Satoshi Kon, dead at age 47, will always be remembered for creating great animated films.
In writing this post, I am aware that I am nowhere near the biggest Kon fan. I’ve only seen a handful of his total output, owning none of it on physical media or in digital format, but I know that of the films I have seen, all have had a profound effect on me. To this day, I distinctly remember that scene in Millennium Actress where the titular character is moving gracefully between still paintings, stepping out of one and taking up her pose in the next. It’s visually creative in a way rarely seen in anime, even with someone like Miyazaki, who usually goes a much more orthodox route when it comes to representation of events. It’s the kind of thing that gets burned into your memories, and you’re all the better for it.
When I say that the man will be remembered for creating great animated films, you might be wondering, by whom? And the answer is nearly everyone. Not just film buffs, not just the casual movie-going audience, and especially not just anime fans who themselves come in all varieties, but just about anyone who’s had the opportunity to see one of his films. Satoshi Kon’s recurring themes of psychology, memories, and dreams have the potential to be incredibly heavy and complex to the point of driving people away, but instead Kon managed to create incredibly accessible works which get their audiences to think. Not every film is for every person, but there’s inevitably one you can show to your friends or your family and have a nice discussion afterward. You want to know how to mature your tastes as an anime fan in a short amount of time? Watch a Kon film, and see where your mind takes you.
I’ve seen around the internet that people are worried about the fate of anime and the creativity therein after all of this. To this I say, losing Satoshi Kon, especially at such a young age, is a serious blow to the heart and gut of Japanese animation, but great creators die. It’s kind of what they do, being human and all, and to dwell on what they could have done, while a worthwhile exercise, only takes you so far. A creative form of expression such as animation, Japanese or otherwise, is not so simple that it can be felled by the death of one man, great as he may have been. There is mourning, but there is also the next step.
Rest in peace, Satoshi Kon, with the knowledge that it’s impossible for you to not have inspired someone.