Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist (2021) - full transcript

A look at the life and work of Japanese animator Satoshi Kon.

One, please.

Of all the people I've worked with,

nobody else provides
the unique sensations he does.

Satoshi Kon broadened the scope
of animation.

He created animated films
that were as powerful

as live-action films.

That's the overriding impression
I get from his work.

To sum it up,

he was a prickly guy.

He spoke his mind.

Even if the other person might get hurt,

he never held back.

He said what he wanted to say.

He was radical that way.

I remember that well.

I'd never seen
the Japanese style of animation

used just for a real adult, dramatic story.

It was very clear
he was this kind of one-man machine.

It felt like
he just kind of did his thing

in his cocoon, and created his work.

That was my feeling of his genius.

For me, Satoshi Kon
was not just a great director.

He was also
a great mentor and teacher,

as well as an activist
who was trying to improve

the animation industry
for its creators.

He had this ability
to make the audience smart.

You can't leave your brain
on the couch with his work.

He's an osteopath for the brain.
Always ahead of us.

This is a filmmaker who's expanding
the boundaries of film making.

And not just animation.

A lot of people in live action
are chasing the Satoshi Kon feel,

that level of immersiveness.

He's a master.

Someone I'll be learning from
for the rest of my life.

Kon, in a word,

is a genius.

And a nasty guy.

In a nutshell.


On August 24th, 2010, at the age of 46,

mangaka and filmmaker
Satoshi Kon died.

His body of work is not immense.
A handful of comics,

four feature films,
one short, and a TV series.

But his contribution
to the history of animation,

and Japanese cinema in general,
is fundamental.

He even influenced
Hollywood cinema in the 2010s.

Satoshi Kon's broken trajectory

is that of a visionary
and essential early 21st century artist.

I refuse to do it!

In 1998,

Perfect Blue, Kon's first feature,
is released worldwide...

The film is a thriller
about a young pop singer

harassed by a fan when she decides
to quit the music industry.

The film's daring narrative

and dark, tense atmosphere

make it an instant classic
of adult animated cinema

and catapult Kon
onto the international stage.

Born in 1963,

Satoshi Kon began
writing and drawing mangas as a boy.

He was first published
at the age of 22.

It all began

when I was in art school.

I planned to become a mangaka.

When I started out in the profession,

I was already a fervent admirer

of Katsuhiro Otomo's mangas, like Akira.

His style inspired me in my own comics.

In my mangas and animated films,

the core of my personal vision

is clearly influenced by Otomo.

Other magazines for young people

were mostly read by
students and office workers.

White collar, basically.

Whereas Young Magazine
tended to be read

by blue-collar workers
and young slackers.

Kon's first two award-winning mangas

were works of science fiction.

They were clearly influenced by Otomo.

What's most important in drawing
is expressivity.

I was his supervisor at the time.

I was very impressed
by the power of his drawings.

Foreign filmmakers took an interest
in Kon's early mangas.

Marc Caro, whose films with Jeunet
were popular in Japan,

hoped to bring
the most popular one to the screen.

Why was I interested in Kaikisen?

I felt the story was so timeless,

so international..

You could place it in any context.

This conflict between tradition

and a kind of raging modernity

hurtling towards who knows what...

It felt very current.

The relationship to the sea,
the mermaids,

all the sea-related mythology...
I was hooked from the start.

So, obviously, I met Satoshi Kon.

It turned out, we both

admired each other.

And we had a lot in common.

I had a great story to tell.

And, on top of that,
I had the blessing and enthusiasm

of the person I admired,
who'd written the story.

I was beyond overjoyed!

Satoshi Kon
was already known at the time.

I wasn't the one
who discovered his talent.

It was already clear to everybody.

I made him an offer.

The timing was good for both of us.

It was the beginning
of a very important collaboration.

And now, without further ado,
please welcome CHAM!

The first meeting with Mr. Takeuchi,

the author of the original book,

took place at Madhouse studio.

He was very frank.

He gave us permission
to modify his book.

So we had a lot of freedom.

It was a suspenseful book,
with a heavy dose of the grotesque.

Mr. Kon and I decided
we wanted to do something different.

So, what would we do?

Mr. Kon wrote down a few notes.

"A man pursues a woman,

"a woman pursues her own shadow."

