Satoshi Kon and his career. Second part (Topic)

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Satoshi Kon and his career. Second part


We continue to talk about the creative path of Satoshi Kon and his biography. You can read the beginning of his story in the first part of the article.

The Godfather

After the success of Millennium Actress, Satoshi decided to strike while the iron was hot and began work on the next film. He decided to deviate a bit from his classic concept of layering the protagonist's personality, and make it more of a part of the narrative, rather than the main theme. Also, in his past works, he made the main characters of the girls, as he believed that the audience saw more flaws in male characters than positive qualities, but now he decided to change this and add two male main characters at once.

By then, Kon was a little disappointed with the anime industry and the fact that it was idle. On the one hand, animation has endless possibilities, but on the other hand, the audience itself says that this or that idea is bad, which drives the industry into far-fetched frames. As a result, all anime boil down to something monotonous and banal. Kon was very annoyed by this, and that's why he decided to make a story unique of its kind. Once he saw homeless people and thought about why they weren't making films about them? This is how he came up with an idea that would have been rejected had it not been Satoshi's author.


He wanted the film to be different from previous films and therefore to involve new people in the work. He offered the screenwriting position to Keiko Nabumoto, who wrote the screenplay for Cowboy Bebop and Wolf's Rain. He met her when he was writing manga. For voice acting, he brought in non-professionals to make the voices as natural as possible.

All this resulted in one of the director's most daring films, which was called "Tokyo Godfathers" or "Tokyo Godfathers" [our anime is also known as "Once Upon a Time in Tokyo"]. The inspiration comes from Peter B. Kane's bestselling film The Three Godfathers, in which three bank robbers accidentally become godparents to a baby.


Kon's story tells about three homeless people - middle-aged alcoholic Gina, transvestite Hannah and a girl Miyuki who ran away from her home. They hardly get along together, quarrel, fight, but they are three of them. On Christmas Eve, they find a child thrown into the trash, and with him a note indicating how to find the parents, as well as the girl's name - Kiyoko. The Trinity sets out to find her parents.

The search turns into a dangerous adventure, where they all have to face their past, and also, thanks to a series of accidents, believe in a miracle.


The main theme of anime is miracles and coincidences. However, they happen exactly as long as each of the characters needs to pass a certain test in order to achieve a common goal and in order to overcome themselves. The anime turned out to be mesmerizing thanks to its characters. Miyuki makes us feel sorry for Jin, understanding and Hannah respect for his actions.

Tokyo Godfathers is a non-standard project for Cohn, because there is no surrealism or blurring of the lines between reality and fiction in it. This is a film of life, with poignant social commentary. In it, the director raises the problem of homeless people, disrespect and contempt for them by society, which has fenced off from them.

Each of the heroes got into the street against their will. They were not bad people, but simply made mistakes in life, or harsh decisions, like each of us. The picture reveals the characters to us in such a way that it is easy to associate ourselves with them and understand their problems.

The style of storytelling in the film came out more Western. These are permanent landscapes of a living city, Christian motives, as well as a theme that reveals family values at Christmas. It is not hard to guess that the anime presented at the New York festival brought Kon even more fame.

When paranoia is on the heels

Accustomed to not being satisfied with what has already been achieved, Kon immediately began working on a new project, which he was developing even before the start of work on "Tokyo Godfathers". He decided to make a picture from his unrealized ideas, which did not fit into the general meaning of his past works, and also return to the familiar theme of the conflict between fiction and reality. Satoshi wanted to implement the idea in a slightly new genre of the series. This is how Agent Paranoia was born.


Satoshi said that people give the word "paranoia" a negative connotation, unlike the word "fantasy", belittling its power. However, in order to endure life's problems, people need something beyond reality, such as fantasy, daydreaming and paranoia. Why exactly she? A person perceives this world either through the prism of fantasy or paranoia, and these two phenomena cannot only be bad. Roughly speaking, paranoia as a distraction.

