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Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist Paperback – December 1, 2009
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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
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.
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.