As we wrote down all those notes,

we decided that would be
our concept for the film.

Perfect Blue quickly stood out.
In particular,

on the international stage.
It was seen as the work of an auteur.

Satoshi Kon began to be seen
as a major animated filmmaker.

But when you place it in the context
of what Madhouse produced in the 90s,

it's very coherent.

It corresponds exactly
to what Maruyama was trying to do.

Animated films for older audiences.

with a more realistic aesthetics.

I suggested

we try cutting it in pieces
and mixing it all up,

so we wouldn't know where we were going.

He said,
"We gotta try it!"

He was up for the challenge.

It's me, Mima Kirigoe from CHAM!

When I met Satoshi Kon,

I could see that he didn't know

I'd started out as an idol.

That made me happy.

Perfect Blue latched onto
the Japanese phenomenon

of forming musical groups

with the express intention of creating idols.

Casting bands of future idols.

The film asks Japanese audiences
to ponder

the fates of these young women,
so quickly discarded,

and whose short careers
expose them to harsh public scrutiny.

Idols must always be smiling.

We have to sing and dance,
even with a fever.

Idols are like puppets.

And in their private lives,

they are all the more tormented.

I was happy that Satoshi Ken

had taken an interest in it.

These very smiley idols
were popular in the 1980s.

They were wildly popular.
They were on all the TV shows.

Then came the 1990s

and the "Underground Idol" craze.

The distance between
idols and their fans narrowed.

A fax?

Who can that be?

Traitor traitor tRaitoR TRAiTor TrAItOR

Who are you?

I myself had to deal with a stalker.

I brought that anxiety to my acting.

It was surely what made me stand out

during the audition.

Perfect Blue is a
really, really good horror movie.

And as a horror movie, you can
connect to it many different ways.

You can compare it
to Alfred Hitchcock,

you can link it to Dario Argento,

you can link it to the maze-like movies

that you get with some
of the David Lynch work.

What's striking in Perfect Blue
is the way Satoshi Kon

appeals to the audience's
intelligence and imagination.

Is Mima an idol?

Did Mima dream she was a celebrity?

Is Mima being pursued
by a psycho killer?

Is the head of Mima's talent agency

killing everyone around her?

A variety of possible worlds
exist within the linear story

of Perfect Blue.

The film seems to say that all these fictional
states are simultaneously co-existing.

As the film goes on,

you do get the sense...

of an escalating nightmare.

The situation is getting
more and more menacing.

There's a feeling of hysteria.

As with Mima, you start

to feel the sanity slipping away.

And I just remember thinking,

"This film is too disturbing for me."

I don't like this.

I don't think
I like the director either.

Because it seems as though, why does
he have to torment this girl so much?

Why does she have to suffer so much?

Why does he have to portray so much?

I think it literally was day one,
I spoke with him

and I asked him about Perfect Blue.

"Your portrayal of women
isn't always nice."

And he says,
"That's because they're me."

I was like,
"That's very interesting."

He said, "I don't know why,
but when I represent myself in a film..."

He said
he himself is always in his movies.

Especially with Perfect Blue.

Mima is Satoshi Kon.

The psychological torment
that Mima is going through

is the torment he has experienced
with the politics

of the anime and the
comic book industry.

So that's when my perspective
of him totally changed.

The first time I saw the film,
I couldn't stop crying.

My thoughts were all over place.

I felt it was good
to have made this film.

That my family might be surprised.

I felt joy, but I was also worried.

All these thoughts
swirling in my head.

Some said the film was original.

They said it was very striking,

and that it left a strong impression.

I can't say that the world of anime

thought much of the film.

To be blunt – we lost money.

I think I met him
before I saw the work.

My memory is I met him when I was in Japan
promoting my first movie, Pi.

Which probably was in 1998.

They were like,
"There's a filmmaker."

I'm not sure why, but we got together
and we had a meal.

I think we went
to a tempura restaurant.

I remember him talking to me
a little bit about a movie.

I was very interested in anime.

I didn't really quite--
It was early days in anime,

at least for Westerners.

I think, shortly after that,
I did see Perfect Blue.

I was blown away by it, it was fantastic.

And it was very different
than any other anime I had seen.


In Requiem for a Dream,
I was probably in the script process.

I was looking for a scene
to get the internal mindset

of Jennifer Connelly's character Mary.

