Director Satoshi Kon Dies, Age 46

Anime loses one of its greatest practitioners, the director behind Perfect Blue , Paranoia Agent and Paprika

Satoshi Kon, the world-renowned director of Perfect Blue , Paranoia Agent and Paprika , has passed away at the age of 46. The news, which has come as an enormous shock to both anime fans and film aficionados, was confirmed yesterday by Studio Madhouse after much internet speculation following a Twitter post by Studio Gainax founder Yasuhiro Takeda. Kon had also been working on a fifth feature film, Yume-Miru Kikai ( The Dream Machine ), which he said would be a “future folklore story” and “animation that children could enjoy”; no announcement has been made as yet regarding how close to completion the film is, or its future.

Kon was much-loved by film fans for his incredible cinematic imagination and distinctive style and voice as a director. Known for expertly blurring the boundaries between fantasy and reality to tell his stories – whether it was as a portrayal of insanity as in Perfect Blue and Paranoia Agent , the exploration of dreams in Paprika , or Millennium Actress ’s whimsical journey through the titular character’s memoirs – Kon’s sudden death leaves an undeniable void in the anime industry, with a noted lack of imaginative young anime directors coming up through the ranks, and growing criticism that the medium is shifting away from artistic endeavours in favour of populist titles. On Twitter, the most commonly retweeted comment has been, “It’s not that anime will never be the same with Satoshi Kon gone. It’s now much more likely that anime will always be the same.”

Kon’s official website, which has been flooded with visitors following the announcement, also posted a message, written by Kon, to be posted after his death. Anime News Network has published this translated extract of the message, entitled “Farewell”:

“May 18 of this year, an unforgettable day. My wife and I received the following prognosis from a cardiologist at the Musashino Red Cross Hospital: ‘The pancreatic cancer is terminal and has metastasized to the bone. You have at most a half year left.’


“When I conveyed my concerns for Yume-Miru Kikai to Mr. Maruyama [Masao Maruyama, Madhouse founder], he said, ‘It's fine. Don't worry, we'll do whatever it takes.’

“I cried.

“I cried aloud.


“With feelings of gratitude for all that is good in this world, I put down my pen. Well, I'll be leaving now.

“Satoshi Kon.”

SFX magazine sends it condolences to Kon’s family, friends and co-workers.

Tribute by Leah Holmes

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.