He had just a smattering of films to his name by the time of his death but Satoshi Kon was nevertheless one of the most significant and treasured anime filmmakers ever to live. After working as a writer and animator in the early to mid ‘90s – most notably for his contributions to Katsuhiro Otomo’s anthology film Memories – he made his directorial debut in 1997 with his outstanding magnum opus Perfect Blue. In under a decade he had established himself as one of Japan’s most fertile creative minds.
His cinematic output is without a sour apple in the bunch – every one of his features could be referred to as a masterpiece, not to mention his celebrated experimental television series Paranoia Agent. Kon died in 2010 shortly after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – this left Dreaming Machine, his fifth film project, incomplete. With less than half of the film complete, lack of continued financing and a suitable replacement director sealed the undertaking as perpetually unfinished. His short film Ohayo is Kon’s last complete work to date and a bittersweet farewell to his invaluable cultural offerings as a virtuoso of animation and filmmaking on the whole. Here’s the list of all top Satoshi Kon anime, ranked from good to best. You can watch a couple of these Satoshi Kon movies on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
4. Tokyo Godfathers
The easiest feature of Kon’s to overlook is one of his most visually and perceptively sophisticated. While the rest of his work concentrates chiefly upon ambitious and conflicted heroines maintaining multiple lives, Tokyo Godfathers instead fixates on a band of derelict misfits and the foibles and synchronicities of their attempt to keep an abandoned newborn alive and returned safely to its mother at the turn of the New Year. Kon chooses a less plot-centric mode built on coincidence, aiding the themes of tragedy and familial relations in the process.
A gruff, aging gambler and drinker, a transgender woman longing for a motherly role and a smart-mouthed runaway teenage girl make for a defective family unit, but their true temperaments come forth when faced with the responsibility of looking after the adorable foundling Kiyoko. Despite the solemnity of their situation – hardly shied away from in the dirtiest, most lifelike aspects – the humor is more prevalent than in the rest of Kon’s filmography, stemming from the discordant personalities and heated hijinks. Even with the grim plight of homelessness as its focus, Tokyo Godfather’s unpredictable flippancy is not at all grating. All three main characters are aloof regarding their path to destitution and their deficiencies – sharply diverging from the wholesome purity of Kon’s other protagonists – and they are all the more interesting to watch for that fact.
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