Veteran anime writer/director Satoshi Kon has passed away in Tokyo at the age of 47. The news first spread via a Twitter post from industry fellow Yasuhiro Takeda of Studio Gainax, but has since been confirmed by Kon’s co-workers at Studio Madhouse. Details of his death have yet to be made public. Kon helmed half a dozen films, many of which found success at home and abroad. He first gained international recognition for his film Perfect Blue, a taut, psychological thriller released in 1998. Kon followed up this success in 2001 with Millennium Actress — an ode to the Japanese film industry — and Tokyo Godfathers in 2003. Kon next dabbled in television, writing and directing the 26-episode series Paranoia Agent. His most recent film to make waves was 2007’s Paprika, a fantastical, sci-fi journey through the world of dreams bearing striking similarities to Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film Inception. Kon was working on a new sci-fi robot project titled The Dreaming Machine. Early art from the film reveals a much more cartoon-y look, similar to Fox’ 2005 Robots. No word yet on the future of this project. After the jump, check out some of the trailers to his movies.
Kon’s work was characterized by a fascination with the subconscious and the world of dreams. All of his films have a sort of surrealistic quality that is in some ways similar to that of fellow writer/director Mamoru Oshii, though Kon’s work was generally less morose. His realistic, yet stylized characters and artistic design are instantly recognizable. Kon often partnered with composer Susumu Hirosawa, whose distinctive style had come to be an integral part of the overall feel of Kon’s work. His loss at such a young age is a great tragedy and the Japanese film industry will be poorer for his absence. He will be sorely missed.