Now, if you'll pardon me, I have to go."
Satoshi Kon (October 12, 1963 August 24, 2010) was a Japanese director noted for serious, thoughtful, arthouse films which examine their characters' psychology. He was especially preoccupied with the concept of subjective reality, and incorporated it into almost all of his works; that aside, his works cover a wide range of genres and themes: psychological thriller (Perfect Blue), Magical Realism (Millennium Actress), wacky caper comedy (Tokyo Godfathers) and Paranoia Agent (which defies categorisation). He was closely tied to Madhouse studios and composer Susumu Hirasawa.
Relatively unknown to most, he also drew several manga before moving into animation, many of which were eventually released in English in 2013-2015.
Works by Satoshi Kon include:
- Tropic of the Sea (1990)
- Seraphim 266613336 Wings (1994-1995, incompleted) (with Mamoru Oshii)
- OPUS (1995-1996)
- Magnetic Rose from the anthology Memories (1995)
- Perfect Blue (1998)
- Millennium Actress (2001)
- Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
- Paranoia Agent (2004)
- Paprika (2006)
- The Dream Machine (Indefinitely delayed following his death)
Tropes found in his work:
- Author Existence Failure: At the time of his death, he was working on a film about robots called The Dream Machine which would have been his first project aimed at a younger audience.
- Central Theme: Systems, human psyche, social stigmas, surrealism, morality, mental illnesses, imagination vs realism.
- Famous Last Words: "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go." The wording is said to be a specific phrase you'd use if you were, say, at work and called away, having to leave your coworkers to finish a project without you.
- Four Is Death: Rather eerily, his fourth film, Paprika, was his final theatrical film to be released.
- Genre-Busting: Most of his films have strange or unconventional premises.
- He Also Did: Wrote, storyboarded and directed the fifth episode of the original JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OVA for APPP (the episode with the memetic scene where DIO stares up at a 7UP sign). He died before David Production animated the more well-known (nowadays) version of the anime, so we'll never know what he might have thought of their take on it.
- Magic Realism: Two of his works,Tokyo Godfathers and Paranoia Agent have elements of this trope: in the former, the plot is driven by a series of incredibly fortunate coincidences, giving it a very "Christmas magic" vibe (And also, the intervention of a supernatural force ends saving the life of one of the main characters ) while in the latter a seemingly mundane mystery ends becoming a supernatural Surreal Horror story, but never losing a certain down-to-earth tone for the most part.
- Mind Screw: There's a reason he's called "the David Lynch of Anime", a nickname he shares with Kunihiko Ikuhara.
- Mukokuseki: He's well-known for completely averting this in his works. Japanese people actually look Japanese and he relies upon art that gives everyone very distinct facial appearances and body types rather than just crazy hairstyles and Only Six Faces.
- Postmodernism: Intertextuality? Check. Unconventional narrative? Check. Mind Screw? Check.
- Promoted Fanboy: Kon was a fan of Yasutaka Tsutsui and Yoshikazu Takeuchi, and adapted works from the both of them into films. He was also a fan of Susumu Hirasawa long before he first worked with him.
- Scenery Porn
- Shades of Conflict: Morality, while usually more Grey-and-Gray Morality or sometimes White-and-Grey Morality, it differentiates depending on the project.
- Signature Style: Satoshi Kon was known and loved for combining imagination with realism. Also, very smooth editing that involved a lot of match cuts; when the editing was not smooth, he was quickly cutting to a shot that only lasted a few frames.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Depends on the project. Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent are far on the cynical end, where Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and most likely his unfinished film The Dream Machine are more on the idealistic end. Paprika is smack in the middle.
- Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Going back to Signature Style, his films were known for brilliantly mixing in the two together.
- Something Completely Different: His third movie, Tokyo Godfathers is a straight forward comedy-drama with a more traditional three act structure firmly set in a realistic world rather than his usual style.
- The last project he worked on was a kid-friendly robot movie called The Dream Machine.
- Madhouse has thankfully confirmed the film is back in production. In Satoshi Kon's final message, he said he was assured by Madhouse founder Masao Maruyama that the studio would do "whatever it takes" to finish it.
- Unfortunately the movie has slipped back into Development Hell again.
- Split Personality: Comes up a lot in his work, bordering on Author Appeal.
- Take That!: He was quite fond of berating the Japanese Kawaisa mentality. Shown in Paranoia Agent in particular.