And probably at the same time,
I saw Perfect Blue.

And I remember writing
to Satoshi in Japan,


"Hey, would you mind if I used
one of your shots, in homage to you,

"but it would help
this moment in my film."

He was very flattered.

I remember he was fine,
and generous.

So don't worry, Seymour.

It'll all work out.

You'll see already.

In the end it's all right.

Eventually we went back to Japan
with Requiem for a Dream.

I asked him
what he thought of the shot.

He said he was very proud.

So it was great. It was a lot of fun
to have that connection with him.

So at a certain point, we tried to get
the rights to do a version of it

in live action.

It was very complicated to do it,

because no one understood
what a pop star was,

understood this kind of character.

There was no real character.

Britney Spears hadn't really
happened in America yet.

So we didn't really have
that type of character

for people, so it was hard
for them to understand.

I think now would be a good time.
People understand that character.

We're 10-15 years behind
that cultural phenomenon in Japan.

Perfect Blue explores Kon's idea
that the universe,

and its representations, are but one.

Dream worlds, virtual worlds and reality
merge and interact.

It was inevitable that Satoshi Kon
would soon explore cinema itself.

I was truly blown away

when I discovered Perfect Blue.

So I contacted the producer Maruyama

and told him he absolutely
had to introduce me to Kon.

Perfect Blue didn't really receive

the recognition of the industry.

It was pretty humiliating.
We had to take another chance.

Usually when your film tanks,
you don't make another one.

But we like a challenge, so we said,

"Let's give the audience

that'll really impress them!"

I think this film falls more
into the literary category.

The main character
is a great actress who has retired.

An old woman.

I feared
that wouldn't attract the crowds,

and I said as much
to the director.

Nice to meet you.
I'm Chiyoko Fujiwara.

This is a big day.

What an honor to meet you!

He said there'd be young girls too,

and he'd draw Chiyoko young.

He told me not to worry.

And he assured me
he'd mix fiction and reality

and use lots of visual tricks.

Can I say something?


My mother...

thinks acting is a dubious profession.

Did she say dubious?


The film is set in Manchuria.

It will raise troop morale

and encourage the people of our nation!

I'm sure Chiyoko
wants to serve her country!

Millennium Actress
is a fascinating film

in the way it uses the history
of Japanese cinema.

We follow
the great actress Chiyoko,

said to have been
inspired by Setsuko Hara.

Both actresses started out
in propaganda films,

as we see Chiyoko do
in Millennium Actress.

Setsuko Hara was a great actress.

Even though she's not from my generation,

she was a superstar.

But she left cinema
and retired in Kamakura.

We knew her story

and thought it was wonderful.
Her life was fascinating.

This gave Kon a chance to explore
his relationship with cinema

and create a universe,
at once complex and obvious,

in which
we constantly vacillate between

the reality of life
and the reality of films.

When Mr. Kon and I
discussed cinema,

Slaughterhouse 5 was the first
reference we had in common.

A whole swathe of artists in Japan

experienced that film

like an electroshock.

It wasn't just

that the chronology was mixed up.

It was defined
by the movements of the heart.

The film maintains a narrative thread,

even though the scenes are out of order.

How much can the audience understand?

The film served as an experiment
in answering that question.

The sequence of the scenes
is out of order,

but the film remains clear.

For us,

and all other members of the audience.

That is the film's major strength.

From an aesthetic point of view,

I wanted to play
with the same types of effects.

I told the whole crew
of my intentions.

On Perfect Blue,
the influence was purely technical.

But for Millennium Actress,
I took on the themes.

Millennium Actress shows

that inside a human being,

memories, the present,

the past and the future co-exist.

I think the themes of Slaughterhouse 5

influenced me precisely
in that direction.

It's the key to what matters most.

What matters most?

Give me until tomorrow. Promise?

Millennium Actress is built
around a key

that was given to the heroine.

She keeps the key
throughout the film,

trying to find the person
who had passed it along.

The key becomes a symbol
of the intertwining storylines.

A symbol of how difficult it is
to find a key

that will solve all the mysteries
the character is facing.

Millennium Actress seems to be
the story of Japanese cinema.

It shows all kinds of Japanese movies.

From domestic dramas to Godzilla movies.

It also seems to encompass
the whole of modern Japanese history,

starting about a thousand years ago

and moving up to World War II and beyond.

