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Brain Diving - The Konquistador


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Animerican14



Joined: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 787
Location: Saint Louis, MO

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 1:21 am Reply with quote
Ah, I remember wanting this book! At least, I had a bit of an interest in it... somehow, though, I forgot to put this down in my Christmas/Birthday wishlist last year (Dec. 14th b-day here), despite my great struggle to really come up with anything to add. Hope to acquire it somehow this year...

The only anime film director book I had read so far was the columnist's very own Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii two or three years ago. Reading through excerpts of it definitely inspired me to pick up a few more of his films beyond Ghost in the Shell during the summer after senior year of high school! I was able to see the entire Kerberos trilogy- the Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade anime and the live-action Red Spectacles and Stray Dog-- and Sky Crawlers through a combination of Netflix & the public library (was very surprised that I didn't need to use Netflix for Red Spectacles). Within the past school year, I had the pleasure of seeing Angel's Egg and the first Patlabor movie. Man.... truly so much can be accomplished in a director's life!

It's so sad to think that by now, all that I haven't seen of Satoshi Kon is the entirety of Paranoia Agent, and the last film of his that we can look forward to is The Dream Machine (got Millenium Actress for this past Christmas, and I loved it). He was truly a legendary filmmaker, one of the very few Japanese directors that I can consistently remember by name.... such a terrible shame that his "brand-name recognition" isn't as strong out here in the West as Hayao Miyazaki's. With The Dream Machine apparently targeted at somewhat younger audiences, I sure hope that American film-going audiences-- and by extension, the Academy-- will take greater notice of him than they have in the past.
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Orisha



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 2:50 am Reply with quote
Thank you for this article, I will buy this book, I liked Tokyo Godfathers, but never thought about the director, in the future I will research more, think more about what I see and about those who have created it. Thank you for this article, it has awaken my interest to learn more about the things I enjoy. Its very sad, that he passed away.
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The Nagabuchi



Joined: 18 Apr 2007
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:55 am Reply with quote
Great write up Brian. Coincidentally I just picked this book up last week.

Must say though that I'm not necessarily with you on your opinion of these sort of publications/books going totally electronic. Can't stand reading something as long as a book on anything but paper. I really hope that we keep getting physical copies of stuff like this for years to come. It would be terrible imo if something as wonderful as Mechademia was forced to go e-book only.
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neocloud9



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 1175
Location: Atlanta, GA

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 6:25 am Reply with quote
What an interesting read... How tragic that a director with so much potential was taken from us so quickly. Sad
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Nephtis
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Joined: 21 Jul 2005
Posts: 138
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 6:50 am Reply with quote
Quote:
And if the movie sucks, knowing how things should work on a more technical level will give you the ammunition you'll need to explain to your friends why that director should never be allowed behind a camera ever again.


See and this is great - if I've learnt anything in my cinema major it's "you'll never be bored watching a bad movie again". (Not that you'll never think a movie sucks every again.) You get to pick it apart on a new level as to why it's so bad. Then again maybe you're better off forgetting it entirely sometimes...

Digital publishing for scholarly work interests me - university libraries can only stock a limited number of titles in an area such as anime. Brian - your book is at mine - but if you're trying to write up a major essay on anything not super big it's hard to find physical sources. Journal articles are easier, but finding larger work is not so easy. Bring on the world of digital academic work!

I really have to watch more Kon before I try to read up seriously, but I'll keep this book in mind.
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3315
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 8:10 am Reply with quote
Oh yeah, I own this. Would I be the huge Satoshi Kon fan I am if I didn't? The answer: no. I stumbled across it shortly after his death, checked it out from the library, read and re-read it, and then decided I must have a copy. It sits on my shelf above my computer. And I admit I cried a little at the quote for the final chapters.

I tend to be one of those fans who really does like to know a lot about the person behind the project, assuming it's one I really, really love. I'm a sucker for interviews with the cast and staff of a show. I like to read the little sidebars that authors include in their manga. And yes, I loved your Stray Dogs of Anime, which I had read long before I started reading this column (in fact, it was part of why I started reading. this column in this first place). I really wish there were more works on creators, be they writers or directors. Tezuka and Miyazaki are awesome, but I already know a lot about them. Please, review any books you come across that are like this!
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errinundra
Enjoying the time of EVEEnjoying the time of EVE


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 2627
Location: Melbourne, Oz

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 8:42 am Reply with quote
Brian Ruh wrote:
Of course, with Perfect Blue out of print and DVD sets of the Paranoia Agent series currently going for ridiculous prices, such synopses may in fact be critical for newer fans.


