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Satoshi Kon (今 敏 Kon Satoshi?) (October 12, 1963 - August 24, 2010[1]) was a Japanese anime director and mangaka from Kushiro, Hokkaidō and a member of the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA).[2] He was a graduate of the Graphic Design department of the Musashino Art University. He is sometimes credited as "Yoshihiro Wanibuchi" (鰐淵良宏 Wanibuchi Yoshihiro?) in the credits of Paranoia Agent. He was the younger brother of guitarist and studio musician Tsuyoshi Kon.


Early life

Satoshi Kon was born on October 12, 1963.[3] Due to his father's job transfer, Kon's education from the fourth elementary grade up to the second middle school grade was based in Sapporo. Kon was a classmate and close friend of mangaka Seihō Takizawa. While attending Hokkaido Kushiro Koryo High School, Kon aspired to become an animator.[4] His favorite works were Space Battleship Yamato (1974), Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974), Future Boy Conan (1978) and Mobile Suit Gundam (1979),[5] as well as Katsuhiro Otomo's Domu: A Child's Dream.[6] Yasutaka Tsutsui served as an influence on Kon's drawings. Kon graduated from the Graphic Design course of the Musashino Art University in 1982.[4] During that time, Kon viewed numerous foreign films and enthusiastically read Yasutaka Tsutsui's books.[6][7]

Early career

While in college, Kon made his debut as a mangaka with the short manga Toriko (1984) and earned a runner-up spot in the 10th Annual Tetsuya Chiba Awards held by Young Magazine (Kodansha).[4][8][9] Afterward, he found work as Katsuhiro Otomo's assistant.[9][10] After graduating from college in 1987,[4] Kon authored the one-volume manga Kaikisen (1990)[11] and wrote the script for Katsuhiro Otomo's live-action film World Apartment Horror.[9][11] In 1991, Kon worked as an animator and layout artist for the animated film Roujin Z.[4][9] Kon worked as a supervisor for Mamoru Oshii's Patlabor 2: The Movie along with other animated films.[4] He then worked on the manga Seraphim: 266,613,336 Wings.[12] In 1995, Kon served as the scriptwriter, layout artist and art director of the short film "Magnetic Rose", the first of three short films in Katsuhiro Otomo's omnibus Memories.[4][9] Kon's work afterward would be distinguished by the recurring theme of the blending of fantasy and reality.[13]


In 1993, Kon scripted and co-produced the fifth episode of the original video animation JoJo's Bizzare Adventure.[6] In 1997, Kon began work on his directorial debut Perfect Blue (based on Yoshikazu Takeuchi's novel of the same name).[14] A suspense story centered around a pop idol, it was the first film by Kon to be produced by Madhouse.[3] Kon was initially unsatisfied with the original screenplay written by the author and requested to make changes to it.[15][16] Aside from maintaining three elements of the novel ("idol", "horror" and "stalker"), Kon was allowed to make any changes he desired.[15] The screenplay was written by Sadayuki Murai,[6] who worked in the idea of a blurred border between the real world and imagination.[15]

Following Perfect Blue, Kon considered adapting the Yasutaka Tsutsui novel Paprika (1993) into his next film. However, these plans were stalled when the distribution company for Perfect Blue, Rex Entertainment, went bankrupt.[17] Coincidentally, Kon's next work would also feature the theme of the blending of imagination and reality.[15] In 2002, Kon's second film, Millennium Actress, was released to the public. The film centers around a retired actress who mysteriously withdraws from the public eye at the peak of her career. Having the same estimated budget as Perfect Blue (approximately 120,000,000 yen),[7] Millennium Actress garnered higher critical and financial success than its predecessor and earned numerous awards. The screenplay was written by Sadayuki Murai,[15] who utilized a seamless connection between illusion and reality to create a "Trompe-l'œil kind of film".[18] Millennium Actress was the first Satoshi Kon film to feature Susumu Hirasawa, whom Kon was a long-time fan of, as composer.[19]

In 2003, Kon's third work, Tokyo Godfathers, was announced. The film centers on a trio of homeless persons in Tokyo who discover a baby on Christmas Eve and set out to search for her parents. Tokyo Godfathers cost more to make than Kon's previous two films (with a budget of approximately 300,000,000 yen),[7] and centered on the themes of homelessness and abandonment, with a comedic touch worked in.[9][15] The screenplay was written by Keiko Nobumoto.[20]

In 2004, Kon released the 13-episode television series Paranoia Agent, in which Kon revisits the theme of the blending of imagination and reality, as well as working in additional social themes.[21] The series was created from an abundance of unused ideas for stories and arrangements that Kon felt were good but did not fit into any of his projects.[22]

