Twitter is reporting, via a couple of potentially ambiguous statements from collaborators, that the anime director Satoshi Kon has died of cancer. If true, it’s a great loss—he was just 47, and one of his medium’s finest artists.
When I reviewed what will have to stand as his masterpiece, 2006’s visually teeming “dream detective” story Paprika, I suggested that “merging realms of consciousness” was his subject: typically “trippy” pop-intellectual stuff, perhaps, but done with a teeming visual sense and rigorous attention to genre and structure. His debut thriller Perfect Blue split its personalities over different modes of media representation; Millenium Actress, which blends an alternate universe of Japanese cinema history together with the memories of one of its participants, overlapped cinematic history and personal and national memory, courtesy the malleability of the animated image; and the sweet, antic Tokyo Godfathers superimposed the contemporary Japanese metropolis on Ford and Wayne’s Three Godfathers. All are on DVD, and recommended.