I feel as if I'm soapboxing a little, but both anime are currently in print. In Australia. Perfect Blue has been recently re-released by Siren Visual for AUD$24.95 while Paranoia Agent is available from Madman for AUD$49.95. With the Australian dollar at about US$1.095 for US customers that would come to about US$22.80 and $45.60 respectively plus postage to the US. Of course, you would need an all-region player.

Andrew Osmond's book sits proudly in the shelves with my anime collection.
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HJSoulma



Joined: 06 May 2009
Posts: 62

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 10:11 am Reply with quote
I have to say this article makes me a little upset-- I thought basically any average anime fan would know at least Kon, Oshii and Otomo. I mean, unless it was write-in, why were Oda and CLAMP even choices on a favorite directors survey...? o__o *sigh*

I have a lot of trouble with the way most of us absorb our media, I guess. As a now-almost-finished undergraduate and graduate English major looking to teach high school once I'm done, I took a number of film classes, and even at a fairly rigorous university, a large portion of the students seemed... well, surprised that one might actually have to do WORK in a film class. "It's just, like, watching movies, right?" ...Um, no. Films are texts too, folks!

Anyway, I've always been fascinated with the inner workings of the creative process, but I think one of my professors said it best: he once defined "art" as "something that becomes more impressive and more magical rather than less when you know how it's made." I feel this way about most major animated films-- knowing the artistry and the work that goes into something like that just boggles the mind, and at least to me makes the film seem so much more impressive. If I find myself in a school district that isn't too restrictive, I certainly plan on trying to bring some sort of animation into my curriculum, and I want to try to convince my students that it's worth looking beyond the surface level no matter what media you're enjoying, not only because it will make you a more thoughtful, discerning person, but because it make your enjoyment of media all that much greater.
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gwern



Joined: 05 Nov 2009
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:17 am Reply with quote
Animerican14 wrote:

The only anime film director book I had read so far was the columnist's very own Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii two or three years ago. Reading through excerpts of it definitely inspired me to pick up a few more of his films beyond Ghost in the Shell during the summer after senior year of high school! I was able to see the entire Kerberos trilogy- the Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade anime and the live-action Red Spectacles and Stray Dog-- and Sky Crawlers through a combination of Netflix & the public library (was very surprised that I didn't need to use Netflix for Red Spectacles). Within the past school year, I had the pleasure of seeing Angel's Egg and the first Patlabor movie. Man.... truly so much can be accomplished in a director's life!


Agreed. I wasn't particularly interested in Oshii and had only seen Ghost in the Shell when I picked up Stray Dog. Since then, I've been slowly working my way through - Jin Roh, Sky Crawlers*, Angel's Egg, Patlabor 2, and Urusei Yatsura 2 so far.

* The one that least impressed me, oddly enough. I felt like it was one long hidden subtext I wasn't understanding at all.
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3315
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:39 am Reply with quote
HJSoulma wrote:
I have to say this article makes me a little upset-- I thought basically any average anime fan would know at least Kon, Oshii and Otomo. I mean, unless it was write-in, why were Oda and CLAMP even choices on a favorite directors survey...? o__o *sigh*

ANN did a survey a ways back where they listed names and you got to pick one. Miyazaki was the winner by a landslide, but Kon was actually in second place, followed I believe by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) and Hideaki Anno (Neongenesis Evangelion). If they did it again today, I imagine Shinbo* would be high up on the list. If you let people know names, they can make connections, but yes, I imagine most people off the top of their heads can only name Miyazaki.


*as I haven't yet seen Madoca Magica Puella Whatever, did he actually do anything different in it? Because the last six things I saw by him were basically using the same set of tricks over and over again.
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Yorozuya



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 332

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:53 am Reply with quote
Just because pefect blue is out of print doesn't make it difficult to find. I got two copies of it last christmas (a mistake on my part when asking for stuff) and both of them were cheap and in good condition (Praise to amazon).

