***Satoshi Kon, a Japanese filmmaker and comic-book artist whose dazzling visual compositions and humane, emotionally resonant stories won him a devoted following in animation circles and beyond, died in Tokyo on Tuesday. He was 46.
The filmmaker and comic-book artist Satoshi Kon in 2006 following a screening at the Venice Film Festival.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to the Tokyo Shimbun news service and statements issued by Mr. Kon?s wife, Kyoko, and by Madhouse Studios, where Mr. Kon directed films.
While Mr. Kon?s film work incorporated many familiar anime elements ? pixielike female characters, sensitive robots, futuristic cityscapes and an anxious fascination with the creative and destructive power of technology ? it was also informed by literary, artistic and cinematic traditions far beyond contemporary Japanese popular culture.
Mr. Kon?s second feature, ?Millennium Actress,? paid homage to masters of Japanese live-action film like Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, blending naturalism and fantasy to tell the story of a fictitious movie star in the years before and after the Second World War. His next film, ?Tokyo Godfathers,? was loosely based on a 1948 John Ford western, Three Godfathers, and took viewers on a vivid tour of modern Tokyo?s back alleys and poor neighborhoods.
?He was part of a line of great Japanese humanist directors and writers,? said Susan J. Napier, a professor of Japanese studies at Tufts University and the author of several books on anime. In a telephone interview Wednesday, she linked Mr. Kon with Kurosawa, the great animator Hayao Miyazaki (?Spirited Away,? ?Princess Mononoke?) and the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe.
Mr. Kon, she said, combined their characteristic social and ethical concerns ? including sympathy for outsiders and a belief in the redemptive power of love ? with a mischievous and wildly inventive visual style.
?He loved to play with the audience, to fool the audience,? Ms. Napier said. ?He would show one thing and then he?ll make you realize that you aren?t seeing what you think you?re seeing. He loved to play with dreams, to play with the borders between the real and the fantastic.?
This sensibility is apparent in the opening sequence of ?Paprika,? the last feature he completed. In a deceptively realistic scene of Tokyo traffic, billboards and video screens spring to life, and an enigmatic female figure ? whose identity will turn out to be the key to the film?s many existential puzzles ? flows from one dimension of reality to another.
Satoshi Kon was born in Hokkaido, Japan, on Oct. 12, 1963. Intending to study painting, he enrolled at the Musashino Art University, but, as he told the Web site Anime News Network (animenewsnetwork.com) in 2008, his interests soon shifted to illustration, and he began to draw the Japanese comics known as manga for Young magazine. There he met Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of the groundbreaking manga Akira, the 1988 film version of which remains a touchstone in the modern history of anime.
Mr. Kon worked as an animator on Hiroyuki Kitakubo?s 1991 feature, ?Rojin Z? (written by Mr. Otomo), and contributed a script to Mr. Otomo?s 1995 science-fiction anthology film, ?Memories.? In 1998 he directed his first feature, ?Perfect Blue.?
?Millennium Actress,? ?Tokyo Godfathers? and ?Paprika? followed, in addition to ?Paranoia Agent,? a series Mr. Kon made for Japanese television.
At his death he was finishing ?The Dream Machine,? which he described in the 2008 interview as ?a road movie for robots.?
?On the surface,? he said, ?it?s going to be a fantasy-adventure targeted at younger audiences. However, it will also be a film that people who have seen our films up to this point will be able to enjoy.? ***
Surprising to hear, so young. RIP. :crybaby: