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Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist [Paperback]

Andrew Osmond
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2008
"Satoshi Kon makes an art of Japanese anime."-Rolling Stone The head-spinning anime fantasy Paprika (2006) introduced new viewers to one of Japan's most visionary directors. Satoshi Kon crashed onto the world scene in 1997 with his smart slasher-thriller Perfect Blue. His subsequent films range from the silver-screen romance of Millennium Actress (2001) to the socially conscious comedy Tokyo Godfathers (2003) and the surreally satirical TV series Paranoia Agent (2004). This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the work and vision of Satoshi Kon, with background and analysis of the key reality-warping films by anime's premier illusionist. This timely new collection follows the 2007 US release of Kon's latest film, Paprika, which was met with an enthusiastic welcome from his fans. For many, Paprika was a first introduction to Kon's work; other fans have been following his career avidly from its early days. Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist will satisfy newcomers and long-term fans alike. Andrew Osmond is a British freelance film reviewer and journalist who was part of the "Akira generation" of anime fans. He has been writing about cartoons and anime for ten years and has interviewed numerous anime professionals, including Satoshi Kon. His articles and reviews have appeared in Animerica, Total Anime, Neo, Manga Max, SFX, Sight and Sound, Empire, and many other magazines.

Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press (1 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933330740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933330747
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 17.3 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Andrew Osmond is a British freelance film reviewer and journalist who was one of the "Akira generation" of anime fans. He has been writing about cartoons and anime for ten years, and has interviewed numerous anime professionals, including Satoshi Kon. His articles and reviews have appeared in Animerica, Total Anime, Neo, Manga Max, SFX, Sight and Sound, Empire and more.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As a Satoshi Kon fan... 12 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book a pretty interesting read. He goes through all of Kon's work, providing a little background on the making of each one, a detailed synopsis, and a short analysis. Plus it's illustrated with plenty of stills from the 4 films and 1 TV series.

I'd recommend it to any fans of his work, but I don't think the book would be suitable of you haven't seen at least one of them as the synopsis provides a lot of spoilers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Companion to Kon's Work 23 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been a Kon fan for only a relatively short time, I was deeply saddened by his abrupt and untimely passing last summer. As a result, I found myself pursuing every outlet I could to find out as much as I could about the visionary whom I had quickly come to respect and admire.

Sadly, this is the only book I could find on the great man, but fortunately it's well put together and provides a great companion for all Kon's currently released films (it does not touch on the soon to be released Dream Machine for obvious reasons). Each film is broken down into synopsis, creation, analysis and dialouge excerpts, replete with colourful images and interesting facts.

Some of the information may not be new to the most ardent Kon fans but it's still an enjoyable read, though some of Kon's own words can create a great sense of melancholy in the light of his death.

Nonethless, this is a fitting tribute to a master of cinema and one that any Kon fan should be proud to own.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for Kon fans 15 Mar 2010
By Grant Beaudette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Satoshi Kon is easily one of my favorite filmmakers. He's one of the rare types that can tell any style of story and make it uniquely his.

Andrew Osmond's book The Illusionist details this one of a kind filmmaker and his works.

If you're not familiar with Kon's work you may want to rent some before reading, since much of this book is simply an in-depth dissection of his stories.

The book is broken into 6 parts- one for Kon's early life and career and one for each of his films and TV series. Each work has a brief summary, a plot breakdown, a more detailed analysis and a sidebar of interesting facts.

Personally, I would have liked more insight into Kon himself and less plot breakdowns of his films, all of which I've seen multiple times. There's not much of a point in this book catering to anyone but established fans, so you might as well not talk much about things people already know

I at least would like to have seen pictures of Kon's actual drawings rather than just screen-caps and promo stills.

I will say the book prompted me to rewatch Millennium Actress for the first time in quite a while as well as try to purchase the now hard to come by DVDs of Paranoia Agent. So even though I would have liked to see this book done differently, it has made me better appreciate one of my favorite filmmakers. So if you're already a big fan of Satoshi Kon, this book may be right up your alley.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the (un)real world 23 Mar 2010
By flaviolius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Satoshi Kon is somewhat of a rarity these days: a touted maker of anime who is also a respected filmmaker. Although his first major release in the US was 2007's "Paprika", he made three prior films: "Perfect Blue", "Millennium Actress", and "Tokyo Godfathers", as well as the 13-episode TV series "Paranoia Agent." All of them are different, and all of them are complex, but they are all undeniably Kon's.

In this book, Andrew Osmond has done a fine job getting under the surface of these works. He devotes a chapter to each, examining its origins, followed by a plot synopsis and critical analysis. Each chapter also features sidebars full of additional interesting information; kind of like an extra commentary track. The book is full of quotes from Kon himself, taken from many sources, including interviews conducted by Osmond. Osmond also includes a brief biography of Kon, and chronicles his rise through the anime industry (this bit is also an interesting look at the industry itself). This book isn't a superficial highlight reel, but a serious and critical study of the psychology and history of Kon and his work.

