ANN Satoshi Kon page

My average ranking: 8.67

Director Pantheon: Satoshi Kon Rating
Ani-Kuri 15 (special) Decent

From an anthology of fifteen one minute segments shown on Japan's NHK network. Individual rating: Good. Satoshi Kon's segment Ohayo (Good Morning), where a young woman gets herself together the morning after her birthday party, is one of the stand outs. Kon uses his characteristic schizophrenic fracturing to highlight the woman's struggle to wake up.
Millennium Actress (movie) Masterpiece
Although not as adventurous as Paprika, this film is still a marvel. Like Picasso with his cubist paintings, Satoshi Kon utilises his trademark fractured subjectivity and astonishing mastery of match cuts to examine the character of Chiyoko Fujiwara from several angles. This is surely one of the most penetrating, and joyful, character studies in anime. Amazingly, we also get an overview of the Japanese film industry in the twentieth century along with a precis of Japanese history over the last four hundred years.

Millennium Actress has one of my favourite musical interludes – the running segment that starts with Chiyoko's rejection of a heartfelt apology from her nemesis and ends on the moon as the love of her life vanishes from a painting. Susumu Hirasawa provides a moving soundtrack to the images.

Extended review

Paprika (movie) Masterpiece

The singular quality of animation is that, more than any other visual medium, it encourages the viewer to suspend belief. Only in animation will the viewer accept someone jumping into a television screen and coming out of a camera lens. Even with cgi we still place limitations on what we will accept in live action film. This makes animation potentially the most productive medium for tearing apart story telling structures, something understood long ago with Warner Brothers' amazing Duck Amok. Sadly, this potential has rarely been realised. Paprika is its apotheosis, a game being played at the expense of normal story telling conventions.

If you can’t tell what’s going on by two thirds way through… well, that’s the point. Don’t worry, though. The film is so entertaining, you only need to relax and let it play with your brain. As one critic put it, this is a film to be experienced, rather than understood. Above all, however, the film is fun. In the opening sequence, Paprika jumps onto a toy jet aeroplane painted onto the side of a truck and scoots across the Tokyo skyline; she clicks her fingers to stop the traffic so she can cross the road; and pops out of a computer to cover the shoulders of a sleeping animator. If you don’t see that something special is happening before your eyes, then you and I are on a totally different wavelength. Perhaps you haven’t leapt through a television screen yet?

Paranoia Agent (TV) Very good

Satoshi Kon uses his trademark fractured subjectivity to remorselessly satirise Japanese post-war society in this startling and original series. For the most part his aim is true but the series falters significantly at times, particularly in the stand-alone episodes prior to the final showdown between Detectives Kaniwa and Ikari and the destructive manifestation of modern Japanese paranoia. As clever as it all is, too many of the episodes cannot bear repeated viewing. Still, Satoshi Kon on a bad day, is decidedly better than most other anime directors.
Perfect Blue (movie) Excellent

At one point in Perfect Blue the "star", Mima - one-time girl pop star turned actor and centrefold model - awakens in her room to find subtle but alarming changes: a taken-down poster of her old pop group still on the wall, the dead fish in her fish tank have been restored to life, the scenery has changed outside her bedroom window and there are blood-stained clothes in her wardrobe. Events seem to be repeating themselves and fans on the internet know even the smallest details of her life. Mima cannot tell at any moment whether she's living her "normal" life, on the studio set of the television series Double Bind or in a horrible delusion. And the viewer has trouble also, as director Satoshi Kon sets up scenes deliberately and repeatedly with a misleading point of view. Add some splatter and the end result is a paranoid and frightening movie. It rewards multiple viewings as the various clues scattered throughout are pondered and finally understood. Once the tricks are comprehended, however, we are left with a main character who is little more than a victim. Nevertheless, Satoshi Kon was a breath of fresh air in anime: a director who made sophisticated movies with adult characters for adult audiences. As he himself once complained, anime seems to be little more than robots and beautiful girls. Thankfully, Perfect Blue shows us that anime can be much, much more.
Tokyo Godfathers (movie) Very good

That Satoshi Kon can make a relatively straightforward but still marvellous film shows that, behind all the usual trickery, is a master film maker by any standards. The fun and games are still there in the form of small but entertaining miracles (this is a Christmas film after all) but they add a gloss to the tale of three homeless people trying to find the mother of an abandoned baby and rediscovering their own families on the journey. The sentiment is never laid on thick while the satire is always deft. Kon gets the mix right: there's always an edge to the sweetness while the darker moments are always lightened with wit and hope. Still, although I prefer Satoshi Kon's wilder rides, Tokyo Godfathers is a gentle pleasure.