To evoke the various periods,

we needed a wide variety of material.

We had to find accessories to inspire
our drawings, scout locations...

I did a lot of research.

We looked to Ozu for the ending,

when Chiyoko is a bit older.
There's a scene with her mother.

Ozu's work was a major reference for us.

I'll find him!

You don't even know if he's alive!

He's alive! I know he is!

He was very much into
getting into people's minds and

and into the internal monologues.

And I guess that's something
very common for live action,

but it's definitely unique for animation

to treat your characters
with such psychological depth.

If anyone is a dubbing legend,
it's Shōzō Iizuka.

He has played
hundreds of animated characters,

over a career
which began in the late 1960s.

Here and there in the film,
you sense the smells,

images and all the rest
in a very realistic way.

Up to that point,
in the world of animation,

we had many people who wrote with talent,

but they preferred
style over substance.

From Millennium Actress on,

people wanted to live up that film.

People worked harder
to write better animated films.

That tells you how good that film is.

In my opinion.

The first time we met,

I didn't know
if he was Japanese or not.

He had a really unique aura.

I thought he might be Chinese.

So I was pretty nervous when we met.

Then, talking to him,
he turned out to be very nice.

You could tell he was sure of himself
and knew what he wanted.

Usually, experience teaches us

what we're capable of.

But Mr. Kon
never asked himself such questions.

He felt he could do anything.

And in the moment,
that made me feel enormous pressure.

The film won the top prize

at the Japan Media Arts Festival.

But it was the year of Spirited Away,

so, exceptionally,
they gave the prize

to both films.

When it came
to the final line of the film,

he says it reflects his own way

of pursuing things in his own life.

He also says that the relationship
between the heroine

and the man she's seeking

was like the relationship
between a director

and the ideal movie
he had in his head.

As it turns out,

chasing after him
is what I like best.

He was...


If you want to start watching
Satoshi Kon's films,

anybody's recommendation would be
to start with Tokyo Godfathers.

Because it's fun, it's light,
but it's very beautiful.

It's a Christmas gift sent from the sky!

It's our baby!


Each new Satoshi Kon film

got all the filmmakers talking.

I've seen them all.

From one film to the next,

the tone can change radically.

Take Perfect Blue
and Millennium Actress.

They explore similar themes,
but they're very different.

And Tokyo Godfathers
takes us to another place entirely.

The way he reinvents himself each time

through such different genres

shows us that cinema,

holds infinite possibilities.

Even his quick pencil sketches

looked like photographs.

Add to that
his vast knowledge

of the art of drawing,

and his work is very rich.

Sometimes he felt the work itself
would overtake him.

And it was important for him to question

his aesthetic tastes.

After Millennium Actress,

I thought we could do a simple story.

I thought we could remove
all those layers,

and it would still hold up.

So I proposed something

a bit lighter and more entertaining.

The film really delves into
Japanese society

in a way rarely seen,

especially in animation.

He chose to explore marginal characters.

A runaway girl, homeless people...
This was significant.

It allowed Kon, in his way,
to stand up

for a Japan that was hurting.

To give voice to those left behind

by the economic miracle.

It's quite raw, quite violent.

But zaniness is injected throughout.

Hilarious scenes, lighter stuff.

And this very simple situation –

a baby landing providentially
in the arms of 3 homeless men –

launches us on a voyage through Tokyo,

the sordid underbelly of Tokyo.

Not the Tokyo tourists see.

I was really into it.

I love the freedom of tone.
It really works.

He's a bad gambler, a coward,
his feet stink, he drinks too much!

He claims his wife and daughter are dead
to get pity!

He claims you have
an incurable disease!

I feel sorry for you,
having him for a father!

This is where I discovered
Shinji Otsuka, the animator.

He animated the sequences in the hospital,

of the drag queen going crazy.

Her acting is so extreme.

He showed me the folder,
because it was in the studio.

The folder was about that thick,
just for one scene.

And it was submitted to Kon.
In Japan, the animators animate,

and then the directors
apply the corrections on top.

But because there was so much paper,
he just sat back, going,

"I can't correct this,
there's too many drawings."

But he watched the animation
and he loved it so much.

He said

Tokyo Godfathers
was the most fun he had

in any film that he directed.

All the animators started going
really wacky and mad and expressive.