Anyway, I don't think I'm really a big enough fan of Satoshi Kon to buy/read this book. I've seen three of his films (Paprika, Millenium actress, perfect blue) and only responded to one of them.
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 863

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 12:07 pm Reply with quote
I think it's typical for anyone who is not interested in anime creators and creative process. The same applies to live action movies. It's up to us older(!) and wiser(?) fans to promote anime creators and their creative process.

Older fans have to create interest on anime creators by talking about down-and-dirty story behind anime production off their favorite titles. We have to talk about someone hating certain someone's gut. That makes anime history rich and fascinating. Those stories are out there. They're in prints and electronic format in Japanese. Again, it's all about being active about it

It's up to older fans demystify the anime as some kind of exotic art that cannot be replicated. We have to show people that as long as you can draw real-life people and objects, then you can draw Japanese style cartoon art.

Personally, I think that Anime DVD distributors here are not doing their best on promoting anime creators. Just look at recent end credits on DVDs and features. "Summer Wars" for example, Funimation used most of end credit running time displaying names of voice actors and ADR people, but they only spent few seconds on displaying director's name and animation supervisors' names. It's not putting creators names in equal level as cast names. Let's put it this way. If creators don't make a product (anime, movies, or games), then there is nothing for voice actors to act on.

it's great that anime DVD price has dropped significantly, but also bonus behind-the-features materials are limited to whatever Japanese produced features and English voice actor audio commentaries. There is very few anime art books in English and English website interviews are ill-prepared and sometimes clueless.

If you go to conventions, you see less and less anime creators, even though they proclaim to be anime-centered convention. Conventions are bring in some new Japanese pop musicians, but they have not brought new generation anime creators worthy of notice. We never see anime creators displaying their creative prowess. We've seen popular illustrator or manga artist drawing characters, but we don't get to see animators drawing stuffs often. We rarely see their magic through animatics or scene-in-process. Like this:

http://www.dailymotion.com/​video/​xywz7_noein-​keyframe-​animation_videogames​

The clip looks fun and fascinating to watch. How come we're still treating anime like distant and exotic art?


I've seen the Andrew Osmond's book. I wasn't too impressed with his list of bibliography. Of course, Satoshi Kon left us his immensely detailed web site and a Japanese book. Plus, His Japanese R2 DVD offers more insight on his movies.
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gwern



Joined: 05 Nov 2009
Posts: 65

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 12:42 pm Reply with quote
reanimator wrote:

I've seen the Andrew Osmond's book. I wasn't too impressed with his list of bibliography. Of course, Satoshi Kon left us his immensely detailed web site and a Japanese book. Plus, His Japanese R2 DVD offers more insight on his movies.


He may have a detailed website but has it been preserved anywhere?

Websites die hard and quick. If you care about Kon's work and you ever expect to want to consult his website, you should run
Code:
wget --mirror
now*. (Running it last month would be even better.) Some examples:

I was checking links on my own website and noticed a broken link. It was to the site of a man who, I learned, died last month. An obituary email noted that his family strongly supported distributing his work online. The website is still dead. There are no mirrors except one copy I had made out of an abundance of paranoia.

In my Evangelion reading, I have run into many dead links from the 1990s and 2000s. Just the ones I wanted to hold on to and managed to find a copy of in the Internet Archive number >83.

The statistics on dead links say that 3% of links will die every year. And that's in the very best case, curated digital libraries!

* I am doing so. But who knows how long my own archives will last...
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GATSU



Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 12546

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 1:32 pm Reply with quote
gwern: Kon's family and friends are still maintaining the site.
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vashfanatic



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 3315
Location: Back stateside

PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 2:17 pm Reply with quote
Scratch my last post, I managed to find the old poll, and my remembrance of it was not 100% accurate. Here are the results, from late 2006. There were also follow up polls to try to narrow it down to a "runner-up," and Shinichiro Watanabe beat out Satoshi Kon, which demonstrates the still-immense popularity of Cowboy Bebop. A new one would be really cool as a future idea, ANN staff, to see how thing might have changed in the past 5 years.
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