Osmond has obviously done his homework, making comparisons to characters and trends spanning all five of Kon's releases, as well as other anime. He has a clear understanding of what Kon is trying to say, and communicates his observations and theories in easy-to-follow, entertaining prose. While Osmond is clearly a fan of Kon and his work, he has no problem pointing out what he considers to be inconsistencies or shortcomings. He keeps his analysis objective, which makes it all the more valuable. The book is also quite up-to-date, mentioning Kon's next project, "The Dream Machine", currently scheduled for a 2010 release.

This book is not for newcomers to Kon. It is rife with spoilers, and it must be noted that Kon's anime deals with adult subject matter, such as sex and violence (unlike directors like Miyazaki, none of Kon's current catalog is suitable for children). However, Osmond's book is a perfect and rewarding companion for those familiar with Kon, as well as those who want to learn more about this intriguing artist. The book is insightful, well-researched, and intelligent, while still being an entertaining read. Osmond deserves much credit for keeping the book moving swiftly, while not glossing over the complicated subjects of Kon's anime.

Most of Kon's work deals with reality and how the perception of his characters affects that reality. Kon's characters are three-dimensional, and seem like real people despite being animated. Each of Kon's work is bursting with creativity, but for different reasons. Whether it's the shifting of reality in "Millennium Actress" and "Paprika", the antics of "Tokyo Godfathers", or the examination of the effects of guilt and identity in "Paranoia Agent" and "Perfect Blue", Kon examines what it means to be human with a flair that's quite unlike any other contemporary filmmaker.

While it can be argued that each of Kon's works may be labeled fantasy, it is not always clear exactly what Kon considers to be fantasy or reality (Osmond tends to agree). Kon's anime gives an equal workout to the mind and the heart, and does not always tie up events with a neat bow.

Satoshi Kon is one of the most interesting and talented directors in contemporary cinema, and Osmond's fascinating and carefully written book gives Kon the attention he deserves.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great book for inisght into Satoshi Kon's films 13 July 2011
By Lesley Aeschliman - Published on Amazon.com
This book includes an introduction, as well as a chapter about Satoshi Kon as a person that includes quotes by Satoshi Kon from interviews that Andrew Osmond had conducted with him. There are also chapters for each work that Satoshi Kon directed, a postscript, a filmography that lists the personnel for each work, endnotes, and a bibliography.

The introduction gives brief background information on Satoshi Kon and his works, and also includes acknowledgments from the author. The chapter "Kon on Kon" gives a biography of Satoshi Kon, which covers his childhood through his work and professional career prior to Perfect Blue.

This is followed by chapters devoted to specific works that Satoshi Kon directed: Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika. Each of these chapters includes a brief overview, the origins of the work, a description of the opening scene, and a synopsis. There are also sidebars labeled as "Points to Note," which include additional information on the work that couldn't be included in the main body of the chapter; this would normally include trivia about the work. A "Key Scene" is included, which is Andrew Osmond's description of the respective scene; it is written a way that tries to resemble a script. These chapters also include still images from each work with accompanying captions. It should be noted that in the chapter for Perfect Blue, one of stills includes quite a bit of blood in it.

The postscript opens with a quote Satoshi Kon made at a retrospective of his work in New York in 2008, and reading this book after Kon's passing, it becomes a rather chilling quote. The postscript works at wrapping everything together, and Osmond tries to look ahead to what Satoshi Kon's next planned anime was; this would be The Dream Machine, which Osmond talks a little bit about in this section. The filmography provides information for each work, including the personnel who worked on it, theatrical release dates, and the various home video releases for each work. The endnotes and bibliography provide information on the sources Andrew Osmond used for writing this book.

Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist is a good read, especially for anime viewers who have an interest in learning more about the director and his body of work. It was very informative, and it helped me better understand the works of Satoshi Kon. For me personally, reading this book has reminded me of what the anime world lost when Satoshi Kon passed away from pancreatic cancer on August 23, 2010. This book would be a perfect addition to an anime fan's library.

I wrote this review after checking out a copy of this book through the King County Library System.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SATOSHI KON! 30 Sep 2013
By Paul R. Ackermann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
the loss of Satoshi Kon from the anime ranks is felt deeply- though Makato Shinkai is looked upon as a spiritual successor he is not quite the same. This book helps bring some elements in perspective. I would like to see Paranoia Agent finally get a re-release- but hey - that's the problem with copyright- the owner dies and the last copyright holding company is out of business and we are left losing out on a masterpiece work.

his last work - dreaming machine will probably never be published- though one of his coworkers promised to - not enough was done prior to Satoshi Kon's death-i am afraid if we see anything it will be an unfinished work- and we will be left wondering where he would have taken us if he was still alive
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