Satoshi Kon



A filmmaker who relishes the opportunity to pull the rug out from under audiences and give them what they least expect, Satoshi Kon has stood as a skilled, highly original, and talented figure in a world overpopulated by giant mecha and menacing tentacled beasties. Kon's films are alternately haunting, thought-provoking, and oddly endearing, and are a must-see for anyone who has simply dismissed animation as child's play or fan-boy fodder. A native of Hollaido, Japan, who grew up with a strong affection for manga, the aspiring artist was influenced early on by such anime mainstays as Yamato and Gundam. Upon graduating from high school, Kon attended Musashino Art University, where he studied Visual Art Communication Design. Though, by this point, Kon's interest in manga had given way to an increasing interest in feature film, it was during his college years that the aspiring animator made his debut as a comic artist with work for Young Magazine. A fondness for the films of Terry Gilliam gave the keen-eyed illustrator a strong knack for composition, and after gaining more experience, Kon landed a job as a set designer for the animated sci-fi comedy Roujin Z. Similar work on Hashire Meros and Patlabor 2 was soon to follow, with Kon eventually moving up to screenwriter with the "Magnetic Rose" segment of the collaborative sci-fi anime feature Memories. With all of the necessary experience to move into directing under his belt, it was only a matter of time before Kon stepped into the director's chair, and when the opportunity to expand his horizons arrived in the form of a dark psychological thriller entitled Perfect Blue, he leapt at the chance to step behind the camera. Though the film was originally envisioned as a live-action, direct-to-video feature, filmmaking was delayed by the 1994 Kobe earthquake, during which time the decision was made to animate the feature instead of shooting it live-action. Premiering at the 1997 FanTasia Film Festival to much fanfare, Perfect Blue broke the mold by offering an engrossing tale of a former pop star whose transition to an acting career takes a dark turn when an obsessive fan objects to her newfound image. A jarring wake-up call to the world of anime, Perfect Blue showed that the medium could speak to adults as readily as it had to children for decades before. With anticipation for a follow-up exceeded only by expectation, Kon certainly did not disappoint with the release of the touching drama Millennium Actress in 2001. Eschewing the darker aspects of Perfect Blue to offer a somber and affecting comment on the human condition, Millennium Actress told the tale of a elderly former studio actress whose glamorous life passes before her eyes when approached by a pair of documentarians who are preparing a career retrospective. As genuinely heartfelt and touching as any live-action film, it was obvious to all who saw Millennium Actress that Kon was a true visionary in the realm on animation. By this time, Kon had attracted the attention of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, whose DreamWorks Entertainment acquired the stateside distribution rights for the film. By the time Kon's third feature, Tokyo Godfathers, was released in 2003, the director had developed an unmistakable visual and aesthetic style all his own. A genuinely fun and moving drama concerning a trio of homeless misfits whose lives are turned upside-down after discovering a baby discarded in a trash pile on Christmas Eve, Tokyo Godfathers' well-drawn (both emotionally and technically) characters offered more depth and dimension than the majority of its live-action contemporaries. Lighter in theme and tone than Millennium Actress and cinematic cotton candy compared to Perfect Blue, the film earned generally positive reviews from fans and critics -- leaving everyone hungry for what the imaginative screenwriter/director would come up with next.