Ranking Satoshi Kon’s Films (Part 3)

Satoshi Kon was one of anime’s greatest directors and visionaries, which is all the more impressive considering he died so young at 46 in 2010. His works have inspired many over the years, including Hollywood’s Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky. I will attempt to rank Kon’s four films, each of which could arguably be placed at number one. I hope to do one entry per blog post; I have a lot to say about each film.

2. Perfect Blue

Perfect Blue is as enigmatic as its title (interpret it as you please), but stands as one of the most impactful animated films ever. The film follows Mima, a former pop star looking to start a new career in acting, much to her fans’ outrage. Seen as a direct inspiration for the Oscar-winning Black SwanPerfect Blue explores the psychological frailty of young performers dealing with stress.

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Mima seeing herself in a storefront television display. Perfect Blue’s use of cameras and screens to express Mima’s anxiety about her new acting career capture the film’s building sense of paranoia.

Perfect Blue is a rare cinematic anime thriller that takes place in our own world. There are no robots, aliens, or time warps in sight. However, the film’s commentary on the Japanese pop industry shows that unlike its saccharine performers, it is anything but happy. Once the pure, peppy, and dolled-up Mima leaves her artificial world,  her life becomes a waking nightmare spurred by a deranged stalker, Me-Mania, and her clingy manager, Rumi.

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Ranking Satoshi Kon’s Films (Part 2)

Satoshi Kon was one of anime’s greatest directors and visionaries, which is all the more impressive considering he died so young at 46 in 2010. His works have inspired many over the years, including Hollywood’s Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky. I will attempt to rank Kon’s four films, each of which could arguably be placed at number one. I hope to do one entry per blog post; I have a lot to say about each film.

3. Tokyo Godfathers

Kon’s third film, a Christmas story about three homeless people trying to find an abandoned baby’s mother, is his most pleasantly satisfying. Tokyo Godfathers is Kon’s only film that does not explicitly blur dreams with reality, making it the black sheep of his filmography.

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The homeless protagonists of Kon’s character-driven Christmas tale, Tokyo Godfathers

Its greatest strength is the film perfect balance between humor and seriousness. The unlikely homeless grouping of a gay man craving for motherhood, a regretful man who has given up on the world, a troubled teen who ran away from home, and an infant make for some unorthodoxed situations. This premise sounds like a sitcom, albeit a dark one. The humor is never played at the characters’ expense, but instead,  the jokes and situations explore their fears, insecurities, and hopes (or lack thereof). Our laughter lightens their pain.

This is Kon’s most character-driven film. Importantly, each character is homeless not because of disaster or poor luck, but due to personal mistakes.

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Ranking Satoshi Kon’s Films (Part 1)

 

Satoshi Kon was one of anime’s greatest directors and visionaries, which is all the more impressive considering he died so young at 46 in 2010. His works have inspired many over the years, including Hollywood’s Christopher Nolan and Darren Aronofsky. I will attempt to rank Kon’s four films, each of which could arguably be placed at number one. I hope to do one entry per blog post; I have a lot to say about each film.

4. Paprika

Paprika is arguably Satoshi Kon’s most ambitious film, and that is truly saying something. It concerns the psychiatric experimentation of connections between the dream world and reality through devices called DC Minis. When one client becomes too involved with the implications of his own nightmares and the DC Mini, what follows is a psychedelic and visually stunning film that blurs the lines between dream and reality.

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The parade in one especially surreal dream sequence in Paprika

In most of Kon’s works, the line between reality and fantasy are seamlessly crossed, often unbeknown to the viewer. In Paprika, a normal occurrence could suddenly turn to a surreal nightmare full of parading anthropomorphic monuments and giant babies. More than any other Kon film, Paprika world builds. The introduction of the dream world opens enough possibilities to create an entire television series. This is its weakness: it is too large of an idea to fit in one film.

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Un-Whimsical Disney Adventures

A little over 15 years ago, Disney Animation Studios found inspiration for a new film from their most forgotten work. The new movie was Atlantis: The Lost Empire, a steampunk adventure led by Milo Thatch, a man anxious to find the fabled city his grandfather swore existed. The forgotten film that inspired it was The Black Cauldron, a dark fantasy known for its often un-Disney tone. Unlike many Disney films, Atlantis and The Black Cauldron are not afraid to expose the bleaker side of adventure.

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