He said every time the animators
got crazier and crazier,

he had to instruct Mr. Ike,
the art director,

"More realistic! More realistic!"

Because the animation
was becoming so surreal,

he needed something
to keep the world in reality.

I got a lot of praise
for the depiction of Tokyo

in Tokyo Godfathers.

I was interested in exploring
parts of Tokyo not usually seen,

like the alleyways and paths I would take

on my way to work.

I'd always wanted to show
Tokyo as I knew it.

The director shared my desire.

When he told me
he'd be using that side of Tokyo

in his next film,

I knew the job was for me.

We tried to be extremely faithful.

We wanted Tokyo to become
a character in itself.

The film was influenced by a western,

a Hollywood film called 3 Godfathers.

Because of the framework,
which is 3 adults who find this baby.

It's something that's been done
in other movies, obviously.

There was a French comedy,

which was then remade
as a Hollywood film,

Three Men and a Baby.

It's a familiar template,

but Kon turns it his particular way.

We had such fun here, didn't we?

♪ In this old bar ♪

♪ I've drained so many glasses ♪

♪ My memories too ♪

♪ Are draining away ♪

He used to really make us laugh
in the evenings,

dressing up as a woman.

He loved to do that.

Surprise his friends,

crack everyone up.

To him, in all things,
frontwards and backwards co-exist.

The front alone didn't interest him,
nor did the back alone.

Every single film,

he financially struggled,

to make sure that the animators
were paid quite well.

People say he's really established
as a director, he's very respected.

At the end of the day, the reality and
the politics of the film industry

is that if he's not making big bucks
like Ghibli is,

he really isn't 100% respected
by the industry itself.

Between the moment
we finished Millennium Actress

and its theater release,
a year passed.

So we threw ourselves
into producing Tokyo Godfathers.

Millennium Actress
was praised by the critics.

It was considered a masterpiece.

But for a director

who still hadn't had
a hit at the box office,

it was very difficult
to finance the next film.

For that reason,

Kon told me

I'd brought shame to the profession.

In the middle of the project,

I got booted off the project.

When we started working together,

he wasn't yet known.

But he did consider himself
to be a genius.

I think that's how he saw himself.

Seraphim was a project for a manga series.

As he did for Otomo,

each panel was fully-developed.

It was admirable.

I remember thinking
that there weren't many mangakas

able to express in their drawing
what I wanted to convey.

Especially in this case.
There were so many important details.

I would've loved to have him
drawing for me to the end.

But from the start,
my desire to collaborate with him

was an unrealistic idea.

He was someone who confined himself
to his own works.

Working on a manga that I'd written

no doubt hurt his pride.

Every time we got together,

we ended up getting in a fight.

We only ended up with one volume.

We reached a dead-end.

The level of conflict
we experienced as collaborators

was totally new to me.

We had no choice but to abandon the project.

Paranoia Agent, right?

When I saw it, I thought, "Wow!"

I really like things like that.

You don't know
what's going to happen,

and you need
that kind of suspense in a series.

He should have done series
instead of cinema.

Satoshi Kon's answer to Twin Peaks,

Paranoia Agent spends 13 episodes

pursuing a mysterious rollerblading
aggressor terrorizing Tokyo,

in a narrative and graphic maelstrom
unprecedented in animated series.

Welcome to M&F. No, sorry.

We couldn't reach her.

That's all I know.
I'm going to check the hospital.

The victim of this savage aggression
is the creator

of the famous Maromi, Tsukiko Sagi...

For Satoshi Kon,
it was a very experimental piece

where he was playing around.

Every episode, he was playing around
a little bit with different styles.

It was kind of a study period for him.

He would assign
a handful of directors

to direct the different episodes.

Satoshi Kon wanted
each episode to have its own identity.

Character designer Masashi Ando
created many characters for Ghibli

before leaving the studio
after Spirited Away.

At a certain point, I wanted to take

a different direction.

And that's when Satoshi Kon came to me.

I wanted to be part of his universe.
It was so exciting.

And it could enrich me in so many ways.

I think if someone other than
Mr. Kon had been directing,

such drawings never would have
seen the light of day.

In ordinary animation productions,

we were content to draw
cute girls, handsome boys...

But when Mr. Kon

saw things like that,

he would wax ironic.

