There’s been enough written about him, but if you haven’t heard of Satoshi Kon (1963-2010), you probably aren’t alone. The world of Manga, or Anime, the Japanese art of picture-literature and animation, aside from its often-presented cutesy side, has in parallel, always maintained an experimental aspect, having long been full of mind stretching improbabilities and existential elasticity. It fascinated 80’s and 90’s youth in the West, predominantly teenage boys with a taste for the stylistic sensation, teenage detachment, and most predominantly, in the seminal work Akira, the surreal. The violence and sci-fi never hurt either. I was one of those kids. But as the grunge-era youth rose into adulthood, it sometimes occurred, and panged with slivers of nostalgia, that I had left my fascination with Anime behind, with a whimsically disappointing feeling that it had not grown with the youth who embraced it. It’s nice to be wrong.
Satoshi Kon elevated the game. I just wasn’t onboard his train at the time. Fortunately I now have a sleeper cabin aboard his locomotive.
His manipulation of time, creative use of edits and visual aesthetic, the plunging into, and unabashed exploration of dreams and a total disrespect for convention, yet at the same time possessing a master craftsman’s skills, his films dove deep into the subconscious, and well…messed around, tinkered and essentially had a field day in the realm of the un-waking life. The interpretation is yours. For what it’s worth, I went to a late night showing of Perfect Blue on it’s premiere, at the Cinema de Parc in Montreal circa the blizzard suffering winter of the inaugural millennium year. My friend and I walked away, a little bitter and confused that we didn’t ‘get it’. Ridiculing the film for taking us deeper into the abstract alleyways of our 22 year-old minds, farther than we were likely prepared to hike at the time.

Here is a small video detailing some of his work with reference to the Hollywood-famous directors he influenced, and his ridiculously fabulous creativity with editing. Check the carbon-copy scenes in Inception and Requiem For A Dream.

I was very lucky to meet Connie Luk, a fellow PhD candidate at the University I work at. Her thesis explores piano pedagogy for small hands. She has small hands. She is a brilliant and inspiring pianist, her taste and touch spellbinds me. I closed my eyes when she performed it for me in rehearsal as we were going over notes, and it felt like it was her’s. Like myself, she is exhubertly full of energy, but oddly, meditative on the inside. Like the films of Kon. So I wrote a piece for her. And it was in memory of Satoshi.

If you would like to look at the score click here

Thanks to Mr. Kwok Yat Wai and Madam Kwok Chung Bo Fun and the Graduate School Development Fund.

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© Alex Formosa