Otakon is reporting that Satoshi Kon has passed away at the age of 47 (Madhouse, Kon’s studio, has confirmed the details). Kon had been working on Dream Machine, his first children’s feature, at the time of his death. No cause has been announced yet.
This is simply a tremendous loss: Kon was a hugely talented director responsible for some of the most thought-provoking anime in recent years. Kon’s works included Paprika, Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue, and the TV series Paranoia Agent. These titles were often dark and disturbing, full of themes of alienation and psychological distress. Behind them all was, I believe, a concern for humanity and the effects of modern, consumerist society on our hearts and minds.
Though they often dealt with difficult topics, Kon’s works were never exploitative, and were all done with the highest degree of skill, artistry, and originality. He will be missed.
Below is the opening sequence from Paprika, which showcases not just the technical skill that Kon brought to his works, but also the creativity that was a hallmark of his career.
Those looking for an introduction to Satoshi Kon would do well to read Grady Hendrix’s overview, which was written in anticipation of a 2008 Kon restrospective in New York.