Learn How Satoshi Kon Edited Space and Time

In his four features and one TV series, the late anime director Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika) developed a unique style of cutting and editing, says Tony Zhou in a new video essay. According to Zhou, Kon’s approach to editing not only blurred reality and fantasy, but advanced the themes of his films, which often explored the inherent dualism of modern life.

The essay, which draws on the Kon-related writings of British film critic Andrew Osmond, particularly explores Kon’s use of match cuts, which Zhou says “aren’t uncommon, but they’re definitely not something most filmmakers build a style out of”:


  • http://exponelephant.tumblr.com/ Sasha

    This was wonderful, Satoshi Kon Is probably my favorite director and I absolutely love his work. I am definitely going to be reading that book.

  • Társio Abranches

    Satoshi Kon is a genius! What people need to finish his last movie Yume-Miru Kikai (Dreaming Machine)?? Really! The guy died trying to finish this movie, and Madhouse just dropped. So disrespectful!

  • Steven Bowser

    This was fascinating. I’ve never seen any of these films, but I think I might check them out now. I wonder where I should start…

    • http://exponelephant.tumblr.com/ Sasha

      I can’t recommend his work enough! maybe start with tokyo godfathers, I have never heard a complaint about that movie. Then maybe check out paranoia agent, and well, any of his movies!

  • OdysseyTag

    I love his work. I just wish people could understand that anime is able of producing some absolutely brilliant masterpieces. Some aspects that Western animation has yet dared to accept yet alone try. Satoshi Kon like many others is arguably one of the Japanese greats.

    • GW

      There are some films I’d consider masterpieces.. Of Stars and Men is one and Drawn from Memory is another. And The Adventures of Prince Achmed is an older example. There’s also the experimental masterpiece Heaven and Earth Magic. I largely agree with you though that Western animation doesn’t try many things that anime does. There are very few directors of animation who have large oeuvres. Since there’s very few directors with an auteuristic perspective, there’s very little artistic growth.

  • DangerMaus

    I’d say Millenium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers would be his most “family friendly” films. They do have mature themes but are not done in a way that would be offensive for older kids. Younger kids would probably just be bored by any his movies. His least family friendly film would be Perfect Blue.

    Still, your definition of family friendly might differ a lot from mine, so it is would be best to preview the film and decide for yourself if it is appropriate for family viewing.

    • Steven Bowser

      I’m mostly concerned with sexual content. Violence and gore are more or less okay with me.

  • Heather Breckel

    I think Tokyo Godfathers or Millennium Actress are the closest you’ll get. (TG still has some violence) He never really did any all ages stuff like Ghibli.

  • Társio Abranches

    Yeah, I know that. I was just saying that he chose to spend his last days of life finishing the movie`s storyboard and instructions. A movie that he would never seen. So you can see how this was important to him

    And I doubt Madhouse will risk to throw money in a more adult movie (even in 2015). What was the last serious movie they did? Maybe Summer Wars, I think, but it wasn’t really a adult movie.

    The best chance Yume-Miru Kikai has is to be purchased by another animation studio.

    • Charlie

      Actually, I believe that Dreaming Machine was supposed to be aimed at younger audiences than Kon’s previous films.

      • http://sobieniak.blogspot.com/ Chris Sobieniak

        The designs of the characters alone already made it seem quite accessible to that demographic. At least something that might not quite take on the same approach has his previous work but an interesting direction if ever.

  • Charlie

    Perfect Blue has some pretty graphic violence and nudity. Paprika’s more toned down but also has elements of both (the BBFC note on the back of my DVD refers to it as ‘moderate sexualised violence’).

    Tokyo Godfathers is more cheerful, though it contains a couple of violent scenes (though much, much less graphic than Perfect Blue). Though, one character is sometimes called derogatory names that might make it inappropriate for a younger viewer (at least, in the subtitles of my copy). It’s also the most comedic of his films.

    Millennium Actress is probably the most family friendly of the films. Though, I’m not sure kids would particularly enjoy it. However, it doesn’t really have any content that would uncomfortable to watch with family/friends.

    If it helps, I feel like the BBFC age ratings are pretty accurate:
    Millennium Actress- PG
    Tokyo Godfathers- 12
    Paprika- 15
    Perfect Blue- 18

    Paranoia Agent is rated 18 overall, and goes to some very dark places. It’s 13 episodes long.

    Personally, I think that Perfect Blue is the weakest of Kon’s feature films, and I’d recommend watching some of his other stuff first. Though, this might just be because I had some of the film spoiled for me before I watched it.

  • TTH

    I remember watching perfect blue when I was really young. It scared me for life but I also completely fell in love with his work. I was also lucky to see him in person at one of the premieres of Paprika when I still lived in Japan. It is fair to say his work was the deciding factor that dragged me into the world animation.

    His Storyboards are the best. If you ever get a chance to get your hands on them, do it.

  • Ahmad

    Amazing tribute to a genius artist. Staoshi Kon is my Hero. RIP Sensei

  • http://sobieniak.blogspot.com/ Chris Sobieniak

    At least someone did it at all.