The first episode of the series tells about an unusual case. Tsukiko Sagi works as a designer and creates an iconic character - the pink dog Maromi. He blows up the market and Saga's bosses demand a second masterpiece from her. She spends day after day on work, but still cannot repeat her success. The girl gets very stressed and one day, when she returns home, a boy with a crooked bat on golden roller skates attacks her and hits her on the head.


The situation is so unusual that it seems fictional, but over time the attacks continue and the police are trying to deal with them. But here, strangely enough, all the victims of the bat boy, after his blow, began to live better. This is one of Cohn's most unusual works. The series was created exclusively at Madhouse studio without the involvement of freelancers, and the work was in full swing at a frantic pace. Even in the very first episodes, the director did not know how they would end the series.

In concept, it consisted of stories of people who cannot cope with the pressure that society and the big city put on them. When they are close to despair or breakdown, they try to hide from reality with their imagination, and when it fails, a boy with a bat appears and attacks them.


This anime by Satoshi Kon raises many social themes that border between fantasy and the harsh realities of life. It is here that there is a borrowed characteristic feature of the works of Yasutaki Tsutsui, which Satoshi loves so much - a satire on everyday life and black humor. For example, one episode tells the story of three people who met online to commit collective suicide - an acute problem in Japan. All their attempts fail and entail a series of funny events, so an important social problem is presented with a very cynical message.

Anime jumps between drawing and animation styles, which makes the picture look pretty crazy. And while almost all episodes are independent, they have a central plot about the healing feature of paranoia, and how it slowly turns into mass hysteria and insanity. The bat boy is not a specific character, it is the paranoia that people use to escape from the brink. The more people learn about it, the more its appearance and influence on society changes. Someone sees in him a monster, someone a hero, but the truth will be stunning.

As the series drew to a close, Satoshi finally began his most ambitious project ever since Perfect Blue.

Dream Girl

On the example of Cohn, we see how many years of hard work can elevate you in front of your own idols. In 2003, Yasutaki Tsutsui himself called Satoshi, whose work he had already noticed for a long time, and invited him to film his novel Paprika. But Satoshi did not give up even in front of the idol and still knocked out permission to make changes and independently control the whole process.


He put all his experience and energy into the production, bringing every shot to the ideal. He adapted the story and wrote the finale, like last time, during the creation process, to surprise even his team.

The plot tells about the near future, where they create a DC mini device that helps to penetrate other people's dreams. Dr. Atsuko Chiba uses a prototype of this invention to treat people with mental disorders. Penetrating them into dreams, she takes on the image of her alter ego, a young and perky girl named Paprika.

Several prototype devices are being stolen. An attacker uses it to drive people crazy. Atsuko plans to end this with Paprika.


Satoshi was able to adapt the anime so that the story is simpler, but much brighter. In Paprika, not only dreams and reality merge together, but all of Cohn's developments that he wanted to realize. Anime is replete with its absurdity and surrealism, images and frames from it have become legends and create a genuine feeling as if you yourself are entering the picture and becoming a part of it.

Paprika premiered at the Venice Festival and won the main award. Subsequently inspired by this work, Christopher Nolan will direct his film "Inception".

Eternal sleep

In Paprika, there was a moment when the heroes walk into the cinema and see posters of Cohn's past works there. However, one stood out very much, because it was a hint of the next work of the director. Alas, we never saw her. In 2010, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. The creator decided to spend the last days in his home and did not divulge his illness, leaving only a suicide letter that his family published after Satoshi Kon died. In the letter he asked that his latest creation, "The Dreaming Machine", be completed, but the project and could not be realized without a genius. However, his colleague Sasuma Marayama, who was involved in the project, founded a new studio that is working on the adaptation of the opus manga. And who knows, maybe we'll still see the author's last dream.


This is how Satoshi Kon's career ended.

The Topic of Article: Satoshi Kon and his career. Second part.
Author: Jake Pinkman