Dreams of Waking: Satoshi Kon’s Anti-Escapist Animations (Film Studies Dissertation for St Andrews University)
Satoshi Kon’s short yet substantial career as a Japanese animation director is marked by his depiction of the relativity of ‘reality’ within the entertainment industry. Kon breaks the illusion of his films’ worlds through the various narrative and editing devices, and, subsequently, critiques the sense of escapism, so-often found in the mainstream fictional entertainment. The critique of the escapism is combined with the celebration of the escapist storytelling. This dissertation examines, how Kon unites these two different stances and to what end. Satoshi Kon’s films also possess didactic qualities, utilizing formalist detachment techniques to teach the audiences about both the dangers and the benefits of immersing oneself into the artificial. Through an auteur analysis of five of his films the conclusions are reached, that although universally-applicable, most of Kon’s themes are rooted in the Japanese-specific socio-cultural contexts, particularly the long-reaching effects of the Second World War’s aftermath.