In 2006, Paprika was announced, after having been planned out and materializing for several years. The story centers on a new form of psychotherapy that utilizes dream analysis to treat mental patients. The film was highly successful and earned a number of film awards. Kon summed up the film with "Kihonteki na story igai wa subete kaeta" (基本的なストーリー以外は全て変えた?)[23] - roughly, "Everything but the fundamental story was changed." Much like Kon's previous works, the film focuses on the synergy of dreams and reality.[7]

After Paprika, Kon teamed up with Mamoru Oshii and Makoto Shinkai to create the 2007 NHK television production Ani*Kuri15, for which Kon created the short Ohayō. That same year, Kon helped establish and served as a member of the Japan Animation Creators Association (JAniCA).

Final years

Following Ohayō, Kon began work on his next film The Dream Machine. In May 2010, Kon was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Given half a year to live, Kon chose to spend the remainder of his life in his home. Before his death, Kon uploaded a final message onto his blog. Kon died on August 24, 2010 at the age of 46.[24][25]


Satoshi Kon's most prominent influences were the works of Philip K. Dick and Yasutaka Tsutsui.[7][14] Kon viewed various manga and anime up until high school.[6] He was particularly fond of Space Battleship Yamato, Future Boy Conan, Galaxy Express 999 (1978), Mobile Suit Gundam and Domu.[5][26] Western films also served as an influence, most notably George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), The City of Lost Children (1995) and the works of Terry Gilliam (particularly Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989).[3][6][14] He was fond of the works of Akira Kurosawa, and worked in a reference to him in Paprika.[17] Despite this, he claimed not to be familiar with Japanese film.[18][27]






  • Toriko (虜)
  • Kaikisen (海帰線) Fine Arts Publisher ISBN 4-568-73003-1
  • World Apartment Horror (ワールド・アパートメントホラー) Based on the original work of director Otomo Katsuhiro
  • Seraphim (セラフィム ~2億6661万3336の翼~) Based on the original outstanding volume of incomplete work of Oshii Mamoru
  • OPUS (Incomplete special volume compilation)
  • Paprika, Dream Children (パプリカ。ドリームチルドレン) Original draft, first work aimed at juvenile readers.

It is thought that after his statement that he intended to create Science Fiction works aimed at a younger audience that this was the prototype for successive works.[citation needed]

Literary works

  • "KON'S TONE – the Road to Millennium Actress" (「千年女優」への道〜)(2002, Shoubunsha)


  1. "《今 敏 永眠のお知らせ》" (in Japanese). Retrieved September 7, 2010. 
  2. "Japan's Animator Labor Group Legally Incorporates - Anime News Network". Anime News Network. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 29 May 2009.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "マッドハウス・公式プロフィール" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Konstone 公式プロフィール" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "HT Talks To . . . FilmMaker Satoshi Kon". Home Theater. December 2005. Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Interview with Satoshi Kon, Director of Perfect Blue". Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Interview de Satoshi Kon sur le site Catsuka". December 10, 2006. Retrieved August 2010. 
  8. "ちばてつや公式サイト" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Sevakis, Justin (August 21, 2008). "Interview: Satoshi Kon - Anime News Network". Anime News Network. Retrieved 24 October 2008.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)
  10. "フランスから「パーフェクトブルー」に関するインタビュー" (in Japanese). March 1998. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "COMIC BOOK". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  12. "UNRELEASED COMIC". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  13. DVD Memories Interview
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Interview with Satoshi Kon". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 "INTERVIEW Satoshi Kon". Midnight Eye. November 2, 2001. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  16. "Interview 07 2004年6月 アメリカから、監督作品全般に関するインタビュー" (in Japanese). Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "INTERVIEW Satoshi Kon Part2". Midnight Eye. November 20, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Director Satoshi Kon Interview DVJ2.0". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  19. "Interview 23 2007年6月 アメリカから『パプリカ』について". 
  20. "東京ゴッドファーザーズ:オフィシャルサイト". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  21. "Interview with Satoshi Kon". Gamestar. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  22. "妄想の産物 妄想の二「総監督の謎」". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  23. "Satoshi Kon-ITW-Interview". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  24. "公式ブログ「KON'S TONE」". Retrieved August 25, 2010. 
  25. Itoh, Makiko (2010-08-26). "Satoshi Kon's last words". Makiko Itoh: Not a Nameless Cat. Retrieved 2010-11-11. As far as I know there's no translation of the whole document into English out there, so here it is. 
  26. "Interview 05 1998年2月 アメリカから「パーフェクトブルー」に関するインタビュー". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  27. "Interview 03 2002年12月 カナダから、主に「千年女優」に関するインタビュー". Retrieved August 26, 2010. 

External links

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