Blue was the main reason I wanted to explore Satoshi Kon. It is known as one of the best psychological anime ever about a famous idol and actress who is stalked by this creepy fan and everyone around her starts dying. The film at times can be a little hard to follow with a lot happening and not knowing what is real or imagination however it is clear that each and every scene is placed there for a specific reason. In an interview with Kon about this film I saw how much time and talent it takes to get one single scene animated.
The film was adapted from a novel however Kon made the story his own and is very loosly based. Many people want to look for a deep meaning in Perfect Blue and while it is fun to summarize and come to your own conclusions, Satoshi Kon when asked what the meaning was laughed and said “Meaning?”. I find his personality amazing! I rate “Perfect Blue” 9/10.
“Millennium Actress” was an original work where the producer specifically asked for Satoshi Kon to direct as he was a huge fan of “Perfect Blue”. The film follows a now elderly Chiyoko as she reminisces about her life as a child and young adult actress. It has the same reality vs fiction theme as “Perfect Blue” however this film was much more of a feel good film about reflecting upon ones memories and past. Through the actresses movies we go through Japan’s history and real events.
There are two interviewers who get sucked into Chiyoko’s memories and find themselves in these crazy situations which makes for good comic relief. Out of all the films, this was my least favorite however it was an enjoyable and beautifully animated film. It is actually the best critically rated film of the group however I rate “Millennium Actress” 8/10.
“Tokyo Godfathers” was my favorite film of this bunch and took me completely by surprise. It follows three homeless people who find a baby in a dumpster and do their best to take care of the baby with their limited resources. The film has dark themes such as poverty and struggling to find food as well as the personal problems of each of the characters. That being said Kon finds a way to shed light on these subjects and show that even at the worst times you can find love and happiness. These three people who felt all alone before and struggled to take care of themselves now do all they can do take care of each other and this baby. They are truly like a family.
The film is very comical as each character is so drastically different with a teenage girl, a middle aged man, and a transgender woman. The situations they get into and how they react are very entertaining. Kon portrays some of what LGBTQ people as well as homeless people go through and how they can be treated and how it affects them. This was pretty cool to see since the film was made in 2003 and not many people especially in anime seemed to be talking about these subjects.
The end of “Tokyo Godfathers” left me with a happy and loving feeling. It had comedy, action, adventure, and family and I was not bored at any point. I will definitely be watching this film again! Rating 8.5/10. (I am trying to rate both from a critical standpoint and how much I enjoyed) enjoyment was 10/10.
“Paranoia Agent” is the only series Kon has made. It consists of 1 season of 13 episodes. Kon says that this series was the great ideas he had in his head that he could not fit into any of his other movies. The series follows a town being terrorized by this boy on roller skates who hits people with a baseball bat called “little slugger”. The episodes follow different characters each time but all have the connection of having contact with little slugger.
The idea behind this anime as with many other of Kon’s work is what is real and what is not. Is there really a boy on roller blades hitting people with baseball bats or is little slugger representing growing paranoia in this town and it’s people? All of the characters we meet are going through very hard times that are seeming to push them over the edge of insanity. This is when we see little slugger. Without having an explanation for paranoia is blaming it on this boy with a bat easier? This is what makes paranoia agent so incredible!
Kon describes paranoia as the feeling a child gets in his stomach if he is nervous and doesn’t want to go to school. It can actually make you feel sick but is all in your mind. It is almost easier to blame some horrific monster than face the truth. Each episode is captivating and dark with many deep and dark topics of suicide and mental illness so keep that in mind if you want to watch this. Kon ends his interview of this anime by saying “little slugger is….” and laughing at the camera because we will never know if he is real or not! But Kon’s sense of humor is amazing.
If you are into psychological anime “Paranoia Agent” is a must watch! Rating 10/10.
“Paprika” was the most confusing and one of the lesser enjoyable of Kon’s works for me as well and most people who have seen it. It follows this company who has a machine where you can enter dreams and bring those dreams into the real world. As the other films were already confusing enough this film was made for the purpose of being confusing! Is it a dream? Is it reality with dreams in it? Who knows!? I definitely felt high watching it.
This film was also adapted from a popular novel but changed a lot. Kon voice acted in it which is very interesting. The animation itself was pretty good with many bright colors and crazy things everywhere you look. The childlike soundtrack when the dreams were marching in a parade through the real world was good but also creepy which fits with the plot. All in all the film wasn’t horrible but not something I would recommend. It was also the lowest rated on IMBD with a 7.7 which is not awful. My rating is a 7.5/10.
Sadly this last film of Kon’s was not finished before his death and does not seem like it will ever get finished without Kon’s creative mind and his idea for the film. It was going to be a fantasy adventure anime centered around three robots. Very different and unique to Kon’s previous works. Kon said it was going to be a film both children and adults would enjoy and was going to be produced by madhouse and maapa! It is very unfortunate we may never see this film however some people still hold out hope.
Thank you so much for reading this post! I enjoyed watching all of Satoshi Kon’s works as well as his interviews. He will always be respected and missed in the genre and one of the best to explore psychology through anime. Let me know what your favorite work of Satoshi Kon is or which interested you the most from the post!
RIP Satoshi Kon