When it comes to the world of anime the general population think either Studio Ghibli or Dragon Ball Z. Anime is a rich culture filled with some of the most cerebral and sometimes weird films. In high school a friend introduced me to the films of Satoshi Kon and I was blown away. While his entire filmography as a director was four films and a TV series he left an impact.
-Why I prefer Kon’s Work-
As a filmmaker Kon seemed to understand that a realistic story paired with trippy visuals was far more effective than going full out bonkers. Perfect Blue gave us a relatable protagonist who got thrust into a situation most of us dread. But once Mimi gets deeper into the story we question her sanity. What is real and what’s not? It’s all up in the air until the end, and even then we’re still not completely certain. Even his most grounded film Tokyo Godfathers is an emotionally engaging story. In the span of 97 minutes we bond with three vagrants as they try to re-connect an abandoned child with her parents on Christmas. I could go on dissecting Millennium Actress, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika but all you need to know is that I love all these projects and demand that you give them a look.
-Gone, But Not Forgotten-
August 24, 2010 was a very grim day. I remember logging into Facebook and seeing a note from Kon’s page explaining how he’d been diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year and knew it was only a matter of time until he passed. It was tragic reading someone’s own words talking about their disease knowing this would be read by fans after his death. Once the initial shock had worn off I was left wondering what this meant for his latest project “Dreaming Machine”.
-A Dream in Limbo-
Details on Dreaming Machine’s plot have been sparse, but what Kon talked about was a film for a younger audience starring robots going on a road trip. At the time of his death just over a third of the film had been animated with Kon leaving detailed instructions on how to complete it. In the following years we’ve heard small snippets of information about the film’s progress. The head of Madhouse Inc. Masao Maruyama assured fans that no matter what the film would be completed. But in 2011 he spoke of financial difficulties putting Dreaming Machine on hold. He later spoke 2015 that another major hurdle was finding a director on par with Kon to take the reigns. It’s admirable that Maruyama wants to honor this project with such dedication, but I fear Dreaming Machine may never see the light of day. Or even worse, it’ll end up like The Thief and the Cobbler with decades of work creating a nonsense film that is a pale shadow of what it was meant to be.
-What’s the Answer?-
First and foremost is the question of how to find money to finish the 900 shots left to be animated. Darren Aronofsky is a professed fan of Satoshi Kon having bought the remake rights for Perfect Blue just to re-create a single moment in Requiem for a Dream. And if you look at his film Black Swan you can see even stronger similarities to Perfect Blue. Christopher Nolan also acknowledged his film Inception took inspiration from Kon’s Paprika. If these two filmmakers united they’d be able to get the budget necessary to complete Dreaming Machine in no time. The harder aspect is finding a director to take over the project. With money in place I assume Maruyama could find a director or even an entire team of directors who under his supervision would match Kon’s style. Whatever happens I hope to see the final piece of work from a master artist. What about you? Do you think Dreaming Machine should be completed? Or is it for the best it’s forgotten with Kon no longer at the helm?