He'd point out
the characters' imperfections,

and tell us that was part of their charm,

and the charm
of humanity in general.

Working with him as a character designer

was a great opportunity for me.

Throughout the series,

we see the figure
of the boy with the bat.

This character embodies

the potentially

horrifying, intrusive idea
of dreams seeping into reality.

We see here the beginnings

of the work
he further develops on Paprika.

The porosity that can exist between

nightmares, dreams and reality.

Paranoia Agent is built around

the idea of alienation

and the inner transformation
individuals undergo

when they construct a micro-fiction.

The boy with the bat embodies this.
He represents a collective fiction

that sparks paranoia in society.

Satoshi Kon's vision may be

extremely negative.

But we see all the elements
pushing an individual over the edge.

You rang?

What makes the series
both optimistic and unsettling at the end,

is that everything is resolved,
but starts again.

To get by in life,

we all need an escape.

Through fantasies, dreams,
or even paranoia.

Otherwise, life is too hard.

The way an individual sees the world

is altered by his fantasies or paranoia.

So I don't think paranoia

is necessarily unhealthy.

The series gets us thinking
about our mobile phones.

In hindsight,
we see that the series develops

a fairly elaborate, precursory theory

about all these communication devices

that isolate people
and shut them down

more than they facilitate communication.

It makes lots of satirical points
about the pressures of society,

the pressures of the workplace,
about masculinity.

There's one episode,
I think episode 3, Double Lips,

that seems like a kind
of funny, campy remake

of Perfect Blue,

with another woman
with a frightening split personality.

Shut up and follow me.

You're hurting me, stop!

You make me sick.

Paprika is kind of the
positive flip side to Paranoia Agent.

In much the same way as
Millennium Actress

was the positive flip side
to Perfect Blue.

One of the most obvious is the figure
of the policeman who drives the plot.

Both Paprika and Paranoia Agent

have women
who have double personalities,

which again arguably goes back to

Perfect Blue.

In Paranoia Agent,

the two split personalities
are fighting each other.

Whereas in Paprika,

they have some arguments,
but they support and empower each other.

It's the greatest show time!

I think Paprika's charm lies

in the unprecedented visual impact it had.

It was brand new.

I think Paprika is a beautiful film.

There's something joyful about it.

I would say it's the most fun
of Satoshi Kon's movies.

For his final feature – and biggest hit –,

Satoshi Kon
tells the story of scientists

who invent a machine to visit dreams,
that gets stolen.

Professor Chiba sends her
dream-word double, Paprika,

to visit suspects' subconscious.

The film is an adaptation
of a novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui.

The legendary author's work
has often been brought to the screen.

But Paprika
was considered unadaptable.

Tsutsui is an author of science fiction.

Beyond that,
he's a distinguished literary figure.

He went as far as
writing about language itself.

It got to a point where it became
difficult to adapt his work.

It had such a wide scope.

It was so unique, so bountiful.

He is utterly original
and very avant-garde.

All that makes him a bit of a star

in the eyes of people of my generation.

Among Satoshi Kon's influences,

Yasutaka Tsutsui is huge.

Tsutsui's work

was a very important element
in his personal development.

I understood that very well.

So when we worked on Paprika together,

I let him do what he wanted,
eyes closed.

I had seen many works

by Satoshi Kon,

and I liked everything I saw.

Millennium Actress
was the one I liked the most.

It explores one of the
recurring themes in my novels,

the confrontation
between reality and fiction.

This theme runs through
all of Satoshi Kon's work.

Only Kon could adapt Paprika.

So I asked him to do it.

I'd read the novel ten years prior

and really loved it.

In Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress,

I'd subconsciously tried
to recreate the world of Paprika.

I only kept the bare bones
of the story in my film.

The rest was modified.

The story of Paprika is so gigantic,

it was impossible
to boil it down to 90 minutes.

So, either you do
a synopsis of the work –

which is not interesting
in comparison to the novel –

or you decide to do
something completely different.

Paprika really affected me profoundly,

because we were adapting

at the same time, for Madhouse,

a novel by Tsutsui.

What angle would Kon take
in his Tsutsui adaptation?

I wondered that, as I was directing
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.

And when I saw it,
I felt that it was so limpid.

Expressing Tsutsui's work in that way

was so impressive.

In a film like this,

we go from the world of dreams
to reality, and vice versa.

You mustn't let the audience know exactly

where the frontiers lie
between these two dimensions.

We mustn't know where dreams begin
and reality ends, and vice versa.

No other director was capable
of pulling that off.

Kon was the one and only.

I just remember saying,

"I thought Paprika
was really really nice.

"I like the fact that it was quite dark,
in comparison to the trailer."

He said, "I didn't intend it to be dark.
You think it was dark?"

I was like, "Very!"

He was saying that was meant to be my big

commercial prostitute film debut.

And he was like,
"Paprika is my Sailor Moon project.

"She's the magical girl
who can transform into anything."

I was like, "I don't think
people saw it that way."

Satoshi Kon really became

the blinking light I was aiming for
with Spider-Verse.

It blew me away.

The level of subtlety,

the textures,
the risks that he was taking

in almost every aspect
of his film making.

It was something that I and
the crew of Spider-Verse could watch and say

we want to make something that
can tiptoe up to the realm of this.

Paprika just created its own feel.

It was transporting.
It was unnerving.

It wasn't just a movie
about bending reality,

it was a movie that captured
what it feels like to have reality bended.

From that, I really learned
one of the main lessons

that I thought a lot about
during the making of Into the Spider-Verse,

which is that animation
doesn't have to look real,

it just has to feel real.

It just has to feel
like some aspect of reality.

I don't know that I fully understood that
until I watched Paprika.

And again, it gave me
something to aim for.

Maybe this is really reductive,
but I often go back to Kubrick.

I think they're two
completely separate filmmakers,

but they both

transcend medium and genre.

And they both manage to create images

and a story

that make you feel
multiple things at once.

He is the illusionist of anime.

He is a director who starts off
by making you wonder

what is real
and what is not real,

and by the end he may well think
that it doesn't really matter.

It's show time!

That parade scene

is the high point of the film.

The most amazing moment.

Both in terms of animation and drawing.

♪ Plant trees
that grow dreams and money. ♪

The film Paprika
is a culmination.

It encapsulates all his major themes.

The film explores metamorphosis,

and the plasmaticity of animation.

The art form's capacity
to present changing forms

that can move
from one realm to another.

Kon thus illustrates here
the very origins of animation.

It becomes
the film's backbone,

and breathes new life into the very idea.

♪ God and Buddha exchange religions. ♪

♪ They entertain me
in this floating world. ♪

♪ They entertain me
in this floating world. ♪

Am I... still dreaming?

The parade

is like an image from another world.

It's like he was channeling
truly another world.

Again, I can't think of many films
that have that kind of power.

As we were doing the dubbing, we actors

got the impression that the director

was a very gentle man.

Very polite and respectful.

A real gentleman.

He seemed very serene.

Though his films
might lead you to believe

that he was half-crazy,

he was absolutely charming,
and very calm.

But although he radiated gentleness,

he was impenetrable.

Someone a bit crazy who does crazy things

is easy to understand and approach.

But the fact that he was so calm,
yet created such a delirious world,

made us wonder.

The more I saw him,
the more mysterious he seemed.

People who embody evil itself

had no place in Kon's universe.

He always had excuses for them,


That's a testament

to his kindness.

Or to the generosity
of people from Hokkaido.

That was the feeling I got from his work.

He was very soft-spoken,

and very humble.

But I could tell
he was very confident in his ideas.

He was definitely a filmmaker.

That was inspiring to find out

that he was
conceiving it, drawing it, writing it.

So many of all the different worlds

were basically coming out
of his imagination and the hard work.

I remember
kind of feeling empathy

for how much work he had to do.

There was gonna be a lot of pain and
a lot of work to get his film done.

A year before he died,
we ran into each other at a party.

He smiled at me.

"Hey, Taro, we should go for a drink soon!"

That surprised me,
but also made me happy.

Then he died.

Several years later,

there was a screening in Sapporo.

I saw the film Tokyo Godfathers again.

I discovered things I hadn't picked up on

at the time.

I realized he hadn't been

ignoring me over financial problems.

It was because I hadn't understood

the very essence of his film.

Rediscovering Tokyo Godfathers

was an intense experience for me.

I had really underestimated its power

when it came out.

That was a shock to me.

It will be etched into my heart
for all time.






I'm already working on my next film.

It's aimed at adults, as well as children.

Paprika marked an end to my usual themes,

the blurring of reality and fiction.

He was really clear that this was
a family film he was trying to make.

On Earth there are no humans left,
or creatures in general left.

And what's left
are machines,

that were created by people
to do the labor.

Now that people
have disappeared from Earth,

these robots are still doing their jobs
that they're programmed to do.

Robin, Ririko and King
are the main three characters.

And they become friends.

The situation is
that electricity is running out.

And obviously without electricity
they cannot live.

The tsunami is happening,

and places that they can survive
are starting to become limited.

They know of a place called
"The Land of Electricity"

where there's
an unlimited supply of electricity.

So their goal is to get there.

The whole story is seen
through the eyes of Robin, a child,

so it's easier to understand.

Ririko arrives in the Garden of Eden,

where Robin is living alone.

So he uses a lot of symbolism.

Ririko is the representation of Eve,
of Adam and Eve.

She gives Robin,

the main character, his brain,

because he's missing his head.

Ririko is a robot type
of the babysitter, or the nanny.

So she's built and programmed
to take care of children.

That's why she looks
the way she looks.

She looks a bit like a Barbie
or a cuddly toy.

The whole design of the project

had to be done by Kon.

It's pure science fiction.

I really would've loved
to see the result.

See what he'd have done with it.

When you read the script
of Dreaming Machine,

there's quite scary stuff in it,

and there's a lot of dark points in it,

and there's a complexity
in the narrative as well.

When Satoshi Kon
is working on one project,

it's never about that film.

He's actually thinking about
the next film within that film.

So, in Paprika,

actually some parts you see
are similar to Dreaming Machine.

There's a graffiti on the wall,
of the main 3 characters.

There's actually a lot of hints
about what's coming next.

I got a call from Mr. Kon.

I was surprised.

He felt I wasn't working
hard enough on Paprika.

"Mr. Mima,
I'm not seeing the hard work."

He was preparing his next film

and wondering
whether to work with me.

He was very direct.

I figured I should be
as direct as he was.

So I told him I was quitting.
I wouldn't work with him anymore.

Mr. Kon demanded skills and expertise

that were far beyond my capacities.

For the first time,

I waved a white flag,
and we got into a fight.

I told him I'd be the first
to go see his film,

but that I didn't want
to be a part of the crew.

I turned down his offer
to work on Dreaming Machine.

Mr. Kon died soon after that,

and I was full of regret.

That's the reason

I agreed to be in this documentary.

To say that I'm here today,

thanks to Mr. Kon.

His big goal for Dreaming Machine

was that he wanted to aid
training of young animators.

So he wanted to give opportunities

and he wanted to mentor these people.

His loss isn't just

the loss of a great director,

a really unique creative.

The anime industry lost somebody
who's actually a representative

and a really strong force of trying
to improve the industry as a whole.

So I think that was the
major part of his loss as well.




I'm convinced that Kon's films

will be major references

for all future directors
of animated films.

Even subconsciously,

future artists will be
under the influence of Satoshi Kon.

The way people see animated cinema

has evolved since he died,

in Japan and throughout the world.

I think he landed too soon
in this industry.

But thanks to that,
he's an inspiration to many others.

I would say this is one of the
great filmmakers of the last 30 years.

Someone who's contributed more
to the well of innovation and inspiration

than almost any filmmaker
I can think of in the last 30 years.

You're gonna have
a very, very unique experience.

Very, very unexpected.

And you'll have a full human meal

and a full human journey
in any of his films.

As much for his personality
as for his films,

he sought perfection at any price.

How can I put this...?

Not only with a perfect drawing,
but with perfect direction.

He couldn't forgive
the slightest error or failure.

Through his films,
he was trying to resolve

things he didn't understand,

and share that with others.

Few people are capable

of transposing such deep questions
to cinema

with such virtuosity
and illustrative talent.

If someone tried to measure up,

they would be
nowhere near as good as him.

Summing someone up in a word is difficult.

Especially Satoshi Kon.

I can't do it.

He had two sides to him.

He could be a nasty guy.

A really nasty guy, okay?

But I loved him.

I can say that,
because I love him.

He had more than one face.

Sometimes you had to be wary of him.

But he was also endearing.
You couldn't help but get attached.

He will always be in our hearts.